Before the Rain-The Daily Duranie Review

We finish up the reviews of the digital version of All You Need Is Now with Before the Rain.

Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song screams emotion to me.  The first minute or so is filled with intense sadness with both keyboards and cello.  It works beautifully, despite not hearing much of the other instruments like guitar, bass and drums.  The keyboards beginning around 40 seconds bring me back to the beauty of the Chauffeur.  This first minute also makes me think of church music–maybe organ like.  It definitely makes me feel like it is about something deep, perhaps spiritual.  Other instruments join in around one minute and only work to build up the emotions.  It is almost like the feelings that were once buried deep are rising towards the surface as the song progresses.  Something worth noting is the cascade of keyboard sounds around the two minute marker.  This additional adds to the supernatural feeling, which happens right before the big push of instruments and emotions.  The feelings have finally crashed to the surface and can no longer be ignored.  Then, of course, the song begins to quiet down again, both musically and vocally to coincide with the ending of the emotional outburst.  What is left is wonderful military sounding drums and deeper level of emotion.  Less obvious but still as painful.  The song ends with quiet notes. 

Vocals:  To me, Simon is nearly perfect here.  His voice is crisp and filled with feeling.  His singing perfectly matches the instrumentation.  When the instruments are quieter, so is Simon.  When they get loud and demanding of attention, his vocals match.  They are in sync. 

Lyrics:  Much like Rhonda related the lyrics to Runway Runaway to her personal existence, I have been able to relate to this one.  The lyrics are beautifully poetic in a way that does seem to recall early Duran.  The meaning isn’t very obvious and absolutely left to interpretation.  My interpretation has everything to do with the losses I have experienced lately.  As you all know, my beloved kitty, Othello, died on December 17th.  My grandma of 97 years followed him ten days later.  For me, this song absolutely is about loss and grief.  Simon sings, “In every life flash, in every car crash, I hear the silence waiting to fall.”  I feel like I know exactly what he means by this.  It seems to me that there is strange sort of silence that happens before death.  I know that Othello was silent before he passed away, which was unusual for him.  I also know that my grandma became silent a couple of days before she died.  Then, of course, the rain could absolutely stand for physical grief, for crying.  This idea of speaking “to the wind” makes sense to me as well.  I have asked for answers to no one, “to the wind”.  The song ends with this idea of  people who “travel, as we unravel towards the place where all loose ends go.”  In this way, the song has told me that there is closure.  Peace.

Production:  I can’t imagine that anything could have been done differently with either the production or the mix to make this song better.  It seems to me that every element did what it needed in order to make a quality song.

Overall:  This song, for reasons explained above, has been played over and over again for the last couple of weeks.  It expresses how I have been feeling.  For that, I suppose it is hard to truly be objective about this one.  I wonder what I would have thought of this one if my circumstances would be different.  Nonetheless, the song captures an “emotional punch,” as JT described it in his blog.  The instrumentation, the vocals and the lyrics work together to create a beautiful piece of music. 

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s Turn:


Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song begins with the most haunting chords I’ve heard in awhile.  For the first verse of the song all we hear is synthesizers and Simon’s voice, and in the second, we get a very soft backbeat – similar to a heartbeat of sorts.  It all seems to slowly crescendo (raise in volume) to the middle of the song, when bass and drums are added.  I think that this is another song that takes more than one listen to really connect.  The music is exacting and slow – I feel as though each second, each beat, is being strung out to its entire value.  That effect adds to the feeling and emotion of the song.  I have to admit that the song almost makes me uncomfortable, as if I’m waiting anxiously for the song to get going somewhere and it just never does, and I believe that’s really the intention behind the music.  It’s not meant to be fun or comfortable, and it is definitely not.  There are some bands that will take a ballad, sing it, and I’ll feel absolutely nothing.  It’s not that way with Duran Duran.  When they are on top of their game (and on this album, they most certainly are), they never overlood an opportunity to insist that their listeners make the extra effort to feel the music and be a part of the moment.  It’s beautiful and a perfect way to end what I believe will truly feel is one of the best, if not the best album of their career….so far.

Vocals:   I can feel the torture and pain coming from Simon, and it’s impossible to ignore those feelings.  This is another one that I look forward to hearing live and seeing how he conveys himself.  Simon didn’t just bat this one in and call it a day – he took his time with each note and it’s clear he wants you to hear what he’s singing, don’t just play it in the background for atmosphere.
Lyrics:  We want poetry?  We’ve got it on this one.  This song almost is Simon’s personal goodbye to his past mistakes?  Regrets?  Broken promises?   I’m not sure…and quite honestly this is one song that feels far too personal for an explanation.  The discomfort I tend to feel in hearing it could quite easily be from the words.  It couldn’t have been an easy song to write. (yet I read in John’s blog that Simon wrote it one night.  Amazing.  I suppose when you’ve got an emotion that you want to convey, it’s pretty easy to get into a zone with it and get it done.)  This is one of those songs that I will listen to over and over, trying to make sense of what I feel when I hear it.
Production: I was disappointed to read that the original guitar part (acoustic) for this song was long lost in the shuffle of bass, drums and keyboards….I can only imagine what it must have sounded like, but the fact is – Duran Duran is a band that loves the lush layers.  They don’t really *do* simple, do they?  The production on this song certainly accounts for the layers, and the real victory here is that even with all of the layers and tracks – if you listen, you can still hear each “voice” of the band….and each layer contained within.  That’s the real test, and this song passes it with flying colors.
Overall:  This is not an easy song by any means.  I can’t decide if my problem with the song stems from it’s content or from the music or a combination of all of it – but none of it makes it a bad song, regardless of my discontent.  I think it’s very fitting as the final track on the album – it’s a song that forces some active listening – and to leave it all with those final thoughts of love, loss, grief and possibly regret – it’s definitely a thinker!  The song is a bit dark for Duran Duran, but I suspect that for many it will be a call-to-arms and another fan favorite.  
Rating:

Runway Runaway – The Daily Duranie Review

The Daily Duranie’s reviews continue with track 8, Runway Runaway!


Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  Musically, this one grabs me right away with the opening guitar bits followed by the drums.  Instantly, I am sent back in time to 1982 and could be listening to Rio (the song), which is what I initially heard when this snippet first came out.  Now, it screams Last Chance on the Stairway for me.  To me, it shows off the best of Duran, musically, as there are times when all the instruments are blending together nicely then followed by spotlight moments with one instrument over the others and back again.  It gives you a smile that stays throughout the whole song.  There aren’t a lot of obviously extra sounds in the track but there doesn’t need to be!  The instrumentation can absolutely stand on its own! 


Vocals:  Simon is generally spot on, despite some notes that are questionable like at the end of the line, “it feels a little bad girl”.  I want to be able to sing along at soon as it starts but I haven’t been able to do that much.  I don’t think it is the vocals at all but the lyrics. 


Lyrics:  I absolutely adore the sentiment of a strong, independent girl being out in the real world.  Is this Simon’s daughter’s experience as many are speculating?  Perhaps.  Is it a common experience as kids grow up and leave home?  If so, it captures a universal experience.  I appreciate that it shows both the excitement of leaving home (“she’s not afraid of leaving”) as well as the fear (“trying to be strong enough to choose another road”).  My one complaint is that I haven’t gotten this song stuck in my head yet.  I don’t find myself singing the lyrics to myself no matter how often I have listened to it.  The chorus isn’t as catchy as I hoped it to be with the strong instrumentation.  While I appreciate the lyrics for their message, I have struggled to learn them, which is different than the rest of the tracks.  


Production:  Every musical element of the track works well together.  I love how the instruments generally blend together while at times, one instrument is showcased above the others.  This showcase isn’t obvious and doesn’t demand the attention that I hear far too often in songs.  This song allowed each member to shine individually and allowed the group as a whole to shine.


Overall:  This song has SO many things going for it.  Musically, it is everything I want in Duran Duran.  Simon sounds great and the production is solid.  I love the story and message of the lyrics but really wish that I found it easier to catch on to, lyrically.  It keeps begging me to sing along and I keep failing.  I can’t get the lyrics stuck in my head to save my life!  That said, I absolutely can see this song growing for me as time goes on, which is what happened for a number of tracks on the Rio album.  


Cocktail Rating:   






Rhonda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation: When I first heard this – one of the few snippets that the band teased us endlessly with before the album was released – I was less than amused.  Not even obvious guitar made the song interesting to me, although I didn’t recoil in disgust, either.  After many listens, and a few discussions with my writing partner, I was able to at least agree that the song had elements from Rio contained within and that perhaps, with the right mixing, it would be  decent.  Flash forward to release day, and imagine my pleasant surprise with the initial chords.  Almost nothing like the snippet, yet I recognized the song from somewhere. I really like the way the song starts with only the guitar, and what sounds like a radio being tuned to come in clearly – as though it’s searching for a station, finds it, and then the drums begin.  I couldn’t believe my ears – what once sounded like Roger hitting a cardboard box sounds like a real drum, and where at one time the guitar sounded so loud that it was out of place amongst everything else going on, now it is muted to blend and play nicely with Nick’s keyboards and even John’s bass.  I love the arpeggios (the sounding of the notes of a chord in rapid succession instead of simultaneously.) that Nick plays throughout the song, and I must admit – it’s hard not to notice the similarities between the guitar on this song and Rio.  

Vocals:  Hello again, 1983.  If I close my eyes (well, then again – I’m on my computer.  Clearly it is NOT 1983….), I would swear it really was 1983 again when I listen to Simon sing this one.  Of course, if you’re really paying attention though – and I am – Simon truly sounds even better.  His voice has a deepness to it that I don’t think it quite had back then, and it only adds to the wholeness of the notes he’s singing.  They aren’t shallow or hollow, he’s not straining, and it all seems to be coming quite naturally to him.  It’s a nice touch to hear vocal echoes in the background during the chorus “goodbye goodbye”….it’s a little Beatlesque, and since I’m a huge fan….it’s all good and appreciated.

Lyrics:  I am not going to lie or hold back on this one.  I love the lyrics.  They mean something to me a deep, personal level, and because of that – they work for me.  The words aren’t really poetic, they aren’t necessarily flowery, but I derive my own meaning from what Simon is singing, and really – isn’t that the point to lyrics?  I think that’s why it’s almost always disappointing (to me) to hear what Simon or any lyric writer was really thinking about when they wrote a song – I like the feelings and meanings that I come up with from listening on my own.  The meaning I’m hearing (and probably the most literal) is that a girl decies to leave the life she had for a brand new one, whether that means she IS a model running away, or she WANTS to be a model and is running away – I have no idea.  There’s some speculation within the fan community that since Simon’s daughter just moved out on her own, Simon wrote this song for her.  (good for her!!  …. and I don’t mind saying that I can’t believe she’s all that grown up – that went ENTIRELY too fast, didn’t it?!?)  My own interpretation is truly from my own life.  No, I never ran away as a child or young adult….but every time I leave to go visit friends or go on my own very special “Mini tour” to see several Duran Duran shows, I swear I feel like I’m partially and temporarily running away from my own life here.  Of course, I don’t have to be careful not to wake my sister – I have to be careful nto to wake my own kids.  😉  I do sometimes feel like I’m in a cage here at home, self-imposed or otherwise, and the band is my escape.  There’s more to it than that, but to share it here would probably be using the blog as therapy….another story for another day, right?  😀  Anyway, that’s how I relate to the song.

Production:  I think that the post production mix for this song was done amazingly well, and without question, it made it 100% times better.  That’s probably the ultimate in accolades that I can personally give, since I’m one of those people that ends up appreciating music far better LIVE and untouched than I ever do from a record.  Not sure if I’ll feel the same with this one…looking VERY forward to finding out.  I appreciate the fact that the guitar was toned down, the drums sound far more full, and I can pick out the different layers of synthesizers without a lot of effort.  I absolutely adore the different vocal tracks that were used – they add a little bit of lightheartedness to a song that could have just as easily been bittersweet.  I don’t know what hand Mark Ronson had in this song – but there are only a couple songs on this album that I can say “yes, yes this totally could have been on Rio”, and this is one of them.  It’s in touch with who the band was back in 1980, and yet it’s looking ahead to today.  That’s quite a span of years to be in touch with, and yet the band does it expertly.  I sincerely hope they continue on this road.  It’s a good one!

Overall:  Mark this one as another favorite for me.  Unlike the band, I’m not afraid to make favorites (it’s the beauty of being a fan I suppose).  I think the song not only hits home with me based on content, but it is a GREAT dance track.  It’s fun, it’s lighthearted (musically), and it reminds me of the type of music I enjoyed way back when.  I am so glad that the band chose to work with Mark Ronson because he actually gets them.  He brought my band back, and this is a song that can (and often does) bring tears to my eyes because it’s everything they were, everything they are….and they seem like they are finally having fun.  I can’t wait to see them do this one live, because I’ll be singing it loud and proud right along with them.

Rating: 

The Man Who Stole a Leopard – The Daily Duranie Review

The Daily Duranie reviews of All You Need is Now continues with track 7, The Man Who Stole a Leopard!

Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  Ah, this song begins in such a hauntingly, beautiful way that reminds of the best goth songs that have ever been written.  The one layer quickly becomes many with sounds and elements that remind me of the Chauffeur, Tel Aviv and even a bit of Tiger Tiger.  Within these first 30 seconds or so, I know this is either going to be the cheesiest rip-off of early Duran or it is going to be genius.  Then, Simon begins to sing and the bass enters the picture.  If the very interesting sounds in the beginning didn’t hook you as a listener, this moment does.  The music provides this all-encompassing atmosphere that works in combination of the lyrics and vocals to tell a story.  Then, if you didn’t think it could get better, strings enter the picture, which enhances both the beauty and the haunting atmosphere.  Of course, about 2 and a half minutes into the song, the tempo increases as the story nears its climax and conclusion, which keeps all of us glued to our stereo, iPod, computer, or whatever.  The end slowly dives into this newscast, which provides the conclusion of the story.  This conclusion is followed by old time record sounds at very the end, which leads us to believe that this could be a story decades old.  Or is it?

Vocals:  I honestly cannot remember a time that Simon sounds as good as he does here.  In order for this song to not be cheesy, Simon had to commit vocally to the story of a man in love with a leopard, or a woman, or some other obsession.  If he didn’t sound as emotional as he does, it wouldn’t be believable.  The only way that this song works is to make this love seem all encompassing, intense, inescapable and that is all on the vocals.  While Simon demonstrates this dark love, guest vocalist, Kelis, definitely adds to it, exponentially.  Her voice is not at all what I had expected for this song but is perfect.  She definitely gives voice to the object of the man’s love in a way that makes the listeners understand its level of intensity.

Lyrics:  Like the previously mentioned music and vocals, the lyrics could have made or broken the song as well.  The music and vocals may sound hauntingly beautiful, but if the lyrics weren’t well done, the whole thing could fall apart into a laughable mess.  Instead, the lyrics are spot on.  From the very first lines of, “Do you know where we are?  I’m longing for the dark,” we are caught.  Who is the we?  Why is the dark so important to make someone not just want it but LONG for it?  Then, the chorus is perfection in that it adds another twist to the story of the man obsessed with a leopard or a woman or something else in saying the following:  “thought that I could resist but the leopard in you silently preyed on me.”  Is the man the victim then?  A victim of what?  The object of affection?  His love?  The intense emotions?  Then, of course, the female vocal and lyrics work to respond to the man giving a voice to the object of obsession.  As the song nears the end, Simon pleads to keep his secret and we find out that the secret gets out, which causes him to lose this love.  The newscast at the end leads the listener to understand how utterly painful this separation is going to be since the man doesn’t want to leave the “leopard’s” side.  He won’t just experience sadness but a grief that cannot even begin to be explained by words.  Amazing stuff.  Genius, in fact. 

Production:  I feel strongly that the production on this song had to be precise in order for it to maintain that extremely delicate balance between cool and silly, between beautiful and corny.  The newscast had to come in at the right moment and sound the right way.  Kudos to Nina Hossain, who is brilliant here.  The female vocal had to sound a certain way and had to be at a certain volume in comparison to Simon’s.  In my opinion, they achieved success with this track.  Every aspect seemed to be in place as it needed to be.

Overall:  I have to admit to being completely worried about this track before I heard it.  Goodness, the name alone is ridiculously long and silly.  I felt certain that it would turn out to be nothing to take seriously.  Maybe it might be fun for the fans, like Bedroom Toys was on Astronaut, but that no one would think much of it in a couple of months.  Then, I heard the song and it completely blew my mind.  Every person involved with this track committed themselves 100% to do the song the way it needed to be done.  No one seemed to be worried about how cheesy it seemed, musically, lyrically, or vocally.  This lack of self-consciousness, in my opinion, made this song into something completely magical.  It tells the story of a tortured love affair in such a beautiful, different way.  I never expected Duran to be able to do something like this and I continue to be impressed every time I hear it. 

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  As soon as the music starts, I feel as though I’ve been here before…a very long time ago.  There’s no denying that this song certainly steals a moment or two from our beloved Chauffeur from years gone by.  Those keyboards must have been thrilled to have gotten a good dusting off for this song.  My first listen was one of almost disgust (couldn’t help but think “They redid Chauffeur?  What the F* for?!?)..but that only lasted for a brief moment because along with the initial “Really?!?”….I couldn’t help but be intrigued.  I’ve never been a huge fan of ballads (or The Chauffeur for that matter, if I’m going to be honest to a fault here), so for me I had to fight the urge to skip ahead.  The fact is, the similarities between this song and Chauffeur end almost as soon as they begin, and the listener is beckoned to listen in – very similarly to the way we Americans are glued to our TV’s during a national crisis….or a freeway chase.  Nick’s keyboards have never sounded more like pure satin than this song.  The music tells a story, complete with a string section that feels like it’s ALWAYS been a part of Duran Duran, it’s so natural.  True, the instrumentation on this song isn’t necessarily varied, and I’m certain that fans will find fault with Nick taking the helm yet again, but if keyboards ever sounded organic, it would be here.  It’s funny that as “unnatural” of a song such as this one (both in subject and in instrumentation) could sound so completely natural and real.  At the end of the song, the ending music we hear is that of a violin playing in a similar fashion to something we’d hear in a comedic silent movie soundtrack or background music…giving the necessary comedic edge to the entire song.  Talk about irony… Unreal!   Is this really the same band that wrote Night Runner?  Really??

Vocals:  Simon’s work on this album is near perfection, and this song is certainly no exception.  His voice is absolutely perfect here.  I can see where it would be very easy to lose the emotion in his voice, and it would be very easy to sing with almost boredom, but there’s none of that here.  I don’t think LeBon has sang with as much conviction since Ordinary World – and even then, I don’t believe OW can really compare.  I can hear the hope, love, pain and even torture in his voice – truly perfect.  Other vocal performers should ASPIRE to sound like Simon, and I wish them luck.  Kelis does the best vocal work of her career (and completely unlike her own work, in my humble opinion) on this album.  I hope she’s heard the final version because she should be proud.  I wouldn’t have even guessed it was her…and as a result it’s caused me to go back and relisten to her albums. (thanks to my oldest for giving the old lady – me – a good teachin’.)

Lyrics:  If a listener didn’t see or hear the genius in Duran Duran before, all they would need to do is read the lyrics to this song.  I don’t know whether it was Simon, Nick or some collaboration thereof that is responsible for the poetry that is contained in this song – but it’s genius.  The entire time you’re listening, it’s easy to assume the song MUST be about a woman.  This is Duran Duran.  Girls on Film?  Chauffeur?  Of *course* it’s about a female.  Then we get to the end of the song, and we hear none other than Nina Hossain giving a faux news report about a Leopard that had been kept in a cage by a man on the New Jersey shore.    What?!?  Or is it really about a leopard and a man at all?  Fascinating.   As I have said before, this song has just the right amount of wrong to make it interesting and unlike anything the band has ever done before.  Brilliant.    I’m sure other critics will cast this song aside as complete ridiculous and meaningless rubbish, which just goes to show that they still have no idea what the hell they’re doing.  🙂

Production:  As I’ve said before, I have a difficult time with this category.  I’m a classically trained musician with very little studio experience, and while I’m well aware that the sky is literally the limit as far as what can be manipulated in a studio these days – this song sounds nothing of the sort to me.  I can really only call it organic, which in my head is the exact opposite of the outcome of poor production.  I realize that Kelis’ voice is somewhat manipulated to sound a bit muted – but I believe that is the intention, since her voice is really meant to be the “thoughts” of the leopard.  Beautifully, beautifully done.

Overall: This is the one song off of the album that knocked me completely off of my feet.  I have to admit, I didn’t think the band had this type of songwriting in them anymore – it’s the type of song that comes along once in a career, and I believed that moment had long since passed.  It’s the perfect blend of their roots with a little bit of what they’ve learned along the way.  It’s not a song that is going to have anyone jumping up and down on their chairs at shows, and it’s an easy song to overlook or skip because I suppose it could seem boring to many – but I implore listeners to really give it a good and and intense listen.  This song has all of the components that we know and love to be Duran Duran.   Absolutely mindblowing.

Rating: 

Girl Panic- The Daily Duranie Review

The Daily Duranie reviews track 6 of All You Need Is Now:  Girl Panic

Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  I openly admit that I adore this song.  I love that it starts out with a bit of obvious drumming then quickly hits you in the face with full on keyboards.  The bass helps to provide a solid backbone.  It feels like classic Duran with these elements!  Then, there is the intensity of sound.  I love that the music keeps up its intensity throughout the verses and grows even bigger with the chorus.  It is at 100% intensity then.  My favorite part, though, is about two-thirds of the way through when Nick’s keyboards get even bigger, which you didn’t know was possible until then.  It is definitely the keyboards I have enjoyed the most in a very long time!  After that, the song slows down while Simon sings over and over again, “You know I want you,” before the intensity comes back.  Love it! 

Vocals:  Once again, I cannot find any real fault here with Simon’s vocals.  They are strong throughout and a definite plus, especially during the chorus. 

Lyrics:  These lyrics work to remind me of classic Duran.  I love that the topic is about girls and appreciate that there is the top layer of obvious meaning filled with many possible subtexts.  Is Simon in a panic because of he wants the girl?  Because the girl wants him?  Is the girl in a panic?  It does make me think of a situation where both people might be all in a flutter with overall confusion as to who exactly is in control or who has the power?  Yes, this could be an obvious boy-meets-girl situation but it could be something more complex than that.  In this way, it reminds me of something like Girls on Film, which appears to just be about models but in reality has more to do with the exploitation of models. 

Production:  It seems to me that this song might be a bit overproduced, but I feel like this song might require production like this in order to maintain both the flavor and intensity.

Overall:  I feel like this song has all of the classic elements of a fun, danceable Duran hit.  It has instrumentation that is cool and works well together with some musical highlights of Roger’s drums and Nick’s keyboards.  It has a topic that seems to be obvious but could be so much more and it has solid vocals delivering the message.  I think this song is going to incredibly fabulous live!!!

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s Take


Musicality/Instrumentation:  The song opens with one note…almost like a door slowly creaking open, and the next sound we hear are Roger’s lovely drums in the background.  If that’s not an obvious example of strong percussion, I apparently wasn’t paying much attention in my music classes in college.  I have to say that Nick’s keyboard hook at the beginning and throughout the song really works for me.  If there was ever a time where I wished I still played keyboards – I would LOVE to pick this song up.  It’s great.   His interlude about halfway through the song also sounds great, and the song is not nearly as electronic as I would have thought back when we’d heard this snippet several months ago.  I couldn’t even begin to tell what they would have ended up making around it – I’m so pleased with how it turned out.  It has that classic Duran sound – a good hook, a interesting funky bass line in the way is best described as John Taylor at his finest, Roger’s drum part is excellent – his part shows off his talent  (reminds me a lot of the drum section in Girls on Film, which excites me!) without being overpowering and I can’t wait to see him play it live, and on top we’ve got Nick providing an excellent hook and melody during the chorus, while Dom’s guitar answers Simon’s voice during each verse.  The way the band works together providing one very complex song without any one member having the whole story to themselves reminds me of a tapestry.  You can see individual elements from time to time, but ultimately the full picture ends up being something different and beautiful in it’s own right.

Vocals:  Once again – Simon is at his best here.  His harmonies work SO well in this song.  The chorus is slightly anthemic like Duran Duran is known for doing, but the song has plenty of funk to offset the typical Duran Duran “formula”.  I can’t find fault here, he sounds great!

Lyrics: I had a brilliant paragraph (in my mind, anyway…) about how this is the very best of Simon’s writing.  Then of course, I decided to read JT’s blog for the day, also about Girl Panic, mind you…and I find that Simon didn’t write the lyric at all, but that I should be thanking Nick!  While I really hate it when I think it’s one band member who has been brilliant and instead find out it’s another….I’m still impressed.  The song reminds me of an after-show meeting between a fan and the band.  I picture a fan that knows how to play the game and play it well…and if you listen to the words, you might understand what I mean.  If you still don’t get it, then perhaps you don’t play the game. (in which case you can come and sit with me at the bar….because that’s where I am to watch the scene unfold!)  It’s playful, fun, and not at all frivolous if you’re a hardcore fan!

Production: The only very small downside to this song is the giant brick wall of sound that comes at you during the chorus.  Granted, the intention is to grab you, but there is something to be said for hearing the instruments at varying levels of intensity.  “Loud” doesn’t always mean impressive.  Overall though, the song has so much going for it, I can at least mostly forgive the production being overdone in parts.

Overall:  A blend of new and tried/true musical styling – this song could have easily fit in on any other album and I think that as time wears on it will be one that will have a permanent home in their set lists. I love the lyrics, the music and the way Simon sings it.  The real test is when later on, hours after having heard the song – I will still be humming the tune as I’m going through my day.  What could be more perfect than that?

Rating:

Safe – The Daily Duranie Review

The reviews continue!  Here is the 5th song, Safe.

Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  The song starts out right away with a funky, disco sound showcased by John’s funky bass, which can definitely make people want to move along with the music.  Quickly, Ana Matronic shows up as the first vocal to introduce us to the seductive nature of the song.  The song continues in the same vein as Simon begins the vocals.  As the chorus comes in, both Simon and Ana are featured in sort of a call and answer vocal.  The thing I notice as Simon’s vocals begin is that I’m no longer as aware of the instrumentation of the song.  For me who is not the biggest disco fan, I want to hear the funk in a clear and noticeable fashion the whole time.  Instead, the focus turns to the vocals.

Vocals:  This song is unique in that the female vocal is as equally important as Simon’s.  The last song that comes to mind that featured such an important female vocal is Come Undone and I’ll be very open in saying that I have grown very tired of that one.  While this song is a much more upbeat song, the sexiness is found in both.  If I just listen for Ana’s vocals, I can completely appreciate them, but if I think about the song as a whole, I’m not sure what I think.  I think she did a fabulous job but I don’t know what I think of having a female vocal featured as much as it is in a Duran song.  I can understand why it was included or written in this way as it acts to counterbalance both Simon’s vocals and lyrics.  I think, for me, I just prefer less female vocals when it comes to Duran.

Lyrics:  I pondered what this song was going to be about for a long time since it is one word and a word that can vary in meanings and contexts.  I have to admit that the lyrics were not, at all, what I expected them to be.  Obviously, they didn’t want to just stick with the basic premise of “you look sexy, I want to be with you” type of song.  They wanted a twist and, in this case, it is the idea that while Simon feels safe, he is also scared.  I’m not sure that I completely believe it.  Yes, I understand that this type of attraction can cause someone to be “scared” but I never quite know what to make of Simon’s lyrical attempt to seem less than cool around women.  It worked for songs like Last Chance on the Stairway back in the day but it didn’t with Night Runner. 

Production:  It seems to me that there was a clear decision to allow the vocals to be the most focused upon element of the song.  Personally, I would have prefer more of the musical funk.  I think, for example, John’s bass in the beginning of the song is fabulous but it isn’t emphasized as much once the vocals begin.

Overall:  While this song is enjoyable for me, I doubt that it will ever be one of my favorites for a couple of reasons.  First, I’m not that big of a fan of the disco genre.  I appreciate that disco is a big influence for Duran but their goal was to marry it with punk.  Therefore, I appreciate songs that do that more, like Sound of Thunder, for example.  I also can’t figure out Ana Matronic’s role.  While she has a fabulous voice and definitely comes across as sexy, I’m not sure female vocals in Duran works for me. 

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation: This song is pure disco, and I must admit it’s a bit overdone in the disco style for my taste. It is very reminiscent of the album version of My Own Way on Rio, and I can almost imagine the Spanish style dancers from that video when I hear this song. That said, the percussion is not at all boring – adding in the appropriate cowbell and disco-fills when appropriate. John’s funky bass is alive and well, and that along with Roger’s drumming are among the bright spots in this song. I know the band owe a good part of their musical influence to Chic, but in the past I’ve felt that this particular musical style doesn’t always work for them – this song is generally an improvement over similar style songs from their back catalog.

Vocals: The very best part of this song is Ana Matronic, plain and simple. Her voice has the smoky sexiness of Blondie a la Rapture – and I think that ultimately the song would have been 100% better had they just let Ana do the entire song. Simon seems to be just a bit whiny on this song and given the other songs on the album, I have to wonder why they chose this one over other possible choices.

Lyrics: The lyrics on this song don’t jump out at me and yell “Listen Up”, but overall -they aren’t bad. I think that for me, it’s hard to take a disco stylized song such as this one seriously enough to even give the lyrics a good listen. That said, when I sit down and force myself to pay attention (and how many people really do that?) the song becomes a little more than just another disco song. The lyrics are far from frivolity and fun, which is an interesting juxtaposition given the disco nature of the song. It just goes to show how much of a thinking band Duran Duran really can be. It’s far too easy to cast this song aside as being much ado about a one night stand, when really it’s about far more. They could have set the lyrics to completely different music and fans would be falling all over themselves saying it’s the best Simon’s written in a while. Funny how that works. To paraphrase: ….that stillness I get when I’m close to you. Contentment, calm, peace and safety, even in the most stressful of moments. Don’t we all want that?!?

Production: This is the one area I have the most difficult time with on songs like this one. On one hand, yes – I think that the production is kind of overdone, but truthfully, I think that has far more to do with the style of the song in general than it really does with the production. It’s appropriate given the style of the song, and while I might not love it…to be fair I don’t think it’s horrible. I can hear all of the band members equally, it doesn’t seem to be overdone with regard to all Nick and no one else, and while I think they could have mixed the song a little differently so that John’s bass work was a bigger and better standout, to have done so would have completely changed the spirit of the song.

Overall: Disco is not one of my first loves, which probably puts me in the minority as far as the fan base goes. I remember an interview from several hears ago where Roger descries My Own Way as the stepchild that no one knows what to do with – and I can see where on this album, this song may eventually end up being characterized in the same manner. Ana is the brightest spot in this song, and she gives the song an edge it would have never had otherwise. On the album as a whole, I have to wonder why this song was chosen as opposed to other choices they have had, but on the same token it does provide a reminder as to where the band came from. On the earliest of interviews that Duran Duran did – they always made sure to say they were a band that wanted to mix disco and pop, and I think that this song is a fair representation of those roots. While it is not my among what I consider to be the stronger songs on the album, I can see that it will find a home among other classics in the Duran catalog of this nature and yet still be among the edgier experimentations in that group.

Cocktail Rating:

Christmas Wishes

Rhonda and I are pausing from our reviews of the new Duran Duran album, All You Need Is Now, in order to wish all of our readers a very Happy Christmas.  We hope that this day has been filled with joy, good food, friends and family.  I know that this year I have appreciated everything I have received, both tangible gifts and otherwise.  This year, of course, Duranies got an early Christmas gift with the release of the new Duran Duran album.  This has made many (most) of us within the fanbase very happy as it truly is a Duran album worthy of celebrating.  It seems that the rest of the world has agreed with us as it has been at the top of the iTunes charts in many, many countries, which is a gift to us and to the band.  As the end of 2010 approaches, we can all look back and see how far we have come and can look forward to 2011.  For Duranies like us, it appears that it will be a year to remember!

Again, we hope that everyone is having a fabulous Christmas and we wish you all the best!!!  Merry Christmas to you and yours!

-A

Leave A Light On – The Daily Duranie Review

The reviews continue with Leave a Light On.

Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  When I listen to this song, the instrumentation tends to fade into the background for me.  That initial sound doesn’t grab my attention and even seems…well..weak.  The song continues with the addition of other sounds followed up by the rest of the instruments.  While that is more demanding of my attention, it doesn’t beg me to keep listening.  In this song, I notice the vocals a great deal more than the instruments.  What I do hear of instrumentation is good, but doesn’t go much beyond that.  Yet, I think this is purposeful so to not drown out the vocals and the lyrics.  

Vocals:  Much like the other songs we have reviewed in this album, Simon sounds beautiful to me, for the most part.  This song seems to be filled with much emotion which is shown by Simon’s singing.  He stresses the lines that need to be stressed in order to convey the feelings and mood of the song.  At the end of the song, he gets quieter, which is an interesting move as he is still singing lyrics connected to the chorus.  During the rest of the song, those lines are sung the loudest and with the most conviction.  Does he get quieter at the end to show that he isn’t so certain?  Maybe. 

Lyrics:  The lyrics make the song to me.  The music doesn’t seem to be anything extra special and the vocals are good but, if there weren’t lyrics like this, then the vocals wouldn’t carry any weight.  To me, this song represents fixing a mistake, redeeming oneself and being able to do that because the other person, or people, are willing to forgive.  So, what is Simon or the band trying to redeem themselves for and with whom?  Could it be something personal to one of them?  Absolutely.  Could it also be that they are saying this to the fans?  They have made mistakes and those of us hardcore fans have stayed by their sides and given forgiveness and always will.  To me, being a fan means that there is always love and support for the celebrity, or in this case the band, even when there might not be support for a specific career move or decision.  The fans will always “leave a light on” for them.  Simon sings about how he has “something to prove” and that “the kindness you’ve shown” will not be forgotten.  Thus, the power of our kindness and ability to forgive acts as the “sweet hand to bring me (Simon or the band) home”.  It is a two way relationship, in that sense.  Could it be that I’m looking way more into this than what is there?  Absolutely.  To me, that is Simon’s lyrics at their best.  They can be interpreted in many ways and with many different levels.

Production:  This song did not contain much of the smaller, subtle elements that the first three songs had.  At first, I thought this could have been a negative, but now believe that this makes the most sense.  Simon’s vocals and lyrics were able to rise to the surface and given the spotlight that they deserved.  If there was more little bits or even more noticeable instrumentation, the value of the song would have been lost.

Overall:  This song is carried by the lyrics and vocals.  The instrumentation provides the necessary background to allow the song to have the necessary flow.  While this one isn’t one that I will play over and over again on a regular basis, I still feel that it has touched me in an emotional way that often non-ballads can’t.

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s take:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I would be lying if I didn’t mention that within seconds of the first bar or two, I was thinking “Casio keyboard!” in my head.  That isn’t necessarily a horrible thing – it reminds me very much of a song by….another band that won’t be mentioned here (Clear Static) that I used to work with.  It also reminds me of a song by The Devils called Newhaven Dieppe, and I really am not sure why.  I don’t know if it’s the feel of song, which is truly decidedly different than this in most ways, but perhaps they used a similar keyboard set up?  The keyboards are very atmospheric to begin with, and while I do hear guitar, it’s very light.  The whole song plays much more like a lullaby than any other song on this particular album.  The drums are light, and truly I can’t hear a lot of bass.  That said, the way the song is recorded tends to demand that.  It would sound like a completely different song had there been a big rhythm section and/or guitar.  I don’t feel as though the music was much of a stretch on anyone’s part in the band, but to be fair – I really do believe it all works well together to create the sound they intended.

Vocals: If I could sing like Simon, I probably would have had a lot less trouble putting my two year old to sleep when she was an infant.  His voice is so soothing in this song, yet full of emotion.  His voice is like velvet in this song, and yet the only part of the song that is even mildly disappointing for me is the end where I do hear some whiny strain.  Had they recorded the song so that Simon’s voice could have continued in the same volume I think the impact would have been better at the end.
Lyrics: This is one of those songs where I have no ideas of what it could be about.  The lyrics don’t really tell much of a story for me – other than I know it must be about letting someone go, knowing that they will return.  It really could be about anyone or anything, but I think the issue for me with the lyrics is that they just don’t necessarily touch me or make me think the way some of the other songs on the album, and I do feel that they are a bit on the weak side.
Production:  I appreciate the fact that when I listen closely, I can still hear the various layers of instrumentation.  It’s not a flat wall of sound, and I can pick out Nick’s keys from a guitar – which sometimes is not easy to do.  Even ballads can be victims to technology, and while I wish they had allowed the guitar to play a little more of a starring role at times – I can’t fault them in this song.  It’s beautifully done.
Overall:  I find this song to be one of the weaker songs overall on this album, but on an album like this one – it’s very difficult to be a soft ballad such as this one and be a standout.  There are some glorious moments on this song, such as Simon’s voice most of the way through – and I still say it’s a gorgeous lullaby for those moments when you want music, but you want it to fade into the background.  Not every song needs to be a song that smacks you in the face when you listen, and I can appreciate that.  
Cocktail Rating: 

Being Followed – The Daily Duranie Review

The album review continues with the third song, “Being Followed.”

Amanda’s take:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song reminds me of the darker relative to Blame the Machines.  Both of them are dark, in nature, based on their topics.  Blames the Machines seems to be about how machines control us and this one seems to be about being stalked.  Both of them could be unnerving, unsettling.  Yet, Blame the Machines doesn’t feel that way because it is so upbeat, musically.  This song, on the other hand, feels very different.  While it still is a “fast” song, the instruments that float to the surface are more bass and guitar rather than pop-filled keyboards.  The first time I heard this snippet I commented on the fact that it was clear instrumentation was involved.  It wasn’t all computers but real instruments and these instruments do quite a job to create a mood that matches the lyrical content of the song.  It starts out with some sort of sound that seems to be something spinning, which is quickly followed by the instruments.  Why include something that sounds like it is spinning?  Is that to show a person’s “wheels turning in his/her head” as the paranoia sinks in.  Then, of course, towards the end of the song, the music shifts.  It slows down and includes something like a whistle sound or something that is also spinning over and over again.  Then, the music builds back up to a greater urgency to dive into the chorus with the inclusion of a siren that gets louder and louder as the song comes to an end.  Clearly, the music works really well to create and reinforce this mood of paranoia and of being unsafe. 

Vocals:  I love how Simon’s vocals change subtly throughout the song to match the words and mood of the song.  For example, his voice is darker during the verses, which makes me think of songs like Nightboat, off their first album.  Then, I love that there is greater passion during the musical interlude of sorts towards the end of the song.  When he sings that he is “calling out”, he really is.  I have always appreciated the way that Simon is able to convey feelings by not only his words but also his voice and this song is a good example of that.

Lyrics:  While this song is fairly straightforward and easy to understand, I do have to wonder where the inspiration really came from, especially in a day and age of things like Twitter where you “follow” people.  Is this song, lyrically, in the same vein as Be My Icon, as in the band is being stalked?  Is it about being a celebrity like Pop Trash Movie discusses or something that could happen to anyone, no matter their celebrity status?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I love the line:  “Paranoia, the only valid point of view.”  What is he really saying here?  Is it okay to feel unsafe?  Is that the “normal” thing now?  Despite being clear, the lyrics still make me think.

Production:  Overall, I feel like the production was solid in this song.  I appreciate the beginning spinning sound and love the addition of the siren.  These additional little pieces could always feel too much or that the song is trying too hard to be something.  Yet, these are subtle and work to add on to the feel of the song.  The mix seems solid as well.

Overall:  This song doesn’t create happy-go-lucky feelings but it creates a mood and doesn’t let up.  In fact, it adds on by the musical change towards the end of the song.  This works to create an intense song listening experience, but one that is filled with solid instrumentation and lyrics that match.  It will definitely appeal to those people who can appreciate the darker elements of life.

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s take:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  What strikes me most about this song is that it’s not really written in a normal “Duran Duran” or “rock and roll” key signature.  It’s almost unsettling and anxious sounding – which given the nature of the song, I believe is the intention.  It’s taken me quite a few listens to grow comfortable with both the key and the way the instruments play off of one another – growing to a fervor about 2/3 of the way through the song when the chord suddenly changes to what I believe is a harmonic minor.  If I weren’t unsettled before, this section is downright unnerving…with a siren climbing in volume in the back.  One thing that also strikes me about this song is that while the synths are definitely there, they really aren’t a standout – nor is any other instrument.  You may hear one over another for a brief period, but I don’t think we’re meant to really discern one instrument from another….they’re meant to create a type of anxious atmosphere, which they accomplish very well.

Vocals: Several times during this song, I felt as though Simon was channeling Luciano Pavarotti…the opera background really came in handy on this one.  There are also times that his vocals remind me, for some reason, of Careless Memories.  His voice sounds strong, and I’m equally impressed that he handles the key change towards the end of the song so well.  I have to wonder what this will sound like live and if it’ll sound as easily carried off as it does here.

Lyrics: They are certainly haunting…and you have to wonder what got Simon’s creative energy flowing in this direction.  Was it the fans?  *gasp*  When you read the lyrics, it’s pretty easy to assume the song is about his celebrity to some extent, but is it really?  Once again I find myself second guessing the obvious…and in this case I really don’t know yet.  The lyrics fascinate me enough just by reading them, but then when we get to the last 1/3 of the song and the siren kicks in the background and the key of the song completely changes…I’m not entirely sure what it’s all about, but I suppose that’s the point…to create paranoia.  It worked Simon.  🙂

Production: there is a great sense of balance in this song, and with the key changes, the siren and just the feeling of controlled chaos – I can certainly see where it would have been very easy to allow the production to completely overrun the sound.  It’s mixed very, very, well – with a delicate balance given to both instrumentation and the fun extras so that the song still sounds like it could have very been easily recorded from a live performance.  I really can’t find fault in this area, and with this song, I really believe it would have been very easy to make a misstep.

Overall:  Mechanically, I feel as though the song was done very well.  I have a difficult time with the anxious nature, and admittedly – that’s me – not the music.    They were going for a very specific mood with this song, and they’ve certainly achieved it.  One could scoff at the paranoia and say that they’re trying to be dark when they really don’t KNOW dark – but I would disagree.  Duran Duran is very capable of creating dark and atmospheric music, of which this is a prime example.  It’s not one of their “fun and happy” moments filled with frivolity, but it provides good balance on an album that could truly be dismissed as being all fun and happy if they wanted.  Balance is good!

Cocktail Rating:

Blame the Machines-The Daily Duranie Review

Here begins the Daily Duranie review of Duran Duran’s new album, All You Need Is Now.  We have already reviewed the single and first song.  Today, we move on to song number 2, “Blame the Machines.”  A different song will be reviewed each day, followed by the review of the album as a whole as well as a review for the video for “All You Need Is Now.” 

Amanda’s Take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:
I love that this song starts out with a deep, almost heartbeat like sound with subtle keyboards as it gives a serious feel even as it quickly dives into a catchy pop song.  Perhaps, this initial sound was created to enhance the story of this person who follows his/her GPS so much so that s/he ends up lost or worse.  Maybe it is to indicate the person’s heartbeat as s/he realizes that there is trouble.  The chorus is a standout and I appreciate that.  When I think of solid pop songs, I want to be able to tell where exactly the chorus i and this song makes it clear.  Then, of course, my favorite part is when it seems to slow down to showcase the GPS-like voice of Nina Hossain telling the driver (or us!) about how we have no control over ourselves.  Then, there is a return to the beginning sounds, including the heartbeat of sorts, which is a nice touch.  I appreciate the changes, musically, as it keeps my interest.  Overall, it has both the elements of a classic pop song but gives enough of something different to keep it special.

Vocals:
This song makes me want to sing along, which is always a plus!  Simon’s vocals sound very smooth.  I also adore the little “oo-oh oo-oh” throughout the song.

Lyrics:
I think these lyrics are fascinating.  While on the surface, they seem completely obvious.  It is about a guy who got lost following the directions from his GPS, right?  Or is it?  Could the machines be something different?  There are a number of lines that make me question this seemingly easy-to-understand song.  First, the part with Nina Hossain starts out exactly as it should with giving a direction of “turn left”, but then quickly dives into how the machine has control over everything, including what we hear, see, love, feel, want, do, go and know.  This machine is much bigger than a GPS.  Is it the music industry?  Maybe.  Is it media in general?  Media certainly does have an enormous impact on those things mentioned.  Then, I look at the chorus:  “so like your solid soul to leave me lost and stranded”.  Solid implies that is is something tangible.  Real.  Obviously, whatever the machines are, Simon shows how he feels when he says, “I hate to think I’ve been fooled by you.”  Is this a message to think critically, no matter what machines are around us?  I like to think so.  Nonetheless, I adore that these lyrics make me think.  It could be obvious but it could be filled with subtext.  This does remind me of songs like, “Hold Back the Rain, ” which does the same thing.  Nice job.

Production Aspects:
Like with “All You Need Is Now,” there are many subtle elements added to this song, which really enhances its sense of fun.  For example, there are subtle sounds.  There are also obvious changes to the speed and tempo of the song, which enhances its quality.  Yet, these changes take place, smoothly, in such a way that you are left believing that this is the only way the song could have been done.  While the more pop like elements, musically, seem to be on the surface, it is clear that all the instrumentation is there and doing its job.

Overall Impression:
This is a fun, catchy song that makes me want to move and sing along!  I appreciate that while it doesn’t seem serious at all, it totally could be depending on one’s interpretation of the song lyrics.  I can imagine that this is going to be very fun live!!

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s Take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:
I have to say that in earlier versions I’d heard, I had some definite concerns over just how overproduced this song might end up.  The final mix absolutely did its job 100%.  This song is a perfect example of that Duran Duran musical balance.  There is a muted guitar in both the chorus and the verse, and it plays a game of call and answer with Nick’s keys.  I wouldn’t normally comment directly on the guitar playing because I realize that Dom is a studio guitarist and not a card carrying member of Duran Duran at this point – but I really believe that he deserves HUGE credit.  He is playing guitar in a way I haven’t felt since the beginning days of the band.  He is able to play off of Nick in a way that not only compliments Nick, but also himself without seeming full of himself.  There’s not a sense of tension in playing the way I always felt with Andy, but he doesn’t completely slip into the floor and become submissive, either.  I can honestly say this is the first album that I’ve heard in a good many years that I don’t stop and say, “I miss Andy’s playing”…and that includes I don’t hear a ton of bass on this song, but I feel it…and really, that’s the job of the rhythm section – and they do it well.  Roger’s drums are strong and clear (and I’m happy to hear that it doesn’t sound like he’s hitting a cardboard box the way it did on the earlier versions of this song that we’d heard along the way).  The music is electronic and fun in the way that only Duran Duran can do it and get away with.  It’s definite pop, there isn’t a dark edge to be had in this song, but that doesn’t mean we should take it any less seriously.  The chords and timing could have come off of any one of their previous albums, but it has a new feel to it – the band didn’t take this out of the closet from 1985 and dust it off, that is for sure.

Vocals:
The first thing I think of when I hear this song is that it reminds me so much of New Moon on Monday with the harmonization.  Not necessarily the speed of the song of course, but Simon’s harmonies are perfect.  I can’t get over that Simon is over the age of 50 now, and yet his voice shows no signs of strain on this song.  I know of kids half his age that sing with far more strain.  It’s gorgeous and I’m envious of his talent.

Lyrics:
This is one of those songs where fans will say the lyrics are very straightforward, and then they’ll say that they long for the day way back when where Simon’s writing would make zero sense straight up until we’d all listen to the song 50,000 times and come up with our own meanings – a la The Reflex.  In my head, I think this song can be taken for what it’s telling on the surface – which might not means much other than the machines are taking over this world (hence the GPS voice in the middle of the song, brilliantly performed by Nina Hossain), or you can look a little deeper, which is what I have to hope Simon intended.  When I first heard the short teaser snippet several months back, my first thought was that this song is about the music industry (the machine).  It’s all a big metaphor – the machine is the industry, the love affair Simon sings of is the love affair between the fans and the band (or it could be between the band and the label??), and let’s face it – most of us kind of took a giant step back after RCM, didn’t we?  The GPS in the middle of the song is probably the way the band felt while under the guidance of a label (probably ANY label at this point!).  The band isn’t mean to think for themselves, that’s not their job.  They just need to do what they’re told.  They blame themselves and the machines.  What a sad state of affairs.  That’s OK…I blamed the label as well.  😀  I think this is one of those songs that if you look deeper than surface, anyone can come up with their own meaning – which is the TRUE beauty of Simon’s writing.  As straightforward as we might think it is…maybe it isn’t so much.

Production Aspects:
I really believe that this song has struck the perfect balance between production/talent/mix/reality.  I don’t hear a wall of sound coming at me, which is a welcome change from the mixing and production treatment that most songs get these days.  It’s even better when I take the time to listen to it through earbuds or even better…headphones because I hear all of the subtle nuances that I can easily miss otherwise.

Overall Impression:
Blame the Machines was the first song that I heard (snippet) that struck me.  Up until I heard this song – I wasn’t quite sure what to think.  I liked everything, which was a real improvement in and of itself – but I wasn’t bowled over.  When I heard the chorus from this song, I felt it held real promise.  I’m happy to say that it lived up to my expectations, and the mix totally exceeded them.  I can’t believe it sounds as great as it does, to be honest.  I really do think this song is a bit of an explanation of sorts, whether it’s an explanation of recent times, or an explanation of what their entire career has been like for them – but in any case, it hits a home run with me.  This song might not be a flashy standout on the album for many, but as I’ve learned – the fans tend to work their way through the catalog at their own pace, and I have no doubt that in time, if not immediate, this will be one of those classic Duran Duran favorites that we’ll ask to have played at shows again and again.

Cocktail Rating:

The Stars Aligned…

While many people around the world were in awe over the very rare lunar eclipse on the night of winter solstice, which hasn’t happened in 372 years and won’t happen again until 2094, Duranies were in awe over something different.  Duran Duran released their 13th studio album via iTunes (psst…if you haven’t already bought, go buy it.  Then, go buy it again!).  While this isn’t as rare as a lunar eclipse of this type, it is still something that doesn’t happen everyday.  Heck, they have only released 13 studio albums since the original lineup formed in 1980, which equals one new album every 2.3 years.  Now, this event becomes even more rare based on many fan reactions and on the chart success we have seen so far today.  For many fans, this author included, this album is absolutely one to be treasured.  There have been countless discussions before today and after today comparing it to other Duran albums, especially Rio.  My feeling is that this album will hold its own among the best of Duran Duran albums as it truly does feel like the band I know and love.  While this is enough to celebrate in itself, the fact that it has come when it has in the band’s career makes it even more amazing and special.  Even if you like(d) Red Carpet Massacre, there has to be an acknowledgement that it wasn’t their finest hour (pun intended), if for no other reason, then many fans lost faith in the band.  As Rhonda said in her post today, the fans felt (fairly or not) that the band’s heart wasn’t in it.  Maybe they weren’t in it, musically.  Maybe they weren’t in it, in terms of fan interaction.  Like many, I wondered if they would ever be able to recapture some of the energy and joy of early Duran Duran or even reunion Duran.  It seemed to be a very steep hill to climb.  Yet, after hearing this album and seeing all of the work they are doing, I believe that they have done just that.  They seem to be re-energized, renewed-not only musically but also personally, as evidenced by their attempts to really connect with the fans. 

Why didn’t they do this before?  Why didn’t they act this way in 2007?  Maybe they couldn’t have.  Maybe there was too much going against them.  I don’t know.  Maybe they don’t know.  Maybe they don’t even see it this way.  I don’t know.  This is what I do know.  It seems to me that everything has aligned for Duran Duran in a way that I can’t remember.  I remember being excited over Astronaut and being able to witness the Fab Five all together for the first time since 1985.  Yet, looking back, was my excitement all about that?  Capturing something that I had lost from my childhood?  Seeing something I never thought would happen?  Something the world had lost when the band fell apart?  Now, it isn’t about the past and doing it over again.  It seems to me that it is about the NOW and this present Duran is willing and able to stand on its own two feet.  Perhaps, no Duran album has been able to really do that since the early ’80s.  For that reason and more, I feel like I’m witnessing history here.  I know that I’m witnessing chart success that I didn’t know was possible for them anymore.  I know that I’m seeing fans return and be excited in a way that makes it so incredibly thrilling to be a Duranie!  For me, this event is just as rare and as special as that lunar eclipse and one that we ALL need to embrace and celebrate!

-A

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!