Networker Nation – The Daily Duranie Review

With this review of the final song on what I believe is EVERY version of All You Need Is Now, we will be completely finished reviewing the album, and just in time too – because we leave for the UK tour next week!  We apologize for not getting this posted yesterday, but blogger was not cooperating at all!

I’d love to say something like “Now that we’re about done, the band can go ahead and start writing the next one”….but I’d be crazy…this one is just getting started!!  Amanda and I look forward to a few UK shows, and then with any luck, a few more US shows in the fall and beyond.

Thanks to all of our readers for their patience and their sincere efforts not to throw too many tomatoes at us for simply stating our undereducated and completely (*cough, cough*) unbiased opinions of the songs on this album!  Now on to the review….

Rhonda’s take:

Instrumentation/Musicality: The first thing I’m going to admit here is that for about the first ten times I listened to the song, I didn’t know what in the hell the Speak and Spell was actually spelling at the beginning of the song.  I rock that way, don’t I?  That should probably give you a real clue as to just how “in tune” my hearing is at times.  Even funnier is that I recognized the voice as the Speak and Spell I myself had as a child, but I somehow missed the spelling of Duran Duran.  Bartender, send another drink down my way, please!   Instrumentally, this song very much reminds me of more recent years for Duran Duran – I think this song could have easily been included on Astronaut without much of a stretch.  While the melody line is good, it is SO electronic.  Where’s the rest of the band?  I do hear guitar occasionally – but the song is heavily synthesized – too much so, in my opinion.  The guitar is lost and relegated to short riffs that are understated behind the overpowering synthesizer.  While that might be fine on some songs, this one perhaps included, the trouble with Duran Duran (and it always HAS been the trouble since SATRT) is their particular “brand” of instrumentation – where the synth is king, is overused.  They really seem to have trouble recognizing the self-worth of the guitar, and rather than having guitar as the driving force behind the melody – it’s a support player to the keyboards – and many times, the songs just call for more than a chord here and a chord there on guitar.  It’s the one issue that drives fans crazy to this very day, this fan included – because I can almost guarantee that when the time comes that the song is played live, not only will I hear guitar – but the song will rock.  Why water that down for the album??? In addition, I think the rhythm section is completely lost in the shuffle on this song as well, and it’s a shame.  John is SUCH a good bassist – he doesn’t settle for just playing one or two notes over and over again – he actually has the musical integrity and chops to play a full bass “melody” so to speak.  Use him, don’t bury him!   That said, I must reiterate that I do love the melody – I do.  I just yearn for some really gritty, crunchy guitar and some bass groove to bring some more depth to the song.

Vocals:  Admittedly, all I think of when I hear this song is that it sounds every bit like a Duran Duran song should sound.  Simon is at his best here – and I can completely picture him singing it on stage.  Lately I’ve been listening to AYNIN (the album) in between several of their older albums (first album, Rio and SATRT).  I purposely put AYNIN in the middle of them to see how much Simon’s voice had changed (as well as the music) – and the one thing I can say about Simon is that his voice has lost some of it’s timbre (pronounced “tamber”) over the years.  There’s a certain fullness and depth that I think time (along with wear and tear) has taken from his vocal quality – but there’s no mistaking Simon’s voice.  While I wouldn’t ever agree that all it takes is Simon singing to make a song a Duran Duran song, he is an integral part of the band that I wouldn’t want to do without.  His vocal quality is as much a part of what makes this band Duran Duran as say, Nick’s keyboards or even John’s bass line.  There’s no whining here, only a powerfully “Duran Duran” song.

Lyrics: Talk about a timely piece of writing.  Naturally this song is all about our online lives.  Yours, mine, theirs.  There are more than a few lines of this song that completely relate to me…and I suspect everyone else out there who is reading this review, which makes the song interesting.  No, it’s probably not the most obscure piece of lyric written – but it didn’t need to be in order to get us listening, and thinking, did it?  From the moment Amanda and I knew the song title – we wondered what Simon would say.  Quite honestly, I wondered if he’d rip us all apart for relying on our computer screens…and to be fair, I think he made his point rather well. The very first verse: You can call me wrong, you can put me straight.  Say the very thing that I love or hate.”  Isn’t that the truth?  We have so much less of a problem being forward, confrontational and even overly aggressive online – yet I’ve met some of the same people in real life and they can’t even look me in the eye.   Simon gets it.  You lose your inhibition online.  I know I do – I can write a book or a blog here and tell you all what I really think, but in person?  I can be pretty quiet until I’m comfortable.  A few verses later is even better, mainly because if I didn’t know better – I’d think that Simon was reading our blog!!  “We’re writing a book, it’s a piece of cake.  We could change the world, if we could stay awake.”   (No, writing the book is NOT a piece of cake…and he’s absolutely right about staying awake.  I can’t! :D)  It will be very interesting in another 10 years to look back at this song, it’s lyric and see just how far we’ve gone.  I like it.

Production: Here’s the reality – the pieces for this song were all there, and the production is what has made it what it is.  For me, the production and the mix have watered down the very parts of the song that I feel would have made it a standout.  Too many producers today are set to lower the volume of the real instruments in the band and they want to rely on the keyboards – probably because so many bands/artists/what-have-you on the top 40 don’t even HAVE instruments.  They’re personalities that stand onstage and gyrate to whatever sound is coming out of the speakers – and occasionally they might sing along for effect. (whether that effect is good or bad depends on how loudly their mic’s are turned up.)  I think that producers have generally forgotten how to steer the ship for a REAL BAND.  It’s annoying and I won’t ever stop hoping that somehow, someway, the pendulum begins to swing the other way once again and we start having real musicians, with real talent, come to the forefront of the music industry once again.  Until then, I think we’re going to continue hearing this sort of production, and I’ll just keep complaining.  I suppose my complaint goes much farther than just through production – but in this case, I’ll just stick to the facts: NICK IS TOO LOUD and nothing else really comes through much.  There, I said it.  Yes, I’m picky, and yes – I’m a little judgmental.  Still love you Nick, but honestly – where is the rest of the band?

Overall: As much as I’ve hammered the band here with regard to instrumentation and production – I really do like the song.  I sing along, I bop my head along with the music. What more can I really ask for?  More Dom please.  More John please.  My guess is that I’ll get my wish should they ever play it live.  This band, despite their faults in production, or allowing their music to be produced in the matter it tends to get produced and mixed – is very much a LIVE BAND.  I have found that by and large, even songs I dislike on an album are songs that more than rate when played live – and for me, that’s really the true test.  I’ve been to far too many concerts where I’ve loved the music on an album, but yet none of it can be recreated live, and that’s disappointing.  As far as Duran Duran goes, it’s exactly the opposite.  Their live shows far far far exceed anything they’ve ever done on an album – and perhaps that’s why so many of their fans cry so loudly for shows.  It’s because we know what they can achieve onstage.

Rating:

Amanda’s turn:

Instrumentation/Musicality:  Obviously, the very first thing to jump out at you when listening to this song is the spelling of Duran Duran.  This completely threw me when I first heard it.  Clearly, the spelling is to indicate that this is about computers or technology.  Yet, what I find fascinating about it is that this is not a modern day sounding computer or other augmentative communication device.  Then, I have to wonder if it is talking about 2011 computers or computers of the past.  Did they really feel it necessary to include some sort of something to show us the topic?  We couldn’t just get it with the lyrics or the song title?  Then, why spell Duran?  Weird.  From there, the song jumps into a massive sounding electronic piece.  It seems to me that the song has three different main parts:  Verse, Chorus, Tap-Tap-Tap part with an additional little piece about 2:30 minutes into it.  All of these parts are extremely electronic.  When I listen with headphones, I have a sense that there are instruments there but they are not obvious at all.  I couldn’t pick out the drums to save my life.  Nonetheless, the song is full of energy and definitely gets me moving!

Vocals:  This is the Simon I know and love.  Even better, this is the Simon that I enjoy singing with…when I’m in the car, by myself!  He is singing at a range that works for him and really helps to create that fun, danceable mood.  You know that whatever Simon is singing about isn’t necessarily the most important or most serious topic.  It is all in good fun, which is fitting for the topic at hand, and the lyrics, in particular since I think that’s the point.  It seems all fun to be online but there is a current of concern that people should have.

Lyrics:  The song is trying to give a little commentary about the online world.  Clearly, he is trying to say that people live a lot of their lives these days online.  They live there so much that much of their social interaction takes place there, “elegant times for no conversation”.  Yet, no one really questions this.  I don’t…much.  Is this a healthy way to live our lives?  Is it good not to be able to be away from your online world?  It seems that to many of us (and I’m guilty here, too) that we all just seem to feel that this is a good way to have fun and it is, but I think the point is that it shouldn’t be our only way.  Of course, there is the added idea that you can be whomever you want to be online.  I could change everything about me and create a whole new identity.  No one would need to find out.  Thus, while the online world is fun, it is also one that can be deceptive.  I appreciate this questioning.  I like that it makes me think.  I wish that he didn’t include lines about “youtube” or “facebook”.  I always worry that those sites will become out of fashion and make the lyrics look dated.  I think the online world is here to stay but the sites may change. 

Production:  This is a song that is one that you can’t escape and I’m sure that it was intentionally done by the production.  There are many songs that I could just have on in the background and enjoy.  This isn’t one of them.  I would always notice when this song comes on.  I’m forced to pay attention to it because it is just filled with sound.  I wonder if there isn’t too much sound.  Although, I suppose that is fitting as well.  There is too much to see and do online and the music does represent this sort of over-stimulation.  In terms of song quality, though, and Duran level quality, I wish that I heard more instrumentation besides the heavy electronic.  I always want to hear John and Roger.  Would the song have been more powerful if those instruments came through but the electronic pieces answered them? Could that have been symbolic to how the online world always seems to break through the regular daily existence? 

Overall:  I enjoy the song.  I immediately found myself singing along to it, including those tap-tap-tap parts.  I always wonder if parts like that would sound silly but they don’t in classics like Planet Earth.  I think the electronic all-encompassing feel was intentional, but do wonder if it couldn’t be an even stronger song with more organic instrumentation pushing through.  The lyrics make me think but I do wonder if they will hold up in the long run.

Overall Rating:

10 days to go….

I think I might have crossed over from distant excitement to panic mode.  I don’t know what made it hit – perhaps it was realizing that I still don’t know what shoes I’m taking.  Maybe it was Amanda’s list of 15…or is it 22 now…Duran “themed” places that we’re going to be visiting, walking past, etc. in Birmingham.  It might have been my mom’s phone call to remind me that she still hasn’t gotten my daily schedule yet (she’s handling the kids during the day while my husband is at work), and it might have also been that I realized I don’t know what I’m going to wear to the Only After Dark club that we’re going to after the Duran Duran show in Birmingham.  I don’t even know what people dress like in the UK for this stuff!  So, if you see someone wearing clothes that you wouldn’t be caught dead in a club at, or someone that very much looks like she’s from California – it’s probably me.  *sigh*  I’m really nice (especially after a drink or two to ease my nerves!), just probably very uninformed about fashion.  Scratch that.  I’m the farthest thing from a fashionista you’re going to get, and I don’t do the whole punk thing either. Oh well.  I’m there to have fun.  And be laughed at, most likely.  😀

Don’t know about Only After Dark?  Well, let me educate you.  (ha!)  From what I gather, it’s a sort of club, you can actually become a member although it’s not required for admission – they seem to have regularly scheduled events, and on the night in question it’s their 2nd anniversary, and the first night in their new “home”, the Air VIP Lounge.  Here’s the address:

The VIP Lounge – Air Nightclub 49 Heath Mill Lane, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4AL


The best part about this night (May 21st), is that they are doing a theme that is directly related to Duran Duran.  Some might say (read:ME) that it’s ALL about Duran Duran.  The theme of the evening is “A Night at the Rum Runner”.  Forgive me for saying this – but if you aren’t aware of what the Rum Runner is or why it relates to Duran Duran, you’ve got some studying to do.  Quickly!  As they say: it’s where it all began.

According to the invite I saw on Facebook, the DJ set for that night will be inspired entirely by the tracks played by Nick Rhodes at The Rum Runner back when he was a DJ for the club, with a few Duran Duran tracks thrown in for good measure.   OAD is even offering a special deal for those of us going to the Brum gig – if we present our tickets or e-ticket confirmation, we’ll get in for 2 GBP.  (about $3.65 USD today)  Let me just say, I can’t remember a time when I got into ANY club for less than $5.00 USD….and that was *cough, cough* over 20 years ago now.

For my friends and I, this is the epitome of going to Birmingham.  It’s about soaking up the history of the band.  It’s like a trip to Mecca for me, and if any of you are as *cough, cough* absorbed by the band as I am…you get it.  If not, then you’re probably shaking your head and wondering when the men and white coats are coming for me.  Don’t worry, my husband wonders that every single day.   So yes, we’re attending, and I may be the only person in there  that looks like she’s from the US….but I’ll be smiling, laughing and having fun anyway!

It looks like things are being planned at a fever pitch now.  I think we’ve got plans after every show – although to be honest, I don’t know where we’re going or when.  I plan to pretty much float through the week with the guidance of the Blue Tour Binder.  (Yes Amanda, you may laugh now.)  I know Amanda and I are making a trip back to Birmingham the day after the Liverpool show just so that we can try out the walking tour she’s devised to see all of the Duran related sites. (and I do mean WALKING – I’m actually living in a little bit of fear about how far we’re going to be walking that day.  I wasn’t planning on bringing my tennis shoes with me – athletic trainers for those of you who don’t understand what I’m talking about – but due to this day, I am SO bringing them.)  I think we’ve got tentative plans to meet people after every single show aside from London – but in that case we’re throwing the Club Reflex party the day before with Gimme A Wristband!  (and I can’t wait!)  I’m sure the week is going to fly by, but I’m very excited!  I’m also thankful that we have a few days in between Liverpool and London.  We’ll need them to recuperate!!

As an aside regarding the Club Reflex party – if you can’t attend that party and are going to any of the other shows we’re attending – Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool or even London – let us know if you want to get together.  We do plan to go out after the shows if at all possible, and we are HAPPY to add more people to whatever we’re doing.  This is not a closed “club”, and for Amanda and I, half of the reason we’re so excited about the trip is getting to meet new friends, so don’t feel left out.  We want everyone to get together, get to know one another, and celebrate this fantastic band doing a proper UK tour!

Now on to the band themselves.  Sometimes I forget this blog actually has something to do with the band!  I saw on Twitter yesterday that they are rehearsing for the UK tour, and that they have some new music, never before played stuff as JT says, for the shows.  What on earth could they be planning?!?   I’m sure they’ll be playing new songs from the album – but I wonder which ones.  Will they play anything from the back catalog?  (oh if only….I know it’s a ridiculous request, but I would love for them to play some old stuff.  Late Bar, Secret Oktober, gosh…I’d be thrilled with anything like that!)  I almost don’t want to see the set lists from the next several shows just to surprise me when I get to Birmingham….

As I’m typing I’m remembering things that need to be added to my ever-growing “to do” list that must be done before I leave next Friday, which tells me that it’s time I get going and start tackling what I can!  Until tomorrow….

-R

LONDON MEETUP!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I have exciting and fantastic news to share today!  We’ve gotten the details for the London Meetup squared away – and I can share all of the details!  Gimme a Wristband has teamed up with Daily Duranie to bring you what we hope to be the biggest meetup of the UK tour at Club Reflex in London on Friday, May 27!  Details can be found in the lovely poster that Miss Kitty from Gimme a Wristband has ever so artfully designed below:

We are SO excited for this night – so please, swipe the artwork and post it EVERYWHERE, then get yourselves and your friends to Club Reflex that Friday night!  Admission is free before 9pm, so come early and plan to Reach Up for the Sunrise with Gimme a Wristband and Daily Duranie!  (or until 3 am, when the club closes!)

Questions, comments, concerns?  Post away – we’ll be happy to help however we can!

-R

A new find!

Yesterday I was out with my family – we were in San Diego at Horton Plaza and we came across a music store, of all things!  It was a Sam Goody, which shocked me because I thought those were a distant memory – I didn’t realize there were any left on the map!  Naturally my husband and I were excited to go in the store, and my kids were less-than-thrilled.  (this is odd to me because when I was 11, well…I was a big Duran Duran fan…the music store was my paradise!!)

After convincing everyone that we wouldn’t take more than 4 hours in the store (do you hear my kids groaning in the background?  I still sort of hear it….), we trudged on in, and I immediately made my way to the “D” section of the CD racks.  What a sight to behold!!  Not only did Duran Duran actually have their own section – but it was FULL!  *gasp*  No, it wasn’t full of just the new album in all it’s finery, there were plenty of other goodies mixed in with it as well.  I found Greatest, the new remasters of Rio and Big Thing (I bought that one), some tribute type albums, and a used copy of Essential Duran Duran Remixes, in the original packaging no less.  I snagged that along with the box of Big Thing, and went on my merry way, thinking that I’d scored big.  I went on through the store (the Sam Goody at Horton Plaza is really big, by the way!) to discover that yes, they had vinyl!  Not only did they have brand new vinyl (no copy of Girl Panic though), but they also had used vinyl.  Score!!  I delved into the rack nonchalantly, figuring I’d see what they had, but expecting to find nothing.  Just as I was about to take a deep breath and walk away, I found a promo copy of Electric Barbarella.  It was just a generic white cover with a sticker to indicate what was on it, but upon closer examination I saw that they were remixes I’d not heard of previously.  I really figured that I would recognize the music when I got home because I have tons of remixes on my iPod that I don’t know the full-name. (I’m really bad that way and I’m not even going to apologize – there’s just too much to keep track of and I’m far better with recognizing the music than I am anything else)  Anyway, I scooped up my finds, purchased them, chatted it up with the salesgirl about her passion for Depeche Mode and my passion for Duran Duran, collected the family and went out the door.  Less than one hour, thankyouverymuch!

Last night when we got home, Walt put on the record – I was excited to hear it since I didn’t automatically know what the remixes would sound like.  All in all, they were really cool – some were better than others and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard at least one of the versions before, or some sampling thereof, but I really liked it.  Then on the B side, we came to the final mix, which was called A Capella.  I was curious since I didn’t think I’d ever heard such a thing.  Well, the entire song is Simon’s vocal tracks with nothing behind it.(hence the A Capella name…)  If you ever had any doubt about Simon’s voice, this track puts it all on the line.  Not only do you hear Simon singing each verse without any production effect aside from a bit of an echo, you hear him sing each layer of harmonization in the chorus.  It’s gorgeous.  The mix is very short since it contains just the stanzas of verse and two choruses, but if I ever get asked why I love Simon’s voice, all I have to do is play this mix.  It almost brought me to tears, and had my husband not been there – I probably would have indulged.  My only words after it was over were “That is exactly why I love this band so much.”  Sure, it was only Simon that was singing, I know that.  Sure, on that particular mix there wasn’t an instrument to be heard, but that isn’t the point and any Duranie would know that.

Oh, and the best part of the mix?  At the very end…after the final vocal note fades away to nothing…you hear Simon cough just one time.  It’s such a silly thing, and I can’t even describe it – but there’s a certain comfort in KNOWING it’s Simon.  It’s odd to have such a strange recognition, but it’s just that if you’re a fan – you know what Simon sounds like.  I don’t know, maybe I’m weird, maybe I’m just a Duranie, but it was just one of those moments.  There were several in the mix where I’d hear him take a quick breath to keep up with the words. (and I can’t tell you how impressed I am that he doesn’t trip over the lyrics “Ultra chrome latex and steel”!)  He sings them so fast in the song in order to make them work with the music – I just don’t think I’d noticed before now.  Anyway, it’s those tiny moments that make it special.  Oddly.

The very best part?  I don’t even LIKE Electric Barbarella.  Up until the Red Carpet Massacre album, I thought I hated that song and the entire album it came on….turns out, I don’t hate Medazzaland at all.  (don’t even begin to tell me it can happen with Night Runner or Skin Divers….)

-R

ps – 11 days and counting!!!!

Appreciation

Today is Mother’s Day in America. This is the day that we show our appreciation of our mothers by, typically, showering them with gifts, flowers and meals out at a restaurant. Later, I will be joining my mother for dessert, which is what she wanted to do. I have to admit that I think my mom is pretty fabulous. In fact, I would have to say that I’m pretty lucky when it comes to my family, my mother in particular.

I think I always knew that my mom was cooler than some mothers when I was a kid. I became a Duranie as a young kid. In fact, I always claim my anniversary as the day that the Reflex became number one because that was the song that had me hooked for life. I was 8, almost 9 at the time. Like many kids, I became addicted and wanted to show this addiction in many ways, including buying their albums and singles, wearing t-shirts and nightshirts, and wallpapering my bedroom with their posters. My mom accepted all of this without question. She never complained when literally all four walls of my bedroom were covered with Simon, John, Nick, Roger and Andy. There were no statements about turning down Seven and the Ragged Tiger. My house became the location of the Friday Night Videos sleepovers. My best friend at the time would call each other up whenever we saw a video being played on MTV and my mom never became annoyed with the frequent calls. My mom accepted all of this. As the years moved along, she began to do more than just accept it.

One thing I always appreciated about my mom was that she asked questions about what I was interested in. She wanted to know and appreciate what I was into. Thus, she not only listened to me go on and on about the guys, the songs, the videos but would ask questions. She acted like she was curious herself! This was so reinforcing to me and made my fandom seem acceptable, normal. As the years went on, my mom started to learn some of the songs and began to recognize who was who. In fact, my dad always asks about who is who when Duran is on their TV, for whatever reason, and my mom is typically the one to provide the information. Now, when I tell my mom about an appearance on TV, she tunes in and will actually tell me what she thinks! Likewise, I played AYNIN is for her. Last weekend, she asked me how the album was doing because she “really likes the new songs”. I got the biggest smile on my face! I answered her question calmly but inside I was beaming. Of course, my mom has gone above and beyond this as she had created various pieces of art to help me to express my fandom, including fabric art pieces to represent songs or the logo to our blog!

In less than 2 weeks, my parents will be driving me and my friend,Deb,to O’Hare for us to board a plane to London. As I tried to make my decision about whether or not to go to the UK, my mom encouraged me to go. She has joined me in my various shopping trips and listened to my excitement over all of the little details. I’m sure that she will be as thrilled to hear my stories and see my pictures when I get back.

I’m sure by now you all get the point. My mom is pretty fabulous, especially when it comes to my fandom. She has accepted and encouraged it. She has supported me all the way and I suspect that she will continue to do so as Rhonda and I continue to write this blog and finish our book. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom!!

-A

To Be a Duranie or Not To Be?

I have observed something interesting in the Duran Duran fandom in the last few months. Some Duran fans do not like the term “Duranie” and would never refer to themselves in this way. This is fascinating to me. I have always called myself a Duranie and never thought much about it. To me, the term equals any other term used to identify fans. For example, my brother and sister-in-law are Trekkies. (I realize that some Star Trek fans prefer the term, Trekker, but the idea is the same.) So why wouldn’t someone want to be called a Duranie?

I am not sure where the term came from or when it started. I did listen to Top 40 Chicago radio as a kid and remember hearing the term then (early to mid 1980s). Even as a young age, I remember understanding that the term was not always used in a complimentary fashion. I knew that some of the DJs were making fun of Duran Duran fans even as they played Hungry Like the Wolf. Could this be part of the reason that some fans don’t like the term? They don’t like it because it was/is used by people to make fun of the fans? I can understand not wanting to be made fun of. Then, there is another part of me that says that I don’t care what people think of me. If they want to make fun of me because I’m a Duranie, go ahead. It won’t change how I feel or that I’m a Duran Duran fan.

I heard rumors that the term started in America. (Is that true? Does anyone know that for sure?) Perhaps, if this is true, that could cause negative feelings toward the term. If the term is connected to American fans, I can understand the rest of the world being annoyed. After all, Duran Duran fans are everywhere and the band themselves are from England. They aren’t an American band so why should the fans there get a nickname to identify them, right?! If the term just reminds people of American fans then that isn’t good. Yet, I wonder and worry if the dislike towards the term has more to do with the stigma involved with being a Duranie or a fan, in general.

It seems to me that fans get a bad reputation. Fans are often seen as slightly crazy, slightly obsessed. People, sometimes, think of fans as people who haven’t grown up. They worry that people who identify themselves as fans might be stalkers who follow the band or celebrity. Maybe they would do something harmful to the famous person/people. Now, obviously, there are fans who cross the line. While it is rare that fans actually want or do harm the subject of their affection, there are people who seem to take it a bit too far. Thus, is it possible that normal fans don’t want to be associated with these fans who have gone too far? Yet, I believe that normal fans have nothing to be ashamed of because we know where the line is and would never think of crossing it. We shouldn’t let those who are unstable ruin something that we enjoy or make us ashamed. I, instead, embrace the fan in me.

Of course, another possibility here is that our fan community has forced this anti-Duranie feeling. Perhaps, people have seen or been in the line of fire with other Duranies. Our fan community is not always one of love and inclusiveness (as much as we like to think otherwise). Duranies can and have had arguments. They do not always get along and have talked about each other, both in public and in private. Thus, is it possible that some fans reject the term because they want to reject this negativity? I think that is possible and is understandable. Yet, again, I refuse to let that type of activity influence me. I realize that this type of behavior happens within the community. While I hate it, I’m still going to do what I want to do and be proud of who I am.

I am a Duranie. While I realize that there are negative connotations to the term, I don’t let that control me. To me, the term means that I’m a Duran Duran fan, nothing more and nothing less.

-A

Touring Traditions

My email inbox has been a flurry of activity lately.  This is very common before a tour as Rhonda and I plot…I mean…plan things out.  I’m a planner.  I don’t need to have every last detail planned out but I want to have enough planned so that I don’t have to think much while I’m on tour.  I want to be able to just enjoy.  Anyway, you can imagine that this tour might be taking a bit more planning than normal since it is much longer than most and is overseas.  As Rhonda and I exchange emails, we can get silly and talk about other things besides an immediate travel detail.  Part of our silliness involves discussions and comments regarding some of our traditions.  Yes, we have traditions, customs.  I guess this is a sign that we have toured too much together or that we have a similar sense of humor and fun.  Now, that we are down to 2 weeks (14 days!!!!  EEK!!!), I have started to really look forward to some of those traditions.

I hope Rhonda isn’t too upset with my revealing of some of those traditions, but I thought it might be fun on a Friday.  The first tradition has been referenced on the blog before and that is the tour binder.  I have this blue binder that has accompanied me on every tour since the first year.  People often tease me about this and tell me that I’m a little obsessive-compulsive.  Well, I suspect that most people secretly appreciate it!  In this binder, I have our agenda, flight information, hotel confirmations, tickets, restaurant info, club info and anything else fun and needed.  The binder is filling up quickly and I still have a ton left to add, including those lovely tickets to 4 Duran Duran shows!  This tradition, obviously, begins for the tour even starts.  🙂  Besides this one, we have a ton that we do on the road.

One of my favorite traditions on the road is what we call the menu.  This started in Chicago in March of 2005 after the group of us had been up for a VERY long time.  We were at a restaurant trying to get some coffee when I picked up a take out menu.  I was looking for something to focus my attention on so that I didn’t fall asleep and had the idea of writing down memories and quotes from the weekend.  I did have a sharpie with me (you never know when you might need one on tour!) and went from there.  Since then, we always try to grab a menu to record our memorable moments in the same way.  I can only imagine how filled this one might be!  Another one of our customs is to do what I lovingly call the “press conference”.  This is done usually after a show or a meetup or some event.  We then discuss what was good, bad, fun, not-so-fun or whatever about the event that we went to.  In many cases, these are done while waiting for a ride or a plane or something.  They are also usually done when we are completely exhausted.  Rhonda and I joked that we could just video blog this time and realized that we wouldn’t want to scare anyone!!!  Part of the reason for these press conference is to remember the details and feelings.  It is another means to document!

Now, you can probably tell why we decided to write a book!  We like to discuss, to analyze, to document these important events in our fandom.  I think the fact that we have developed this traditions shows how fandom leads right into a culture.  For example, I suspect that we are like many Duranies in that we enjoy having a drink or two when we get together.  I would even argue that this type of activity is part of our Duranie culture.  I digress.  The last tradition is done afterwards and that is when I file everything in the tour binder, the menu and more in my Duranie scrapbook.  I want to make double and triple sure that I won’t forget one single moment of any tour!

Of course, we have a few other traditions that we shall keep to ourselves in order to protect the innocent or not-so-innocent!  I suspect that Rhonda and I are not unique with our development of traditions.  I bet lots of other groups of Duranies have their own!  Come and share!  What are your traditions and how did they start?

-A

Too Close To the Sun – The Daily Duranie Review

This week, having skipped it last week…we are reviewing Too Close To the Sun, another exclusive track from the Best Buy version of All You Need Is Now.

Rhonda’s turn:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  Hello electronica.  This song seems to be the heaviest in various electronica on the album, and I think even a good deal of Roger’s drums are done on electronic toms – nothing really new to the band, but it’s a standout on the song.  (yes, that’s a good thing.  His work is nothing short of excellent on this one)  If I’m wrong on that, well…it wouldn’t be the first time.  🙂  I really began to get concerned in the instrumentation when, about 30 seconds in – I heard the familiar chords from Save A Prayer (listen closely, they are there – they aren’t the familiar melody, but the notes are there!), and my concern was only that they were trying a do-over here (which seems to be the case in many ways on this album as a whole), and that I’d never hear bass or guitar.  That didn’t turn out to be the case, but they are very, very buried, deep in the melody that Nick is completely driving on this song.  I can’t really fault the band for that – but I really do believe one major fault of this band is continuously burying their guitar and bass.  It has always driven me slightly crazy, and even on this album, this song included, they flirt dangerously with those old habits.  That isn’t to say the instrumentation is horrible, it is not.  The melody is clear, the guitar plays a strong supporting role after it really gets going, but I still feel the bass could have been stronger.  Roger’s drums are strong – where’s the bass?  I can “feel” it, but I think we should be able to hear it just a bit more.  There are so many good things about this song, musically speaking – it’s really impressive in it’s own right.  I just wish they’d taken more care with John’s rhythm so that the song didn’t lean so heavily towards the electronics.  They need that balance.  Then, lo and behold – about 2/3 of the way through the song – Dom comes out to play.  I have to admit here that if I didn’t know better, I would swear Andy Taylor came back to the band on this one.   Those riffs are so similar to what I know from Andy, and while I know Dom is an excellent guitarist in his own right, if I close my eyes and daydream a bit, I can almost see Andy playing. (those who say Warren is best can agree to disagree with me, that’s fine – I love Dom’s playing and will continue to sing his praises well after his stint in Duran Duran is over and done)  It starts as a sort of game of tag between Nick and Dom, and then Dom completely takes over, which is a solid blessing for this tune.  He saves the song from being an overly contrived, purely plastic and synthetic song.  The band is better than just that, and they prove it on this one.

Vocals:  Here is where the song completely and flatly loses it for me.  It is a HUGE shame because this song had all the makings of being one of the best on the album, musically speaking.  There is absolutely no reason to have this song sound like a demo, yet due to the vocals, that’s what it sounds like.  While Early Summer Nerves has that lazy, late night feel to it – this song has all the energy of a nightclub going for it, yet nearly as soon as the song begins – the whining sound to Simon’s voice completely skewers it.  He sounds very much as though he’d been gargling with nails, or his voice was completely fried after a good solid 3 weeks singing every night.  I hear nothing but strain, a definite “thinness” to the notes he’s singing (as opposed to sounding full and authoritative), lack of vocal control, and quite frankly a complete lack of intonation.    (that means Simon was out of tune in much of the song, probably due to the lack of control)  There was no reason for it, although I will concede that  perhaps he’s going for some sort of existentialistic type of mood. It doesn’t help the song, and I don’t feel that it really does much to create the mood, and it’s not really sounding experimental  the way that songs sounded on Medazzaland, although he’s trying to sing it that way.  It’s not impressive and I’m disappointed they let it go like this.  Simon is a MUCH better singer than this, which is why I have zero trouble letting him have it on this one.  He knows better, and he can tell me it’s all about artistic license all he wants, I’d wholeheartedly agree if it actually worked for the song, but it doesn’t.  Especially not when you have this strong of a song musically.  Disappointing.

Lyrics: I have to be honest, I have such a hard time listening to this song due to the singing that I am distracted when it comes to the lyrics.  In some ways, I’d swear he was making up a lot of the words on the spot since he seems to be dragging out the verses, but that’s probably not the case.  Who knows.  It seems as though he had a good solid chorus going for it, but each stanza of verse seems to be where he’s ad libbing.  I love the chorus:  “Still looking out for something, some escape from, the antique dark of nothing new, automatic sky”  What the hell does that mean??  I have no idea.  I just like it!  I like the escape part, as if he’s trying to convey what it’s like to take drugs and be risking it all to chase that high.  It does relate to my life pretty darn well (not the drugs part.  LOL), I’m a mom, my day to day excitement doesn’t really change much, and sometimes I just want to break the hell out of the proverbial cage I’m in and see something new.  Hello my trip to the UK!   Interestingly enough, that’s kind of how I feel about the band in general.  It’s my escape and I keep going to shows because for me, it IS my drug.  I’m chasing after that high I feel.  The worst shows are when I come away not feeling it, and then I crave more.  Who am I kidding – I *always* crave more, but I think that if you’re the type of fan I am, you get my point.

Production: Who let Nick out of his cage?!?  😀  I can definitely sense the Nick Rhodes touch of production on this song – and I don’t mean to pick on him here.  Really, I don’t.  The fact is, Nick and Matthew Hager did a good job with it.  The synths do play a lead role, but I have to say – Dom’s guitar is very audible and plays a very smart game.  It reminds me very much of any song on the first two albums – MUSICALLY.  I think the only drawback is that they left the bass on the cutting room floor, and that’s a shame.  The song needs more of it to provide a good balance.

Overall:  This is the one that “got away” on this album.  Instrumentation-wise, this song scores a solid 5 cocktails for me because it’s beautiful.  It’s as electronic as any Duran Duran song should be, and yet it’s got a good solid infrastructure to it so that it doesn’t sound plastic.  No other band out there is able to do what Duran Duran has done for the past 30 some years musically, and this song is proof of that in every way.  It should have been a masterpiece for them.  That said, vocally they couldn’t have gotten it more wrong.  I don’t think I even realized how fantastic the song is musically until today when I’ve sat and listened to it a good 10 times for this review, because the vocals are so distracting.  Like I’ve said, Simon is better than this. A million times over.  (wow I feel like I’m reviewing Red Carpet Massacre all over again!)  To be fair though, I really hated this song until today.  I was dreading the review because I knew it would be ghastly, and I never enjoy that.  That said, I gave it some solid listening time this morning, and I found plenty to like on the song.  The fact that no, it’s not where I think it should be from Simon, hurts it…but it doesn’t completely destroy it for me.  And, on an album where there are 15 tracks, to have one song off kilter for a reviewer who openly admits that A. She’s biased,  and B. She’s not an expert except in her own mind…..well, that can’t be all bad.

Rating:

Amanda’s turn:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I have to agree a lot with Rhonda on this one.  Initially, the song excites me.  Roger’s drums immediately draw me and lead me to expect a solid song.  Then, there is that continuous loop of sound from Nick’s keyboards that actually remind me of Planet Earth.  Unfortunately, the comparison really stops there as Nick adds another layer and the vocals begin.  As soon as Simon starts singing, I start to wonder why John is so soft and where the guitar is.  John is there but barely.  Those instruments, particularly the guitar, don’t stand out at all to me until about 3 minutes into the song with a sort of answer and call section with the keyboards, which is very classic Duran.  Yet, something about it feels forced like this was an after thought.  It just doesn’t feel as natural as I think it should.   Roger’s drums continue to impress me even as I find myself wishing that even they were louder and more noticeable.

Vocals:  Oh boy.  Why?  Why did they decide to go this route with the vocals?  Simon doesn’t really sound like himself.  Rhonda mentioned that it felt like a demo, vocally, and I could see that.  To me, the vocals seem unnatural.  Why have Simon sing like he was strained?  Did they want him to sound like his vocal cords were damaged like they were too close to the sun?  The song certainly is not one that I would ever play to anyone to prove that Simon is a solid vocalist, that’s for sure.  In fact, this song makes me think about a little disagreement I had with a friend of a friend on facebook about Simon’s singing (I blogged about it:  Duranie Smackdown).  I defended him (and probably always will) and stated that I thought he was quality.  This person kept arguing with him about how out of tune he is and that anyone could see that.  In this case, the person would have a point and I hate that!!

Lyrics:  The only lyric that ever caught my attention with this track was the line about being “too close to the sun”.  That isn’t good.  That isn’t solid Duran Duran.  Luckily, they already have the lyrics posted on dd.com.  Clearly, the lyrics are reflecting some sort of drug trip, right?  The references to an “escape” and to the “mighty high”  as well as “are you flying” made me make that conclusion.  This is lame.  Too obvious even though the assumed topic of drugs was never mentioned.  Interestingly enough, John had a song called “The Other Side of the Sun” on his solo album, Techno for Two.  Now, this song didn’t have many lyrics at all but John’s solo work always reminded me that he was battling his addiction.  While these songs are not similar, I still get annoyed when I think that Duran isn’t being original in their topics or how they handle their topics.

Production:  Like Early Summer Nerves, I had to wonder who thought it was a good idea to make the keyboards so prominent.  Yes, I know that the answer is Nick.  Clearly.  I think this is a mistake.  While I think the keyboards are decent for this song, I think Roger’s drums need more attention.  Then, there is the bass and guitar.  They are barely noticeable and that is a problem.  I have always felt that the best Duran is when ALL instruments are clear and obvious.  While one instrument might have the spotlight for a few seconds, the others will jump back in the spotlight.  This song has that chance with fabulous drums and a clear spotlight on the guitar, at one point.  Yet, this chance is not taken. 

Overall:  This song is very much like Early Summer Nerves for me.  It has many things going for it but fails to live up to its potential.  The production detracts from the positive musicality and the vocals really impact it negatively.  The topic seems unoriginal despite a couple of neat phrases. 

Rating:

 

Did you hear that pin drop? What about those crickets??

I would venture to guess that the past month has been a bit of a roller coaster for anyone in the DD fan community that has been paying attention or going to a show here or there.  First you’re in the extremely long line to get on the ride….then you’re in the station house in the queue to get on, then you make the very long climb up that first hill, and suddenly you are the bottom again.  The ride goes very fast from there on, and now we’ve just been unceremoniously dumped off the ride.  It’s darn quiet, folks.

It’s not just that there aren’t shows this week, it’s that it seems most everyone is on vacation.  Well, Daily Duranie is NOT on vacation…yet.  😉

The past several months have truly been a bit of a Duran Duran high for me.  When we first began this blogging project, I wasn’t really sure how it was all going to go.  I didn’t really know if I’d have enough to say, nor did I know if anyone would really understand what I was writing and actually “get” it.  Excitedly, I’m able to report that there are many, many of you out there who are not only as obsessed as I, but you’re willing to admit it, too!  I can’t really describe the satisfaction I get from the blog, but it’s added an entirely different dimension to being a fan.   I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d be more excited about getting a new album, or more excited about upcoming shows, or even attending those shows, but somehow having the blog has allowed me the opportunity to experience the band both as a fan and as a writer who just happens to be a fan.  If I ever thought I was getting tired, which I suppose at one point not that long ago I did feel as though I was getting a little tired and “long in the tooth” for being a fan, blogging has renewed that youthful vigor and enthusiasm!

Then there has been Twitter and Facebook.  About 2 years ago, and likely even longer, I admittedly became very critical of the way the band handled, or more truthfully, didn’t handle, their fans.  Purely from my point of view – here was a band that had a fairly loyal fan base for the better part of thirty years.  I’m sure fans have come and gone over the years, but that’s not really the point.  There are fans who have truly been around in support of the band for probably over thirty years now.  Maybe they were even around during the Rum Runner days, who knows.  (I am sure that there’s got to be someone out there who went to some of those gigs at the Rum Runner and is now sick to death of the rest of us who came along only after they became famous and claim the band as our own!)  Yet the band never seemed to make much of a point of reaching out.  They seemed pretty content to play the shows, let their minions handle our requests, and would annoyingly say a very quick “hello” on their website on special occasions like their birthdays…and once in a while they’d even throw us a bone or two by blogging.  We’d drink the news as though we had just spent a year in the desert and found water, and then immediately cry out of thirst for more.  I never felt like the band really noticed, or honestly cared.   Many of us grew fond of saying that we were simply the bands paycheck, and in all fairness, that IS how it felt.  We learned to understand that our roles were simple: they made the music, and we bought it.   No less, no more.   I would presume to say that I became more vocal about the disconnect between the fans and the band as time wore on, and this was well before we even began the blog.  Then suddenly, the game changed.  Apparently Simon joined Twitter last July but never really used his account much, then John joined in the fall.  I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the turn of events.  It’s funny how one simple thing can change your entire perception, but it’s true.

I daresay that John got on the bandwagon in the nick of time (so many puns in one sentence….is that really even fair??), but he did.  I appreciate that he gave the medium a fair chance, and I’m thrilled to see that he realizes it does have it’s place.  Simon followed suit, and while they have completely different styles of tweeting, they are both very valuable to the fans.  I’ve gotten so used to seeing John’s sudden burst of tweets – and I do often comment back – but typically it’s on Facebook because unlike John, I prefer that medium.  (140 characters just isn’t enough.  I’m wordy!)  I realize he doesn’t read them, and that’s OK.  A lot of times I’m commenting for the sake of the other fans on Facebook.  If I’m on Twitter, I’ll take the time to comment, but I still don’t expect an answer back.  It’s good enough to see he’s answering many other fans out there.  I think we’ve all grown to cherish that simple connection, so to speak.  Roger is a Facebook guy, which yes – I adore because if you’ve read my blogs at all – you know he’s my favorite. (please insert hearts and flowers and all that preteen girly stuff here.)  I comment there as well, full-well knowing that once again, nothing I say is really all that exciting, and yet – I’m still satisfied with that.  Mostly.  If he ever did comment back – well, it’d be a good day in my house.  Just saying.  🙂   Heck, I’d say that about any of them.  It’s about the connection.

Oddly though, I think the interaction on Facebook and Twitter has helped them to see the fans as real humans.  I realize that to them – we’ve always been those slightly (some more so than others) crazy people that tend to scream when we see them.  We’re those women (face it people, most of us ARE women) who will show up at the same bar as they do after shows only to paw at them, watch them as though they are a circus act, and try to run our fingers through their hair. (really??  Do people really do that??!!?)  Even so, there are a good many of us out there that haven’t ever participated in any of that, behavior, and most of us are happy just to get a nod or a smile out of them.  In return, I think that we see that they too, are human.  (all but that Nick Rhodes…I’m still thinking he’s alien….and until he joins the rest of the world on Facebook or Twitter…we may never really know for sure.  *envision my evil smile here*)  They have moods, they have feelings, and most of all….they have LIVES that don’t involve the fans.  Imagine that!!

So, this week, John has imposed a vacation from Twitter on himself.  When he first mentioned it, I laughed.  Yes, I really did.  Mainly because there have been numerous times when I myself have had to do that very same thing.  Invariably it’s when they are about to announce a show in my area….but I digress.  Then I commented that I thought it was a good idea, and that I hope he followed through with it.  And I did!  Someone else mentioned that with his addiction, that they didn’t know if he could do it – and I commented back (on Facebook I believe) that the man quit smoking cold turkey.  He can be on vacation from Twitter for a little less than a week, easy!  I hope he’s enjoying himself.  For the rest of us though, I can’t wait until he starts to tweet again because it’s QUIET without him!  Yes, I know Simon has been tweeting off and on…and someday, I’m going to open up about my real feelings about that man, but today is not that day.  (and I hope when that day comes, my good friend Moocher from DDF will be around to read.)

This week, I’ve had to endure by reading a short tweet from Dom (glad he’s enjoying his week off with his kids), and getting ready for my UK trip.  I’d say it was agony, but aside from today (which is crawling along RIDICULOUSLY slow), it’s been good.  I’ve ordered 5 pairs of shoes so far, and bought most of my travel sized stuff for my trip.  My husband has a message for the band though, and that’s to *never* take time off of Twitter again.  🙂

The real question is – will John actually come back from this vacation with a TAN?!?  Is that even possible?!?  😀   (please don’t hurt me, John fans…it was meant as a friendly joke!!) We will have to see…..

-R

Something occurred to me last night…

I was perusing Facebook for one final time before bed (I’m as addicted to FB as JT is to Twitter.  Just saying.  I like Facebook because it’s a little more personal than Twitter – 140 characters doesn’t do it for me, but I can see why John would prefer the quickness and portability, so to speak, of Twitter.)  Anyway, we finally received our tickets to the Birmingham show yesterday, and something was printed on the ticket that made us stop and think a bit.  I believe the saying was something to the extent of “Be aware that there may be people standing around you”.  I’m really not sure what this means.  Here in the US, when we go to shows, it’s assumed (by ME anyway), that of course we’re going to stand up.  The chair is there simply to either put your stuff on – or as a sort of “marker” as to where your personal space should begin and end.  Granted, there are some shows that I end up sitting for more than I’m standing (*cough,cough Hammerstein Ballroom show, “Fan Show” NYC in 2007…*cough, cough*), but 99% of the time, I’m standing whether I’m seeing Duran Duran, Rick Springfield (don’t you DARE laugh), The Fab Four (no really, I did stand – and I squealed too!), or Tears for Fears.  Oddly, I guess I assumed that it would be the same way in England, or anywhere else in the world.  I found it odd that they printed it right on the ticket, but then I recalled something else that really struck me as hilariously funny when I was in England with my husband.  We were getting onto the Tube, and I saw a sign on the wall.  I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it was basically something like “Watch out, if you fall here, you will die.”  Pretty damn blunt, and I loved it.  (this sign isn’t to be confused with the infamous, and far less blunt “Mind the Gap”) The English have a way with words that we Americans completely miss out on, and it’s fabulous.  There’s no guess work with “You are going to die.”  I kind of think that perhaps the warning on the tickets was just that – a warning that people are going to stand, and if you don’t like it – don’t sit there.  Seems reasonable to me!

In any case, as I read my facebook messages I realized that although I speak English…or some variation thereof I suppose, there are still bound to be a few cultural differences between going to a show here and going to a show in England.  Do people still yell for the band the way we do here – perhaps Roger called us “raucous Americans” for a good reason…LOL.  What about carrying signs??  (not that I was planning on bringing signs all the way from home to the show – Sorry Roger, but you won’t see my “Can I Twirl Your Stick?” sign this time around.  No room in the suitcase!!)  Are there bars at the show?  What about before and after the show – do fans get together??  We’re big on ALL of that here in the US, and it’ll be very interesting to see how somewhere else in the world does it.  Mind you, my friends and I want to be respectful, we want to “fit in” and we want to pay tribute to the wonderful country that brought us our favorite band!

Another thing occurred to me sometime between Sunday night and now – and that is, I have to figure out what I’m going to pack.  I can’t possibly fit my entire closet into my bag as I’d hoped. I really cannot take 5 pairs of shoes with me, no matter how badly I want different shoes for each outfit.  It’s disappointing, really.  Then I woke up in the middle of the night last night from a dream where I was digging through a box of clothes, trying to find a black shirt and all I was coming up with were white ones.  Yep, packing anxiety has hit.  😀

Oh, one more thing before I leave you on this fine Tuesday morning – Amanda and I have been working on our plans for Club Reflex.  We want EVERYONE to come on out and see us while we’re in London.  We are meeting at Club Reflex in London, Friday night the 27th of May – we’ll meet at the club at 10:30.  This is a casual thing, meaning we’re just meeting up there and we’re going to dance, have some drinks, meet some fellow fans and have some fun.  We hope you’ll join us!!  We’re still trying to figure out some way of being able to recognize the  DD fans there in the club – as well as have a way for all of you to know who we are – so keep tuned in for more details!