Happy Thursday, everyone! Today is a special day as Thank You celebrates its 24th birthday!
In honor of this occasion, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time – I played the entire Thank You album. I know, I know – what a shock, right? The things I do for this blog. It’s rough.
Thank You is still playing in the background as I write. I’m on “Thank You” right now, and I have to say, I don’t really understand the fuss. No, the songs aren’t original (although “Drive By” counts as original in my book), and maybe they’re not songs you and I would immediately have suggested they cover, but overall? The album isn’t bad. Musically, I think it’s actually very well done.
Track by Track
A live crowd favorite, the album version is slightly less packed with energy, but still has plenty of punch. I still believe they do it best in front of a live audience, and I can appreciate that even Duran Duran can put a cover in their set list and have fans believe it is their own.
I Wanna Take You Higher
I love the drums on this one. I like that the band took liberties and pushed the tempo, amplifying the song up to a bit more of a rock sound. Say what you will, they made the song work for them – which is exactly what a cover should do. Take the song, spin it on it’s head and see how it shakes out. That’s what Duran Duran did here and it worked. I’d be amiss if I didn’t give a shout to Warren’s guitar solo. It is indeed excellent.
I really don’t know what I can say about this particular song that hasn’t already been said. Like the title – I think it’s just about perfect. Lou Reed had a brilliant song here, and Duran Duran took it up a notch. Oh, and Roger came back to play drums on it. Can’t really complain about that!
Watching the Detectives
What I love most about this song is not the melody, the drums, or even the vocals… I love the tiny little things found underneath. Those little synthesizer chords, the seemingly infinitesimal arpeggio notes, the harmonica, and the small effects here and there are what make this song interesting for me. Oh, and another Roger Taylor appearance. I like it better than the Elvis Costello original.
Lay Lady Lay
I haven’t ever heard anyone comment about the guitar on this – but hello Come Undone part 2. I love the intro with Warren’s guitar, and you can quote me on that. The song is romantic, sultry, and everything I could have wanted. I appreciate the song choice because one might not have ever guessed that Duran Duran could pull off Bob Dylan, and they do it here beautifully.
911 Is a Joke
I know how the community feels about “911 Is a Joke”. Simon is not quite the rapper type, in my opinion. I mean, it was a valiant effort I am sure…but…it does miss the mark. Overall, by principle alone, I don’t love the song. To be fair, I didn’t love the original either. However, and this is a big however, what about the irony??
Seriously people, how ironic is it that Duran Duran, a group of reasonably wealthy (if not filthy rich) WHITE guys decided to cover a song like “911 Is a Joke”?? The band doesn’t take themselves nearly as seriously as we fans take them, that’s all I’m saying. In fact, when the band made their choices of which songs to cover, it was none other than John Taylor who chose this one. “in addition to being a great song, it made him laugh to think of how many people it would piss-off.” (quote from an official “Thank You” press release) If you can’t see the humor and irony – well, are you sure you’ve been following the same band I am?
I think we can sometimes get up in our own heads to the point where we take the band far more seriously than they intend. It is worth taking the time to get past the surface – don’t always assume everything should be taken at face value. This is a band that treasures the ironic. They love the dry humor. As do I.
Bottom line: 911 isn’t likely to make anybody into a Duran Duran fan, but I really don’t think it was ever meant to be taken so darn seriously, anyway. I know so many people who got so stuck on that one song that they gave up on the rest of the album, and news flash – “911 is a Joke” is only ONE song. There’s eleven other songs!
I think that in order to fully appreciate “Success”, one has to know and understand Gary Glitter, and not necessarily the original version by Iggy Pop. A brash, flamboyant UK performer, Gary Glitter had a stunning career. 20 million records sold, 168 weeks spent on the UK music charts, 21 hit singles…. and Duran Duran chose to cover a song that he in turn covered. There’s irony there if you look deep enough., although I’m not sure it was intended. The song is as brash as Gary Glitter’s career…never mind his eventual and spectacular fall from grace and into a prison cell (well AFTER the release of Thank You).
If they really needed to cover The Doors, I’m glad they chose this one. While I’m no big fan of either The Doors or this song, I think that Simon did slip rather well into the existential role of Jim Morrison here. Again, the best parts of this song aren’t the vocals or the melody – they’re the tiny little effects underneath that we rarely take full notice. Nick and Warren did incredibly well adding those nuances.
Ball of Confusion
My, my…how far we’ve come from the days of The Temptations. Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong are the original composers of the song, and judging from the lyrics along with the video I found of it on YouTube…it has evolved substantially over the years and has been covered by a brilliant number of artists along the way. I myself am a Love and Rockets fan, and this song is one of my favorites by that group. I have to admit that despite my bias, I really like this version. It has all the rock edge when needed, but I can also hear the appropriate throwback to the roots of The Temptations with the background vocals.
Must admit, I don’t think I ever saw Duran Duran covering Led Zeppelin coming, which perhaps is the most jarring thing about this album – the song choices themselves. This cover is beautiful in it’s own right, and while it might not be my favorite, I give silent thanks that it isn’t “Stairway to Heaven”.
I really don’t understand the outrage over this one. How dare they rethink one of their own songs? Are you kidding? I applaud it. In my head, it was a genius and ballsy move to take one of their best loved but not necessarily most well-known songs from an era that had long since past and evolve it. Maybe that’s the real problem here though. They sacrificed the sacred cow. The fab five. You tell me.
After listening a few times, I have to think that song choice had everything to do with the lack of love for this album. Fans didn’t know the music well enough, and critics knew it all too well.
Duran Duran didn’t choose to cover Roxy Music, or even Chic. They went with far less obvious influences. In some ways, I think that may have helped them far more than hurting them. Fans didn’t have quite the same sort of affinity for Elvis Costello, for example, than they might have for Nile Rodgers. But, by the same token – they didn’t have a connection with the music either. I struggle with that because you would think that a fan, like myself for instance, would have taken time to listen and bond, just as I might have done with any of their original music. However, I didn’t.
It will be done
Then there are the critics. Self-professed “experts”, they know and often tout their own musical intelligence. I kind of feel as though many of them are too far up their own noses to have been willing to give the album a fair shot. This was Duran Duran, the band causing much ire in the 80s, daring to cover not only The Doors and Led Zeppelin but even Public Enemy? Oh hell no. I’m not saying that some of the reviews and comments weren’t valid, only that it wouldn’t have mattered what they heard – all they needed to know was that it was Duran Duran.
So I ask you fans – give the album a good listen in 2019. It might surprise you, at least a little. It did me.