To be a Fly on the Wall

Imagine yourself, invisible to those around you, sitting in a studio. Or a hotel room. Or someone’s home. You can see and hear everything around you, but they can’t see you.

Now, imagine that scenario on this date in 1986,  as John Taylor and got together in London to discuss “the next Duran Duran album”.  Keep in mind, this is after Roger and Andy had left the band. Simon, Nick, and John were left to figure out the next step for what was arguably (at the time) the biggest band in the world. Where to go from there?

I don’t think I would have envied their positioning. After all, the higher you climb, the farther the potential fall. At this point in 1986, I was 15 years old. The idea of Duran Duran ceasing to exist, or the idea of “new” people ever being in that band were unfathomable to me as a fan. I am quite certain I wasn’t alone. What to do when two of the original members (as the fans knew) left?  Bring in new people? Continue as a threesome? How would Duran Duran look and sound?  Would the fans still respond?

Important questions, to be sure, and I’m not as certain that the answers were all that clear. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to consider moving forward? Sure, there was probably quite a bit of ego and bravado at the time, given their previous success. I’m also certain that at least in part, they wanted to prove to Andy and Roger that they really could go on without them – and that is likely what motivated and drove them to keep going. Even so, I have to wonder what that first meeting to discuss the next album was like.

We could likely debate all day about the outcome. Notorious, the band’s fourth FULL album (Arena was released in 1984 but was not a full-length studio album), and was their answer to how they would move forward. I can remember hearing the album for first time, just after I turned 16, and saying that they didn’t sound the same. It was just different without Andy and Roger, and to be honest – at the time I wasn’t sure I liked it. Their sound had matured more than my musical tastes at the time, I think. Like many of their albums since, it took me a long time to come to terms and have an appreciation. That’s not a critique of the album, but rather my more-ridiculous musical interests of the time.

Even so, I have often wondered what it would have been like during that initial planning, and certainly not just for Notorious!

-R

8 thoughts on “To be a Fly on the Wall”

  1. You really expressed my reactions to Notorious. It is one of my favorites now, but when I first got it I was…dismayed.I loved the pace and frantic energy of SATRT and thrilled to all of Nick’s embellisments. Notorious seemed a totally new band and I’m sorry I did not embrace it. I kept it, but it did not receive a lot of play. Ah, youth.

  2. Have you seen their video “Three To Get Ready”? It shows the band getting ready for their Strange Behaviour World Tour, and some of your questions/thoughts are actually answered in this video.

    There are two different versions of this out there. I own the short-form which is about 30 minutes on VHS. I believe the long-form is around an hour. I would LOVE for the band to release these on DVD/Blu-ray or at least put them out on iTunes.

    This was a traumatizing time for me regarding the band. I was DEVASTATED when it was reported that both Andy and Roger had left the band so “Notorious” was a difficult album for me to initially embrace because it sounded NOTHING like the Duran Duran I had grown to love. (This was my reaction as a then college student.) However I am SO happy that the band continues to push themselves and let their sound evolve. Because of it my musical tastes have matured, and I have learned to embrace many other artists over the years.

    Al

    1. Hi Al,

      I guess I have seen that video. Not sure if what I saw was the short or long form though (it was at Amanda’s). I’d kind of forgotten about it, to be honest and you’re right – a lot of what I talk about is sort of answered. I think that while I was writing the blog though, I was thinking that maybe the first discussions about the direction of the band weren’t videoed? I have no idea and now I wished that I’d thought about Three To Get Ready before writing. Oh well. Sometimes when I sit down to write, I don’t think about the things I probably should beforehand!! 🙂

      I think your initial feelings about Notorious were very similar to what many fans felt. I remember just being so confused by the album, because it WAS so very different. I wasn’t quite ready for the band to evolve THAT much, I suppose. 😀 -R

  3. TTGR was a tough video for me to watch. To me the band seemed defeated even though they were really putting on a strong face for the public. It just seemed like they were still a bit dazed and confused by the departures of Andy and Roger. They toured the world together for years so how could it not have been tough. I didn’t envy their position at all… but overall I think they came out a much stronger band by never refusing to give up on the dream. As far as I’m concerned I STILL think they’re the #1 band in the world. 🙂

    BTW – I hope you didn’t think I was criticizing your blog. I just wanted to remind you about TTGR. The initial meetings to discuss the new album had to be rough. Honestly I’m glad I wasn’t a fly on that wall.

    Al

    1. Hi Al,

      I definitely didn’t read your comment as though you were criticizing, although that would have been fine. It is good to gain a little perspective beyond my own two eyes every once in a while..and the fact is, I *DID* forget all about TTGR. I appreciated the reminder! 😀 -R

  4. No need to be a fly on the wall any more, to know the truth, especially about the facts that happened after 2006 to this day.
    My target is to listen and to enjoy their music focusing on the music, not on the context around. I hit my “play” button and my little heaven can kick off.

  5. Three To Get Ready is available on DVD. I received the DVD as a Christmas gift last year, and it is the full long version. The whole thing is also on You Tube if you don’t wish to own it.It was purchased from a source in Europe somewhere, but if you just do a search I’m sure it will pop up.It’s been remastered and is really nice.The cover has Simon, John and Nick laughing, looking delighted with life. A contrast to the stressful work they were engaged in during the filming.This made me respect them even more. Lesser people would have found another career path, I think.

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