Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Diamond In the Lens

A few months ago, I was seeing a group I’ve become friends with over the years called The Joy Formidable. When not touring stadiums with Foo Fighters, the band regularly tours smaller venues, melting minds with power and grace. Hanging out before the show, I was blessed to meet photographer Sarah Jeynes who was touring with the band. It turns out, we shared a lot of common ground musically.

Working for the BBC London, Jeynes regularly shoots some of the biggest names in entertainment and we found common ground discussing bands like Joy Formidable and Biffy Clyro. At some point, she let slip that she photographed Duran Duran for their DVD A Diamond In the Mind. Once I picked up my jaw off the floor, we discussed our love of the band, and what it was like working with them. She kindly agreed to an interview and to also dig into the archives and share some of her work with us at Daily Duranie!

When did you first become a Duran Duran fan?
I’ve been a duranie since 1987 – some boys in my school were fans and we formed a fan club and I used to write the words down to all of the songs and at playtime we would sing them together 

How did you get involved with the ADITM DVD project?
I was asked by a fellow photographer to join him on this project as he had worked with the band before.  It was a two man job over 2 nights we shot the whole show and some backstage pix before the show started.

Had you shot the band prior to this project?
This was the first time for me!  I’ve photographed them since on numerous occasions

Did you get a chance to interact with the band?
I did, they were really relaxed with me.  I went into a small room backstage and John and Taylor were jamming so I just started taking photos.  Sometimes you get a vibe that its not a good time, but they knew I was there for the DVD so all was good.  After the show I showed Simon some of my photos, he loved one in particular (a shot of him spitting out a fountain of water)

What are some of the most memorable photo shoots of your career?
I’m really lucky that every week I get to photograph some of the most famous people in the world.  I mostly only get a few minutes with them.  On other occasions, I photograph bands at their shows, and because I have a good relationship with them I get the best out of them for photos.  I have a great shot that I took recently of Mark King from Level 42 where he is sticking up his fingers to me (and the camera) he shouted my name when he did it.  Some other pix are of Dave Grohl.   I have had the pleasure of photographing the band for the past 8 years and I’ve many unique shots of the band.

Does knowing an artist’s music help when shooting a show?
It helps to know the music. Or my advice is to watch some of their live music videos to see what the band are like on stage.  It will give you a good idea of how the band will react.  If you know the band, it helps to get you better access such as side of stage or even on the stage.  Sometimes they interact with you like Mark King and Dave Grohl have done with me in the past..so yes!

Having seen shows in the UK and US, do you notice a difference in audiences and how they react to an artist?
Yeah the crowd in the UK bounce!! 

See more of Sarah’s work here.

Change My Mind: Electric Barbarella

A couple of times a month, Daily Duranie will toss out a “Change My Mind” topic to a handful of guest writers. In this first episode, Daily Duranie declares “Electric Barbarella” is Duran Duran’s most sexist song – change our mind.

All She Wants – Is To Change Your Mind

I’m not going to claim that there aren’t sexist elements to ‘Electric Barbarella’.  It’s about using a sex doll, so… yeah.  It’s also a slight guilty pleasure (the guilt coming from the need to ignore that grim video, which is not at all fun or pleasurable to watch).

But – I would argue that ‘All She Wants Is’ is at least equally so, if not more.

First of all, I find it kind of judgmental in a way that ‘Electric Barbarella’ isn’t – Barbarella is purely a sex object (not a good thing, but it can be argued that a doll cannot really be harmed by such treatment).  The opening lines about saving money for the shoeshine boys don’t come across as a celebration of the protagonist’s promiscuity, but instead as condescending, even while the narrator appears keen to become involved with the protagonist himself.

‘Electric Barbarella’, meanwhile, is at least reverent of its subject – Barbarella is described as ‘perfect’, ‘so good’, ‘princess of my dreams’ – and if it, like much of Duran’s oeuvre, were about a real woman (and obviously thus not featuring lyrics like ‘I plug you in’), then it could be argued that it wouldn’t be sexist at all, merely a paean to a much-adored lover.  The sexism comes more from the out-of-song context of the use of sex dolls (and the misogyny inherent in that industry) than from the lyrical content itself.

All in all, between the two songs, ‘All She Wants Is’ most definitely creeps me out more! – Dee Cooke

Hungry Like A Wolf To Change Your Mind

Trust me, I’d be fine with laying the blame for the most sexist song our guys have ever done on the era of WC. Electric Barbarella is made especially cringe-worthy by its video, that’s certain. But if we’re to blame the videos, I have to look past Barbarella to Girls on Film, a song about the exploitation of women, with a video that well, exploited women, for the sake of giving something edgy to the video nightclub market. Or Falling Down, because nothing portrays mental collapse better than a Bedlam-esque scene of scantily clad models tended to by a patriarchal band in white coats, right? 

Lyrically though, I find Electric Barbarella more in line with Bedroom Toys. It could be about a guy treating a girl like a doll, yes. It could also be a funny song about a guy and his sex robot. It’s not great, but most sexist? I say it with love, but I have two that outstrip it, though their videos are far superior.  

First up, All She Wants Is, built around the well-known vocal stylings of an underage porn star. It’s got a great beat and you can dance to it, but all it has to say is “she wants that d***”, and it’s not precisely flattering about it.

Second, & “winner” – Hungry Like the Wolf, which is literally about stalking a woman for sex. Simon himself has said “You couldn’t get away with writing a song like that now”. And I guess he would know. – Laura Skarka 

Read My Lips – Electric Barbarella Is Not The Most Sexist

The sexism of Duran Duran’s videos are worthy of discussion even if the band’s sense of play often diminishes the general negativity of the imagery. Detaching the songs from the videos, there are still examples of sexism woven into the lyrics as is the case for most bands who came of age at that time. The music industry, as a whole, sadly remains a sexist playground for men in almost every regard. However, “Electric Barbarella” sidesteps this while “Read My Lips” reeks of stale cologne and the male predator.

The opening lines of “Read My Lips” are nothing more than a creepy come-on by a lecherous male. I don’t know why, and I have no factual basis for assuming this, but I’ve always associated this song with Warren Cuccurullo. The guitar heavy song has his fingerprints all over it and it’s an uncomfortable listening experience. I’d rather not “get a grip” on anything within ten feet of this lazy song.

The Barbarella reference of the song in question hints at a playfulness celebrating the retro-kitsch style of the film that inspired Duran Duran’s name. The song itself serves as a commentary on the inability of humans to connect on a flesh and blood level in modern society. The idea of an electric Barbarella is nothing more than a fantasy that can never be realized despite the promises of the patriarchy. The song shines a neon-flavored light on that with a knowing wink. Maybe marriage has made them wise. – Jason Lent

Driving Towards A Change of Mind

The Chauffeur is easily a more sexist song than “Electric Barbarella.”  Its dreary, coma-inducing synth line pounds the listener into submission, much like thousands of years of patriarchal civilization have to women.  The song never explicitly states if “my envied lady” and her “shadowy lined dress” is the driver or passenger, passing up a prime opportunity.  Think about the power of the last track on one of the most iconic 80’s albums definitively putting the woman in control.  But no—instead, we’re left with the “poetry” of LeBon’s lyric.  Indeed, all we do learn is that this lady “smiles” when lovers part, like some latter day Miss Havisham from Dickens’ Great Expectations.  Our singer also wonders “what glass splinters lie so deep in your mind,” which also conjures the 19th century and the misogynistic “mad woman in the attic” trope (see Jane Eyre).  

The video only makes matters worse:  a voyeuristic, male-driven lesbian fantasy involving two women touching, a third dancing off to the side, and all witnessed by a “Chauffeur” who looks alarmingly like 2019 Roger.  Some will argue that the video is someone else’s vision for the song.  Yes, it is—but endorsed and paid for by the band.  Others will claim it’s an artsy homage to the movie “The Night Porter,” about star-crossed Nazi lovers.  Right—and I guess if it was set in the Tunisian desert instead of a parking garage, that would make it a homage to Star Wars.  Please.  

Like the aphids, The Chauffeur is a blood-sucker, setting back feminism, and by extension civilization.  Skip it.  – CK Shortell

Duranies, is this the band’s most sexist song?

Repost – Step Into My Flame: Reflecting on Arcadia

This post is an oldie, but a goodie from way back in January of 2013. It was the first of many posts that C.K. has contributed to Daily Duranie. Since this week marks another anniversary for Arcadia and So Red the Rose, it seemed like the right time to crack open the archive and find it! Enjoy! – R

I could walk into a room full of Duran fans and incite a riot with any number of comments. I could pick on Andy or Warren, as each has a dedicated following; I could shout out that Red Carpet Massacre is actually one of their best albums (don’t worry—I don’t think that—but confess to loving half of it); I could say they were better off with Sterling Campbell than Roger…(well maybe that’s just bordering on the absurd…)….I could say that if Dom were the guitarist from the get-go, Duran would have more hits and more stability and would be rightfully enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and routinely performing the halftime show at the Super Bowl (okay, now I’m just blatantly kissing up to the management of this blog)…anyway, I think we DD fans are an easy group to get riled up, on any number of topics.   

However, I’m not here to do that today. I don’t think I will, anyway—we shall see. Rather, I’m curious about what the readers of Daily Duranie feel about one of the band’s most famous and successful side projects: Arcadia. My general sense of the fan community’s attitude to the album is that, in context, it was a relief to know that Simon/Nick and (sort of) Roger were “doing something” while Andy and John were off with Robert Palmer and The Power Station.  Thus it was nice, in 1985, to hear Simon’s voice on a song on the radio while “Some Like It Hot” and “Bang a Gong” were being played nonstop, and John and Andy were jamming out in front of toilets and scantily clad women on MTV.     

I also think there is a segment of the fan base that treated So Red the Rose as Duran’s fourth studio album—listened to it over and over again, poured over the artwork and lyrics that accompanied the vinyl and/or cassette release, watched for the videos on MTV like a hawk.  I count myself among this group—I absolutely love the album.  But is loving Arcadia akin to, say, also loving Medazzaland or Pop Trash (count me guilty there too)? For the most part, I think the current Duran fan base dismisses those albums, which his fine—to each his or her own. Or is my affection (obsession?) with So Red the Rose more widespread and shared among the fans?  

I am not a musician so, at least consciously, I can’t claim to know or be attached to Andy’s guitar style or John’s style as a bass player, etc. For me, Duran Duran begins and ends with two elements: Simon’s voice and Nick’s synths. So I guess it’s logical, given that perspective, that I gravitated toward Arcadia.  

I scanned the past blogs and comments on Daily Duranie to see what people said about the project. Amanda’s blog on October 12 of last year addressed the question of why some of the later side projects were not as popular among the fans as Arcadia and Power Station.  Two replies to that blog cited the fact that other projects like The Devils and JT’s solo albums weren’t their style of music, while Arcadia was “amazing” (wrote Joel) and “a great vehicle” (Jetrell69) for Nick/Simon and “Roger’s drum machine.” (LOL-and I don’t use that term loosely!) 

But not everyone loved So Red the Rose. In response to another blog that month (on October 23, the anniversary of the release of Notorious), Heather Todd wrote that, “Arcadia went down a road I wasn’t interested in taking. I wanted more Wild Boys!” I can relate to that point of view. Let’s face it—Arcadia was weird. Even I, as a devotee of the album, can say that.  It had odd artwork, all those numbers, the guys with their black hair, the Grace Jones spoken word portion that is the only thing I don’t like about “Election Day,” and all those six and seven minute songs on the second side…it certainly was a far cry from tight, pop-oriented “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” It was Nick unleashed, unbridled.   

At the time, and for many years later, I viewed Arcadia as Duran’s second best album.  I know that statement is fraught with controversy on multiple levels…but it simply reflected how I felt. I even grouped the Arcadia cassette with the Duran Duran ones, always slipping it in between Arena and Notorious, in its proper chronological place. Why did I like it so much?  I thought it was extremely catchy. I loved the diversity—if you wanted guitar, you listened to The Flame; if you wanted a pop song, you listened to Election Day; if you wanted to be absolutely depressed and sad, you listened to Missing; if you wanted powerful songs with a message, you listened to Goodbye is Forever and The Promise.  

So Red the Rose had the “meat” and depth to it that Seven and the Ragged Tiger (SATRT) lacked. It was like a bizarro, alternate universe counterpart to Rio—darkly mirroring it in everything from the artwork to the running order. (Yes, Lady Ice is Simon’s first of many pseudo-Chauffeur songs and probably my favorite.) And it did represent a return to that “darkness” that harkened back to the first album. I remember listening to the second side of Duran Duran and creating all of these dark videos in my head, and the second side of So Red the Rose evoked a similar response. (Rio does that too, although I think that’s as much about the videos as it is the songs themselves, e.g. I’m not sure I would associate Save a Prayer with running on the beach if I had never seen the video)  

It was weird, dark, moody and gray…but it was also cool. How great was it to hear Sting and Simon sing on a song that wasn’t “Do they know it’s Christmas?”?  Or David Gilmour’s killer guitar on The Flame?  (ed note: David appeared on “The Promise”. Our apologies for not getting this correct the first time.)   

I listened to So Red the Rose over and over again in 1985 and 1986. The only thing that tore me away was getting Notorious for Christmas in 1986 (I was 14—too young to drive and get it on release day!). But in 1987, I purchased the Playing for Keeps soundtrack because it included “Say the Word,” the lone b-side from Arcadia (remixes notwithstanding). I loved “Say the Word” but was glad it wasn’t on So Red the Rose—in much the same way that I love Secret Oktober but was glad it wasn’t on SATRT—it just functioned better outside the album.   

So, over a quarter century after its release, where do I rank So Red the Rose? I would say it’s in the upper tier of Duran albums. Off the top of my head, I probably like it better than anything after 1990 with the exception of Medazzaland and AYNIN; I’d say it’s on my Mt. Rushmore of Duran albums: Rio, the first album, AYNIN, Notorious, and Medazzaland.  (My Mt. Rushmore has six faces!).  

Jetrell69 had also commented that, “I had hoped we’d see another Arcadia release.” I recall The Devils album being billed as such in 2002, which of course led me to be very disappointed in it. The closest we’ve come to an Arcadia follow-up is likely Medazzaland.  Musically, maybe I’m way off with that comparison, but it seems to be the most similar in style and tone to So Red the Rose.   

You’ll notice that I did not get into an Arcadia vs. Power Station analysis. I avoided this for several reasons. For starters, I never even bought The Power Station album until 1990. I simply had no interest in it before then. Admittedly, I loved it, and that I think the ’96 follow-up, Living in Fear, is excellent and I still listen to that on occasion.   

However, to me, Arcadia is unique among all Duran side projects because of Simon’s voice.  I would no more compare Arcadia to The Power Station then I would Arcadia to any other band—it’s apples and oranges. Maybe that’s a topic for another blog or poll question…but not today.   I’m curious what you think. Am I overrating Arcadia? Is it truly “the most pretentious album of the decade” as Simon called it? Or do you view it as I do, as the dark companion to those early, classic Duran albums, and the bridge from the “original lineup era” to what followed?  Don’t keep us in the dark…comment below!!!    

One Last Post Before I Go

It’s Monday, the first day of our self-imposed sabbatical, and I’m already breaking it. *takes bow*

I just missed you all so much….

Ok, so I missed out blogging on Thursday. I have a few things left to share before I go.

Thank you!

First of all, thank you – all of you – for the kind notes, pictures, thoughts, and good wishes for my birthday. I had a terrific day, which is half of the reason I didn’t post a blog. (Our internet was also down for a good portion of the day, so there’s also that.) It was a very special day, and I can’t thank you enough.

What if your favorite band didn’t exist?

Second, I saw a movie over the weekend that I’d been curious about for a while, Yesterday. Simply put, what would happen in a world where no one remembered The Beatles?

The movie was cute, I suppose. There were also a zillion plot holes that really bothered me on most every level. The screenwriters seemed to take an insightful topic, and watered it down to be just another rom-com. The love story didn’t matter to me. I wanted to know more about the world without some key pieces of pop culture missing from the meta.

I thought a lot about what it means to love music so much that you want it to keep living. I’m 49 now, and many of the heroes I hold dear have left this earth. George Michael, Tom Petty, Ric Ocasek, Prince….I can go on and on, but you get the point. The music, at least for me, isn’t JUST about the people who wrote and performed it, although certainly that is huge. The music itself is what lives on. It is the gift left behind. The one thing we are able to hold on to once our heroes have passed. It’s food for thought, I suppose.

Change my mind!

Lastly, I am reaching out to any and all interested writers! As you know, Amanda and I are taking a break from now through the end of the year. However, we are also going to try a different style of post during our absence. We need YOUR help to make it successful.

This post is going to be called “Change My Mind”. Essentially, Amanda and/or I will come up with a topic, and it will be up to you – should you choose to accept the challenge – to change our mind in 100 words or less! So, for example, maybe the topic is “Hungry Like the Wolf” is an overrated song. Your job would be to make a compelling (and incredibly short) argument! We already have two brilliant writers ready to get their fingers flying, but it would be great to have a few more. If you’re at all interested, email us at dailyduranie@gmail.com. We’ll put you in touch with Jason, who will be the contact for this little game of ingenuity!

That’s more than enough from me for a while. I’m off to tackle real life for a while!

-R

Question of the Day: Sunday, November 10, 2019

The last winner was: Astronaut

Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety: All You Need Is Now or Paper Gods?

Coming Soon
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
All You Need Is Now
Paper Gods

I Know You’re Up To Something

Hello friends! How is Tuesday going for everyone?

Lately, I’ve been having more and more difficulty with blog topics. The mind is blank, and while at one point I could spin a little creativity in a matter of moments, now it takes hours. Far too long, actually.

Somethings got to happen

When this happens, I realize it’s for a reason. I need a break. I took one last year when my family moved, but it wasn’t a REAL break, obviously. I noticed that Amanda was experiencing some stress too, and mentioned to her that I think it’s time. As we know, the band is fairly quiet, and with the holidays coming – I can’t imagine that will change.

So, we’re taking that break. Beginning next week and going through until the first of the year, our schedule here on the site will be changing. There will still be posts, both from Jason on Wednesdays and occasionally from Amanda and I on Fridays as we continue to do reviews (our next one is Violence of Summer next Friday!). Additionally, the Question of the Day will continue, but be scaled back to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Should anything “big” come up, rest assured we’ll be writing about it, whether it is Amanda, Jason, or myself. I am sure that by January, we’ll be chomping at the bit to return to our normal writing schedule.

Somethings got to get me up

I’m looking forward to having a little more time to work on some other projects I have waiting for me, and it seems like this might just be the calm before the storm of 2020. Who knows?

We’re not going away, though! Unlike other websites and blogs, we don’t write once a month, or even quarterly. For Daily Duranie, it is DAILY content. We’re tired! Everyone needs a breather once in a while. That’s all it is, and since the holidays are creeping up, it feels like the right time. We’ll be back during the first week in January, rejuvenated, recharged, and ready…almost (but not quite) like Electric Barbarella.

See what I mean? It is obviously time for a vacation when I write cringy things like that…. wow.

-R

Love or Liberation

I am a music fan. Despite my love and adoration for Duran Duran and other new wave artists of the 1980’s, I still love me some down and dirty guitar. I loudly proclaimed myself as a Duranie during my middle school years, but by college—which for me started in Fall of 1988 and continued until May of 1993—I was listening to anything from AC/DC to Def Leppard, Van Halen to yes, even Poison. The hair bands, the metal, and even classic rock would be on my stereo one minute, and in the next, my devotion for Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears would show as “Gold” or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” or even “Rio” would begin. I didn’t see why I couldn’t like it all, and I did. The music coming out of my car stereo (I spent a lot of hours commuting to school and work during college) was eclectic, if nothing else.

Life goes on

It is easy to jump in with both feet when Andy Taylor announces a new album. I don’t feel as though I’m disavowing Duran Duran by supporting Andy, by the way. This is an opportunity to be excited by something new! I’m not worried that his music won’t sound like Duran Duran’s. In fact, I sure as hell hope it doesn’t. We’ve waited a long time for Andy to release new music. Surely he won’t create a carbon copy of a band and life he’s already left behind twice.

I know that for some people, Duran Duran is the end-all. It is the one band they follow, it is the one group they care about. It doesn’t matter what a band member does once they leave the group. Many still cannot make peace with why Andy left. Others couldn’t wait for him to get out the door fast enough, and that Dom more than fills his shoes. Then there’sTeam Warren. They insist the band’s best days are behind them, and no one else will measure up. The guitarist debate is one that will never end. Regardless, they are all moving forward on their own. Andy is doing his own thing, as is Warren and even Dom. New music is always a good thing.

On Planet Rock Radio

Andy’s newest tune from his new album debuts today on Planet Rock Radio. Titled, “Love or Liberation”, Gary Stringer is on vocals with Andy (assumably!) on guitar. Those hoping for Andy’s vocals on the album will not be disappointed. According to his pal and collaborator Gary Stringer, “he sings some on his own and we sing some together”. He also says that the album is “ace”!

I haven’t heard the new sing or album yet. The track title “Love or Liberation” is intriguing, and lends itself to all sorts of reflection. I have no idea what Andy may mean by the title. Thoughts of loving something too much so that you’re tightly bound, come to mind.

Later this month, Andy will perform in front of a sold-out crowd at London’s 100 Club. I wish I were going to be there. Since teleporting hasn’t worked out, we have a couple of brave souls willing to write and report for Daily Duranie. Cannot wait to hear the good news from them. In the meantime, I’ll keep on the lookout for Andy’s latest!

-R

Whole Album Preference

On this date, in 2007, twelve years ago, I saw Duran Duran play in New York City. What made this particular show so memorable was the fact that the show took place on Broadway. For those who weren’t around or don’t remember, Duran Duran had a rather unique promotional plan for the album released that year, Red Carpet Massacre. This included doing a small run on Broadway in which case they played the whole album before doing an electro set and finishing up with a mini-classic Duran show. While I cannot say that this was my favorite show experience, it was a special one for the performance. Looking back, it felt like a long show and the setlist proves it:

The Valley 
Red Carpet Massacre 
Nite-Runner 
Falling Down 
Box Full o’Honey 
Skin Divers 
Tempted 
Tricked Out 
Zoom In 
She’s Too Much 
Dirty Great Monster 
Last Man Standing 

INTERVAL 

Electro Set 

Showroom Dummies 
Last Chance on the Stairway 
All She Wants Is 
Warm Leatherette 
I Don’t Want Your Love 
Skin Trade 
******************** 
Notorious 
Reflex 
I Take The Dice 
Ordinary World 
Planet Earth 
View To A Kill 
Sunrise 
************* 
Girls On Film

That’s 26 songs! In fairness to more recent shows, some of these songs were not played in entirety but still. On top of a really long show, I loved hearing/seeing a whole album played in order. While RCM is not my favorite album, seeing them perform each track made me appreciate the album more and helped me to connect with some songs. Then, there was the electro set, which was simply amazing. The electro set featured the four band members at the front of the stage using keyboards to play more electronic versions of some tracks. To this day, I am still beyond thankful that I got to see it. All of that was then capped off with a bunch of hits that most in the audience would know and love.

Now that I’m thinking about this show, I would really love if the band wanted to do something similar to this…say next year for their 40th with three sets (whole album, electro set, others). The big question then is which album should they cover? In the case of the show I went to in 2007, they played their newest album. If we were lucky enough to get a new album next year, I think it would be very cool to hear the entire album from beginning to end. But what if there was not a new album? What then? I know that many, many fans would love to hear Rio in entirety. I get that feeling since it is a classic one and that is album that won many fans over. For me, I wouldn’t reject it. I know that I have heard each song off of Rio live but definitely not in order. That said, I’m not sure I would choose it over others.

I think if I had to choose one album to listen to live from start to finish, I might pick the first one. To me, it is where the story starts, which would be particularly cool for the 40th anniversary. Then, the final set could include songs from each of the rest of the albums. To me, that would be a super cool way to celebrate the band’s history. The show, then, would capture the complete story. Here’s another idea. What if the next album was released in 2020? Maybe then, start with the first album. Have the electro set feature hits from Rio onward until the last set, which would focus on the last album. Then, it really would be the entire history, of sorts.

What do the rest of you think? Which album would you love to see/hear live in entirety? What if the band set up a show like they did those on Broadway? How would you like to see it done?

-A

Happy Halloween 2019!

I don’t know if there will be many treats for me this Halloween! So far, it’s been all tricks here at my house today! I’ve been working non-stop on doing some website housekeeping today, unfortunately to no avail. I’m going to be continuing to work on that this afternoon until my little pumpkin gets out of school a bit later. ( I suppose she is neither little, nor would she be amused by that term of endearment at this stage!)

Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays , but I didn’t mind the trick or treat portion of the day! (I can hear Nick’s shocked gasp right about now…) Not a big fan of scary movies or any of that, and since I’m now a parent, I struggle just to find time to get it all done. It’s the kids holiday, not really mine, I guess. Case in point, I was sewing a costume for the aforementioned “pumpkin” just last night. She decided to go as a character from one of her favorite anime once she discovered that her school allows them to come in costume, which meant I had less than a week to pull something together.

Did I mention that sewing isn’t one of my better talents?

As a quick aside, I saw a T-Rex, Mario, Santa, and some Elves…and Deku (that’d be MY kid) this morning at the school drop-off. The kids refuse to wear their orange and blue school colors for spirit day, but they’ll sure as heck come in costume on Halloween. Sure, ok…I get it.

I think I’m struggling to get into the spirit of it all this year, which now that it is actually *the* day, I suppose it’s a bit late…but I’m going to try by referring to the Master himself, Mr. Nick Rhodes.

I ask you, has there really ever been a more dignified vampire?

Probably not.

Duranduran.com describes Nick’s playlist this year as “esoteric”…which makes me laugh. I’m just going to copy them here for all to enjoy! The best part of this list is that there are videos to match!

Midnight Star – Freak-A-Zoid

CJ & Co – The Devil’s Gun

Cameo – Rigor Mortis

Hot Blood – Soul Dracula

Souls Unlimited – The Raving Vampire 

James Brown – Hell

Billy Preston – Creature Feature

Lee Perry & the Full Experience – Disco Devil 

The Pop Group – She is Beyond Good and Evil

Brian Auger and The Trinity – Black Cat

The Temptations – Witchcraft (For Your Love) 

Dusty Springfield – Spooky

R Dean Taylor – There’s a Ghost in my House

If that’s not enough for you, and you’re looking for a little more Duran this evening…I give you Roger’s playlist, the full list available on Spotify, or you could certainly recreate it elsewhere!

That’s it for me today. I’m back to website maintenance! We’ll chat again next Monday!

-R

Big Trashy Thing

No one cares, but this is their best by miles. – Robert Christgau

As much as I love and appreciate every word Robert Christgau has ever written on music, he has never been a fan of my favorite bands. The Big Three for me as I turned 13 were Duran Duran, Howard Jones, and Thompson Twins. It wasn’t until 1989, well after their commercial peaks, when he gave one of them a B+ using his school-grade methodology. For those wondering, a B+ from Christgau equals “a good record, at least one of whose sides can be played with lasting interest and the other of which includes at least one enjoyable cut.” You’re telling me Rio isn’t at least a B+? Dude. 

Moving on. According to Christgau, the first “good” album from my Big Three artists was Big Trash by Thompson Twins. And it is, at least, a “good” album. In fact, it is arguably their best album but anyone claiming to love it more than Into The Gap has put too many shots of hipster in their chai latte. Then it occurred to me that another one of my favorite bands had released a “Big” album six months earlier. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Big Trash and Big Thing have a lot on common.

I recognize that I am assuming a certain level of awareness of Thompson Twins beyond the basic MTV stuff but the Daily Duranie audience knows music. However, I don’t blame you if you lost sight of Thompson Twins after Live Aid; most folks did. In a lot of ways, the Twins were on a similar trajectory to Duran Duran after Live Aid. Both lost band members before working on their next album and the resulting albums were more subdued, less colorful affairs. 

Earlier I mentioned the six-month gap between Big Thing (October ’88) and Big Trash (March ’89). Oddly enough, each band’s preceding album had a similar gap with Notorious (November ’86) arriving seven months before Close To the Bone (March ’87) As the decade traded “greed is good” for “feed the world”, both bands had to adapt their image and the albums reflected a more informed, mature take on the styles that made them successful. From Duran’s undeniably sexy funk of “Skin Trade” to the buoyant acoustic guitar of the Twin’s “Get That Love”, both albums showed musical growth and were able to slow the erosion of casual fans suddenly enamored with Jon Bon Jovi’s abs.

Two years later, the band’s went even further with their most experimental albums of the decade. Thompson Twins’ Big Trash turned up the guitars and the rhythm. “Bombers In the Sky” rocks harder than anything they ever did and “Sugar Daddy” showed they still had plenty of sweet hooks left in their Halloween bag. Sound familiar? Big Thing also finds a way to rock without taking you off the dance floor. 

Why weren’t Trash and Thing bigger? As a fan of both bands, these albums were strong artistic statements – hell, Christgau gave a rare B+ to a, as he loved to call them, anglo-disco group! Of the two, I get the most animated about Big Thing. There should have been four hit singles on that album not counting “Palomino” which belongs in the same special corner where us fans love to keep “The Chauffeur”. The band’s amped-up funk (“I Don’t Want Your Love”), post-punk despair (“Do You Believe In Shame?”), electro-pop (“All She Wants Is”), and command of atmosphere (“Too Late Marlene”) are all memorable examples of Duran Duran’s unique alchemy. Had Christgau given it a listen, I dare say that he might have conceded an A- for the effort. 

After their “Big” albums, both bands went through a bit of an identity crisis while trying to find the right sound for a new decade. Thompson Twins dove into the rave culture with 1991’s Queer while Duran opted to throw a bit of everything against the wall in hopes of something would stick. Hey, that’s their liberty. Evaluating those albums is best left to another day; if only to prove Christgau wrong. Someone does care.