(I’m Looking For) Cracks in the Pavement — The Daily Duranie Review

Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  These kind of anniversaries always remind us of the longevity of Duran Duran as well as how long we have been fans. Many fans use these anniversaries to celebrate a favorite release, song or video. We are just glad that our reviews right now are focusing on this album. After all, what is a better way to celebrate an album then to REALLY listen to each and every song. This week finds us examining the third song on the album, (I’m Looking For) Cracks in the Pavement, which is the first “album” or non-single track we have looked at from this album so far. Will it be similar to the first two songs, which were singles or will it be dramatically less quality? Here is what we thought:

Rhonda: (Who does not mind mentioning that this is the second time she’s had to write this entire review because Blogger ate it the first time…)

Musicality/Instrumentation: My ears hear a lot going on here. It’s not just a simple melody -but there are many layers of extra tracks going on, and the focus seems to be very heavily on the synthesizers. I do hear bass, though not quite as strongly as it should come through. I feel the bass more than I actually hear it, and the same goes for drums. There is little guitar, but it’s definitely not quite as out front as on previous records, and when you’d most assume you’d hear it – the chorus – it’s buried deep in the mix. Too deeply, I might add. The guitar solo, which comes about 2/3 of the way through the song, blends very well – tying the entire song together, along with a tasty bass groove. When Andy and John were at their best together, nothing could stop them. I haven’t mentioned drums because like a lot of things with this song, they feel more like an after thought. Overall, the music doesn’t feel very balanced. It’s top-heavy with no real “bottom” to root everything. There are significant elements to the song which I love – such as Nick’s chords during the chorus: they remind me of pipe organs or what gets played in a fun house, and I like the effect. I think the bass is outstanding, if it was only heard more. Andy’s guitar, when allowed to play, is terrific. This is one of the first songs that we’ve reviewed where it starts to become obvious that the band is changing musical direction and becoming far more synth-heavy rather than a balanced five-piece. Naturally, that is said with hindsight in mind, as we know what faces the band ahead, don’t we?

Vocals:  I dearly love the way Simon begins the song – his vocals are soft, yet powerful.  They draw you in. However, this doesn’t last. The closer Simon gets to the chorus, the more strangely it sounds. Rather than singing the songs with a quiet sort of power to them, he adds quite a bit of dramatics…like way more than what was ever needed to get the point across. As a result the song comes off very fake and forced in sections. That said, his vocals play off of Nick’s pipe-organ chords very well, and I have to wonder if the over-dramatization was really intended. I have never liked the way this song was sung. It’s almost comical, which really shouldn’t have been the goal. The line, “Don’t wanna be in public, my head is full of chopstick I don’t like it.” grates on my nerves as much today as it did when I first heard it, yet I love the lyric.

Lyrics: Simon was speaking my language when he wrote this song. For me, this is all about escaping the insanity of large crowds. I hate them. I’m not much for mingling, and small talk is not my idea of a great way to spend an evening. Even when we do events as Daily Duranie, there comes a certain point in the evening when I feel like I’ve got to find some quiet to be myself again, and luckily for me I can find that time and place pretty easily. Yet I know that for Simon, this song was about dealing with the new-found hysteria back in the 80’s. It was about running from the public, back to friends and family and being himself – as though the public persona could put away, and he could be himself again, although he’s not really sure of exactly who he is anymore. Funny how celebrity will do that to a person. It seems like something anyone could want. Fortune, fame…but it all comes at a price, and sometimes that price is incredibly high. I enjoyed these lyrics from the very first listen, so it’s no surprise that I still do.

Production: This is one song where I wish they hadn’t done quite so much to it – the effects are cool, but there’s just so much going on. I don’t know what the producer was really going for, maybe he liked that frenzied nature to all of the background tracks. I just think the song tends to lose its effectiveness, which is a shame. I also feel as though more balance needed to be given, particularly in the chorus – Nick is turned up pretty darn loudly, and I think the sound would have been so much better had they brought up the bottom end. Again, I feel as though this song marks a turning point for the band – because Nick is clearly highlighted here, and in a band where there was once no ego and no stars…I think we see some changes emerging.

Overall: Lyrically, I think this song is as good as it gets from Simon. I also really like the way he sings in the chorus and also at the beginning of the song. I like certain elements of the music, I just wish it had been recorded with a bit more simplicity and a lot more balance in mind. The guitars, bass and even the drums are pretty low in the mix, which is a shame because they certainly would have added the balance mentioned earlier. The dramatical way of Simon’s vocals are also a disappointment. The song would have made so much more of a powerful effect without the silliness. The potential for greatness was there with this one. Overall, it adds up to something that is far less than what the band was capable of creating.

Cocktail Rating:   2.5 cocktails  (And yes, it was hard for me to score it that low, but I had to be honest!)



Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  This is one of those songs that I never feel like I could even tell you without re-listening what the instrumentation sounds like. For me, this song’s lyrics have always grabbed my attention but I’m getting ahead of myself. In typical Duran fashion, this song starts with a shimmering sound of sorts. It isn’t the same as other songs that has such a well-known beginning that we know it as soon as we hear it but the style remains consistent across songs. As the song really gets underway, I can hear/feel the foundation of bass and drums as well as Nick’s keyboards and even Andy, front and center, briefly. What I am almost overwhelmed by, though, is all of the little extra sounds that have been added in.  While individually, those extras sound really cool, collectively, it might be a bit much in the beginning of the song. As the song moves closer to the chorus, it seems to settle down into an established set of notes with less notes. As common, the chorus seems to pick up tempo some but not a lot, not as much as normal. Then, I do love how Andy’s guitar is so beautiful as the song transitions back to a verse. What is interesting is how the volume of the song seemed to make a difference to what I noticed to when listening to just the instrumentation.  At a quieter volume, guitars seemed to be lost more, but at a louder volume, I noticed them more.  Now, I’m sure this is just me, but I wonder why that is the case. The chorus also seems much more intense at a louder volume. I should also mention the bridge of the song, when, of course, Simon finally sings the title. Initially, the music seems to take a back seat until Simon is done then the instrumentation is loud and clear with some nice moments from Roger and Andy.

Vocals:  I love how Simon’s vocals are during the verses. They are low and rather sultry.  Then, of course, as moves into the song, they move to a higher range with more intensity.  I have to say, though, that I have never been a fan of how he sang the lines about “chopsticks” and driving the car insane. Yes, the fact that it was so high compared to the rest of the song got my attention, but never in a good way. I also get that it was to express an emotion.  It just seemed and seems overdone a bit like a bit of overacting, especially when Simon is able to convey so many emotions on his own. The choruses feel like the Simon we know and love.  One of my favorite parts of the song is when Simon sings the “I’m looking for cracks in the pavement” line. He truly sings it so beautiful and makes it truly heartfelt.  

Lyrics:  As a kid, the lyrics to this song always caught my attention. I wanted to figure it out and never thought that I really did. My head is full of chopsticks? I didn’t get it. Clearly, I was a kid. Life experience hadn’t taught me what that felt like yet. I couldn’t relate to the rest of the lyrics then either. What does it mean to not want to be in public, I wondered. What is with these sealed up doors? I had no clue. Songs like Rio, my childhood brain could understand but not this one. Now, as an adult, I get it. I completely get it. I understand searching for something. I understand looking back in one’s life and rethinking things. I get what it feels like to have one’s tree or foundation being shaken. I get all of it. I feel like that is a lot of what my life has been like in the last four or five years. Despite feeling some connection to the lyrics, they still don’t grab me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because of my childhood confusion. Maybe it is because the lyrics seem too clear to me now.

Production:  As I was listening to the song to really think about and analyze the instrumentation, I keep finding myself thinking about the production and the mix. This song, in particular, has some nice moments, musically. In many ways, I think that the instrumentation is great. Yet, there is something about the production, the mix that the greatness often gets hidden. The specific instruments seem to get muffled here or lost here.  It is too refined, too perfect or something. Maybe, there are too many things going on. I think if this song had been mixed differently, it might be one I could really love.

Overall:  There are elements of this song that I really love. There are some beautiful moments both with the instrumentation and with the vocals, especially around the bridge of the song. I find the lyrics completely easy to understand and feel a connection to. Perhaps, I can relate to the “anxiety” of the song as Nick just mentioned on a podcast about the 30th anniversary of the album. All of that said, I dislike the over-production and the occasional burst of high notes with Simon’s vocals. Great potential that, perhaps, was over thought a bit.

Cocktail Rating:  3 cocktails!

One thought on “(I’m Looking For) Cracks in the Pavement — The Daily Duranie Review”

  1. it is my fave track off the album, aside I take the dice.
    Congrats on the amazing review !!!
    This is mine:
    MUSICALITY-INSTRUMENTATION: the groove is balanced, it is easy-dancing and overall it is easy listening. The tempo isn't any syncopated thing, like the beat in the Reflex, or like in Crime and Passion.
    VOCALS: Simon's not a screamer and he doesn't use any high note here. That's why I love it also when performed live.
    LYRICS: I love that crescendo, but in particular the refrain: “…something on my mind…” Easy words that allowed the song to be remembered in the years to come.
    PRODUCTION: it was the right effort to make a balanced song in the tracklisting of a “frustrated” album.
    OVERALL:well, it may read biased, but since it's my fave to me it is ***** 5 stars out of 5.

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.