Happy Tenth Anniversary, Red Carpet Massacre!

I remember the first time I listened to a song from Red Carpet Massacre. It was Night Runner, and boy was I ever shocked. I think I was on the carpet, perched up on my knees in the very room I currently occupy. The evolution from den to nursery to office in ten years is a fairly good indicator of the changes my life has taken during that time, oddly enough.  On that day though, I sat up on my heels, listened to the opening notes, and then checked to make sure I was listening to the right band.

Night Runner was unlike anything I’d ever heard from Duran Duran before. Slow but deliberate, and wait, was that falsetto hovering about in the chorus?!? This was not the Duran Duran I thought I knew. Without even looking at the message boards to gauge how other fans felt, I took an immediate and visceral dislike to Night Runner. It was everything, including-but-not-limited-to-Justin-Timberlake, that I hated about music at the time. It was not one of my finest moments as a fan.  I cringed every single time I heard it.

Then Skin Divers came along. As I like to say, “they had me until the chorus”. It’s true. Musically, the song was brilliant. If only Timbaland had kept his “wicky-wicky” rapping out of it. Alas. I just did not know what this band was thinking, and with every interview or update where Nick or John would tell us the album was the greatest thing since sliced bread, my sense of dread grew into an ever-hardening pit in my stomach. What were they hearing that I just couldn’t?

When Red Carpet Massacre was released, I was almost relieved because the sense of impending doom was over. It took me time, but I did learn to enjoy “The Valley”, “Red Carpet Massacre”,  and even “Last Man Standing”, but I felt like I just couldn’t get on board with the album as a whole.  Thank goodness I wasn’t a blogger back then!

 

At the time, I was just so mad. Like a lot of fans I’ve spoken with in the years since, we felt like the band had completely ditched its original fan base in favor of a younger crowd.  I can remember seeing various people scoff at that comment, self-righteous and smug in their fired-off responses. The fact is – that’s kind of how fandom works. Some people really do take it all very personally, and while it can certainly be a double-edged sword, without those types of fans, bands (or just about anything else) don’t make it for long. Loyal fan bases are what carry bands, TV shows, sports teams, and pretty much anything else, through the tough times.

I still don’t really “get” a lot about the album, but I clearly see the direction in which they were headed. I have many reasons to appreciate the album’s place in Duran’s history. Hindsight can be a beautiful thing! I just don’t think they had the choice at the time to work with someone who not only saw where they were headed, but also appreciated where they had come from. They desperately needed someone with the ability to finesse the music and sound they wanted in a way that would actually suit the band.  But again – it’s only hindsight.

In many aspects, Red Carpet Massacre paved the way for Paper Gods.  They could have never written or effectively executed Paper Gods, had they not expanded their horizons with Red Carpet Massacre. I don’t know that the fan base would have been as ready to embrace Paper Gods, had we not had the experience we did with Red Carpet Massacre, either.

One difference between the two albums is that Paper Gods continues to embrace and celebrate who Duran Duran has always been, while looking ahead and challenging their fans. This is something that I’ve always loved about this band. They continually force me to expand the boundaries of how I (and every other fans) personally define who they are. Sometimes, I enjoy the process; other times, it makes me very uncomfortable until I get it. That’s art.

I find it hard to believe it has been ten years since Red Carpet Massacre was released. Like nearly every other album, in some ways it seems impossible to have been that long and in others, it feels like a lifetime. For my family – it has been. My youngest was born the April after the album was released, and on this very day in 2007, I was at home, incubating away! Now she’s nine-and-a-half, and reminds me every single day of why I fear the teen years that lay ahead!

Happy anniversary to Red Carpet Massacre! One thing that album, and even Paper Gods, to some extent, has taught me, is to never second guess what this band will do next!

-R

Arena Anniversary and Live Albums

On this date in 1984, Duran Duran’s live album, Arena, was released.        This, of course, makes me think of my connection to the album and the other live albums of theirs.  I also give my little fantasy for live albums in the future.

Arena

This album was the first live album for Duran.  It captured the Sing Blue Silver Tour of 1984 and included the sentence, “recorded live around the world” on the sleeve.  This is unlike most live albums, which are recorded at one specific show.  Of course, we also know that the album featured one new track, Wild Boys.  Around the same time, Arena, An Absurd Notion, DVD was released along with Into the Arena board game.  Indeed, fans had a lot of material to watch, listen, and buy in late 1984!

I remember receiving this album for Christmas in 1984.  That year also marked the first walkman for me.  From what I recall, all of the kids in my family got walkmans that year.  For me, this meant that I could use the headphones while I listened to my brand new copy of Arena.  The family’s record player was located in the dining room portion of our living room/dining room combo.  I have distinct memories of sitting on a dining room chair, listening and pouring over the lyrics.  While I knew all of the songs (except for Wild Boys), I was fascinated by what changes took place, lyrically, from the original recording to these live versions.  Even as a kid, I analyzed everything Duran!

Looking back on Arena, I can now acknowledge both the positive and negative aspects of the live album.  It obviously featured a lot of the band’s hits, including Is There Something I Should Know, Planet Earth, Hungry like the Wolf, and Save a Prayer.  Yet, it wasn’t until the reissue of 2004 that Girls on Film and Rio were included.  It also included some fan favorites that weren’t hits, but were well loved like New Religion and Careless Memories.  Still, many other songs seemed to be missing.  I recall being surprised that the Reflex was left off since it was such a huge hit in 1984.  It is a rather short album in comparison to the 90 minute sets that they commonly then.  The main criticism about the album, though, is that it was simply too polished.  It lacked the feel of a live album.  I cannot disagree, which is, perhaps, why I don’t tend to play this one much.  I have heard far better bootlegs of that tour, which seem to capture the feeling of that era more.

Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind

Since Arena was released, fans have enjoyed two other live albums, Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind.  Live from London focused on the reunion of the Fab Five and came out 20 years after Arena.  During that time, I loved to listen to this one as it had all the great hits and really made me feel as if I was there at the concert.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that it also came with a tremendous live show DVD and a lengthy documentary about the band’s history and the reunion.  What more could a fan want?!  It didn’t hurt that I also got to see the concert in a movie theater with lots of other Duranies.  While it wasn’t a live show, it wasn’t the next best thing!

Truly, I didn’t think it could get any better until A Diamond in the Mind came out.  This one, released in 2012, focused on the All You Need Is Now era.  In 2004 and 2005, I couldn’t imagine a better time in Duranland, but by 2011 and 2012, I knew that the AYNIN era made me even happier.  During Astronaut, I went to a bunch of shows and had an amazing time.  Yet, AYNIN came at a time that my fandom needed a shot of energy and pure Duran-ness.  That album and tour gave me more than a shot.  They gave me lots more as Rhonda and I started this blog and began to plan meet-ups.  It also featured a couple of trips to the UK, which will always be special.  Like Live from London, I was also able to see the DVD part in a movie theater with other Duranies as part of Durandemonium, our little Duranie convention in 2013.

Hopes for Future Live Albums/DVDs

Ideally, I would love a live album and DVD for each album cycle.  I know that the show at the Budokan in Japan will air in Japan on December 10th.  Hopefully, maybe, possibly, this will be made available elsewhere after that?!  I, for one, would love it.

Another idea that I would love if the band would consider would be to record all of their live shows.  They could either make them available for purchase or include them in VIP packages.  For me, I would love to have every show I have been to available to listen to after the fact.  They would bring back lots of good memories.

What about the rest of you?  What do you think of the Duran’s live albums?  What would you like them to do in the future?

-A

Duran Shopping

For the first time all school year, I am enjoying a weekend without grading.  On top of being a lot less stressed, it also means that I can finally get to some other tasks that have been on my to do list.  One of those jobs is to create my Christmas wish list.  My family, like many, exchanges wish lists.  They truly help my Christmas shopping as I might know, for example, that my brother loves comic books but would have no idea what he has, what he wants, etc.  The same is true when it comes to Duran.  My family knows that I’m a big fan but they won’t know what I have or want.

In a sense of perfect timing, Duran Duran announced on their social media that the Duran webshop has a new look and some new items! You can see all the changes for yourself here.   This, of course, will be my first stop in creating this year’s list.  What is there that I might want?!

New Look

Before I dive into the actual products, I did want to comment on the new look.  I like it.  It seems clean and easy to navigate.  One particular feature that I find helpful is that one can search prices in different currency forms.  It used to be that when I would shop I would have a currency converter open to translate those British pounds to US dollars.  Now, the site does it for me.  Of course, purchases will still be processed in GBP but this way people have an idea of cost.

Categories

Many of the categories from the old webshop remain including junior, archive, Paper Gods, etc.  That said, there is now a “lookbook”  which shows the items on actual people.  In the past, some fans have been frustrated by who has been shown wearing the items, if the models are young and nothing like the typical fan.  I get that, but, for me, I just like seeing what the items would actually look like on.  I always recognize that the models for anything might be very different from me.  In this case, there are pics of the band themselves or people connected to the band, which I think is cool.

New Items

When looking in the new items category, I cannot help but notice that there are some from the Japan shows, including a Japanese Tiger T, a Yokoo poster and a Yokoo T.  I have seen some criticism of including those.  People assumed that just those in attendance in Japan would be able to purchase them.  Again, I get wanting to have something special but I also like that people who weren’t able to attend can still get them.  I’m sure that there are some people who even attended to were not able to buy one then but now can.  One item that I did look for was a 2018 calendar.  I didn’t see one. I hear from some fans that there will be one available for pre-order later in the month, but I don’t know anything about that.

Archive

I have to admit that I was surprised by some of the items I found in the archives section.  Speaking of calendars, many of the previous years calendars are available to purchase.  Likewise, lots of the tour books are available, including All You Need Is Now, Red Carpet Massacre and even the reunion.  Likewise, t-shirts from All You Need Is Now, Red Carpet Massacre, Astronaut, the Reunion and even Pop Trash are available.  What is fun about some of those items is that they don’t cost as much as the newer items.  Be aware, though, that not all sizes might be available.

All in all, I’m pleased with the new webshop.  I will definitely be adding a few items on to this year’s wish list.  One thing I definitely recommend is getting an account.  Please note that everyone needs to do so to order.  If you are a member of DuranDuranMusic, you will continue to get the 10% discount, which is sweet.  On that note, I’m off to make my list and do a little shopping.

-A

You Caught Me in Your Web of Youth

It is Lyric Day Friday!  My shuffle resulted in the song, Love Voodoo.  Like many Duran songs, when I looked at the lyrics, many, many lines could have been chosen for the inspiration of the blog post.  Before I got overwhelmed, I decided to focus in on the first one that caught my attention.  The line, of course, is “You caught me in your web of youth.”  It immediately reminded me of fandom, my Duran Duran fandom, to be specific, despite my lack of youth and the band’s lack of youth.  Still, I became a fan as a kid when the band members were really young, themselves.

Whenever my students find out that I’m a Duran Duran fan, they want to know right away how old they are and if they were any good.  Yes, they use the past tense.  It makes me crazy.  I immediately correct that assumption and explain that the band still creates music to this day.  As for their second question, I have tried to explain that they were the most popular band when I was a kid.  Each time I tell that, I feel inadequate in convincing them of the truth of my statement.  I try to reassure myself that no matter what I say, they cannot really get it.  They weren’t around then.  After that, the next common questions are, “Why do you like them?  Have you liked them for a long time?”  Again, I try my best to answer but never feel like I capture their appeal.

I cannot remember the first time I heard or saw Duran Duran.  As a kid, in the early 80s, I do remember listening to B96, Chicago’s Top 40 radio station.  I recall turning the dial on the TV to MTV or staying up “late” to tune into Friday Night Videos.  I’m certain that the first place I saw/heard Duran was on one of those sources.  I doubt it was anything from the first album.  I simply was too young and wouldn’t have tuned in then.  It could be something off of Rio.  I’m not sure what exactly.  The first songs I remember really connecting with are the first couple of singles from Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  One memory that stands out in my head is hearing New Moon on Monday on the radio at my then best friend’s house.  If my memory is accurate, I was staying there overnight while the rest of my family was out of town, trying to look for a house for us to move to, which would bring us closer to my dad’s new job.  I distinctly remember laying in my friend’s bedroom, trying to go to sleep while the radio played softly, when that song came on.  While I liked the song, it wasn’t until their videos that the band really caught my attention.

To the kid version of me, every video I saw seemed so cool.  First of all, I was drawn to the way they looked.  At this point in my life, I was living in a Chicago suburb, a working class suburb, no less.  People in my neighborhood, in my suburb did not dress up.  They tended to work in blue collar jobs, in factories.  Even my dad, who was a manufacturing manager, did not really dress up to go to work as he worked in an office within a factory.  He wore steel-toed shoes for protection and never wore his wedding ring, in case he used the machinery.  The only time I remember my parents, extended family or neighbors really dress up was for something like a wedding, a very special occasion.  On top of all of that, even their dress clothes weren’t fancy or anything fashion-forward.  No, they all dressed rather conservatively and all people stuck to their assigned gender role.  Women wore dresses with pantyhose and short heels while the men picked a suit jacket and button down top.

This, of course, is the exact opposite of Duran Duran.  They wore colorful clothing that was unique and fashion forward.  I remember thinking to myself that I would love to dress like them, but that my family could never afford style like that and that I wouldn’t even know where to go to get clothes like that!  Their fashion choices included things like fancy belts, leather pants, and fedoras.  They looked nothing like the men and boys I knew.  Heck, I also adored that they didn’t stick to their gender.  I never questioned the make-up.  I just knew that I liked what I saw.  Overall, they oozed cool.

If that was not enough, the videos and concert footage showed a group of friends who had so much fun.  Goodness, just writing this brings up scenes from Sing Blue Silver where the band is laughing and having fun together.  While I didn’t need to see them having fun or being with a group of friends to think they were amazing, these images added to the coolness to create a package that I had no choice, but to fall hard for.  As a young kid and preteen, I wanted to be them.  I longed for my upcoming teenage and young adulthood to be the cool that my childhood was far from.  The fantasy I focused on then wasn’t about becoming one of their wives but about being as cool as they were.  That was more important to my geeky self.

By the time 1985 rolled around, I was definitely caught in their web of youth.  They showed me that everyone does not have to be like those around me.  No, there was a whole colorful, cool world out there.  As a kid, it gave me something to look towards to determine what to do, how to dress, etc.  Obviously, this web that they created is a strong one as I’m still here, over 35 years later.

-A

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!