Fickle Fans

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a definite uptick in the amount of posts and activity on virtually every DD dedicated board I visit.  Even on facebook and twitter, there is evidence of rebirth and renewal.  Naturally, much, if not all, is due to the new album – and one can’t help but applaud.  That said, I’ve seen quite a few screen names belonging to people I haven’t seen say or post a kind word towards any one member of the band (much less the group as a whole) in many, many months.  In some cases, it’s been years.  Suddenly it seems as though it’s back “en vogue” to love the band once again and show your inner Duranie.

Fans are a fickle sort, and I add myself into that category just as I would anyone else.  We tend to come and go with the breeze, so to speak.  Some fans stick out the tough times, and while they might not necessarily love an album, they stay with it for the long haul.  Other fans tend to leave the fold and come back during fairer weather.  In the past, there has been much discussion over what makes a “real” or “true” fan.  Truly an unfair and/or loaded question, if you ask me.  At the time, discussion centered around whether or not we followed the band during the “leaner” years – basically the period after about 1993 to about the year the reunion was announced (not just rumored) in about 2002 or so.  Many said they stuck valiantly by the band – posting on the boards, going to shows, buying their albums, so on and so forth.  Many others said that they still watched out for them, but that no, they weren’t really involved and still others admitted that they actually had lives that didn’t center around the band during that time.  Naturally there were as many opinions about what made a real fan as there were answers on the board, and I would suspect the same would hold true today.

From my own observations, I’ve seen even the most ardent of fans fall away from the group, or the community during the last 5 years since the Astronaut tour.  These fans encompass the breadth between those that gradually fell away from the fold quietly to those who stuck around and hurled nothing but insults at every turn….and obviously everything in between.  I myself went through periods of insult (towards the band) during this past 5 years, and slowly I came back around, hoping for the best with this new album.  Obviously I am not the perfect fan, nor am I going to win that “big prize for best fan” at the end of this road.  *wink, wink*  Now that the album has been released and we’re waiting for tour dates, I’m seeing more and more of these screen names return, apparently evolving from hypercriticism, to tentative embrace, to full blown adoration once again.  I’m here to admit that in my mind – it’s very difficult not to call foul at times.   That’s how imperfect of a fan, and a person, I am.

I suppose that at the end of the day, it’s not up to me or anyone else to decide who gets to stay and who should leave the “kingdom of Duran”.  I mean let’s face it – if there were such a judgement  made, I might have been exiled years ago.   *gasp*

-R

My Crystal Ball

My name is Rhonda and I can predict the future.

Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement, really.  I only notice that a certain set of circumstances which occur with astounding precision each and every time a concert date, or a set of tour dates are announced by Duran Duran.

What are those circumstances?  Invariably, I am completely unreachable.  I’m typically out of town, either without an internet connection or…as seems to be the the norm, my cell phone inexplicably goes dead.  At first, it was merely humorous, but as the years have gone on (and specifically I’m talking about tours and concert dates beginning with the Astronaut tour in 2005), it’s become ridiculous!

A few notable examples:

In 2004, my family and I were in Las Vegas for a weekend – I believe it was Thanksgiving weekend, but honestly at this point I’m not sure where in the hell I was or why, I just know that when I got home that fateful Sunday night (about 5 hours later than we’d planned due to hellacious traffic), I had no less than 7 messages on our phone here at home because Duran Duran had announced tour dates.  My friends were “beyond excited, headed into hysteria” because no one could reach me, and presales started that next day.   Not only did I have to break the news to my darling husband that I wanted to go see Duran Duran, I had to convince him that I needed to fly to Chicago to do so, and that I wanted to go VIP.  It was a “great evening” in the Rivera household, to say the least.  😀  Good times, good times.

In mid-summer of that same year, my family and I were camping for the weekend.  I want to say we were coming home from Morro Bay when news broke that Duran Duran was playing the Agassi Charity gig.  Interestingly enough, my friends and I had already been planning a trip to Vegas during that same period of time – so this just added to the “fun”.  Naturally, no one could reach me though….and decisions had to be made!

The very best example came a couple years back when Duran Duran announced a show (actually two), while I was on a Spring Break vacation (also camping) with my family up in Monterey.  The day before, I had dropped my cell phone into a sink full of water, so it was completely out of commission.  I wasn’t worried though, because what could possibly happen?  I was with my family, my husband certainly had his own cell – so we were good, right?  Oh no.  Of course not.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Amanda and another friend of mine were desperately trying to reach me to let me know that not only did Duran Duran announce an upcoming show, but it was to practically be in my backyard!!   (they were playing the Pacific Amphitheater at the OC Fairgrounds)  No one had Walt’s cell at the time, and since presales were also during the time that I was gone, there was no way to find out if I wanted tickets. (which of course I did!)  Amanda ended up buying tickets for the both of us, because as we’re fond of saying “We do what must be done.”  

So why do I think that dates will be announced this weekend?  I’m going to be out of town, of course.  I’m going to Las Vegas, leaving on Friday afternoon.  Yes, I’ll have my cell with me.  This time I’m even taking my iPad….but the reality is, I typically don’t hear my phone when I’m there, and chances are, the internet connection will suddenly go down…because that’s how this all seems to work for me.  

I suppose by posting this blog, I’m basically daring the band or their management to either prove me wrong by announcing dates before I leave….or doing the proper thing and waiting until I’m somewhere between Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga (yes, there really IS a town in California with that name) on the I-15 Sunday late afternoon/evening to announce the tour.  I won’t have internet connection in that stretch of the drive, and my cell phone service will even be spotty.  In either case, I’ll still openly and loudly complain about the band, laugh with Amanda, and begin our tour planning in earnest!

-R

Lounge Lizards and Grapefruit

It’s good to be back in true blogging form, I must say.  It’s Monday, January 3rd, and I’ve never been so happy to send my family off to work and school!  I’m almost finished putting the Christmas decorations away and it’s nice to see my house back to normal.  January is cleansing that way, and of course this year there is the added anticipation of news from Duran Duran in the form of tour dates!

This morning, I began my typical Monday perusal of the boards, twitter and facebook only to see that John Taylor had sent out a tweet regarding a discussion on the Coachella boards.  JT’s reply was only “interesting”, but of course it forced me to go and check out the situation.  There have been some murmurings of a rumor that Duran might play at Coachella this year, and this particular thread was deep in discussion over the idea.  Naturally there are some that are in total support of such an idea, and then there are some that think the idea is preposterous.

I was most amused by one comment/question that indicated Duran Duran must only play casinos these days.  Naturally, my initial reaction was that of disgust…”Ha!  Are you kidding me?!? What hole have you been living in, dude?”  But as I sipped my morning coffee, I began to consider the idea.  In 2009, I saw them at The Palms in Las Vegas.  They played at The Pearl, which is a fairly small venue inside of the casino.  Then I drove back to my home in  the good old OC and saw them at the OC fairgrounds, playing at the Pacific Amphitheater – a venue that is only open during the fair (although it’s a decent sized venue).  Prior to that, I flew to the east coast in 2008 and saw them at Foxwoods in Connecticut (a casino resort area), and at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, also at a casino.  In the recent past – they’ve also played at Morongo Casino near Palm Springs California (for the opening of the Key Club – a show I still kick myself for missing), and at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas more than once….oh, and there was also that Andre Agassi charity gig in Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as well.  Funny how my irritation began to dissolve into a smile as I drank my coffee and considered the situation a bit further.  At this point, I think it’s fair to say that yes, Duran Duran does play casinos.  They also play county fairs, the House of Blue venues, smaller theaters, arena openings such as the Sears Arena outside of Chicago, other arenas such as the Allstate Arena (also near Chicago),  Staples Center here in Los Angeles, Madison Square Garden in New York City, and even some festivals such as Lovebox in the UK, and Voodoo in New Orleans.

So, not only is it fair to say they play casinos, but they play a variety of different venues – and often times, all within the same tour.  Duran Duran isn’t a group that is likely to be pegged as just a casino band, nor are they the type of band that will only be able to play stadiums or arenas, and that’s just the way we like it as fans.  Let’s face it, it’s good to see the band being able to draw enough of a crowd to fill an arena, but it’s really fun to be in a smaller venue with them, too.  I can’t imagine that they can make the same sort of connection with fans in a huge stadium as what they can do at a small theater or at the House of Blues – but the fact is, they are versatile enough to be able to do it all and do it well.  I know some bands out there that are very popular and yet don’t have enough of a stage presence to be able to command their way out of a hotel room much less a small stage or heaven-forbid Madison Square Garden.

It’s funny that back when I was a kid – the only groups I knew of that played Vegas were the washed-up kind.  There were also visions of the Rat Pack, and older stars that found a final stage in which to perform their retirement away.  Vegas was a different place back then, though.  The super-resorts and attractions we see now were not much more than a glimmer in someone’s eye back then.  Nowadays, Vegas has a life completely of it’s own.  Concert venues attract artists of every genre, and the Rat Pack is remembered only by those old enough to have seen the transformation of Vegas from a small gambling town to a world-class resort destination.  As a direct result, other casinos across the country have gained respect and become far more than meccas for glitter, rhinestones, smoke and fanny packs.  My point being of course that Duran Duran are far more than lounge lizards – but naturally if you’re reading this blog on a regular basis, I probably don’t have to tell you that.

As for playing Coachella, which by the way is the grapefruit growing capital of the world (and is REALLY hot during the late spring, summer and early fall), I’m really not sure.  I know that with each year, the talk of the band playing Coachella has grown a  bit.  I know the festival attracts thousands of fans, as most festivals do.  There is a wide variety of artists and bands that play Coachella, but I wouldn’t be a fair judge of what would or would not attract a crowd. There was discussion about whether the band should be a headliner, a sub-headliner on one of the smaller stages, or if they should play at all.  I just know that Duran Duran played Voodoo in New Orleans a few years back, and I almost lost my life trying to watch them.  That’s where my interest in festivals ended, and it remains that way, Duran Duran or not!  I’m certainly of the age where I feel that it shouldn’t take so much work to simply watch a band – nor should it risk my life to do so.  That said, I’ll be waiting at the casino bar for them.  🙂

-R

All You Need Is Now-The Daily Duranie Video Review

Now that we are done with the reviewing the album, we thought it would be logical to turn towards the video that came out on the same day as the album.

Amanda’s thoughts:
I have to admit it didn’t take much for me to *squee* out loud that day as it was such an exciting day for all Duranies!  Thus, I had to watch it a number of times to really get all of the little details (oh, how I suffer for the sake of this blog!).  The first thing that I noticed was that the video seems shaky in the beginning and at the end.  There might be a couple of other little moments of shakiness but generally it is clearly shaky at the very beginning and at the very end.  After I got over feeling a bit motion sick, I wondered why they would choose that.  What significance does it have?  Yes, it could just be a little cool addition to the video but I tend to think that there is more to it.  Could it be that, if you are living in the present, appreciating the “now”, things are clear?  There is decisiveness and strength for those who live in the now and the beginning and the end represent the past and the future.  Perhaps.  I also noticed that the video began as it ended with the empty stage.  Thinking about how the song represents a message from the band to the fans.  Could this shot be part of that message?  The band isn’t always here and won’t always be around.  I liked that it came full circle. 

There were many other larger elements to notice.  A few of these parts included the use of color, the use of words, the archival footage from the reunion through RCM days, and the inclusion of the 3 young people dressed in New Romantic clothing.  I believe that all of these pieces definitely make the video a little bit more special than a simple performance video.  Obviously, the video is mostly filmed in black and white with flashes of color.  I believe that these flashes of color along with the use of words, especially the word, “now”, are used to grab our attention.  Isn’t that part of what the song is trying to say?  We shouldn’t just go through the motions of life but really embrace the present.  Don’t we all need to be reminded to do that?  I did find it interesting that the only other words I saw beyond the title or the word “now” was the phrase:  “Act Now.”  Stronger message than just a simple “Now.”  Again, we must take action, rather than be passive.  Then, there is the footage from the reunion on.  Obviously, this is supposed to remind us of the good parts of the past and where Duran has come from.  I loved it in the sense that I felt like I had experienced all of that with them, in a way.  I am left wondering why didn’t use any footage earlier than that time period.  Didn’t the music that they want us to stay with start decades before?  It just seemed like they wanted to use what footage they had.  It was more convenient or something.  Yet, they did add these younger people going together to a club to have a good time.  They were dressed as new romantics of the early 1980s, but were clearly in current times based on their use of cell phones.  I thought they were a nice touch as a means to show that it is possible to embrace what was good about the past (in this case-fashion and hairstyles) while living in the moment (as evidenced by the make out session!).  I did wonder if this bit was a smidge too obvious.

Beyond the larger elements were some smaller details that got my attention as well.  I noticed, of course, that shoes seemed to be featured a lot.  No clue on that one.  I also spotted both Mark Ronson and Ana Matronic.  I liked Nick’s trip to the cemetery and definitely felt like that added some weight to the message as did the end with a shot of the band (including Dom!  Yay!) all together and then gone.  I loved the outside shots and wished that there were more of them.  I loved that John seemed to be laughing a lot throughout the shoot!  Who didn’t adore the JoSi?!  The band looked fabulous and HAPPY.  The performance seemed solid and definitely needed to be in a video that speaks about music. 

Overall, I think the video is fun.  The elements that give it more meaning (the kids, the use of color and words, the band footage, the cemetery, the performance) all fit but do seem a bit obvious.  I wished that there had been more footage of the rest of the guys in their location shot like Nick’s.  Perhaps, they didn’t fit but I still would have loved to have seen them.  The important thing, really, is that they seem like they are having fun, which means a LOT to me!

Rhonda’s turn:

I have to say that I really looked forward to the release of this video.  Serious anticipation!!  I felt that with the content of the song, there would be much to “say” in video form, and the band (and Director Nick Egan) didn’t disappoint.

I noticed that the video opened and closed with the familiar film “shake”….as in film like from a film reel. (you youngsters out there that are younger than say, 30 probably wouldn’t pick up on why they’d done that…I won’t hold it against you.)  I also recognized that the video opened and closed with an empty set.  I don’t even want to THINK about what that could mean, metaphorically, so I choose not to chat about it.  My first thoughts of the video is that I really like the idea of the lion’s share of it being in black and white – it’s very visually appealing, especially with the tin foil background.  I also feel that it’s very much in Nick Egan’s “style” of direction given his past work with Duran Duran.  The band looks terrific, and I really would like to own Simon’s boots.  A similar pair, of course.  🙂

My favorite part of the video are the trio that are dressed straight from the 80’s (those were good fashion times and I love their hair!), yet they are using their electronic gadgets straight from 2010.  Honest-to-whatever-you-believe-in, I’d swear they could easily pass as Duranies…on our good fashion days.  ;D  It’s as though they’re living in the moment, yet they still love the music from the past.  Don’t we all???  I really loved the brief flashes of the band from previous, yet still fairly recent times (although I have to question why they didn’t use pictures from further back), and of course the word images of “Now What” and “Go Now”, along with other short sayings throughout really carry the entire message of the song through the video.  I personally did not care for Nick’s little stroll through a cemetery – again, it’s that dark side I don’t even want to consider. (I know it’s there, but I don’t wanna think about it.  Too busy enjoying the NOW!)  I understand the point though,  I do.

I love that they incorporated Dom into the video, I know that point is probably controversial with a lot of fans, but the fact is – he was listed as a writer for the song and obviously played guitar, so it’s not a stretch to include him.   They caught moments of the band laughing and enjoying the moment as well, which was a welcome sight – it’s been a long time since I really felt the band looked relaxed, happy and enjoying themselves.  They should be proud!!

Overall, I really enjoyed the video.  I’m not at all sure that video has the same power it once had in the 80’s – but with the popularity of youtube and other video websites, it may be about finding how to really use the video to benefit the band more than it is about whether or not to actually do one.  It’s an interesting road to be on these days, and I’m happy to see that the band is willing to try to find their own niche….or reclaim it, actually!

With that, as of tomorrow we’ll be returning to our usual Daily Duranie blogs.  I know that both Amanda and myself look forward to complaining about the lack of information regarding upcoming tour dates, the excitement of an upcoming tour, the joys of seeing the band live, and  the happiness of celebrating our fandom with the rest of the fan base.  See you tomorrow!

AYNIN – The Daily Duranie album review

Now, that we have finished reviewing the album, track-by-track, we thought it would be good to provide our thoughts about the album as a whole.

Amanda’s thoughts:
I will never forget the first time I heard the album and I will never forget watching or listening to other people hear the album for the first time.  For me, I openly admit that I was a big puddle of goo by the fourth song the first time I heard it with tears falling down my face.  It just felt so classically Duran to me.  At that time, I didn’t analyze why it felt like them but it did.  Then, I got to witness two other Duranie friends hear the album for the first time in person and a third Duranie friend via text messaging.  The two Duranies who heard the album in person matched my reaction.  One was in tears and the other kept saying that she had goosebumps.  Interestingly enough, my friend who was texting me during his first listen also said that he had goosebumps.  Ah…I thought to myself, this is it.  This is exactly what we had all been waiting for.  Our band is back.

Now, since then, I have had the chance to listen to the album over and over again.  I have analyzed each song for the qualities we rate:  musicality, vocals, lyrics, and production.  Based on that, I understood that the album had everything I think of when it comes to the best Duran Duran albums.  It features solid instrumentation that stayed consistent between ballads, fast numbers and everything in between.  All instruments were present with each one getting its share in the spotlight depending on the song or part of song.  Simon’s vocals were excellent throughout.  He was clear and sang with a passion that has been lost, in my opinion, in the last few years.  It was like Simon had been going through the motions and now was fully engaged again.  The same could be said for the whole band.  As for his lyrics, I can’t imagine better ones.  In all honesty, these might be the strongest lyrics I have heard from him (and others) in decades.  The production and mixing seemed solid.  Obviously, Mark Ronson has got to receive a great deal of credit here.  He was able to bring the band back to life and remind them of who they are and who they could be.  Overall, this album features some tremendous songwriting and has made me very proud to be a Duranie once again.

It will be interesting to hear what the additional tracks sound like once the physical album is released next month.  If they are anything like these nine, I think we are all in for a real treat.  Is this album perfect?  No, I obviously didn’t rate each track worthy of 5 cocktails, but I also didn’t hate any of the songs.  To find another Duran album that is the equivalent, I would have to go back to those first two albums.  This album, like those early albums, becomes greater by grouping the songs together as a WHOLE album.  The whole is definitely larger than the sum of its parts, which isn’t saying that it doesn’t have solid parts because it does. 

I think that the band should be absolutely proud of what they have accomplished here.  I think it is a truly special album and one worth celebrating for years to come!

Rhonda’s turn:

Rather than rehashing what I’ve said throughout the reviews on this album, I just want to touch on a few areas that I found to be the most definitive for this project.

Throughout the entire album, I continue to say that it is so nice to be able to actually hear ALL of the instruments.  This album isn’t even remotely close to being pure electronica, but on the same token – it isn’t your basic rock album either.  What made Duran Duran a standout band back in the 1980’s is the way that no one member stands over and above anyone else.  Nick’s keyboards are no less important to the band than Roger’s drums, John’s bass or the guitar, and vice-versa.  Some songs may feature keyboards more than others, and some songs may have a really funky bassline.  This is the first album in many years that I’ve been able to sit back and say “Yes, this is definitely Duran Duran.”  It’s not just Simon’s voice that makes it recognizable as the band, it’s the way the chords are played, the lyrics, and the way that the songs come together.

I think that the writing throughout the album is especially strong.  On previous albums of late, I’ve wondered how some songs have made it to the final record – being filled with lots of “oh yeah’s” and “do-do-do’s”. Seemed like time wasting filler, to be brutally honest, and it’s not that I don’t think the songs were good – it’s really that I felt the band was capable of doing far more.  In the case of All You Need Is Now, they’ve really stayed true to what I believe was the original intention of the band as a whole.  They’re a pop band, and they’ve embraced that.  Finally.  Sing it loud and proud, boys – because you’ve earned that.  In several interviews as of late I’ve heard Nick suggest that this music on this album is more of an experimental pop. I’m not sure I can totally agree with him (or rather, I’m not sure I can say I understand what he means in order to agree), I just know that whatever it is, I like it.

So the question of the hour becomes, is this really an album that can stand up to Rio?   Is Rio truly one of the bookend, or pinnacle albums of the bands’ career?  To many in the fan community – it’s the “be all, end all”. I’m not sure that I want to give that much “power” to an album that is back so far in the band’s career, to be honest.  Yes, it’s a great album, and I’m sure that the casual fan can name a few songs off of that one album – so I’ll give them that.  I think my issue with saying it’s truly the proper follow-up to Rio is that there HAVE been real gems along the way (although Ordinary World and Come Undone are not on my list of gems, as they might be yours…), and I hate the idea of casting all of that work aside just to be able to say that Rio was *the* album to live up to.  Talk about having a ghost in your past….the band have certainly been carrying around this ghost for a long time now.  I almost want to just say, “Yep, this was the album that should have followed Rio.  You’ve done it!” just so that way we can all get past it and move forward from this point. That tends to short change the album though, because this album does anything and everything but live in the past. There is no question that while this album has very firm footing in the catalog of Duran Duran, it was an album made in 2010, not 1985.  That’s why I really do stop short of saying that it’s the album that should have been made 25 years ago – it really never could have been.

For this fan, All You Need Is Now is a nearly perfect Duran Duran album in almost every way. That no more makes it a “son of Rio” than Red Carpet Massacre, and I applaud that.  We had to wait a very long time for an album like this one to be made, and yet it was worth every second we waited.  I believe that this album will come to be one of the true benchmarks of their career, and yet another album to which all others will be compared.  Most importantly, it’s an album that brought life back into a band that seemed to be on it’s way out a few years back, and that alone makes me want to stand up and applaud.

AYNIN – The Daily Duranie album review

Now, that we have finished reviewing the album, track-by-track, we thought it would be good to provide our thoughts about the album as a whole.

Amanda’s thoughts:
I will never forget the first time I heard the album and I will never forget watching or listening to other people hear the album for the first time.  For me, I openly admit that I was a big puddle of goo by the fourth song the first time I heard it with tears falling down my face.  It just felt so classically Duran to me.  At that time, I didn’t analyze why it felt like them but it did.  Then, I got to witness two other Duranie friends hear the album for the first time in person and a third Duranie friend via text messaging.  The two Duranies who heard the album in person matched my reaction.  One was in tears and the other kept saying that she had goosebumps.  Interestingly enough, my friend who was texting me during his first listen also said that he had goosebumps.  Ah…I thought to myself, this is it.  This is exactly what we had all been waiting for.  Our band is back.

Now, since then, I have had the chance to listen to the album over and over again.  I have analyzed each song for the qualities we rate:  musicality, vocals, lyrics, and production.  Based on that, I understood that the album had everything I think of when it comes to the best Duran Duran albums.  It features solid instrumentation that stayed consistent between ballads, fast numbers and everything in between.  All instruments were present with each one getting its share in the spotlight depending on the song or part of song.  Simon’s vocals were excellent throughout.  He was clear and sang with a passion that has been lost, in my opinion, in the last few years.  It was like Simon had been going through the motions and now was fully engaged again.  The same could be said for the whole band.  As for his lyrics, I can’t imagine better ones.  In all honesty, these might be the strongest lyrics I have heard from him (and others) in decades.  The production and mixing seemed solid.  Obviously, Mark Ronson has got to receive a great deal of credit here.  He was able to bring the band back to life and remind them of who they are and who they could be.  Overall, this album features some tremendous songwriting and has made me very proud to be a Duranie once again.

It will be interesting to hear what the additional tracks sound like once the physical album is released next month.  If they are anything like these nine, I think we are all in for a real treat.  Is this album perfect?  No, I obviously didn’t rate each track worthy of 5 cocktails, but I also didn’t hate any of the songs.  To find another Duran album that is the equivalent, I would have to go back to those first two albums.  This album, like those early albums, becomes greater by grouping the songs together as a WHOLE album.  The whole is definitely larger than the sum of its parts, which isn’t saying that it doesn’t have solid parts because it does. 

I think that the band should be absolutely proud of what they have accomplished here.  I think it is a truly special album and one worth celebrating for years to come!

Rhonda’s turn:

Rather than rehashing what I’ve said throughout the reviews on this album, I just want to touch on a few areas that I found to be the most definitive for this project.

Throughout the entire album, I continue to say that it is so nice to be able to actually hear ALL of the instruments.  This album isn’t even remotely close to being pure electronica, but on the same token – it isn’t your basic rock album either.  What made Duran Duran a standout band back in the 1980’s is the way that no one member stands over and above anyone else.  Nick’s keyboards are no less important to the band than Roger’s drums, John’s bass or the guitar, and vice-versa.  Some songs may feature keyboards more than others, and some songs may have a really funky bassline.  This is the first album in many years that I’ve been able to sit back and say “Yes, this is definitely Duran Duran.”  It’s not just Simon’s voice that makes it recognizable as the band, it’s the way the chords are played, the lyrics, and the way that the songs come together.

I think that the writing throughout the album is especially strong.  On previous albums of late, I’ve wondered how some songs have made it to the final record – being filled with lots of “oh yeah’s” and “do-do-do’s”. Seemed like time wasting filler, to be brutally honest, and it’s not that I don’t think the songs were good – it’s really that I felt the band was capable of doing far more.  In the case of All You Need Is Now, they’ve really stayed true to what I believe was the original intention of the band as a whole.  They’re a pop band, and they’ve embraced that.  Finally.  Sing it loud and proud, boys – because you’ve earned that.  In several interviews as of late I’ve heard Nick suggest that this music on this album is more of an experimental pop. I’m not sure I can totally agree with him (or rather, I’m not sure I can say I understand what he means in order to agree), I just know that whatever it is, I like it.

So the question of the hour becomes, is this really an album that can stand up to Rio?   Is Rio truly one of the bookend, or pinnacle albums of the bands’ career?  To many in the fan community – it’s the “be all, end all”. I’m not sure that I want to give that much “power” to an album that is back so far in the band’s career, to be honest.  Yes, it’s a great album, and I’m sure that the casual fan can name a few songs off of that one album – so I’ll give them that.  I think my issue with saying it’s truly the proper follow-up to Rio is that there HAVE been real gems along the way (although Ordinary World and Come Undone are not on my list of gems, as they might be yours…), and I hate the idea of casting all of that work aside just to be able to say that Rio was *the* album to live up to.  Talk about having a ghost in your past….the band have certainly been carrying around this ghost for a long time now.  I almost want to just say, “Yep, this was the album that should have followed Rio.  You’ve done it!” just so that way we can all get past it and move forward from this point. That tends to short change the album though, because this album does anything and everything but live in the past. There is no question that while this album has very firm footing in the catalog of Duran Duran, it was an album made in 2010, not 1985.  That’s why I really do stop short of saying that it’s the album that should have been made 25 years ago – it really never could have been.

For this fan, All You Need Is Now is a nearly perfect Duran Duran album in almost every way. That no more makes it a “son of Rio” than Red Carpet Massacre, and I applaud that.  We had to wait a very long time for an album like this one to be made, and yet it was worth every second we waited.  I believe that this album will come to be one of the true benchmarks of their career, and yet another album to which all others will be compared.  Most importantly, it’s an album that brought life back into a band that seemed to be on it’s way out a few years back, and that alone makes me want to stand up and applaud.

Happy 2011!!!

I am going against the time-honored plan of Daily Duranie and posting not one, but two blogs in one day in order to wish all of our readers (and your friends, because of course we want you to tell your friends!!) a very Safe, Healthy and Happy New Year!!

2011 is going to be a fantastic year to be a fan, and I know I speak for Amanda as well as myself in saying that we can’t wait to see and meet many of you when the band finally announces dates and goes on tour!  It’s sure to be a great time!!

Have a fantastic New Year everyone!!  See you in 2011!

Mediterranea-The Daily Duranie Review

Okay, this song is not on the digital version of All You Need Is Now.  Yet, it was released as part of an EP for people in Europe.  Thus, we thought it would be good for us to review this song as well.   

Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song starts out in such a silly way.  I swear that I can hear some wave sounds and then music that could have come straight out of a Beach Boys song!  Lucky for me, it quickly changes to a classic Duran sounding song with some strong guitar and bass.  I think that is the thing I really like about this song, in particular.  It gives this carefree, beautiful vibe of a warm, welcoming place while maintaining all instruments.  Other songs on AYNIN are just as beautiful but lack the lush instrumentation that this one provides throughout the whole thing. 

Vocals:  Generally, Simon sounds great, but I don’t like Simon’s voice as much when he tries to reach some of the high notes of the verses.  The chorus, though, contains solid, alluring vocals.  During that part in particular, I feel like his voice is calling me to this paradise. 

Lyrics:  These lyrics aren’t all that poetic and are rather obvious at first glance, yet, still feel like classic Duran.  First, they seem to be about a paradise location somewhere in the world.  Who doesn’t think of warm, tropical places when they think of Duran after seeing the videos filmed in exotic places like Sri Lanka or in tourist meccas like the Caribbean.  Second, this song seems to match what a lot of people have been feeling.  Rhonda has experienced a ton of rain in California and I have had much snow and cold in Wisconsin.  I think we would both welcome a change of scenery in that way!  Lastly, I adore this idea that this place is more than just an escape from rain or winter but that it is somewhere we belong (“there is a place for us”).  We must continue to believe that this exists for all of us.  Then, the song meaning seems to broaden beyond a geographic place but something more essential to one’s existence, something deeper. 

Production:  It seems to me that the production and mix allowed the song to maintain a softness to it.  I this this feeling must have required a very, delicate mix as I could imagine that it would be easy to showcase one instrument over the other, which would have completely changed the feeling of the song. 

Overall:  I believe that this song is quality Duran Duran.  It would fit in well with the rest of their catalog.  I love the idea of a welcoming place, whether is an actual location or a place in the world.  I know that I have often desired to find that place myself and I agree that it is important to believe that this type of place really does exist.  In this way, the song expresses an optimism that I saw throughout Duran’s career.  I think the lyrics and instrumentation is just wonderful but wonder if the song couldn’t have been better with a different beginning. 

Cocktail Rating:  4 cocktails!

Rhonda’s turn

Musicality/Instrumentation:  From the moment the song starts, I would swear I’ve been transported somewhere.  At first, I seem to think I’m going to Sri Lanka again….a la Save A Prayer… but then I realize this is 2010.  We’re going somewhere even warmer and more exotic, if that’s possible!  I love the sound of the waves at the beginning, but admittedly – I’m a sucker for anything that sounds like the ocean, an island…or vacation!  I can see why Amanda would immediately liken it to the Beach Boys. (also a band that I happen to have love for – especially given the fact that I was named after a Beach Boys song…no, I’m not kidding.  Another story for another blog…)  The fact is, as soon as the guitar starts, it’s obvious that Duran Duran has better things in mind.  It’s a strong guitar, probably one of the stronger guitar tracks we hear throughout the new music in that it basically stands on it’s own, with the synths taking the backseat this time.  The bass really backs up the guitar very well – it’s a good, strong balance and in my opinion, it’s a little different from the rest of the songs and the “typical Duran Duran formula” without feeling as though it came from a different planet altogether.   The song is written in very much of an island, tropical feel without being cheesy, and I have to hand it to Duran Duran for being able to create that type of a feel without creating an image of them wearing tacky aloha shirts – not many bands can do that.

Vocals:  I think Simon sounds just a tad whiny on this song when he’s reaching for the upper notes – I have to wonder what he would have sounded like had they simply adjusted the chords for him to accommodate a little lower of a range.  His voice would have sounded far less sharp and a lot rounder and fuller – which would have made the song that much better.

Lyrics: I love the lyrics to this one.  They aren’t the filmy imagery that fans tend to applaud, but they totally take me back to my vacations.  I feel the sun, smell the vanilla in the air, see the calm water….and during the winter that I’m having in California, I need it!  (practically need to grow gills to live here these days….unreal!!!)  I’ve never been to “Mediterranea”, but it’s on my list, right after I get myself on a cruise again, and you can bet I’ll be taking this song right along with me.   I give a big “whatever” to the fans who wave up their arms in frustration to this one, then sit back and relax.  It’s a great song.

Production: I think the production was done very sparingly and simply on this song – and if it wasn’t, that’s how it SOUNDS, which for me is a huge plus.  It’s not layers upon layers of tracks – and I can hear every single sound – which is beautiful.  I think a song like this cries out for simplicity, and to my ears, it absolutely achieves that goal.

Overall:  Count this song among my current favorites – and if I ever get my wish that they move Save a Prayer out of the setlist (dreams are free, and quit throwing tomatoes at your computer, please)…I think this one would be a remarkably good addition, and I’d even sing a long.  It’s beautiful.  White sands, the smell of spicy gardenia in the air mixed with ocean salt…yep, I love it.  Takes me away from the “fun” of potty training my youngest every time!! (and if you don’t think I need a vacation right about now….think again!!)

Rating: 4.5 cocktails!!!




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: 

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!