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Duran Duran Fans: Skeptics?

Some may have noticed I was late with the date in history for yesterday. At this point, it might just be safer for mankind if they wrap my house in orange biohazard plastic and call it a day. I used to say that there is nothing worse than having two kids get the stomach flu at the same time. I was wrong. THREE kids with stomach flu is in fact worse. Most of us have moved on to sore throats, coughing and all of that fun now, so I’m back to blogging.

I try to comment and make sense of things I see being said around the Duran Duran fan community. I suspect the band doesn’t bother reading or cares much about what is being said these days, and perhaps the same goes for management. I just believe that our voices deserve the right to be seen and heard.

I used to see many shout-outs of 2015 being the band’s year (and prior to that – 2014!) Lately, I see a whole lot more of “Maybe mid 2015…or beginning 2016, but it could be a lot longer” than I do anything else. Not many Duran Duran fans believe that the band will tour this year, and still fewer believe that the album will actually come out during the summer. Yes, I know what the band has said. The band has done it’s job incredibly well over the past few years – letting Duran Duran fans know at each turn that they’re in no hurry to finish the album, that they aren’t necessarily ready to get back on the road, and that we fans should just get used to it.  Duran Duran fans have lived through the band’s comments of not knowing when the album would be completed to “maybe late-2014”, to “early 2015” and most recently, “June at the earliest” and “definitely sometime in 2015”. Ambiguity reigns. We’re almost through to Autumn 2015 and it’s not even the end of January yet.

The one thing I’ve always known about Duran Duran fans – the vast majority, anyway – they are an incredibly optimistic lot. One might say their fandom LIES in their optimism. After all, this is a fan community that rallied for the fab five to reunite many years before it actually happened. Once that reunion was announced, it was believed that just about anything could happen with this band. This wasn’t just optimism…we all believed it. We LIVED it. Duran Duran fans were mostly undeterred by Andy’s eventual second departure, believing that the band was still very far from finished. Duran fans are positive, uplifting people – likely because they took that cue directly from the band.

At this point it’s clear that the Great Duran Duran Fan Optimism Train has made it’s way over the Great Hill and is now powering downhill straight into the Valley of Darkness. Some of the most positive people I know (and I’m not counting myself in that crowd) in the Duraniverse are openly and publicly questioning the year(s) to come – and I can’t really blame them. After all, they listen to the band  – whether that is through interviews, tweets, notes or news. They fear that even as the band says the words of excitement for this album, the emotion doesn’t quite match their voice. Even the most optimistic amongst us takes notice after a while.

It is 100% possible that Duran Duran fans have misread the band. Perhaps it isn’t a lack of interest, but exhaustion. Maybe not boredom, but instead the effects of spending entirely too long in the studio. Isn’t that still a problem? After all, it is not just the voices heard in Katy Kafes that fans question – it is the collective retreat from social media, lack of engagement with fans, news or updates from the studio (as opposed to prior albums we have heard precious little about this one, other than that big names they’ve had in the studio) and the lack of interest in giving album info on Katy Kafe that has led many to this point of skepticism.

In order to make fans believe in this project and shout about it from rooftops, the band has to first sell Duran Duran fans. I cannot help but recall the days before Red Carpet Massacre was released, as more and more often I am seeing direct parallels. The sense of skepticism in the community was palatable. In hindsight, I really believe the band was completely unaware of just how unsure Duran Duran fans were of the project. Instead of taking our connection to them as real and powerful – fans were mostly ignored. We didn’t matter in the long run because to the band, we were really just some sort of vague entity instead of real, live people that walked hand-in-hand alongside them. They didn’t see us that way, and if the past few years are any firm example – they still don’t, which is unfortunate. The fan show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City 2007 was some sort of partially tethered life-preserver thrown to the fan community. Some caught the life line and many others never did, forced to make their own way or drown. I dislike seeing similarities between the two projects, but they are out there.

I would like to believe this next album to be different. After all, it is far easier to see the overall “state of the fan base” these days. Between Facebook and Twitter, not to mention this blog, it’s fairly simple to get an idea, if one cares to pay attention. That of course, is key: you’ve got to pay attention in order to see what is in-between the lines. Some Duran Duran fans will never be deterred because for them, the band IS their life preserver. Many others will simply move on, because life does not stop. Even personally, I have to force myself to make the time to stay present in this fandom. I make the time, because otherwise, it would be simple to fade away.

This is not 1984. Duran Duran fans don’t automatically believe and worship every thing they say…and if the current prevailing attitude and skepticism over what the band is really going to do in 2015 doesn’t prove that, nothing will.

-R

 

 

Duran Duran Albums A-Z

Daily Duranie welcomes new opinions and we wish to give all fans a voice. Today we feature a brand new guest blogger to Daily Duranie.  Enjoy!!

By Jason Lent

Understanding the impact of Duran Duran is near impossible if you did not experience it firsthand. They were pioneers of the New Romantic movement (which pulled its artistic aspirations from the likes of David Bowie and Roxy Music) and almost singlehandedly turned the music video into art. As a young kid discovering music, it was hard not to be lured into a world of exotic locations and mostly naked models set to exciting synth pop music.

Over the last thirty years, I’ve taken my share of jokes for sticking by Duran Duran through their musical highs and lows and I understand that the band will always be divisive amongst serious music fans. However, there is more depth and substance to their career than the majority of what passes for popular music in 2014. With that in mind, I dusted off every studio Duran Duran album they’ve recorded and ranked them from the most essential to the, um, best forgotten. I decided to skip the live album Arena (it’s a pleasant reminder of an epic tour but offers little to listeners) and the covers album Thank You which was disappointing but not quite as bad as most remember.

Rio (1982)

The point at which New Romantic music crossed into the mainstream and simultaneously established the fledgling MTV as a creative outlet that would shape the future of music. The impact of videos such as “Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf” are so culturally significant that the music gets slightly overlooked, which is criminal. As a band, Duran Duran hit on all cylinders throughout the record with John Taylor’s exquisite bass lines serving as the glue that holds the synths and electric guitar together to form one of the finest records of the decade. The album artwork also captured the decade perfectly adding to the overall aesthetic of a young band rising to the top of the world to define a generation. Quite simply, there are no weak songs on Rio making it the band’s preeminent album. At the time, “Hold Back the Rain” was just a kick-ass pop-rock tune but it takes on more meaning now knowing it was Simon’s plea to John to get control of his substance abuse, something that wouldn’t happen for another decade. The ballad “Save A Prayer” will always be the band’s most delicate moment while “The Chauffeur” closes the album on an artistic road that kept the band’s pop success balanced with their more artistic interests. This Duran Duran album is essential to any music collection.

Duran Duran (1981)

The perfect example of the New Romantic movement in music, Duran Duran’s debut sounded fresh and exciting even before the artfully conceived videos took the band to larger audiences. While “Planet Earth” and “Girls On Film” remain some of the band’s most notable songs, the album has a whole captures the essence of Duran Duran. The second side of this Duran Duran album edged into darker, moodier territory that revealed a depth to the music that critics have often overlooked. The opening two minutes of “Night Boat” strike a sinister mood while “Friends Of Mine” and “Careless Memories” are spirited punk songs filtered through the New Romantic prism. When released as the second single, “Careless Memories” faired poorly and the accompanying video remains one of the few misfires in the band’s catalogue. Listening now, that song was far from disappointing and, like the rest of the record, has aged quite well. When the album was re-released in 1983, the hit single “Is There Something I Should Know?” replaced “To The Shore” which made sense for the band and record company though it doesn’t fit the flow of the album.

All You Need Is Now (2010)

How do you make a Duran Duran album that almost matches the greatness of the band’s early work? You dust off the old instruments and allow the talented Mark Ronson to guide the recording process. From the title single on, the band recreates the magic of their first three records while updating it for 2010. The hook of “All You Need Is Now” recalls the sway of “New Moon Monday” and there are plenty of other sonic touchstones that harken back to the biggest days of Duran. The opening synth of “The Man Who Stole The Leopard” recall the band’s instrumental track “Tel Aviv” from their debut album while the opening drums of “Girl Panic” are “Girls On Film” redux. Who gives a shit?! It’s shimmering pop-rock beauty that the band once did better than anyone on planet earth.

Notorious (1986)

Three years is a long time in music. For Duran Duran, it meant one live album (Arena), a troubled live performance at Live Aid, and a breakdown in the line-up. “Who gives a damn for a flaky bandit” sang Simon Le Bon in the title track letting the world know how the remaining members viewed departed guitarist Andy Taylor. The album was a departure for the band as the age gap between them and their fans was suddenly felt in the music. For a thirteen year old, Nile Rodgers was just a name the band occasionally dropped as an influence. With little understanding of Chic and the other bands that shaped the band’s style, Notorious felt like a sudden shift away from the new wave glory of MTV that they did better than others. Over time, this Duran Duran album has matured well and reveals a talented group of musicians finding space to write smarter songs. The title track and “Skin Trade” are two of their tightest singles and the feisty “Meet El Presidente” finds a new groove for the Duran sound. The album’s strength lies in the quality of the songs throughout. “Vertigo (Do The Demolition)” and “American Science” are stylish pop tracks that hold their own with the singles. Closer “Proposition” (placed at the opposite end from the title track that takes a dig at him) gives us a final taste of the band with Andy Taylor (at least for a few decades) and it’s clear that the band’s sound needs his razor edge on guitar to compliment the synth explorations of Nick Rhodes. An album that has held up very well in the Duran Duran story.

Big Thing (1988)

To this day, I’m not sure why this Duran Duran album was such a disconnect for audiences. The singles didn’t make a lasting impact on the charts and the tour (at least at the Miami Arena, my first concert, finally!) played to less than full venues. After Notorious, I thought this was a bold step forward as the band pushed the music into new territory. “All She Wants Is” incorporates house music into the Duran sound to create a hypnotic tone and the accompanying video was one of the last great reasons to watch MTV. One of the band’s best ballads to this day, “Do You Believe In Shame?” opens a second half of the album which slides away from the dance floor towards the art house. The razor-sharp guitar the closes out “Lake Shore Driving” is the sort of six string showcase Andy Taylor would have eaten up had he not become a disillusioned guitar hero and left for a disappointing solo career (yes, I own Thunder on vinyl and yes, I’m still disappointed).  Why the b-side “I Believe/All I Need To Know” failed to make Big Thing while the dreadful “Drug (It’s Just A State Of Mind)” secured a spot mystifies me. Swapping those tracks would move this further up my list.

Seven And the Ragged Tiger (1983)

A complicated album from inception to completion, Seven is a difficult album for me to view through a lens not colored by nostalgia. After the monumental Rio, the band could do know wrong in my eyes and this record held my fascination. The lead single “The Reflex” needed a snappy remix to really bring it alive (“Whyyy-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y- -don’t you use it”) and the live video helped showcase a slightly disappointing hit single. “Union Of the Snake” remains my favorite moment on the album. Andy adds some excellent guitar to the synth melody, the kind of small touch that future records would often be missing. While all quite fine, the non-singles tend to run together in my brain. “I Take The Dice” and “Shadows On Your Side” are interchangeable Duran songs. Heavily produced and sometimes sounding like a challenge to write, the success of this Duran Duran album resided more on the band’s name at that point in music.

Duran Duran – The Wedding Album (1993)

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Ordinary World” on the radio. I was returning from my girlfriend’s house and passing over Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL. I pulled over after crossing the railroad tracks knowing Duran Duran was about to return to the charts. The song sat perfectly on the radio and remains a classic pop song. However, it’s not one of the better Duran Duran songs. It could have been recorded by just about any pop rock band at the time and lacked the unique Duran alchemy. “Come Undone” felt more like a classic Duran single and sounds beautiful with a slippery bass line and sexy rhythm. Opener “Too Much Information” still holds up as one of their better rock songs though the line “a cola manufacturer is sponsoring the war” feels a little uncomfortable coming from a band that Coca Cola sponsored in the 1980’s.  The rest of this Duran Duran album falters and suffers from an indistinctive sameness. The disappointing Lou Reed cover (“Femme Fatale”) serves as a harbinger of the Thank You album that would follow. In the end, a stylish Duran Duran album with three excellent singles is hardly a disappointing trip.

Astronaut (2004)

With the dismal performance of Pop Trash and no record label, it was a widely held assumption that Duran Duran were finished. The reunion nobody saw coming became reality (I figured Roger Taylor had retired from music forever and Andy always seemed like a loose cannon who resented his role in the band). To their credit, the band went into the studio instead of just filling arenas with the same reunion tour for a few summers. Opening track “(Reach Up For) The Sunrise” is a powerful reminder that, at its core, the rhythm section of Roger and John Taylor anchors Duran Duran. A driving chorus with Andy’s guitar jostling with Nick’s synths is Duran at their best. On the whole, the album proves a successful reunion of the Fab Five. “Nice” sounds like an updated Duran Duran, which is better than the slightly misguided band of the late 1990’s. This Duran Duran album suffers on the production side with just too much happening at once. It gives the record a cluttered atmosphere that they would sort out on their most recent work. At the time, any Duran Duran album from the original line-up would have been welcome but this album has aged well and remains sneaky good.

Medazzaland (1997)

By 1997, Duran Duran had crumbled as the creative entity that launched so many memorable albums. After the hugely disappointing Thank You record, the band was down to Nick and Simon with guitarist Warren Cucurrullo. Nick and Warren were the creative force giving this and it’s follow-up, Pop Trash, a unique place within the Duran canon. “Out Of Mind” completed Simon’s trilogy for a lost friend (“Ordinary World” and “Do You Believe In Shame” were the others) and sounded like an extension of earlier albums. However, the rest of the music moves into electronic dance sounds that felt alien to where Duran Duran started as a live unit. On a whole, Cucurrullo’s contributions to Duran Duran are difficult to assess. A gifted guitarist, it feels like he pushed the band into creative areas they might have been best to not explore. With the release of him and Nick’s side project TV Mania in 2013, some of this experimentation does make a bit more sense but Medazzaland is lacking in memorable moments.

Pop Trash (2000)

Album opener “Someone Else Not Me” hints at a return to form for Duran Duran but it was the only song written by Simon Le Bon for the album and it shows. With Warren Cuccurullo and Nick Rhodes in creative control of the music, this Duran Duran album feels like more of Medazzaland with a few less highlights. “Last Day On Earth” (written but rejected for a Bond film) gives the album a little more muscle and overall, the album does have a little more guitar pop than the more electronic Medazzaland. The acoustic driven “Starting To Remember” shows promise and is one of the better songs written during this period for the band but ultimately gets lost in a record of uninspired songs. At the end of the road with the record label, this was the first album I didn’t immediately buy from Duran Duran and I assumed (again, like I did after Liberty) that Duran Duran were at their creative end.

Red Carpet Massacre (2007)

The momentum of Astronaut may have corrupted the direction of the band when they returned to the studio. The original five worked on an album titled Reportage, which eventually reached the record label only to be rejected until the band recorded an obvious lead single. In their search for that single, the band began working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake minus Andy Taylor, who would not return. The result is a trend-chasing Duran Duran album of club music that simply doesn’t work. The drums are heavily processed and the band’s more rocking edges are smoothed over until they are gone. Without hearing Reportage, it’s still safe to say the band would have fared better with their original plans. For a Duran Duran album trying to be dark and sexy, the album sounds embarrassingly bland.

Liberty (1990)

After Big Thing, I had high hopes for the slimmed down version of Duran Duran to remain relevant in popular music. Liberty seriously hampered my belief. For the first time, it sounded like the band was chasing trends and losing touch with who they were. Declining sales and success can do that to a band’s confidence. For the most part, this Duran Duran album attempts to capture the adult pop market in 1990, which was the least interesting direction the band could have pursued. The label eventually cut and run on the album’s poor sales and the album’s best track (“First Impressions”) never reached audiences. Even if it had, there’s not enough of Duran Duran in this album to ignite much interest. John Taylor, to this day under appreciated as a bass player, never found his groove with Sterling Campbell. It’s not a knock on Campbell, rhythm sections either click or they don’t. Without that, the band could not achieve the foundation for greatness that they had on earlier records. At the time, I remember thinking this was the end of the road for Duran Duran.

Jason Lent Guest Blogger thumbnailJason Lent discovered Duran Duran on MTV 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.

The Reflex: Honest and Uncut

By Richard Bendell

Like so many other big and long-time fans of Duran Duran, I was initially drawn in by the band’s great music from the very first time I got to ‘hear’ songs, which were from the album RIO, and shortly after when we then got the chance to ‘experience’ their songs through their ground-breaking videos.  Of course, it wasn’t long after that when I also became impressed by their personalities, creativity, unique presence and great energy.  But, really it was and has always been all about their music first and foremost for me.

And, through all the ups, and even the downs I’ve followed, believed and supported them for over 3 decades now since 1982, and still do.  There were some tough years after the band splintered down to three in 1986.  But, redemption came with The Wedding Album and they’ve rebuilt and proven themselves many times over that they are not only just a great band from the 80’s, but a great band, period!

Now, we know and have learned so much about Duran over the years that it’s a bit hard to imagine there might be anything much new that we might still discover.  And, it would seem even less likely that it would be something that would literally take us right back to the glory years of the band as they were working fervently on their third album with the unmistakable title of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

Well, 2015 is here and we’re all getting back into the regular swing of things. Here is a link to a little New Year treat from ten and a half years ago in July 2004, (seems hard to believe), that drops us right beside Ian Little, and our favourite band back in 1983.

Despite having the same first name as the writer of the article, Richard Buskin, I have no connection with the Sound on Sound article CLASSIC TRACKS: ‘The Reflex’ at all other than luckily stumbling across it yesterday afternoon on December 20th.

Simply put, it is the best, most in-depth and honest article I’ve ever read about the band, the good, the great and not-always-so-great moments.  It is truly a refreshingly honest and detailed look focused primarily at the intricacies of making of the album, and a sense of what it was like for Ian Little and the Fab 5 at that magical point in time.

It’s not quite the same of course as the Classic Albums DVD of Rio, beyond the fact it is a printed article, as funny enough the band isn’t quite center stage, or not always even its central focus.  Rather, it brings us readers closer than ever before into the whole process of what it was like to make 7ATRT, sharing what happened before and during the recording sessions, with a stream of wonderful insights and all the ebbs and flows in between along with a dramatic dash to the finish line.  In fact, Ian Little was arguably the sixth member of the band for that album, so perhaps it could even have been called Eight and the Ragged Tiger.

Regardless of whether 7ATRT is on your top list of favourite Duran Duran albums or not, this article is literally ‘a treasure that was lying in the dark.’

And, if you haven’t seen it before, I really hope you enjoy it reading it as much as I did!

(My sincere thanks to Amanda and Rhonda of the Daily Duranie for allowing me to present this guest blog and share this terrific story with everyone.)

Richard Bendell photoRichard J. Bendell is a long-time and devoted fan of Duran Duran, their music, their visuals, musical instincts, their longevity, pretty much everything! I’m an accountant by trade, but I’ve also self-published a book in 2012 about one of the most famous sporting events in history that was 10 years in the making called: 1972 – THE SUMMIT SERIES: Canada vs. USSR, Stats, Lies & Videotape, The UNTOLD Story of Hockey’s Series of the Century

Rio: The Duran Duran drought is over?

I’ve almost certainly lost my DD mojo at this point.

These are words I actually texted to a friend of mine on Saturday afternoon as we discussed going to see the greatest Duran Duran tribute band on this side of the Atlantic – Rio. They were playing at the Totally 80’s Bar in Fullerton California, which wasn’t far from my house.  I needed a night out, as did my husband. There has been a serious Duran Duran drought going on, and judging from responses I’ve seen over the past several months to whatever the band says, or even what happen to say on Twitter, it sounds like this is a full-fledged emergency.

Before I get into whom to blame for this tragedy (I think we all know exactly who is to blame here), let’s just talk about that evening. The truth of the matter, it’s been so long that I’ve been out, I feared I’d forgotten how to dress. I spend my luxurious, fun-filled days in jeans, a t-shirt and athletic trainers, running after a now five-month old puppy before he decides to use our house as his personal toilet among many other equally amazing “hobbies” I’ve acquired in the past four years. Dare I say I’ve become frumpy?!? I certainly feel that way every morning when I crawl out of bed, grabbing the first clothing items I can throw on, not even bothering with makeup or hair product. Instead of just being a Duranie-on-a (short) hiatus, I felt like I was becoming my mother, feeling every single second of my forty-four years on this planet. For a while, I even started to give in, waving my dishtowel as a white flag in defeat, sensing that it might be a while, perhaps even forever, before I went to another concert and screamed for the men onstage.

Yes, I had lost my DD mojo. Most definitely.  There is an intense Duran Duran drought going on here.

So that brings me to Saturday night. Immediately upon texting that I’d go to see Rio, I realized I had no idea of what to wear. Did I even still fit into my typical concert clothing? It had been months since I actually did a full make-up job or worried about my hair – could I still pull it off? Probably not. I pulled on my jeans, noting that I could still breathe (definitely an unexpected bonus), and then tried on a shirt. I shrugged it on, and then went to the mirror to see how bad it looked. I took a peek, and to my surprise – I started to recognize the reflection in the mirror. Yes, the girl was still in there, but what about the band…the real band? I hear we’ve got at least another six months of this Duran Duran drought ahead. Seriously, they expect us to hang on this long with virtually nothing?? No one needs remind me that they’ve done a few shows over the past year – but unless you were lucky to be able to attend one – which I was not, the rest of us are still living a California-sized Duran Duran drought.

We get to the club that night and sit down to grab a little pre-show dinner. If you haven’t been, the menu is filled with delights like the Breakfast Club burger (which has everything including an egg and hash browns on it) to Tater-Tots with toppings like poutine or nacho cheese sauce. They also have drinks that run the gamot of 80’s names. Yes, they even have a Duran Duran shot bomb. From memory it is black cherry vodka with some grenadine dropped into Red Bull.  I am certain this could kill me, so I go for the Richard Blade Rum Runner instead (still Duran themed, damn it!). I don’t even remember what is in this drink, but it was good. I want to say there was something raspberry in there with rum and maybe even some pineapple. Not sure. I just know I drank it and lived, even if my memory did not.

My friends arrive, we chat for a while at our table and then make our way to the front of the club to see the show. I’ve been to see Rio before – in fact I’ve done an interview with them here on the blog as well as reviewed a show, so being near the front wasn’t a requirement, but we made our way as close as possible – which ended up being directly to the side of some speakers. Yay for more early onset hearing loss! The show starts and the band is terrific as always. Honestly, as Tiger Tiger began, I could feel the Duran Duran drought ending for me in very much the same way I felt when California finally got some rain in December. Nourishment!! Relief!! I felt at home because let’s face it – Rio’s set list is vaguely familiar, with tunes like Planet Earth, Hungry Like the Wolf (oh you betcha!), Come Undone, Ordinary World…but they also played Is There Something I Should Know, New Moon on Monday (which sounded just a little off to me, but in fairness I was only getting part of the sound through the one set of speakers deafening me), and New Religion. A full-set of Duran Duran drought ending greatness. I can’t  complain about their show (and I wouldn’t anyway because as I’ve already said – this is the greatest DD Tribute band on this side of the pond, hands-down). For this Duranie, their set gave me a hint of DD mojo back.

However, just as I was starting to remember why it is I love the band, and yes, lately it has been difficult to remember why…I started remembering what I’d forgotten about concerts in general.

People are freaking NUTS.

We’d made our way up to nearly the front of the stage before the show started, not by pretending we knew someone or faking a leg injury, by just walking up to the front. After all, this wasn’t the band. I mean, it was Rio…but it wasn’t Duran Duran. Apparently though, management forgot to mention that small detail to many of the women (and a whole lot of the men!) in attendance. I witnessed behavior that night that I haven’t seen (well some of it I’ve never seen, but I’ll get to that in a bit) in a looonnnnngg time. From the woman who refused to give up on getting to the front no matter how many times the gentleman who stopped her from barging up there continued to put her off, to the presumable grandmother that elbowed me several times, leaving me with a nasty bruise on the backside of my arm to shove me out-of-the-way so that she could lock eyes with “Simon” Jake Jacobs, and the very, very drunk woman who used the stage as a way to prop her arms so that she could twerk for her man (I really wish I were joking about that one)…I was shocked. Pushing and shoving to get up front to see a tribute band? Climbing on to the stage to dance with the band members? Staking out front row spots to have a chance for Jake to grab your hand and sing to you?  Where in the hell was I???  I continued to utter the same words throughout the show: “You know this isn’t like, THE BAND…right?!?”  I can only imagine that the Duran Duran drought has caused this kind of madness.

Don’t get me wrong. Rio is fabulous. They are an outstanding band, and they have a great time doing what they do. They’re true musicians and I dare say rock stars in their own right. But they’re not Duran Duran. Unless of course you haven’t seen Duran Duran in what, three or four years. Then suddenly, this tribute band takes on a whole new meaning – they’re helping end the Duran Duran drought!! They’re the band that is standing incredibly well for the other band that can’t seem to be bothered at the moment. From what I saw that night, the crowd is more than happy to take what they’re eager to give. And then some.

The show had everything from a guy jumping up on stage to take a photo with the band – which was harmless enough, to a woman who helped herself to a free frontal feel on “Simon”. (Don’t even ask…although I wonder if the real Simon has been molested the way Jake was that night. I’m going to guess in the affirmative, even though Jake himself told me that in the twenty-something years he’s spent performing, it’s never happened before that night. Nice.) By all intents and purposes, this very-packed crowd genuinely believed it was the real deal on the stage that night, obviously to the credit of Rio. The tribute band really is that charismatic, and while I stood by mostly mortified on Saturday night, Rio tells me that I shouldn’t go around reminding people they’re not really Duran Duran. They love being the enablers for the fantasy, and the last thing they really need is someone like me screaming “Get off my lawn!” Fair enough.

However, facts are facts, and it has been just about three-and-a-half years since the band toured. It has been just over four years since All You Need is Now has been released. As of spring this year, this will be the very longest it’s EVER GONE between album releases – you want to talk about a Duran Duran drought?? Here we are, people! This is insane. Fans are restless. They need shows. They want new music. The tribute band Rio helps to pass the time, and I’m grateful that they play, but they aren’t Duran Duran in the same way that Simon, John, Nick, Roger AND Dom are Duran Duran (and also to their credit, Rio knows this). We’re not a bunch of teenagers anymore that can still be counted on to be there in five or ten years. Fans probably won’t still be there if the band continues to wait to tour or put out a single or do much of anything. At our age – time is a commodity we’re losing, like it or not. I very much respect John, Simon, Roger and Nick – but I very much disagree with the attitude they continue to expel at every opportunity that they don’t need to hurry or get themselves out there to continue the momentum that they have almost assuredly lost after all of this time. To that I must emphatically respond, “You don’t get it at all. You really and truly just do not get it, boys.”

I question what is really going on “behind the curtain” at times such as these. It is difficult to be a Duranie in this Duran Duran drought at the moment. On one hand, of course I want to be supportive. At the end of it all, I’m still a fan. Disgruntled? Perhaps. Bored? Certainly. But I still care. I want to say, “Take the time you need. We’ll wait!” On the other hand, I’m wondering if they really want to get out there at all. It’s been a long-ass time since All You Need is Now. You can’t even argue that it hasn’t. Why did they need so many big names on one album? Why haven’t they put out a single at this point if for no other reason than to put voices like mine with questions like the ones I’ve brought up here to rest? Why don’t they seem to care at all? Have they lost their minds???  Or, is their collective heart not really in the game anymore, and they don’t know how to SAY they’re done?  I think most fans, including myself, feel like this album might be the last for a least a very long while – and every single time I hear Nick say “Well, we’ll certainly play some shows”… my heart hears, “Well, we might play SOME shows…but probably not nearly as many as we did before” and it sinks. Each time John does a Katy Kafe and sounds like he’d much rather be plucking his nose-hairs, I feel it sink even farther. How does a fan stay optimistic during this Duran Duran drought?!?

Mostly, I’ve lost my DD mojo, and this Duran Duran drought feels never-ending. We all tell ourselves that we don’t mind waiting and that it’ll be worth it in the end because otherwise, we wouldn’t be fans. I’ve been doing that as much as anyone. It is the name of the fandom game – we’ll wait because the other choice is to walk away and not care. I also know that for as many people who will tell me they’ll wait forever for Simon and Co…there are still others who are nodding their heads as they read this, proud of my “bravery” in publicly saying what we’re all thinking. This blog isn’t managed or supported by the band. I am not required to adhere to party line talking points provided by a PR company. I write whatever I’m thinking or feeling on any given day and it’s 100% truthful, even if the concerns are unfounded when all said and done – and with that comes great freedom, if not also a little sadness.

The Duran Duran drought continues…

-R

Duran Duran Mix Tape Vol 1 Side B

Back for the Duran Duran mix tape B-Side today,  just in time for your New Year’s extravaganzas tonight!

11. One of Those Days

This is the other sneaky good song on the “B” side of Astronaut. According to the liner notes, they wrote it last (only a few months before the album’s release).  I wonder if this song gives us a glimpse into the sound of Reportage. Much of Astronaut feels forced to me, like the band felt pressured to make Duran-sounding dance music for the 2000s. Where it works, it works well (Sunrise, Nice) but in other cases…it just doesn’t (for me). Yet “One of Those Days” has more of an indie rock 90s feel to it…not sure if Simon had the lyric first (probably not), or Andy first came up with the riff, but whatever they did, it worked. It feels out of place on the album but too good to exclude, which is why I’m guessing they buried it on the second side.   On a side note, the band was supposed to play this during the rehearsals for “Red Carpet Massacre” (in fact it’s even listed on the set list for those shows if you look it up), but alas, it actually got cut. I was there…those shows were played five minutes from my house…my one chance to hear this song live and they cut it.

12. Midnight Sun

I wanted to list two tracks on this Duran Duran mix tape that were both 10th on their respective albums…what’s wrong with that? Okay, not true, in actuality…wait for it…I LOVE THIS SONG. Like most of Medazzaland. Again. I’ll stop.

13. Land

This is probably the only mistake I made on this Duran Duran mix tape. I decided to get back to moody songs. Here’s the deal: on Big Thing, Land is a grand, sweeping ballad that is the perfect centerpiece to the second side. But it’s a clunker on any playlist like this. For the last 25 years I have tried to shoehorn it in and to no avail. Will delete it after I finish writing this.

14. Big Bang Generation

I think I’m done with moody songs. Aside from loving the song musically, lyrically it gets me too (more so as I get older). “Now all our heroes gone…” certainly resonates.

15. I Don’t Want Your Love (Shep Pettibone 7” Mix)

The late 80s hit single that NOBODY outside of Duran fandom remembers, until you play it for them. It was all over MTV and the radio in the fall/winter of 1988 but people have collective amnesia about it. Baffling.

16. Falling Down

I know, I know—the only thing worse than creating a playlist with most of Medazzaland included is overloading on RCM tracks. Buckle up, people, because I’m not done. And as tough as that album and its impact on the fandom was, this is a phenomenal song that deserved a better fate.

17. The Valley (2009 Songbook Live version)

An amazing live Duran song; especially the guitar. If you haven’t seen Songbook, go to YouTube and watch it…or buy the DVD, it isn’t hard to find. John’s description of this song and Simon’s lyric is fascinating. The short version is that Simon hated this song and everyone else (including Yasmin) thought it was the best song on the album. The album mix criminally turns down Dom’s guitars (a shot at Andy and the “new sound” the band was going for, which is unfortunate), thus you really need to get this live version.

18. Sunrise ( VH1 Live Special)

The hybrid Nevins remix/album version that they play. I’m glad that something the original lineup did in the early 2000s will at least remain a staple in the set list and resonates with the fans. This song has come light years from the early 2003 version (which Rhonda likes much more than me. It’s all good. We are a “big tent” fandom.) For all of the criticism Duran gets for being “over produced” (and in many cases it’s true), here is an example where production not only salvaged a song but turned it into something special. (Ironically, the complete opposite is true on “What Happens Tomorrow,” with the early 2003 live version being far superior to what ended up on Astronaut.).

19. Nice (2005 Hammersmith Palais)

Another one I wish would get played in the set going forward, although it probably won’t. One of the best songs from Astronaut. My wife and five-year old son heard it at the store recently, so at least it’s getting some satellite radio airplay.

20. Do You Believe in Shame? (Live 2009 Songbook)

I warned you that this Duran Duran mix tape would veer into something different…I wanted some live cuts…but decided to at least go back to the “slow and moody” theme. I may have screwed up by including “Land” but you can’t go wrong with DYBIS.

20. Leave a Light On (Unstaged)

Another favorite from AYNIN. When I first heard this song, I thought it was just a cheap “Save a Prayer” rip-off that Ronson made them do. But the lyrics and music grew on me and the song took on a much more personal meaning. I actually couldn’t listen to it without tearing up. To me, “Leave a Light On” is about hope and written from the perspective of someone who has made it back to the “Ordinary World” that he had to so desperately find. The promise of the “half-dreamed shade of yesterday/in bloom tomorrow” spoken of in “So Long Suicide” is delivered. This person who was grieving is healed now; the void in his life, and heart, is filled: “You ease the lost cause out of me/With your sweet hand to bring me home/I’m not alone.” Am I massively projecting? Yes. But as Simon says in the “Songbook” interview, these songs, once released, belong to us.

And on that note, you have…a December Duran Duran mix tape!

What say you? Should I have put more Medazzaland songs on? Should I be less moody during the holiday season?   And more importantly—what is on YOUR current Duran Duran mix tape?

Duran Duran Mix Tape Vol 1 Side A

This is the first in a series of ongoing articles about Duran Duran mix tapes created by fans.  Or maybe it’s a standalone thing like Arcadia—it’s really unknowable at this point.

To those of us old enough to remember, making a Duran Duran mix tape was an all-night affair that involved shuffling through cassettes, pressing pause at just the right time, and nervously trying to figure out how much space was left just by eyeballing the amount of tape remaining on the spool (because adding up the song times and subtracting them from 45:00 would be too hard).

This month, I was in a reflective mood…okay, I’ll admit, a Medazzaland mood.  Be warned.  However, one of the miracles of dragging and dropping songs is that what you start out with is often not what you end up with…

This Duran Duran mix tape is, of course…two sided… an A-side and a B-side. Today we’ll start with side-A, and follow-up with the B-side tomorrow, just in time for your New Year’s Eve party plans.

1.  Still Breathing

I was in the mood for something slow and moody (my wife would reply, “Just look in the mirror after you first wake up”), and I especially like the haunting synths and drums on this track.  I will admit that I don’t rank this in the upper tier of Duran ballads/slow songs, but maybe after ten years it’s growing on me.

2. She’s Too Much

Is it me or does this track get lost in the train wreck that is the B side of Red Carpet Massacre?  I find that I completely forget this song exists, then stumble upon it and realize how much I like it.  It flows very nicely after Still Breathing.  Exactly the mood I was going for.

3. So Long Suicide

Now we’re talking. My favorite song from the second side of Medazzaland. I’ve always viewed this song as the sequel to “Ordinary World.”  Despite the ominous “suicide” in the title, this remains hopeful —“I need you I don’t want to bleed for you” and “hello I’m alive!”—but there is also that line, “I’m scared of being ordinary” which I’ve viewed as a reference to “Ordinary World” and the fact that this person’s struggle goes on.  The conflict also comes through in the song’s structure, as the calm verses are interrupted by the raucous guitars in the up-tempo chorus, mirroring the ebb and flow that you go through when you’re grieving. I’ve probably thought way too much about this song in the 17 years it’s been out…but it’s a favorite of mine.

4. Chains

Astronaut has two sneaky good songs buried on its “B” side and this is one of them, the original line-up’s answer to “Out of my mind” in a weird way.  I especially like the classic Duran “na na na” during the bridge.   Makes things a tad more upbeat…

5. Who Do You Think You Are?

I told you I was in a “Medazzaland” mood.  This is a more straightforward power ballad than So Long Suicide, although it still has that slow/fast/slow thing going on.

6. Winter Marches On

You knew this would be on this Duran Duran mix tape somewhere, right?  It’s generally regarded as the closest thing Duran has to a Christmas song (this is according to Nick himself in an Ask Katy many years ago). It stands out as the slowest track on the otherwise heavily funk influenced Notorious. And, for the purposes of this list…it’s as far back in time as I go (what can I say? Classic Duran reminds me of the summer. It’s winter. Not in the mood for that…and this is all about mood!).

7. The Edge of America

Duran at their most U2-ish.  Perfect place to go after “Winter.”

8. Lake Shore Driving

I suppose I could have separated these two but that doesn’t feel right.  And I’m sick of adding all these slow songs. We need to pick things up.

9. Runway Runaway

After four years, I think we can now objectively review AYNIN and place it in context. And at this time…I believe this is my favorite song off that album and one of my favorites ever by the band. I would include this in any mix I make…

10.  Red Carpet Massacre

The heresy!  Look, this song is great…I was done with slow songs…stop judging.

11.  Be My Icon

Wickedly clever lyrics and awesome guitar.  I warned you that I was in a Medazzaland mood…

And in perfect Duran-style, I’m leaving you all hanging, wanting more…until tomorrow when I unveil the rest of this Duran Duran mix tape!

Be thinking of your own Duran Duran mix tape choices and let me know what your A-side would sound like in the comments!

-C.K.

Simon LeBon – Year End Katy Kafe

I am way, way late with the Katy Kafe highlights for Simon and Nick, and I apologize.  To begin with, for some reason I couldn’t get the audio to play on my laptop (I have a MacBook), which has never happened before, and then well, Christmas happened.  So I’m a little late, but never fear, I have the highlights!!

Simon LeBon and Katy settled in, Katy with Lemonade and Simon with whiskey for a pretend “fireside” chat about 2014.

Simon LeBon on Band Aid

Simon did a Rolling Stone interview on Band Aid, so if you’ve missed out on that, check it out. However, he did share his pride with being on the original. He was one of the first to agree to doing the record, along with Sting – and even after showing up that fateful morning to realize that it wasn’t just he and Sting on it, he feels as though the song has stood the test of time.

Simon LeBon on favorite album of 2014

This year, Simon really has enjoyed London Grammar‘s album “If You Wait”. Simon describes the album as ambient and soft without a set rhythm.  He also has enjoyed another Estonian artist that I can’t even spell…nor find phonetically online…but you can find it on his twitter if you care to search!

Simon LeBon on favorite concert of 2014

Simon said that he didn’t see too many concerts this year…something about being locked up in the dark of the studio for the past year I suppose… He did go see Leonard Cohen though, and also saw Fleetwood Mac, which he really enjoyed.

Simon LeBon on favorite film of 2014

Simon said that the only films he saw this year were on airplanes, and then mentioned Cold In July.

Simon LeBon on favorite TV of 2014

Hands down, it seems that Simon’s favorite TV show was Happy Valley – a UK show starring Sarah Lancashire. He says the show was very dark, which seemed to be an ongoing theme for Simon in 2014.

Simon LeBon on favorite book of 2014

Simon began his year with Donna Tartt and The Goldfinch, and ended it with Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels, beginning with Never Mind.  These novels are considered autobiographical,  even though the main character has a fictional name.  We also learn that Simon reads more than one book at a time.  (Don’t we all? I have several going at one time, depending on what mood I’m in and whether I’m doing research or reading for fun.)

Simon LeBon on favorite event of 2014

You get one guess and it starts with “Fashion”.  You guessed it – for Simon, Fashion Rocks topped off 2014. As a personal favorite, Simon looks to celebrating his father’s 80th birthday as the event of the year.

Simon LeBon on DD14

OK, admit it – this is what you’ve been waiting for.  Simon says the album will be out in June or July (which really means Autumn at the earliest if you speak Duran Duran. We haven’t even made it through New Years Eve yet and we’ve already preempted half of next year.) He says the album is brilliant, (I am thrilled but I want to make that judgment for myself. Next year, thankyouverymuch.) but they need to cut down the songs to about 10 (right now they are at 13, according to Simon – and you’ll soon find that it depends on what band member you’re talking to as to how many songs they’ve got.) Best question of the Kafe? Katy asked Simon what they’ll do with the songs they have leftover after deciding upon the album. Simon’s answer, which is likely the best answer of 2014 no matter how you slice it – “We’ll sell them to One Direction.”

wild applause

Katy also asked if they had an album title. Simon said yes. Then he spoke “LeBon gibberish” and said that he gave the album title backwards.  Then he did it again, and again…each time sounding just a little different.  So, yeah.  It’s still #DD14 to me.  Yay.

And we’re off to 2015…

-R

 

Careless Memories – Is It Worth the Price?

Over the weekend, I found myself in a healthy discussion regarding the Denis O’Regan photo book – Careless Memories. I haven’t personally ordered a copy of the book, but I know a few other fans that ordered a copy of Careless Memories and seem very pleased. The discussion centered around whether or not we’d buy the book even if money were not an option. All who participated in the conversation felt the book to be incredibly expensive and certainly out of reach of many fans. There are always those that will buy whatever is being offered at whatever price point; but for many, price dictates.

Last week, someone sent a question in to Ask Katy about Careless Memories, inquiring whether it was truly worth the price (we’re talking anywhere from £250 on up to £2500). Katy’s reply gave details about the special nature of the book and it’s construction. She closed stating that while it is certainly an investment, isn’t all art (an investment)?

Not only do I appreciate art, I am a certified Decorative Arts Appraiser. That means I’ve been trained to learn how to use market data to assign value to decorative art (paintings and drawings, photographs, sculptures, pop culture memorabilia or yes…gems and jewelry). I know what art is, and to be completely fair, the very question of what is considered “art” is pretty subjective, although there is a vague framework to help define.  Art must be unique if not also rare, it must have beauty, and by some definitions it must be a human expression or application of emotion. The door is left VERY wide open as to what may or may not be considered art, and of course what might be art to one person might not be to someone else. Does Careless Memories fit that bill?

We traded ideas over whether or not the very fact that the book (or photos within) is mass-marketed should make a difference. After all, many works of art have millions of prints made – but are those prints still considered art, or mass-media representations?There’s definitely room for discussion over whether Careless Memories in it’s mass-marketed form (not the original photos themselves, but the book as a whole) really is a good example of art. Are they priced as such and do they hold that value well? In that case, are prints of artwork still an investment? The fact is, being willing to spend £1000 or more on a larger format photo book doesn’t necessarily make that book an investment…although I’d probably argue that to a willing fan, it absolutely is, regardless of whether it is a good investment, or otherwise. However, that is an emotional definition, not wholly factual.

While I hold no resentment about Careless Memories or my decision not purchase a copy, it is clearly being marketed AT fans with the pricing being out of the reach of most. Then again, isn’t most art that way? Warhol isn’t necessarily “cheap” pop art. Even Thomas Kincaid, one of the most mass-marketed kitsch artists ever – isn’t “cheap” by any means if you’re talking about Artist-handled prints. Let’s face it, the band knows exactly what they are doing here, and we really cannot fault them – because ultimately it is in the hands of each of us to decide whether or not to play the game and make these purchases. It puts fans in the position of having to decide how much the band means to them personally,  and it ends up being an emotionally charged purchase, one the band “banks” on, so to speak.

As is typical, there are always fans willing to pay. I checked the website for Careless Memories late last week, and the most expensive editions of the book (“Unique” and “Special” editions), ones that include things such as (not each book contains all things mentioned – these are simply examples) “golden tickets”, meet and greets with the band, special prints direct from 1984 negatives, and personally signed copies of photos and books, were sold out or “unavailable”.  These ranged in price from £1000-£2500.  Even the least expensive edition – “Collector”, has a very hefty price tag of £250 – not a price most fans can even consider, especially at this time of year. Yet when I look at how many books are available in that edition – very few are sold, perhaps an indication that the price is just out of reach.  Fandom continues, in many respects, to be an excellent real-life example of the “haves” and “have-nots”.

While I’ve had the good fortune to do many things consistent with the “haves” column, in the case of Careless Memories I am definitely in the “have-not” column. Not spiteful, not resentful (there’s no point), but I do find myself questioning the tag of  “investment”.  I suppose though, that makes the difference between a buyer and a bystander.

-R

Daily Duranie Review – A Matter of Feeling

It is time for another Daily Duranie review, a review of the song, A Matter of Feeling.  This song is the fourth song off of the album, Notorious.  This was an album track and one with a slower tempo to it.  What do we think of this song?  Was it a good addition to the album?  Should it have been more than an album track?

Rhonda on A Matter of Feeling

 Instrumentation:

A Matter of Feeling starts off with this smooth woodwind type sampling, almost like a flute, that provides the opening melody. Overall it’s a very easy, smooth song – but it’s not overly simple. There are many layers to the song and subtle sounds in the background. Where this type of recording seems to differ from Seven and the Ragged Tiger is that “the background” really does mean the background. The sounds are there, but they’re really put behind the main melody, so the listener doesn’t have that feeling of frenetic noise being thrown at them. This is one example of the maturity gained on this album.  This is definitely a ballad by Duran standards, and as I listen – I can hear the maturity that eventually grew into music like Ordinary World (Yes I am aware Warren wrote the melody for that song. My point is merely that there was a journey the band had to take in order to get to the point where that song could have ever been recorded, and A Matter of Feeling is one mile marker on that journey.) ‘t 5:57 in length, A Matter of Feeling seems very long, especially since the very end consists of the same melody, some improvisational vocals and the same melody.  I really feel they could have cut about a minute off of the song and still had a quality piece of music.

Vocals

I think Simon is at his best when the vocals feel unforced and easy. This song definitely gives him room to move without forcing him into octaves or keys where he’s not comfortable, and I respect that. I recently heard an interview from this same period of time where Simon mentions how uncomfortable he is singing in specific keys that were apparently “required” of him due to some inflexibility on behalf of a specific band member.  Unfortunately, it is incredibly obvious when those songs come up, and it’s really nice to listen to a song like A Matter of Feeling when you can hear Simon’s voice relaxed, open and full rather than choked off and strained. Even in the background improv vocals at the very end, which are admittedly higher in his range, he doesn’t have that same strain that I hear in other work. Well done.

Lyrics:

I’ve got to ask – is this song about John?  It sure reads like it. It’s been pretty well documented as to how “alone” John really felt – and the lines “Steal away in the morning, love’s already history to you. It’s a habit you’re forming. This body’s desperate for something new.”  I don’t know, I just sort of hear this as a call to John. (sorry if that’s not the case!) In any case, there are specific lines of this song that really hit me.  I love the lines at the beginning about feeling alone in a crowd or that acquaintances smile but it’s not understanding.  Sounds like comments about fame. As someone who isn’t famous, it’s true – it is incredibly difficult to have that understanding. I can’t imagine, but Simon writes about it often if you listen to the words. My favorite line in the song: “Whenever you slow down to see life is passing by”.  Sometimes I need reminding that life really is passing! When I really listen to songs like these, I sometimes wonder if the band hasn’t been trying to explain themselves to us for years, and nearly none of us really take the time to listen.  Confession time – I don’t think I ever really took the time to LISTEN to A Matter of Feeling and what it’s saying until today.

Overall:

I’m a little ashamed to say that this is a song I always tended to skip over. For me, it initially came off a little boring I suppose, I’m not really a ballad person, and especially not as a teenager when this album was released. I find that once I’ve decided that a song is in that realm, I don’t tend to listen to it often, even today. It’s a shame and I’ve missed out, because in doing this review, I realize just how much of a message this song and the band wanted to share.  It’s one of those underrated gems (and there are plenty) within the band’s catalog. The writing, the music, the vocals – they’re all top notch, and what’s more – I can identify with what is being conveyed to a certain extent. I may not be famous, but I know how I feel in a crowd, and after reading John’s autobiography – I’d be shocked if this song wasn’t about him, at least in part. It’s a special song, and if you haven’t listened to A Matter of Feeling lately – take the time.

Cocktail Rating:

4 cocktails!4 cocktails rating

 

 

Amanda on Matter of Feeling

Instrumentation:

The instrumentation of A Matter of Feeling has a smooth feel to it.  Some instrumentation changes throughout the song but there are many parts that remain constant that works to give it that smooth sense.  For example, in the beginning of the song, one can definitely hear the bass and drums but there is a higher-pitch, almost flute sounding layer that doesn’t last once Simon is singing, but the bass and drums are continuous.   Nick’s keyboards are soft sounding even during the chorus.  In fact, all of the instrumentation is soft and never get faster than a mid-tempo.  It is a classic Duran pseudo ballad in that way.  Of course, there are some additional sounds added, at times, but none of those additives take away from the general feeling of the song or distract the listener.

Vocals:

Much like the instrumentation, when I think of Simon’s vocal, I think of smooth.  While a lot of A Matter of Feeling is in a lower range, there moments when he hits some higher notes.  Unlike previous songs on this album, his voice sounds less strained and sounds more natural.  In fact, because of this, I think you can tell of the subtle vocal ability Simon has.  The vocals work well with the instrumentation, too.  One of the things I do like about A Matter of Feeling is that neither the vocals nor the instrumentation are dominant as both garner my attention, at different moments in the song.

Lyrics:

A Matter of Feeling reminds me of the lyrics of Seven and the Ragged Tiger in that it truly seems to be about their lives, including and especially, about being famous and the loneliness of fame.  Certainly, the first four lines indicate this:  “How does it feel when everyone surrounds you?  How do you deal?   Do crowds just make you feel lonely?”  Then, I have to wonder if the chorus isn’t a reference to one night stands with lines like, “Love’s already history to you.  It’s a habit you’re forming.  This body’s desperate for something new.”  Out of all of the lines, though, the one that sticks out to me the most is, “Who knows, you might find something to last.”  Is that what they would looking for then?  Stability?  Commitment?  If these lyrics are autobiographical, then, they really do make fame less than desirable.  One thing I will note is that, unlike Seven and the Ragged Tiger, these lyrics seem more obvious, more straight forward.  The lyrics aren’t wrapped in metaphor and poetry.  While many missed these qualities, I think these lyrics are still emotion filled.

Overall:

A Matter of Feeling  has a lot going for it.  It clearly falls into that not-quite a ballad but a slower tempo song.  Musically and vocally, it is pleasant and enjoyable to listen to.  While the lyrics might be about fame and Duran’s personal experiences, I think that many can relate to some of those lyrics of loneliness.  The production seems smooth.  Yet, it isn’t one that I’m immediately drawn to.  Is that because I tend to go for more upbeat songs?  Possibly.  That said, when I do go for something of this tempo, I don’t go for this one.  I think it is a good song but seems to lack something to make it a great song.  The only thing I can figure out is that it lacks that special, unique type of quality that I need to make it a favorite.

Cocktail Rating:

  1. 5 cocktail glasses

3.5 martini glasses

 

Kingdom – The Daily Duranie Review

Mockingjay Promo poster

Today we’re reviewing Kingdom, off of the soundtrack to the latest Hunger Games movie, called Mockingjay Pt. 1.  The soundtrack was released on November 17th.  “Kingdom” by Charli XCX, features Simon Le Bon. Yes, Duran’s Simon. While we are both super excited just to hear any new music from anyone in the Duran camp, we thought it would be good to take the time to really listen to the song and write about our overall thoughts.  Read our review and let us know what you think!

Rhonda’s Thoughts on Kingdom:

First of all, I must apologize for my tardiness in getting Kingdom reviewed.  I had asked Amanda to give her thoughts, but then completely forgot to add my own, and it has sat in our “drafts” box for quite a while now. Sorry!

I was somewhat familiar with Charli XCX prior to hearing that Simon would be featured on Kingdom – I have a teenage girl in the house, and so this artist has been mentioned by her before.  I was curious how the collaboration might sound, and I was very hopeful after hearing Simon’s own feelings about Kingdom in this interview on Yahoo! Music with Lori Majewski. He describes Kingdom as being a Nursery Rhyme musically, but lyrically being very, very dark.  After reading that, I was properly intrigued. Knowing the Hunger Games franchise, I felt that Kingdom would work really well in with the soundtrack, as well. Anyone who has read the books or seen the movies should understand the nuances between light (triumph) and darkness (loss) that occur throughout the series.

Although I am familiar with Charli XCX – it is by name only for the most part. I probably couldn’t pick her out of a lineup, and I doubt that I’d be able to recognize her music from others, so that is my disclaimer for this review.  As I listen to the beginning of Kingdom, the song reminds me of a child’s music box.  As promised, there is definitely a fairy-tale quality. The vocals are very well suited to the song – she has a child-like sweetness and innocence to her voice, which is such a fantastic texture to add to the darkness of the lyrics, which is also very reminiscent of a fairy-tale. (Have you really listened to a fairy tale or even Ring-Around-The-Rosey lately?? The plots and lyrics are freaking SCARY. I don’t think I realized until I became a parent. Talk about twisted..and we wonder why kids can’t sleep. Gee, I don’t know…maybe they’re afraid some witch is going to throw them into an oven, or feed them a poisoned apple…or they’re going to catch the plague and die!) There are some other little effects that go on here and there throughout Kingdom that, in my opinion, do little to benefit. In some ways the sound effects almost add humor to the song, and I don’t know that it’s needed. I just know that I love what was done with the song and the lyrics.  Now, about that Simon…. because I know that’s what you’re all wondering.  Simon’s voice is incredibly well-suited to this song, and it’s been SO long since I’ve heard and felt that timbre from his voice, there’s just this tasty depth that I don’t think he’s really used since the first Duran Duran album, but yet there’s still the light. Even here, his vocals have light, and the texture is unbelievably good.  My only small complaint is that they didn’t use him enough.  I love the way Charli XCX slowed the ending down, just as a music box runs out of steam, and the fairy tale of Kingdom ends.  Well done Simon, well done Charli XCX.

I haven’t caught the movie yet – and I enjoyed the books even though I bit my nails off from stress while reading, so I’m looking forward to hearing how this song might have been used. I bought the soundtrack off of iTunes just so that I could have Kingdom and it’s going to keep me going until Duran’s new album FINALLY COMES OUT…hopefully sometime this decade…. 🙂

-R

 Amanda’s Thoughts on Kingdom:

I will be the very first one to admit that I have no idea who Charli XCX is.  Is this someone I should know?  Will this artist blend well with Simon?  Will I care after not having any new music for so long?  Besides, I figured that Kingdom would just showcase Simon’s vocal skills.  I was definitely excited for that.  As much as I might give Simon a hard time about various things, I totally admit that he has some mad skills when it comes to that voice of his!  Of course, I also knew that Kingdom would be on a soundtrack.  Would it enhance the movie?  Will it match the mood of the movie or the scene that it will be featured in?  For me to answer those questions, I might need some additional time to actually see the movie.  All of that said, what did I think of the song without knowing how it is in the movie or without knowing anything about Charli XCX?

This is a strange song for me to review as it isn’t really Simon’s song.  He is just a guest, a featured artist.  Can I judge Charli XCX?  Do I know enough?  My guess is probably not but I will say what I think, anyway.  It wouldn’t be the first time that I offered an opinion here (ha!) and it won’t be the last (you can say that again!).  All that said, I love the opening notes to the song with the piano sound.  It reminds me of a Tori Amos.  The voice sort of reminds of Tori, too.  Clearly, Charli XCX does not have a common voice–it is more ethereal, more mystical.  This definitely fits with the description that Simon said about it being like a dark fairytale.  Normally, her voice isn’t a type I would choose to listen to, but, in this case, it really fits with the music and works to create a mood (much like Simon does at his best!).  Of course, about a minute in, the song shifts to include more instrumentation with an electronic feel along with the piano.  I love the music there–the militaristic drum sound really stands out to me. Then, Simon comes.  He is so smooth here and really does add something special to the song.  Yes, I’m a Duranie.  Does that mean I’m biased?  Maybe but I don’t think so.  He adds to the drama, to the emotion of the song.

Truly, Kingdom makes me  WANT to see the movie and see how it is used, which never happens. I only have two complaints. First, the song could be longer and Simon’s part definitely could be longer.  I didn’t get enough from his very brief appearance.  Second, I wish the song was available on its own off of iTunes.  I don’t know that I want the entire soundtrack but I would love to have a copy of this song.

What do the rest of you think?