Duran Duran History: Violence of Summer

According to my handy dandy chart of Duran Duran history, the song, Violence of Summer, was released on this date in 1990 in the U.S.  Ignoring the fact that this was a heck of a long time ago, I appreciate an anniversary that allows me a chance to really explore and acknowledge one individual song.

So, here are some Violence of Summer facts to begin with:
*21st single
*B-side was a song called Throb
*There are a lot of different versions:

  • 4:20 (Album version)
  • 3:30 (7″ Mix)
  • 3:18 (The Story Mix)
  • 4:56 (Power Mix)
  • 4:01 (Power Cutdown)
  • 4:45 (The Dub Mix)
  • 4:23 (The Rock Mix)
  • 6:02 (Version Maxi)

Wikipedia describes the song in this way:

“Violence of Summer” is a bright, simple rock song, with ringing piano-like chords over a slick bass underpinning. Lyrically, the song plays with familiar Duran themes: of fleeting romance in the face of sexual politics, and mars-meets-venus peculiarities between the genders. Le Bon continues to set these preoccupations into more realist scenarios, challenging himself to leave behind the opaque mysticism of the band’s first three albums.

Also worth noting lyrically, is this tracks return to the U.S.-inspired lyrics of Notorious: “going South where her mother writes”, and “breaking heads in the sugar shack” (which references the cover art of Marvin Gaye’s I Want You.)

It was released 23 July 1990 in the UK, and 11 August in the US.”

I, for one, am fascinated with how the song is described both musically and lyrically.  It is simple?  I can get behind the idea of piano-like chords over a slick bass.  As for the lyrical description, I’m not sure about the idea of “fleeting romance in the face of sexual politics”.  I get the idea of a fleeting romance–I suspect that is why the lyric “summer” was included, to show that it was a short term thing.  Was Simon challenging himself, lyrically?  No idea.

What about the video?  Wikipedia describes it this way:

“The video for “Violence of Summer” was filmed in Paris by the young directing duo Big TV! (more conventionally known as Andy Delaney and Monty Whitebloom). The band, with paler skin and shorter hair than before, plays energetically on a set constructed to look like a bumper-car rig (mirroring the amusement park theme of the album sleeve), while models (including Tess Daly) in platinum blonde wigs hang about outside looking seductive. Newly muscular guitarist Warren Cuccurullo is almost unrecognizable to fans who were accustomed to his formerly waif-like appearance.”

First of all, I find it interesting that the writer focused on Warren’s appearance so much.  I don’t know that I would have ever described Warren as “waif-like.”  Then again, there is a lot here about appearances, in general.  There is only one mention of the band playing live and nothing on the rest of the storyline.  Let’s watch the video.  How would you describe it?

What about chart success?  How did it do?

  • #20 UK Singles Chart
  • #64 Billboard Hot 100
  • #36 Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play
  • #13 Billboard Modern Rock Tracks
  • #3 Federation of the Italian Music Industry
  • #29 The Swiss Top 30
  • #59 Australia (ARIA Chart)[1]

Number 20 in the UK really isn’t bad.  64 isn’t great in the US but better than many of the singles that followed.  Isn’t it funny how what is deemed successful is relative.

What do I think of this song?  It is one that I definitely enjoy especially when I am in the mood to sing aloud at the top of my lungs.  Favorite lyrics?  Let’s look at them first.

Hey!, pick it up
This’ll get you out.. of your head
China’s heading up, by the ratings on a motion
She goes with a real head biker, he’s a metalhead
She looks me up and down talkin’ dirty eyes
Sweet sayin’ boy, baby I can lick you any time.
(keep it up)
(Ha ha, that’s right)
Here we go again…
Bit later…
I’m gonna run into ’em round the back
While all them guys break heads in the sugar shack
Don’t give me drink, I don’t wanna get too stoned
Then we’re gonna see who’s gonna take who home
The violence of summer, and love’s taking over
It starts with desire, ends up under cover
Those lips will make me right..
You may look down but don’t think twice (ooh-oh)
So death is on the way,
So what man? I still want to play….
(oh-oh Yeah..)
One, two!
This’ll get you out, of your money
This’ll pick you up, let’s go!
We’ll take a ride, going south where her mother writes
For bad news catches up, we still got a little time
We made it all so far away,
One thing is sure, we shouldn’t stay
I’ll take it all – China gonna get the run around,
A run, a run around..
The violence of summer, and love’s taking over
It starts with desire, ends up under cover
China, na China, na, na, na
China, na China, na, na, na
China, na China, na, na, na
China, na China, na, na
The violence of summer, and love’s taking over
It starts with desire, ends up under cover
Mmmmmm
Loves taking over..
Yes loves taking over..
Loves taking over..
I’m not going to lie.  My favorite line, “Don’t give me drink, I don’t wanna get too stoned.”  What about the rest of you?  What do you think of the song?  Video?  Lyrics?
-A

3 thoughts on “Duran Duran History: Violence of Summer”

  1. Hey, loved this post and love Violence of summer, along with the rest of Liberty (I know, I know I’m one of the very few who does).
    Recently, I did my own cover of VOS, just because I love it so much so I thought to make it “mine” 🙂
    Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for daily duranie, best DD related blog online since forever ❤️
    https://youtu.be/r-v56pWTDGA

  2. Warren playing guitar bare-chested in the clip was something totally new to the long-time Duranies’ eyes.
    Lyric read strange: I thought it was about a love story, but she is a very special” lady… LOL|

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