I was on Twitter this morning and a quote from a recent interview that Mark Ronson did with an Italian website (I think it’s a TV station website??) caught my eye. They were discussing #DD14 and what the album might have in-store). Here are the direct quotes and my (very rusty) translations.
Nei mesi scorsi sei tornato a lavorare con i Duran Duran. Dopo “All You Need Is Now” produrrai anche il nuovo album? (Translation: In recent months, you’ve come back to work with Duran Duran. After “All You Need is Now”, will you be producing this album?)
In realtà ho scritto, prodotto e suonato solo alcuni brani con Nile Rodgers, non l’intero lavoro. A livello di sound credo siano grandiosi, perché sono esattamente quello che ciascun fan vorrebbe dai Duran e Nile Rodgers quando lavorano insieme, quella chimica che si sentiva in “The Reflex” e “Notorious”. (Translation: “Actually I wrote, produced and performed on only a few songs with Nile Rodgers, not the entire album. In terms of sound I think they are great because they are exactly what every fan wants from Duran and Nile Rodgers when they collaborate, that chemistry present in “The Reflex” and “Notorious“.
Overall, I don’t think there is any “news” here. It’s been known for months (years?) now that Mark was not going to be producing the entire album as a whole, and we all have known that Nile and Mark were a part of the “dream team” assembled. What I found curious though, was Mark’s comment about the sound being everything that fans want from a Nile Rodgers/Duran Duran collaboration like “Notorious” or “The Reflex”.
When I read that line, my mind skipped back to the days just prior to All You Need is Now, when Mark did press and said he was going for a follow-up to Rio. I panned that idea here on the blog, saying that he was practically setting himself up to failure because Rio didn’t need to be replicated. I meant that at the time, and although I thoroughly enjoy All You Need is Now, there are some songs on the album that I know were a huge reach back to embrace what was done on Rio (I’m thinking of Leopard here, for starters). Even before we’ve heard solid details about this album aside from a virtual glitterati parade of names and a few vague abstractions (everything from a “dance” album to “70’s driving songs”), we’re being brought back to Notorious and The Reflex. Mind you, neither the Notorious album or The Reflex are poor examples of creativity by any means, but is it really effective marketing to compare this effort to those of the past?
At least partially, that answer depends on whether fans really loved Notorious and/or The Reflex. In past surveys we’ve done, Notorious has never scored that high overall….I’m not saying that nobody loves the album, but I am saying that for those who cared to answer, Notorious didn’t typically score that high. Instead, it was an album that fans neither loved (overall) nor hated (overall). It tends to fall smack in the middle when ranked with other Duran Duran albums, whereas the first album or even Rio always ranks near or at the top. So do fans really want more of Notorious or The Reflex, or is it the happy, friendly, nostalgic chemistry that gives us all the good feels?
Purely on a personal note, I would just like the album finished so that I could hear it for myself. I enjoy conjecture and guesswork as much as the next blogger – but we’ve been doing this for nearly three years now (even before the band committed themselves to hard studio time!), I am ready for the end-product. I’m looking forward to hearing what Duran Duran, Nile, Mark, Mr. Hudson and the full “cast of thousands” have conjured!
Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back 3 shorts years to 2012 when John Taylor and Simon Le Bon appeared on the German TV show, Gottschalk Live. The show was filmed in Berlin. During this time, Duran Duran were touring Europe as part of the All You Need Is Now Tour.
I did manage to find a clip of this show. Simon and John come out at about 13 minutes in. They talked about vinyl records, working with John living in LA, Duran’s audience and lots more.
Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back just two short years ago to 2012 when Duran Duran played in Munich at the Tonhalle. According to DuranDuranMusic, the setlist was as follows:
BEFORE THE RAIN
A VIEW TO A KILL
ALL YOU NEED IS NOW
HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF
GIRLS ON FILM
I found a very cool video of the introductions that night! Watch and enjoy!
Daily Duranie welcomes new opinions and we wish to give all fans a voice. Today we feature a brand new guest blogger to Daily Duranie. Enjoy!!
By Jason Lent
Understanding the impact of Duran Duran is near impossible if you did not experience it firsthand. They were pioneers of the New Romantic movement (which pulled its artistic aspirations from the likes of David Bowie and Roxy Music) and almost singlehandedly turned the music video into art. As a young kid discovering music, it was hard not to be lured into a world of exotic locations and mostly naked models set to exciting synth pop music.
Over the last thirty years, I’ve taken my share of jokes for sticking by Duran Duran through their musical highs and lows and I understand that the band will always be divisive amongst serious music fans. However, there is more depth and substance to their career than the majority of what passes for popular music in 2014. With that in mind, I dusted off every studio Duran Duran album they’ve recorded and ranked them from the most essential to the, um, best forgotten. I decided to skip the live album Arena (it’s a pleasant reminder of an epic tour but offers little to listeners) and the covers album Thank You which was disappointing but not quite as bad as most remember.
The point at which New Romantic music crossed into the mainstream and simultaneously established the fledgling MTV as a creative outlet that would shape the future of music. The impact of videos such as “Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf” are so culturally significant that the music gets slightly overlooked, which is criminal. As a band, Duran Duran hit on all cylinders throughout the record with John Taylor’s exquisite bass lines serving as the glue that holds the synths and electric guitar together to form one of the finest records of the decade. The album artwork also captured the decade perfectly adding to the overall aesthetic of a young band rising to the top of the world to define a generation. Quite simply, there are no weak songs on Rio making it the band’s preeminent album. At the time, “Hold Back the Rain” was just a kick-ass pop-rock tune but it takes on more meaning now knowing it was Simon’s plea to John to get control of his substance abuse, something that wouldn’t happen for another decade. The ballad “Save A Prayer” will always be the band’s most delicate moment while “The Chauffeur” closes the album on an artistic road that kept the band’s pop success balanced with their more artistic interests. This Duran Duran album is essential to any music collection.
Duran Duran (1981)
The perfect example of the New Romantic movement in music, Duran Duran’s debut sounded fresh and exciting even before the artfully conceived videos took the band to larger audiences. While “Planet Earth” and “Girls On Film” remain some of the band’s most notable songs, the album has a whole captures the essence of Duran Duran. The second side of this Duran Duran album edged into darker, moodier territory that revealed a depth to the music that critics have often overlooked. The opening two minutes of “Night Boat” strike a sinister mood while “Friends Of Mine” and “Careless Memories” are spirited punk songs filtered through the New Romantic prism. When released as the second single, “Careless Memories” faired poorly and the accompanying video remains one of the few misfires in the band’s catalogue. Listening now, that song was far from disappointing and, like the rest of the record, has aged quite well. When the album was re-released in 1983, the hit single “Is There Something I Should Know?” replaced “To The Shore” which made sense for the band and record company though it doesn’t fit the flow of the album.
All You Need Is Now (2010)
How do you make a Duran Duran album that almost matches the greatness of the band’s early work? You dust off the old instruments and allow the talented Mark Ronson to guide the recording process. From the title single on, the band recreates the magic of their first three records while updating it for 2010. The hook of “All You Need Is Now” recalls the sway of “New Moon Monday” and there are plenty of other sonic touchstones that harken back to the biggest days of Duran. The opening synth of “The Man Who Stole The Leopard” recall the band’s instrumental track “Tel Aviv” from their debut album while the opening drums of “Girl Panic” are “Girls On Film” redux. Who gives a shit?! It’s shimmering pop-rock beauty that the band once did better than anyone on planet earth.
Three years is a long time in music. For Duran Duran, it meant one live album (Arena), a troubled live performance at Live Aid, and a breakdown in the line-up. “Who gives a damn for a flaky bandit” sang Simon Le Bon in the title track letting the world know how the remaining members viewed departed guitarist Andy Taylor. The album was a departure for the band as the age gap between them and their fans was suddenly felt in the music. For a thirteen year old, Nile Rodgers was just a name the band occasionally dropped as an influence. With little understanding of Chic and the other bands that shaped the band’s style, Notorious felt like a sudden shift away from the new wave glory of MTV that they did better than others. Over time, this Duran Duran album has matured well and reveals a talented group of musicians finding space to write smarter songs. The title track and “Skin Trade” are two of their tightest singles and the feisty “Meet El Presidente” finds a new groove for the Duran sound. The album’s strength lies in the quality of the songs throughout. “Vertigo (Do The Demolition)” and “American Science” are stylish pop tracks that hold their own with the singles. Closer “Proposition” (placed at the opposite end from the title track that takes a dig at him) gives us a final taste of the band with Andy Taylor (at least for a few decades) and it’s clear that the band’s sound needs his razor edge on guitar to compliment the synth explorations of Nick Rhodes. An album that has held up very well in the Duran Duran story.
Big Thing (1988)
To this day, I’m not sure why this Duran Duran album was such a disconnect for audiences. The singles didn’t make a lasting impact on the charts and the tour (at least at the Miami Arena, my first concert, finally!) played to less than full venues. After Notorious, I thought this was a bold step forward as the band pushed the music into new territory. “All She Wants Is” incorporates house music into the Duran sound to create a hypnotic tone and the accompanying video was one of the last great reasons to watch MTV. One of the band’s best ballads to this day, “Do You Believe In Shame?” opens a second half of the album which slides away from the dance floor towards the art house. The razor-sharp guitar the closes out “Lake Shore Driving” is the sort of six string showcase Andy Taylor would have eaten up had he not become a disillusioned guitar hero and left for a disappointing solo career (yes, I own Thunder on vinyl and yes, I’m still disappointed). Why the b-side “I Believe/All I Need To Know” failed to make Big Thing while the dreadful “Drug (It’s Just A State Of Mind)” secured a spot mystifies me. Swapping those tracks would move this further up my list.
Seven And the Ragged Tiger (1983)
A complicated album from inception to completion, Seven is a difficult album for me to view through a lens not colored by nostalgia. After the monumental Rio, the band could do know wrong in my eyes and this record held my fascination. The lead single “The Reflex” needed a snappy remix to really bring it alive (“Whyyy-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y- -don’t you use it”) and the live video helped showcase a slightly disappointing hit single. “Union Of the Snake” remains my favorite moment on the album. Andy adds some excellent guitar to the synth melody, the kind of small touch that future records would often be missing. While all quite fine, the non-singles tend to run together in my brain. “I Take The Dice” and “Shadows On Your Side” are interchangeable Duran songs. Heavily produced and sometimes sounding like a challenge to write, the success of this Duran Duran album resided more on the band’s name at that point in music.
Duran Duran – The Wedding Album (1993)
I remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Ordinary World” on the radio. I was returning from my girlfriend’s house and passing over Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL. I pulled over after crossing the railroad tracks knowing Duran Duran was about to return to the charts. The song sat perfectly on the radio and remains a classic pop song. However, it’s not one of the better Duran Duran songs. It could have been recorded by just about any pop rock band at the time and lacked the unique Duran alchemy. “Come Undone” felt more like a classic Duran single and sounds beautiful with a slippery bass line and sexy rhythm. Opener “Too Much Information” still holds up as one of their better rock songs though the line “a cola manufacturer is sponsoring the war” feels a little uncomfortable coming from a band that Coca Cola sponsored in the 1980’s. The rest of this Duran Duran album falters and suffers from an indistinctive sameness. The disappointing Lou Reed cover (“Femme Fatale”) serves as a harbinger of the Thank You album that would follow. In the end, a stylish Duran Duran album with three excellent singles is hardly a disappointing trip.
With the dismal performance of Pop Trash and no record label, it was a widely held assumption that Duran Duran were finished. The reunion nobody saw coming became reality (I figured Roger Taylor had retired from music forever and Andy always seemed like a loose cannon who resented his role in the band). To their credit, the band went into the studio instead of just filling arenas with the same reunion tour for a few summers. Opening track “(Reach Up For) The Sunrise” is a powerful reminder that, at its core, the rhythm section of Roger and John Taylor anchors Duran Duran. A driving chorus with Andy’s guitar jostling with Nick’s synths is Duran at their best. On the whole, the album proves a successful reunion of the Fab Five. “Nice” sounds like an updated Duran Duran, which is better than the slightly misguided band of the late 1990’s. This Duran Duran album suffers on the production side with just too much happening at once. It gives the record a cluttered atmosphere that they would sort out on their most recent work. At the time, any Duran Duran album from the original line-up would have been welcome but this album has aged well and remains sneaky good.
By 1997, Duran Duran had crumbled as the creative entity that launched so many memorable albums. After the hugely disappointing Thank You record, the band was down to Nick and Simon with guitarist Warren Cucurrullo. Nick and Warren were the creative force giving this and it’s follow-up, Pop Trash, a unique place within the Duran canon. “Out Of Mind” completed Simon’s trilogy for a lost friend (“Ordinary World” and “Do You Believe In Shame” were the others) and sounded like an extension of earlier albums. However, the rest of the music moves into electronic dance sounds that felt alien to where Duran Duran started as a live unit. On a whole, Cucurrullo’s contributions to Duran Duran are difficult to assess. A gifted guitarist, it feels like he pushed the band into creative areas they might have been best to not explore. With the release of him and Nick’s side project TV Mania in 2013, some of this experimentation does make a bit more sense but Medazzaland is lacking in memorable moments.
Pop Trash (2000)
Album opener “Someone Else Not Me” hints at a return to form for Duran Duran but it was the only song written by Simon Le Bon for the album and it shows. With Warren Cuccurullo and Nick Rhodes in creative control of the music, this Duran Duran album feels like more of Medazzaland with a few less highlights. “Last Day On Earth” (written but rejected for a Bond film) gives the album a little more muscle and overall, the album does have a little more guitar pop than the more electronic Medazzaland. The acoustic driven “Starting To Remember” shows promise and is one of the better songs written during this period for the band but ultimately gets lost in a record of uninspired songs. At the end of the road with the record label, this was the first album I didn’t immediately buy from Duran Duran and I assumed (again, like I did after Liberty) that Duran Duran were at their creative end.
Red Carpet Massacre (2007)
The momentum of Astronaut may have corrupted the direction of the band when they returned to the studio. The original five worked on an album titled Reportage, which eventually reached the record label only to be rejected until the band recorded an obvious lead single. In their search for that single, the band began working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake minus Andy Taylor, who would not return. The result is a trend-chasing Duran Duran album of club music that simply doesn’t work. The drums are heavily processed and the band’s more rocking edges are smoothed over until they are gone. Without hearing Reportage, it’s still safe to say the band would have fared better with their original plans. For a Duran Duran album trying to be dark and sexy, the album sounds embarrassingly bland.
After Big Thing, I had high hopes for the slimmed down version of Duran Duran to remain relevant in popular music. Liberty seriously hampered my belief. For the first time, it sounded like the band was chasing trends and losing touch with who they were. Declining sales and success can do that to a band’s confidence. For the most part, this Duran Duran album attempts to capture the adult pop market in 1990, which was the least interesting direction the band could have pursued. The label eventually cut and run on the album’s poor sales and the album’s best track (“First Impressions”) never reached audiences. Even if it had, there’s not enough of Duran Duran in this album to ignite much interest. John Taylor, to this day under appreciated as a bass player, never found his groove with Sterling Campbell. It’s not a knock on Campbell, rhythm sections either click or they don’t. Without that, the band could not achieve the foundation for greatness that they had on earlier records. At the time, I remember thinking this was the end of the road for Duran Duran.
Jason Lent discovered Duran Duran on MTV 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.
This is the first in a series of ongoing articles about Duran Duran mix tapes created by fans. Or maybe it’s a standalone thing like Arcadia—it’s really unknowable at this point.
To those of us old enough to remember, making a Duran Duran mix tape was an all-night affair that involved shuffling through cassettes, pressing pause at just the right time, and nervously trying to figure out how much space was left just by eyeballing the amount of tape remaining on the spool (because adding up the song times and subtracting them from 45:00 would be too hard).
This month, I was in a reflective mood…okay, I’ll admit, a Medazzaland mood. Be warned. However, one of the miracles of dragging and dropping songs is that what you start out with is often not what you end up with…
This Duran Duran mix tape is, of course…two sided… an A-side and a B-side. Today we’ll start with side-A, and follow-up with the B-side tomorrow, just in time for your New Year’s Eve party plans.
1. Still Breathing
I was in the mood for something slow and moody (my wife would reply, “Just look in the mirror after you first wake up”), and I especially like the haunting synths and drums on this track. I will admit that I don’t rank this in the upper tier of Duran ballads/slow songs, but maybe after ten years it’s growing on me.
2. She’s Too Much
Is it me or does this track get lost in the train wreck that is the B side of Red Carpet Massacre? I find that I completely forget this song exists, then stumble upon it and realize how much I like it. It flows very nicely after Still Breathing. Exactly the mood I was going for.
3. So Long Suicide
Now we’re talking. My favorite song from the second side of Medazzaland. I’ve always viewed this song as the sequel to “Ordinary World.” Despite the ominous “suicide” in the title, this remains hopeful —“I need you I don’t want to bleed for you” and “hello I’m alive!”—but there is also that line, “I’m scared of being ordinary” which I’ve viewed as a reference to “Ordinary World” and the fact that this person’s struggle goes on. The conflict also comes through in the song’s structure, as the calm verses are interrupted by the raucous guitars in the up-tempo chorus, mirroring the ebb and flow that you go through when you’re grieving. I’ve probably thought way too much about this song in the 17 years it’s been out…but it’s a favorite of mine.
Astronaut has two sneaky good songs buried on its “B” side and this is one of them, the original line-up’s answer to “Out of my mind” in a weird way. I especially like the classic Duran “na na na” during the bridge. Makes things a tad more upbeat…
5. Who Do You Think You Are?
I told you I was in a “Medazzaland” mood. This is a more straightforward power ballad than So Long Suicide, although it still has that slow/fast/slow thing going on.
6. Winter Marches On
You knew this would be on this Duran Duran mix tape somewhere, right? It’s generally regarded as the closest thing Duran has to a Christmas song (this is according to Nick himself in an Ask Katy many years ago). It stands out as the slowest track on the otherwise heavily funk influenced Notorious. And, for the purposes of this list…it’s as far back in time as I go (what can I say? Classic Duran reminds me of the summer. It’s winter. Not in the mood for that…and this is all about mood!).
7. The Edge of America
Duran at their most U2-ish. Perfect place to go after “Winter.”
8. Lake Shore Driving
I suppose I could have separated these two but that doesn’t feel right. And I’m sick of adding all these slow songs. We need to pick things up.
9. Runway Runaway
After four years, I think we can now objectively review AYNIN and place it in context. And at this time…I believe this is my favorite song off that album and one of my favorites ever by the band. I would include this in any mix I make…
10. Red Carpet Massacre
The heresy! Look, this song is great…I was done with slow songs…stop judging.
11. Be My Icon
Wickedly clever lyrics and awesome guitar. I warned you that I was in a Medazzaland mood…
And in perfect Duran-style, I’m leaving you all hanging, wanting more…until tomorrow when I unveil the rest of this Duran Duran mix tape!
Be thinking of your own Duran Duran mix tape choices and let me know what your A-side would sound like in the comments!
Duran Duran history for today, December 29th comes to New York, when in 2010, Nick Rhodes and Simon LeBon appear on the Today Show. Hmmm….I wonder what album they were promoting??? Seems SO LONG AGO NOW I can’t even begin to remember…maybe watching it will refresh our memories.
I have history on the brain. Yes, part of the reason, is because I am teaching history this year. Part of the reason could be that we do a daily Duran Duran history blog post. Yet, this week really made me think about history. Why? Obviously, there was this little rumor this week about Lindsay Lohan in connection to the next Duran album. Any and all news and rumor should be making me think about the future, right? This one didn’t. It made me think of the past, specifically recent Duran Duran albums and their reactions from fans.
First, I thought about this time of year four years ago. Think back. What was going on three years ago in December? I’m sure that many of you guessed it. The Duranie universe was all excited! We had a new single in All You Need Is Now along with the video that accompanied it. The digital copy of the album was about to drop. Each and every day was filled with some new piece of information, new interview or new video clip, etc.. Social media was hoppin’ and many, many Duranies were spending hours upon hours hanging out on Twitter and/or Facebook. Life seemed really good and the future was definitely bright. While I’m sure that there were some fans who weren’t all that excited or didn’t like what they had heard so far, those fans were few and far between. In general, most fans were pretty thrilled with the state of Duranland, at least from what I could tell.
This, of course, is not how I think of the Duran sphere when I think back three years before that. 2007 saw the release of Red Carpet Massacre. Like the release of All You Need Is Now, there was plenty of news to share and discuss. In contrast, though, from the AYNIN era, the discussion wasn’t overwhelmingly positive. Instead, debate was the most common occurrence on message boards, then. While some were excited by Red Carpet Massacre and the working relationship between Duran and Timbaland and Duran and Justin Timberlake, others weren’t. The fans who liked RCM, I’m sure, probably felt like they were doing a whole lot of defending the band and the album whereas the critical fans kept trying to explain why and how this album was so bothersome to them.
As I return to the present, I try to place this rumor in the context of recent Duran history. It seems clear to me that rumors like the one we had this week fit way more with the RCM era than the AYNIN era. Clearly, if the rumor turns out to be true, there are some fans who would like Lohan to be on the album or would be okay with it for whatever reason. There are many other fans who would not for the reasons brought up this week and more. From what I saw, the discussions already started forming the same camps as fans did in 2007 over Timbaland. Some fans instantly defend the band or try to find/point out the positives. The less-than-excited fans try to articulate why this rumor bothers them so. Not fun.
Is this the normal ebb and flow of Duran Duran and Duran Duran fans in that, for one album, the fans (in general–not everyone but most) love the album, but then question the moves made for the next one? If so, then, perhaps, one just needs to accept that as part of being a Duranie. For me, personally, I hate the fact that unlike AYNIN, there seems to be little excitement. There seems to be a lot of debate and some concern. I so wish that wasn’t the case. Now, in fairness, perhaps, this concern and debate will change once facts are known. Maybe part of the problem is that the album has taken so long to be finished that people couldn’t sustain excitement but that it will return with the release of #DD14.
Until then, don’t blame me for being wanting to be stuck in the most recent Duran history with All You Need Is Now away from Lindsay Lohan and the cast of thousands that supposedly have worked on DD14. Just send me to the eagerness of a Mark Ronson produced, very Duran Duran sounding album.
Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back just four years ago to 2010 when Simon was the guest on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends. Based on the date (late 2010), I would assume that Simon was doing some initial promotion both for the All You Need Is Now single, which was released on December 8th, and for the album, which was released on December 21st.
Perhaps, some of you would be able to hear this here. Maybe, others of you could check it out here.
What do you think? How does this compare to how Duran Duran seems now?