I’m Walking Back…

This was a rather busy week for Duran fans despite the downtime.  Yesterday, I discussed the two upcoming releases in the Careless Memories coffee table book and the 2014 official calendar.  Beyond those announcements, there was also a big anniversary this past week, the 30th anniversary of the release of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  Like many Duranies out there, this album was a big deal in my world.  I don’t remember when I actually got it but I do know that this was the time that I moved from being simply a FAN to being a DURANIE.  Because of the significance of this album to my life, I was super excited to hear the band’s podcast discussing the making of the album, which you can hear here.  I admit that I have listened to it more than once and enjoyed it just as much the second time as the first.  Perhaps, I even enjoyed it more.  Certain things jumped out at me both times that I feel it necessary to comment on.  (Hey, I’m a blogger.  That’s what I do.  I comment.)

Locations:
As Duranies up on their Duran history know, this album took a long time to make as opposed to the first album or Rio.  Part of this could have been due to the fact that they worked on it in three separate locations, all being out of the UK.  The reason for this, according to Nick here, was to escape London as it was “a little too crazy”.  I can only imagine as 1983 was at a very high point in Duran mania.  The guys discussed how they started in the south of France for about 3-4 weeks.  According to this, it wasn’t super productive there as they had to wait for parts to come and they spent a lot of time doing other things.  What did they do?  It seems they spent time going out, playing tennis (Simon), watching a big screen TV, and playing the game of Risk.  Now, I can’t be the only one who is completely entertained by the idea of them sitting around playing a game like Risk, can I?  I would love to play a game like that with any of them, even though, I lack military strategy.  I would rock on domestic, political strategy, though.  It sounds like Andy would have been the toughest as apparently he used some tough tactics that their managers got frustrated with.  Oh, they also ate a lot as they had a chef there.  From there, they moved on to Montserrat in the Caribbean.  There, they also had to deal with a chef.  This one apparently carried around a big meat cleaver!  That sounds like quite a scene!  Speaking of scenes, there was also some crab racing going on!  Clearly, they all had too much time on their hands!  I so wish that I was bored enough to think of crab racing!!!  Lastly, of course, after doing a couple of shows back in the UK (Prince’s Trust and Aston Villa), they moved on to Australia, which sounded pretty crazy, too.  After all, they knew about 60 fans by name by the end of their time there.  They did finish, though.  Perhaps, it is because there was no chef there!

Australia and Deadlines:
I’m glad that they talked about why they went to Australia, especially since they talked about how London was crazy and mentioned how Australia was, too, at least when it came to the fans.  Apparently, they had a tour booked to start there so they figured they could go, finish the album, rehearse for the tour, and be ready to go.  That sounds logical.  I found it really interesting that they mentioned how they had a deadline to finish the album and how as John put it, “Those were the days of deadlines.”  Clearly, this is very different from now…the days without deadlines.  Simon did say that the deadlines were what made them finish the album.  While I get the desire to have all the time in the world to finish a project and that I am well aware that art can’t be rushed, I also know that deadlines can be a good thing.  I know that the blog will always get done.  Why?  There is a deadline.  Likewise, when we were working on Durandemonium, it was a higher priority because there was a deadline.  Speaking of deadlines, Union of the Snake was the first single.  Why was it chosen?  Simple.  It was the song that was most finished.  Here, we are thinking that there was always some grand plan with single choices.  Apparently, that wasn’t always true.  The day before it was to come out, they were asked about a b-side.  They didn’t have one.  Simon and Nick stayed up all night doing Secret Oktober.  Again, this leads me to wonder about that pressure to get something done.  After all, many of us, most of us LOVE that song.  It is not only one of their best b-sides but one of their best ever!  Perhaps, Duran should think about that.

Perspective:
John mentioned how there were a lot of expectations about this third album.  He stated that the expectations following the Rio album were “massive”.  I can totally see that.  Union of the Snake felt like a disappointment to them at only reaching number 2.  Again, I can see that, knowing where they were in their careers, at that time.  Now, of course, we would all be thrilled if that happened.  Perspective and time makes a difference.  Simon thought they were the most critical about it and were uptight, anxious.  John talked about how he listened to it when the remastered vinyl came out a few years ago and that he loved it.  Nick mentioned that he thinks it has held up to the test of time despite not being sure that it would.  Roger discussed how so much of the album changed from start to finish.  The most well-known example of that is the one they cited, which is Seven and the Ragged Tiger, the title track, changed to the Seventh Stranger.  There is a bootleg out there that claims to have the demo of that Seven and the Ragged Tiger version, but, from what I know, it isn’t real.  It sure would be interesting to hear what it did sound like.

Favorites:
Unlike usual Duran fashion, they discussed favorite songs from the album.  The songs that were chosen were:  Cracks in the Pavement for the lovely anxiety it has, The Reflex (album version over Nile’s version), Shadows on Your Side and The Seventh Stranger.  Who picked which?  I recommend listening to the podcast for the answer!  Make a guess and see if you are right!  What I did think was exciting was how they mentioned both Shadows and 7th being possible songs for a setlist.  John mentioned about how he couldn’t remember what he played for Shadows and someone sent him a youtube clip with a tutorial.  They seemed worried about the tempo for the Seventh Stranger but I could assure them that the fans would LOVE it.  They would love to see/hear both performed live.

I love listening to things like this.  Any new information, any new insight into Duran and the history of Duran is welcome.  More than even that, I love to hear them interact.  I was constantly smiling while listening to this as I was struck not only by the shared experiences but by the very obvious friendship and affection between them.  Truly, they showed what long lasting friendships and working relationships sound like.  It was quite an enjoyable walk down memory lane for all of us, I think.

-A

3 thoughts on “I’m Walking Back…”

  1. It was frustrating to them all to record that album and I think it did depend on how they wanted it to sound.
    Although their frustration, that you can feel all on the record, this album became their best-selling and it did in my opinion because it musically went beyond the “new romantics standards” of the first two records.
    Happy 30th bday!

  2. Interesting. My opinion is that the main reason this album sold as well as it did was because when it was released, the US (the only part of the world that I can truly speak for, since I lived here) was in the HEIGHT of Duran Mania, and we would have bought just about anything this band sold at the time. Timing is everything, because just look at how Notorious and Big Thing sold. Huge difference.

    As for “New Romantic” Standards – I guess I always felt that label was a bit of a misnomer for the band. Perhaps in their very early Rum Runner days, and perhaps with a few of the songs off of the first album you can hear hints…but the fact is, by the time Rio came about, that label was left far, far behind, don't you think? I mean even the differences between Rio and the first album are huge. Take a good listen to Sound of Thunder and then anything off of Rio. Completely different from production through to the way it was mixed and even the lyrical content. That's not a complaint from me – evolution is good, and this band has certainly done more than it's share of that over the years. Never know what you're going to get from them next. Whether that's good or bad, and whether that has helped or hurt them over the years, I'll leave for future debate. 🙂 -R

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