Yesterday’s winner: The Wedding Album
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety: Medazzaland or Pop Trash?
Yesterday’s winner: The Wedding Album
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety: Medazzaland or Pop Trash?
a dialogue between the ego and the alter-ego
As a music writer who recently lost his primary publishing outlet, the kind offer from Daily Duranie to be their intern and write once a week really softened the disappointment. Over the last few weeks, I have dove back into every corner of my Duran Duran memories and music to establish a mental base of operations for future writing. I’ve listened to every album again and watched some DVDs that I had missed. In the end, I realized one thing about myself. I am a divided self. At least, I am with Duran Duran albums.
When I think about Duran Duran albums, there is a friction between my critical mind (which reviews an album or two each week) and my nostalgic heart. If you asked either piece of me to rank the albums, the lists would look quite different. So, I had to make a list. It’s a guy thing. We like making lists and arranging our taste in some sort of hierarchy that proves how smart we are. We are aware of this issue and we are working on it.
The Best Duran Duran Albums
1. (1.) Rio
Rio is never a debate. From the artwork to the videos to every single song, the album captured a moment in popular culture and convinced us the our lives could be a James Bond film in some way. The bass lines are the stuff of legend and the band never again found such a perfect balance between Andy’s aggressive guitars and Nick’s carefully arranged melodies. Every band has “that” album where they are in the zone but sometimes you get tired of it. Not with Rio.
(What he said.)
2. (2.) Duran Duran
A formidable debut album. From the Buzzcocks’ 1977 Spiral Scratch EP to this sounds like an eternity but it was only four years from punk to post-punk to Duran Duran. The musical maturity is already there in the arrangements and the band still sounds young and hungry. If this and Rio were all they ever released, Duran Duran would be revered like Joy Division.
(OK, not Joy Division. But this debut rocks harder than people remember. The later addition of “Is There Something I Should Know?” in 1983 actually disrupts the album with Alex Sadkin’s production sounding too bright and colorful amongst the Colin Thurston tracks. Rarely talked about by critics, this is one of the strongest debuts of the decade.)
3. (5.) Big Thing
Experimental with purpose and the proper dose of Warren on guitar has aged this album extremely well. “All She Wants Is” still sounds pristine with a low-end that can shake the room. From moody ballads to driving dance tracks, Duran Duran colorfully (those outfits…) flaunt the ease with which they juggle pop and art.
(Your neon colored eyes were at this show in 1989 and the band was fading in popularity. This album’s lukewarm success further pushed the band asunder of popular culture so how grand could it all be? Well, it is pretty grand but “Drug (It’s Just A State of Mind)” sounds completely out of place and is a total duff. If only there was an incredible B-side that should have replaced it. Hmm.)
4. (14.) Arena
The opening drums of “Is There Something I Should Know”. Is anybody hungry? Switch-it off. Was I chasing after rainbows? So many lines ignite the memory of listening to and watching this concert. Hearing “Seventh Stranger” on the last tour with the footage from 1984 playing above the stage was truly special.
(How many live albums are really not that “live”? Probably most. How many of those also “live albums” include a studio recording mid-set? “Wild Boys” drops out of the sky into the middle of a concert and nobody thinks this is weird? When you can actually hear John’s bass, the songs sound better but the original version of Arena sounds like it was mixed in a soup can.)
5. (7.) Seven & the Ragged Tiger
As a kid, the build-up to the video premier of “Union Of the Snake” felt as exciting as watching the Space Shuttle launch. Lizard people in a desert. An underground society of freaks. The song and video ushered in the band’s most saturated time in popular culture. Soon after, “The Reflex” brought Duran their first US #1. As good as the singles are, the desolate “Seventh Stranger” remains the masterpiece here.
(Nile Rodgers saved this album by fixing “The Reflex”. There are three songs in the middle of the album that I have always confused. As I try to hear them in my head, “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement” is the one I like best and the one that isn’t about dice is the one I like least (at a loss for what it is called right now and I listened to this cassette every day for a year when it came out). This album is inconsistent and the band sounds stressed that the fans might catch on.)
6. (4.) Notorious
I wasn’t ready for it when it arrived but this and Big Thing really stand-out in the band’s career. The band really fought themselves out of a corner with Notorious and established themselves as musicians, not teenage heart throbs. The musical talent was always there but the band sounds more focused and precise.
(Notorious was when Duran Duran stopped trying to be James Bond and took a deeper interest in the relationships of our beloved 007. “Skin Trade” is as sexy as Duran has ever been. Even with Andy gone, the guitars are still keeping Mr. Rhodes’ more pretentious proclivities in balance yielding a mature and confident Duran Duran. Song for song, there is a consistent quality to the album where every song serves a purpose.)
7. (3.) All You Need Is Now
Without a doubt, my favorite Duran album post-80s. Mark Ronson keeps it simple by focusing on what works best. They might not be hits in a commercial sense but fans of a band know when a song is a “hit”. The title track and “Girl Panic!” were top-shelf singles in any decade. An unfair criticism but the fact that we don’t listen to albums on repeat day after day anymore probably makes this slightly under-appreciated by me.
(Slightly under-appreciated?! Song for song, this belongs in their top three. The artwork, the analogue synths, the stellar guitar work of Dom Brown, and an arsenal of hooks makes this an unforgettable Duran Duran album. What is harder than following up a massive debut album with an even bigger one that conquers the world? Recording an album two decades later that holds its own with the first two.)
8. (6.) Medazzaland
Mid-period Duran Duran without a Taylor was a little uncertain but Medazzaland remains an experimental delight. The video for “Electric Barbarella” might stir debate but the song sounds futuristic and kitsch. They even erupt like Tesla on the chorus of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. A few anonymous tracks drift-by but the album never loses its grip on you.
(Not releasing it in the UK was a tragedy. The UK audience would have appreciated the cold electronics. While not exactly Bowie’s Low, the band’s experiment pays off with a strong collection of songs. Warren colors between the lines when he needs to and enhances Nick’s digital landscapes. Best experienced as a whole, Medazzaland sounds like a place we should visit.)
9. (11.) Red Carpet Massacre
The follow-up to Reportage (apparently), suffers from a case of uncertainty but there are some genuinely killer dance tracks on here. Hearing “Tempted” live sent me back to this album and I found more than I remembered. Simon’s voice on “Box full o’ Honey” sounds exquisite, for one. “Dirty Great Monster” sounds like a lost Cheap Trick gem and “Last Man Standing” is the sort of album track that can carry an album beyond the singles.
(Parting ways with Andy should have ignited a spark of swagger from the band but they sound content to the let the high-priced producers do the driving. Timberlake really brings little to the party besides being popular at the time. He is a once-in-a-generation talent but the collaboration was stale. Chasing a more “authentic” club sound only reminds us how important Roger Taylor on real drums is to the Duran Duran formula.)
10. (8.) Liberty
Unfairly maligned for some misteps like “Hothead”, there is some really great material on Liberty. Every critic said the lead single was a terrible choice but I actually dig “Violence”. The second side of the album definitely loses some focus but the first half proves worthy of frequent listens and “My Antartica” is nothing short of beautiful.
(The modern-pop of “Serious” and the fierce “First Impression” showcase a band considering future paths. At the time, it was easy to call this indecision but I think it was borne from curiosity the more I listen to the album. The myth that Wedding Album “saved” the band implies that Liberty was a catastrophe. Nothing is further from the truth.)
11. (12.) Wedding Album
The first time I heard “Ordinary World”, I was crossing the railroad tracks near Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL. I remember it that vividly. Duran Duran was back! Three classic singles and some interesting filler made for a respectable but overrated album.
(No matter how successful “Ordinary World” was to the band, it still doesn’t sound like a classic Duran Duran song. While the liquid grace of “Come Undone” and the attitude of “Too Much Information” were dynamite, the rest of the album is far less coherent than Liberty.)
12. (9.) Astronaut
Andy Taylor’s guitar tone has a unique frequency that just soothes my soul. His style is a breath of fresh air after Warren’s antics on the fretboard (and in the bedroom). Even if there was only the reunion tour, it was worth it but the band took the time to deliver new material that often reminds you of their best work while not quite getting there.
(I would have liked to see them hit the studio after a reunion tour while the juices were flowing but “What Happens Tomorrow” and “Nice” will always make my Duran playlist. Rest of it is somewhat forgettable but I enjoy it when I listen to it.)
13. (10.) Paper Gods
Living in Vegas, you build up an instant distain for anything that smells like EDM. So, “Last Night In the City” will always be an album killer for me. The ballads lack the necessary hooks and the best songs from this period were relegated to b-side status. Paper Gods took too long to record and there were too many cooks in the kitchen.
(Not nearly as bad as I think. “Sunset Garage” could almost slip into a Motown playlist while “Danceophobia” is a legendary band having a laugh. The bold title song shows confidence at the front of the album and the band sounds ready to keep the party going for at least another decade.)
14. (13.) Thank You
(The critics were savages when this came out but the production is quite good. “Perfect Day” is full of grace and “White Lines” captures the paranoia of the original. Still, it could have been much better than it is. )
15. (15.) Pop Trash
This was mostly trash.
Yesterday’s winner: Big Thing
Which album would you prefer to see live in entirety: The Wedding Album or Thank You?
Hello friends! How is Tuesday going for everyone?
Lately, I’ve been having more and more difficulty with blog topics. The mind is blank, and while at one point I could spin a little creativity in a matter of moments, now it takes hours. Far too long, actually.
When this happens, I realize it’s for a reason. I need a break. I took one last year when my family moved, but it wasn’t a REAL break, obviously. I noticed that Amanda was experiencing some stress too, and mentioned to her that I think it’s time. As we know, the band is fairly quiet, and with the holidays coming – I can’t imagine that will change.
So, we’re taking that break. Beginning next week and going through until the first of the year, our schedule here on the site will be changing. There will still be posts, both from Jason on Wednesdays and occasionally from Amanda and I on Fridays as we continue to do reviews (our next one is Violence of Summer next Friday!). Additionally, the Question of the Day will continue, but be scaled back to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Should anything “big” come up, rest assured we’ll be writing about it, whether it is Amanda, Jason, or myself. I am sure that by January, we’ll be chomping at the bit to return to our normal writing schedule.
I’m looking forward to having a little more time to work on some other projects I have waiting for me, and it seems like this might just be the calm before the storm of 2020. Who knows?
We’re not going away, though! Unlike other websites and blogs, we don’t write once a month, or even quarterly. For Daily Duranie, it is DAILY content. We’re tired! Everyone needs a breather once in a while. That’s all it is, and since the holidays are creeping up, it feels like the right time. We’ll be back during the first week in January, rejuvenated, recharged, and ready…almost (but not quite) like Electric Barbarella.
See what I mean? It is obviously time for a vacation when I write cringy things like that…. wow.
Yesterday’s winner: Seven and the Ragged Tiger
Which album would you prefer to see/hear performed in entirety: Big Thing or Liberty?
I am a music fan. Despite my love and adoration for Duran Duran and other new wave artists of the 1980’s, I still love me some down and dirty guitar. I loudly proclaimed myself as a Duranie during my middle school years, but by college—which for me started in Fall of 1988 and continued until May of 1993—I was listening to anything from AC/DC to Def Leppard, Van Halen to yes, even Poison. The hair bands, the metal, and even classic rock would be on my stereo one minute, and in the next, my devotion for Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears would show as “Gold” or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” or even “Rio” would begin. I didn’t see why I couldn’t like it all, and I did. The music coming out of my car stereo (I spent a lot of hours commuting to school and work during college) was eclectic, if nothing else.
It is easy to jump in with both feet when Andy Taylor announces a new album. I don’t feel as though I’m disavowing Duran Duran by supporting Andy, by the way. This is an opportunity to be excited by something new! I’m not worried that his music won’t sound like Duran Duran’s. In fact, I sure as hell hope it doesn’t. We’ve waited a long time for Andy to release new music. Surely he won’t create a carbon copy of a band and life he’s already left behind twice.
I know that for some people, Duran Duran is the end-all. It is the one band they follow, it is the one group they care about. It doesn’t matter what a band member does once they leave the group. Many still cannot make peace with why Andy left. Others couldn’t wait for him to get out the door fast enough, and that Dom more than fills his shoes. Then there’sTeam Warren. They insist the band’s best days are behind them, and no one else will measure up. The guitarist debate is one that will never end. Regardless, they are all moving forward on their own. Andy is doing his own thing, as is Warren and even Dom. New music is always a good thing.
Andy’s newest tune from his new album debuts today on Planet Rock Radio. Titled, “Love or Liberation”, Gary Stringer is on vocals with Andy (assumably!) on guitar. Those hoping for Andy’s vocals on the album will not be disappointed. According to his pal and collaborator Gary Stringer, “he sings some on his own and we sing some together”. He also says that the album is “ace”!
I haven’t heard the new sing or album yet. The track title “Love or Liberation” is intriguing, and lends itself to all sorts of reflection. I have no idea what Andy may mean by the title. Thoughts of loving something too much so that you’re tightly bound, come to mind.
Later this month, Andy will perform in front of a sold-out crowd at London’s 100 Club. I wish I were going to be there. Since teleporting hasn’t worked out, we have a couple of brave souls willing to write and report for Daily Duranie. Cannot wait to hear the good news from them. In the meantime, I’ll keep on the lookout for Andy’s latest!
Yesterday’s winner: Self-Titled Debut
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
Today marks the end of the set of daily questions about Duran Duran’s various DVDs. First, I asked about who had various releases before deciding which one fans like best. This got me thinking. Has Duran Duran produced all the DVDs they should have? What about music videos? Did they make enough of those? Are there songs that they should have made videos for?
The first one that comes to mind, of course, is Drama Americana. According to Duran’s wiki, “Drama Americana is an unreleased Duran Duran 64 minute documentary film, directed by Gavin Elder. The documentary was filmed during the US leg of The Astronaut Tour in 2005, and Nick Rhodes said on Katy’s Kafe (March 2009) that the product is now finished and confessed he’s very pleased with the title.” I know that the Astronaut Tour was super exciting for me so I would love, love, love to see this. I have to wonder if it was never released because Andy left. There is a trailer on YouTube.
What about the Live at the Budokan from the Paper Gods Tour? We know that one was done since it aired somewhere (Japan, maybe? I cannot remember.) I’m all for live performances, especially for tours that I saw. This way I would have something to watch to remind me what those shows were like (besides my faulty memory!) You can see it on YouTube but I would love to have an actual copy with all the cool packaging, etc.
Besides the ones that we know have been created, should there be other ones and if so, what? Personally, I would have loved a DVD for each tour. Duran already has quite a few with Live at Hammersmith ’82 (for the Rio tour), As the Lights Go Down (Sing Blue Silver Tour of ’84), Working for the Skin Trade (’87), Live in Milan (for the Big Thing era of ’89), Live from London for the reunion of 2004, and A Diamond in the Mind for All You Need Is Now (2011). So, I could argue that we need one for the all the rest of the 1990s. What about that Broadway run that I mentioned yesterday? That would be a cool way to showcase the Red Carpet Massacre Tour.
What about other documentaries? I, for one, loved the Classic Albums one about the making of the Rio album. I know that they have done some DVD features for more recent albums that act in that way in which we get a little behind the scenes of the writing and recording tracks on an album. I wish we had something like that for Paper Gods, actually. One documentary possibility that I think would be super cool would be if they captured the writing and recording process. I just would love to be a fly on the wall to see and hear how it is really done. After all, I don’t think we ever really know what something is like until we see it for ourselves, especially one’s job. (It is a big pet peeve of mine as everyone in the world thinks they know what it is like to be a teacher (my job) because everyone has gone to school. Wrong.)
Similarly to DVDs, Duran Duran has created a ton of videos. I love so many of them and could only imagine that I would love more, if they had done more. Of course, to be realistic, they cannot do one of each and every song. So, I would have to pick and choose which songs are most deserving of a video. What criteria would I use? The songs that would create the best images or visuals? The songs that fans love the most? Songs that are the best representatives of an era or a particular sound? I don’t have any easy answers. Even tougher, what if I gave a limit? What if I could only request 5 more videos? What would I choose and why?
The first song that popped in my head was Before the Rain. Not only do I love the song but I think the lyrics are amazing. I would love to see what the band would come up with for a video. In concert, they used some images of military and historical images, which I thought was cool. Could it be something like the video for New Moon on Monday? Wouldn’t that be amazing? The next song that I thought about would be Hold Back the Rain. It is a favorite of mine. That said, the Rio album already has a ton of videos for it. On top of it, maybe they wouldn’t want to do that since it was a song that Simon wrote for John. What about a song like Planet Roaring? It could be a love letter of sorts to the fans or the connection that the band has to their fans. Again, I would have to think that would be pretty awesome.
Clearly, picking songs that should have videos made is not that easy of a task. The more I think about it, the more difficult it is. What about the rest of you? What would you choose and why?
Fans favorite DVD, according to our polls: Sing Blue Silver
Which album would you prefer to see live in entirety: First album or Rio?
On this date, in 2007, twelve years ago, I saw Duran Duran play in New York City. What made this particular show so memorable was the fact that the show took place on Broadway. For those who weren’t around or don’t remember, Duran Duran had a rather unique promotional plan for the album released that year, Red Carpet Massacre. This included doing a small run on Broadway in which case they played the whole album before doing an electro set and finishing up with a mini-classic Duran show. While I cannot say that this was my favorite show experience, it was a special one for the performance. Looking back, it felt like a long show and the setlist proves it:
Red Carpet Massacre
Box Full o’Honey
She’s Too Much
Dirty Great Monster
Last Man Standing
Last Chance on the Stairway
All She Wants Is
I Don’t Want Your Love
I Take The Dice
View To A Kill
Girls On Film
That’s 26 songs! In fairness to more recent shows, some of these songs were not played in entirety but still. On top of a really long show, I loved hearing/seeing a whole album played in order. While RCM is not my favorite album, seeing them perform each track made me appreciate the album more and helped me to connect with some songs. Then, there was the electro set, which was simply amazing. The electro set featured the four band members at the front of the stage using keyboards to play more electronic versions of some tracks. To this day, I am still beyond thankful that I got to see it. All of that was then capped off with a bunch of hits that most in the audience would know and love.
Now that I’m thinking about this show, I would really love if the band wanted to do something similar to this…say next year for their 40th with three sets (whole album, electro set, others). The big question then is which album should they cover? In the case of the show I went to in 2007, they played their newest album. If we were lucky enough to get a new album next year, I think it would be very cool to hear the entire album from beginning to end. But what if there was not a new album? What then? I know that many, many fans would love to hear Rio in entirety. I get that feeling since it is a classic one and that is album that won many fans over. For me, I wouldn’t reject it. I know that I have heard each song off of Rio live but definitely not in order. That said, I’m not sure I would choose it over others.
I think if I had to choose one album to listen to live from start to finish, I might pick the first one. To me, it is where the story starts, which would be particularly cool for the 40th anniversary. Then, the final set could include songs from each of the rest of the albums. To me, that would be a super cool way to celebrate the band’s history. The show, then, would capture the complete story. Here’s another idea. What if the next album was released in 2020? Maybe then, start with the first album. Have the electro set feature hits from Rio onward until the last set, which would focus on the last album. Then, it really would be the entire history, of sorts.
What do the rest of you think? Which album would you love to see/hear live in entirety? What if the band set up a show like they did those on Broadway? How would you like to see it done?