Category Archives: The Seventh Stranger

The Seventh Stranger — The Daily Duranie Review (A)

It is Amanda’s turn to review The Seventh Stranger, the final track on the album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  Of course, we still have b-sides to do!

Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song has such a delicate beginning with the sounds of something like ice falling into a glass that you know that it is going to be more of a ballad.  It even seems to take a few seconds longer than most of the songs  on this album do to really get started.  The instrumentation on this song definitely takes more of a back seat.  While those cool effects are heard when you listen for them along with the regular instruments, they aren’t what draw your attention.  No, it is all about the vocals and lyrics here even when the song becomes more of an anthem type at about  one minute in.  At that point, the song feels very full, but not as overwhelming as many of the other tracks on this album.  You can tell that it fits right in with the other tracks, but isn’t a carbon copy.  One of the things I do really like about the track is how it feels like it varies from quieter to louder and back.  It creates more emotion that way, I think.  This, of course, is really noticed in the bridge in which Andy’s guitar shines through.  This isn’t your heavy metal guitar–no, it is prettier, softer.  Strangely, though, the end is filled with a lot more instrumentation than the rest of the song.  I wish that it didn’t.  If the song was going to focus on the vocals and lyrics, let it.  That said, I do adore the very quiet ending.

Vocals:  I love Simon’s vocals here.  They are definitely in a range that highlights his abilities and allows him to do more than just sing the words.  No, in this case, he can sing and display an emotion, a feeling.  He does really well with both the quieter, more controlled parts of this song as well as the more dramatic, more intensity filled moments.  Perhaps, this is why the vocals seem to me to be front and center.  It probably also helps that the lyrics fit with the vocals and with the instrumentation.  

Lyrics:  As a kid, I didn’t pay any attention to this song.  I was all about the upbeat, dance numbers.   I never paid one bit of attention to the lyrics.  Now, as an adult, the lyrics definitely do interest me.  Do these lyrics fit with the rest of the album?  I think they do.  The rest of the album seems to be focused on fame and dealing with that fame.  This song could be referencing one night stands (look through the eyes of a stranger), or at least how they would face a lot of strangers every day.  That could certainly be in reference to their lives in 1983.  Then, of course, “chasing after rainbows” like going after fame.  Even more importantly, how could people not notice the line about “lonely crowds”.  It sure seems to me that this song is really talking about the loneliness that can and does happen even when surrounded by people.  If you really look at the lyrics to this album, as a whole, they don’t present fame and fortune as the best things ever.  Yet, of course, like Simon is able to do so well, he doesn’t just come right out and say that.  He lets us think critically about what the words are about.

Overall:  As I think about this song as a whole, I can’t help but to think about the fact that it started out as a song called, “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.”  I have seen bootlegs out there that have this original demo that John Taylor has stated are completely false.  Yet, I so understand the desire to want to hear this original track.  I also wish I could have been a fly on the wall when this song morphed.  How did that happen?  Why did that happen?  So, what was the result of this change?  It is a song filled with fabulous lyrics and solid vocals, both of which are highlighted.  The music is placed in the background and, generally, isn’t overwhelming despite still having some layering and many of the signature elements of this album.  I do like that this song varies from the quieter to the more dramatic.  Still, I wish that the instrumentation was more noticeable.  I think it would have have taken a song with strong lyrics and vocals to the next level.      

Cocktail Rating:   3.5 cocktails!



The Seventh Stranger — The Daily Duranie Review (R)

We begin our big finish of Seven and the Ragged Tiger with Rhonda’s review of The Seventh Stranger this week.

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I will say one thing about the music on this album – it flows extremely well from one song to the next.  The same basic elements and sound are found on virtually every track, and this last track is no exception.  The song is not especially fast in tempo, and the song tends to have more of a lead-in (intro) than many others on this album, beckoning the listener in for one last round. While the amount of track layering on other songs was bothersome for me – there’s just too much texture to sort out – on this song, I found the layering and mixing to be just the right amount, with the exception from about 4:30 to about 5:00, where it tends to end up sounding a bit more like cacophony.  There is a really clean guitar solo that reminds me the tiniest bit of Andy’s work  to come much later on the Astronaut album, and the signature call and response between keyboards and guitars is very much present as well.  What I don’t hear a lot of on this particular song is bass.  I’m sure it’s there, but it’s not the driving rhythm we’re used to hearing along with drums. Those instruments are far more subtle, with a lot more percussion used as background.  Overall, the music is interesting without being obtrusive – it’s a good sound for a closing track, letting the listener down easy as opposed to dropping them flat.

Vocals:  One thing I really like about this song is that Simon’s vocals are in the lower part of his range, highlighting his versatility. After hearing song after song with soaring, stacked harmonies that range to the upper part of his vocal range, it’s a welcome change to have something a tinge darker and more mellow.  It is apparent when I hear songs like this that Simon has had classic training – I can almost hear him dropping his jar as he tackles some of the lower notes to create a fuller sound.  If there’s ever a question of his abilities, one does not have to go far to find the answer, that is for sure.

Lyrics:  So many of the lyrics on this album seem to follow in the same theme : learning how to deal with fame.  This makes sense to me because during this time – Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world, and to the band, it probably very much felt like it all happened overnight.  To me, this song seems to express Simon’s desire to find someone to trust in a crowd.  Different faces, every single night – who to turn to?  It certainly describes a feeling of complete loneliness in a crowd of thousands, which seems to be incredibly daunting.  As a fan, I can’t imagine what international fame must have felt like back then – all five went from being “regular guys” to being on the cover of every magazine, on our TV’s, radios…and pursued in every corner on the planet.  In some ways, it almost seems as though Simon is commenting on the fact that he is one of the most recognizable people on the planet (at the time), almost no one really knows him, and yet I get the sense from the song that he is searching for that comfort of knowing and being known.  Great lyrics.

Overall:  Admittedly, I spent much of my youth skipping this one…or at least only half paying attention when the song would finally play on the turntable…fading into silence after it ended.  There is a lot right with this song: the lyrics are great, Simon’s vocals are among the best on the album, and the music isn’t at all overpowering.  But, I still feel as though some of the best parts of the band: bass, drums – are nearly completely overlooked on this one.  Balance is what this entire album left behind, and I think that they never quite find it again until much later in their career.

Cocktail Rating:   3 cocktails!