Tag Archives: Andy Taylor

Our time before and would it be so wrong

Before I dive into today’s blog post, I wanted to take a second or two to wish all mothers (people and pets) out there a very Happy Mother’s Day! Your work, care and dedication is too often taken for granted and I hope today you feel at least a little appreciation and love! Now, onto today’s blog post!

This week, as I flipped through social media, I saw some clips from Nick Rhodes being online with Red Ronnie. In some cases, nothing hit me as super interesting or surprising but one clip definitely caught my attention. It is a clip that I saw on Facebook and I’m going to attempt to link it here but I’ll try to transcribe as well, in case it does not work.

Question: “Everyone asks. Andy Taylor…will he come again or is it so difficult?”

Response: “Um..I don’t think, to be quite honest that it would make things any better, in any way. Um…Andy is a great guitarist. Yes, he’s difficult to be around. Um…when Andy was no longer with us, peace broke out and um..and we all got along much more easily. I don’t think he fits in, personality wise, with the band, really. No one would take away anything from his musicianship and I wish him well, but I don’t think it’s with us. You know, Dom has been with us playing the live shows for a long time and maybe we will have some other people come and guest as well. Nile comes and plays with us sometimes, Mark Ronson occasionally, maybe Graham will come and do some things. Who knows? We haven’t got that far yet, but very much looking forward to playing some shows and I wish I could tell you when it will be.” (I think I got it all but any errors are mine.)

What was the reaction to this and what do I think about it? Some people focused on the music and recognized that the push/pull, two musical sides vying for attention worked really well in those early days to create some of the best Duran albums and songs. Others expressed sadness about what that means for Duran, musically, moving forward. Yet, Andy fans expressed a great deal of disappointment and anger towards Nick, believing him to be unkind towards Andy. Many assumed that Nick does not like Andy because he stood in the way of Nick’s controlling the band. As I read through comments and reactions, I was not surprised. I am well-aware of how the tension between the two did help to create some of the best material of the band’s career. Likewise, I’m not shocked that many fans, especially ones who love Andy, view Nick as controlling and mean. I cannot fault anyone for having their own perspective and feeling about this. After all, everyone is passionate about Duran Duran and the guitarist debate has been one that runs deep.

So what do I think of it? I have mixed feelings about it. My Duran fan self can definitely see and appreciate the creativeness that exploded with the tension between Andy and Nick. I would love to have another album like the first one or Rio. Who wouldn’t? That said, I also really enjoy Dom Brown during the shows and love how there is great chemistry there between him and the other band members. Would I want to change that? Would I want to risk the current status for Andy to be back? It could obviously be beyond amazing. But it could be a disaster. The whole thing just makes me want to scream a little bit in that there does not seem to be the perfect choice here.

Beyond the musical aspect of this, I think about the working conditions part. As a teacher and as an organizer I have worked with and on countless different teams over the course of my career. Do the people I’m working with matter? Absolutely. One hundred percent. I think back to my first real team in teaching in which I was part of a team of three. The two women I worked with had opposite philosophies and approaches to teaching. They were both super strong-willed people who did not hide how they felt or what they thought. This meant that I walked into a bit of a mine-field with a push for me to take sides. Things literally got so bad that my principal had to come into our office, divide up the space and assign us areas. From there, my principal worked hard to get the team to be able to work together. Eventually, the team came together and we probably did our best work. That said, it was exhausting and felt like it could fall apart at any point. I don’t think I would want that type of work environment now even if it helped me then be the best teacher I could be.

Of course, I have also been on teams that have been fun and trusting with minimal tension. Those teams have been able to get things done and done well. Was the work as good as if someone was there questioning us more? Pushing us to see a different side to a certain lesson plan or educational strategy? Maybe. But at what cost? How would that play out long term? I know that it would affect my desire to go to work. It would make me more and more unhappy and as I get older and older, I don’t want tension in my work place. I don’t think that makes me a terrible person so I can see where Nick is coming from.

As I walked the clip, I was surprised that Nick was as forthright as he was. I appreciate that he shared with us his perspective even if it wasn’t exactly what many wanted to hear.

-A

Too Much To Know

Are there moments of Duran history that you just sometimes think about and wonder what it must have been like? On the positive, amazing side, I think about what it must have been like when the band was looking through record deal offers or when the band waited to hear where a song charted. I cannot begin to imagine what it was like to hear one’s song on the radio for the first time, for instance. On the other side of the coin, there are times that must have been challenging. What was it like? How did they push through? Did they recognize the moment of challenge or did they live in ignorance? Did it help that they had each other?

The first moment like this that comes to mind was in 1986. At this time, the members of the band ended their side projects and were looking to come back together to record another album. From what I know, it seems like Roger informed the band that he was not returning early in the year, in the spring. They did not have to wonder, to question whether or not they could or should rely on him. Andy, on the other hand, seemed to drag out either his decision or his telling them his decision to go solo, from what I have read. Now, before I dive any deeper into this time in Duran history, I want to be clear that I’m not judging Andy or Roger or the rest of the band. I suspect, for example, that the decision for Andy to leave must have been difficult and emotional even if he knew/felt it was the right thing for him to do. After all, he had experienced a lot of success with the band as well as many monumental moments. So, I can even understand if Andy didn’t declare his leaving quickly and early. I bet that he must have had many moments of indecision, which led the rest of the band to be in somewhat of a state of limbo.

Did John, Simon and Nick know that Andy was thinking about leaving? Would that have been easier for them to know or was it better to maintain hope that he would return for as long as possible? Is it better to know than not to know? On one hand, not knowing can keep hope alive that maybe he would change his mind, that he would return. Decisions regarding a guitarist would not need to be made and they could focus on other things, Duran and non-Duran related. So what about knowing? If they knew, they could figure out their guitarist situation earlier and differently, maybe. I’m pretty sure that there was some grieving done, too. Knowing probably meant some sadness, some fear of the future, some anger and frustration. Did this change the feel of the next album? I don’t doubt it. Still, was it better that they knew?

You are probably wondering why now am I asking these questions. Do I have a new fascination with the Notorious album or Duran history from 1986? Am I worried that someone is leaving the band? The answer to all of those questions is a big no. Instead, it is a much more personal situation. As I have mentioned a couple of times on here, I have been dealing with some health related issues over the last few months. At first, I thought the problem was figured out and everything was fine or would be. Then, something else would pop up leading me to wonder if there wasn’t something more going on. This week, after ending a long period of denial, I finally reached out to my doctor who agreed that we should run some tests, which have now been completed. I now await the results. Did John, Simon and Nick want Andy to leave? I suspect not. Was it better when they knew for sure that he was going? Maybe. They could grieve, deal and move on. I guess I am at that point now, too. Is it better for me to know? If the results are what I think they are, will I be facing what Duran faced in 1986 with some grief, fear of the unknown while doing what must be done? Probably. I can only hope to be like them with their determination to move on and continue to be successful.

In thinking about that time period, I have to wonder if it helped them that they were not alone. It happened to all of them and not just one of them. Were they all able to support each other enough to be strong? I often believe that the best part of being a member of a team is that not everyone has to be awesome every day. When one person struggles, the other(s) can be strong with them or for them. Is this what Simon, John and Nick did for each other in 1986? As I learn of the results, I can only hope to have the support of others as I get comfortable with my possible new normal. (By the way, I should mention that what I’m being tested for is not life-threatening but still will affect life moving forward.)

-A

Happy Birthday Andy!

Rhonda and I have been writing this blog for over nine years! Yet, I don’t think I have ever written a blog post for Andy’s birthday before. How is that possible?! Anyway, today is Andy’s 59th birthday and I definitely want to celebrate him before wishing him the best birthday ever! What is the best way to acknowledge his big day? For me, it is to watch some Andy highlights and to cheer his amazing career.

Duran!

How in the world can I choose videos that capture what Andy Taylor meant to Duran in those early years? I’ll just pick a few but there were a ton more that I could have chosen.

Power Station!

I could not forget about Power Station both in 1985 and in 1996.

Solo career

Who didn’t love Andy’s solo work from the 1980s? As much as most of us didn’t want him to leave Duran, many had to admit that his solo work was pretty dang good like this one:

Reunion

Whenever I think about the reunion and having all five members back together, I cannot help but to smile. It was my childhood dream coming true! When the first songs and videos were released from that time, I ate it all up and could not get enough. One thing I thought was particularly awesome was the set of Sunrise videos that focused on each guy. Here’s Andy’s:

Here’s a video of Andy playing Save a Prayer during that Astronaut Tour.

Live 2019!

I love that Andy is still out there performing and love it even more that he has not rejected his Duran history as seen here:

On that note, I wish Andy the best birthday ever!

-A

City of Night Tour 2020

Anybody need more shows to look forward to for spring??

How about going to Birmingham??

No, no…I don’t have Duran Duran shows to announce…but Andy is going out on tour! The other day, Andy announced several dates on a solo tour during the month of May to promote his upcoming album. I don’t know how long it has been since Andy has done a solo tour, but I’d venture to guess it’s been a decade or few! Catch him while you can! Dubbed the City of Night tour 2020, here are the details:

May 1 Crescent Club, Cullercoats

May 6 Gorilla, Manchester

May 7 O2 Institute2, Birmingham

May 15 King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

Tickets sold through Livenation UK.

In more Andy news, he took to Twitter yesterday to announce that “Love or Liberation”, was nominated for Best British Single in the Planet Rocks 2020 Awards. Put your fingers to work and vote for Andy here.

It’s great to see good things happening for Andy and we’re happy to help get the word out for him however we can.

The blog is short today, I’m sorry about that – but I’ll be back on Thursday with more!

-R

Andy Taylor at the 100 Club: Worth the Wait!

By Dee Cooke

Andy Taylor’s first solo gig in 30 years. Talk about a highly anticipated evening! The show, at London’s 100 Club on 27 November, was sold out. Did it live up to this anticipation? 

Spoiler: yes, it did.

Andy and his band certainly kept us waiting. They didn’t arrive on stage until more than two hours after the doors to the venue had opened. Once the show got going, it was worth the wait.  The well-balanced and wide-ranging setlist featured a mixture of old solo material from 1987’s Thunder album, tracks from his upcoming solo album, along with few Power Station tunes, topped by a smattering of semi-covers of songs by artists Andy has been involved with (Reef, Robert Palmer, etc.)…

…and not forgetting some very surprising and welcome Duran Duran songs!  Mid-set, the audience were taken aback in the absolute best of ways when Andy and co launched into a triumphant medley of ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and ‘Wild Boys’.  That was a very special moment, as it wasn’t expected at all.

The 100 Club, which I hadn’t been to previously, is a very well-designed small venue, and even if you’re at the back it still feels like the front as everyone in the audience is so close to the stage.  This gave the show a real intimacy – it was just like watching a local band in the back room of a pub, except that it was Andy freaking Taylor and we were all getting to see him perform right up close! 

Reef’s Gary Stringer, who features on some of the songs on the new album and so was onstage for vocal duties, is of course fantastic, but it was really lovely also to see Andy singing lead on so many of the songs.  I’m a huge fan of the Thunder album and so it was those tracks that moved me the most – my absolute highlight was ‘Tremblin’’, a beautifully slowed-down version of the song that was just Andy on stage by himself.  There was some discussion after the show once the band’s copies of the setlist had been procured, as the planned setlist seemed to indicate that Andy had originally also intended to incorporate ‘Save A Prayer’ into this track.  However, for me, the performance of ‘Tremblin’’ absolutely stood by itself, and I don’t think it would have necessarily been improved by the incorporation of the Duran track – it was beautiful as it was.

To my surprise, the band didn’t play an awful lot of tracks off the new album – I had been expecting that the new material would comprise a good 50% or more of the set, but as it happened, there were only one or two new songs in addition to the already-released ‘Love Or Liberation’. What we did hear, however, was more varied than I expected – it seems there’s some mellower stuff on the album to complement the banging hard rock!

It was a fantastic show overall – engaging from start to finish.  I, like many others, had travelled to London especially for the gig, and it was so worth the journey!  I just hope we don’t have to wait another 30 years for Andy to perform his solo stuff again…

Love or Liberation

I am a music fan. Despite my love and adoration for Duran Duran and other new wave artists of the 1980’s, I still love me some down and dirty guitar. I loudly proclaimed myself as a Duranie during my middle school years, but by college—which for me started in Fall of 1988 and continued until May of 1993—I was listening to anything from AC/DC to Def Leppard, Van Halen to yes, even Poison. The hair bands, the metal, and even classic rock would be on my stereo one minute, and in the next, my devotion for Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears would show as “Gold” or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” or even “Rio” would begin. I didn’t see why I couldn’t like it all, and I did. The music coming out of my car stereo (I spent a lot of hours commuting to school and work during college) was eclectic, if nothing else.

Life goes on

It is easy to jump in with both feet when Andy Taylor announces a new album. I don’t feel as though I’m disavowing Duran Duran by supporting Andy, by the way. This is an opportunity to be excited by something new! I’m not worried that his music won’t sound like Duran Duran’s. In fact, I sure as hell hope it doesn’t. We’ve waited a long time for Andy to release new music. Surely he won’t create a carbon copy of a band and life he’s already left behind twice.

I know that for some people, Duran Duran is the end-all. It is the one band they follow, it is the one group they care about. It doesn’t matter what a band member does once they leave the group. Many still cannot make peace with why Andy left. Others couldn’t wait for him to get out the door fast enough, and that Dom more than fills his shoes. Then there’sTeam Warren. They insist the band’s best days are behind them, and no one else will measure up. The guitarist debate is one that will never end. Regardless, they are all moving forward on their own. Andy is doing his own thing, as is Warren and even Dom. New music is always a good thing.

On Planet Rock Radio

Andy’s newest tune from his new album debuts today on Planet Rock Radio. Titled, “Love or Liberation”, Gary Stringer is on vocals with Andy (assumably!) on guitar. Those hoping for Andy’s vocals on the album will not be disappointed. According to his pal and collaborator Gary Stringer, “he sings some on his own and we sing some together”. He also says that the album is “ace”!

I haven’t heard the new sing or album yet. The track title “Love or Liberation” is intriguing, and lends itself to all sorts of reflection. I have no idea what Andy may mean by the title. Thoughts of loving something too much so that you’re tightly bound, come to mind.

Later this month, Andy will perform in front of a sold-out crowd at London’s 100 Club. I wish I were going to be there. Since teleporting hasn’t worked out, we have a couple of brave souls willing to write and report for Daily Duranie. Cannot wait to hear the good news from them. In the meantime, I’ll keep on the lookout for Andy’s latest!

-R

Post-imperial funk: Notorious

In 2010, Pitchfork contributor Tom Ewing helped define the concept of imperial phases as it applies to popular music. Coined by Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, also a music critic, it’s the sort of term that obsessive music fans and writers grasp immediately. Ewing laid out certain parameters for what constitutes a band’s imperial phase while also noting that empires eventually crumble: “it holds a mix of world-conquering swagger and inevitable obsolescence.” On October 20, 1986, Duran Duran released the single “Notorious” and rose up from the rubble of an empire in tatters. 

Without discrediting their success in the UK, the entire concept of an imperial phase implies an empire that stretches beyond borders. For Duran Duran, that meant conquering the United States and the world. I would make the case that the band’s imperial phase began in March 1983 when “Hungry Like the Wolf” peaked at #3 in the U.S. and came to a close with “A View To A Kill” becoming the band’s second #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of 1985.

For those twenty-eight months, Duran Duran possessed the three traits required of a band’s imperial phase as laid out by Ewing. The band’s sense of command was impeccable. The original idea of a band that blended Chic and Sex Pistols had become a reality. The New Romantic scene was left behind and the band was creating a singular style all their own where over-driven guitars and textured synths could dance in harmony. Secondly, they had permission – the world was listening and the hysteria was deafening. Finally, the band’s imperial phase set the tone for the rest of their career. Within the sounds of Rio and Seven & the Ragged Tiger are the seeds of everything that would come after. 

It was the unpolished performance at Live Aid in July of 1985 that put all the internal issues of the band in front of the world and they were overshadowed by everyone from Howard Jones to U2 that magical day. The fragmentation into two camps: rock (The Powerstation) and art-pop (Arcadia) were both successful but the band’s imperial phase was grinding to a halt. The loss of Roger and Andy should have been death blows to the Duran Duran empire. Can you imagine The Beatles moving on if Ringo and George Harrison had left? It was time to burn out or fade away. Thanks to a little help from a friend in Nile Rodgers, Duran Duran emphatically chose to do neither.

The release of “Notorious” thirty-three years ago this month ushered in the band’s post-imperial phase. As Tennant once said, “what’s interesting is what you do after” and Duran Duran lived up to that immediately with a funky single that introduced us to a leaner, more mature band. While the single performed admirably, the album stalled outside the Top 10 in both the UK and America even though it remains one of the deepest albums they have ever released. From start to finish, there isn’t a song on there that makes you wonder if maybe they could have found something better for the album. 

The follow-up singles to “Notorious” are two of my favorite Duran Duran singles, especially “Skin Trade”. The fact that it barely nibbled the Top 40 remains one of the biggest mysteries in their career. The video, the bass line, the vocal, everything came together on “Skin Trade” but most people had already made the decision to either move on to new bands and styles as the decade wound down. It’s a shame. Things were starting to get really interesting….

John Taylor on Let There Be Talk Podcast

I’m late, I’m late…I know… My tardy excuse today is that I was listening to the “Let There Be Talk” podcast with Dean Delray as he interviewed John Taylor. Yesterday, I scanned through it, picking up on bits and pieces, but today I forced myself to sit down and listen to the entire thing (at over an hour and a half – it’s a monster).

If you haven’t listened, or feel like you need a fairly comprehensive (but elementary) education on Duran Duran’s history, this may be the podcast for you. Likewise, if you are more of an auditory learner, give it a good listen. Make sure to have beverages and other sustenance available because it is hella-long. Here’s the link: Let There Be Talk featuring John Taylor.

Hard rock, The Viper Room, and plenty of gushing

Here’s the real deal: Dean Delray is very obviously someone who comes from more of a rock background, and by “rock”, I mean hard rock. Van Halen. Black Sabbath (whom he mentioned during the first MINUTE John was on the podcast), Guns ’n’ Roses… you get the idea. He has a voice that sounds like he smoked for 40 years and hung out at the Viper Room as a regular for at least 10, but who really knows.

He is what I would call a man’s man (more on that in a bit), and although he does a fair job of gushing (and yes, I do mean gushing) over Duran Duran and John Taylor (not that they don’t deserve it)…I would venture to guess the guy has spent next to no time ever really listening to their albums, or reading about their history. He knows the highlights, which to be fair is more than I can say about MANY of the people who have interviewed the band over the years. The problem is that Dean was going to attempt to chat with John for 90 minutes. Where does one go, conversationally, when you only know a smidgeon of what they’ve done??? That said…let’s just get on with the highlights before I get into more trouble.

I appreciated that the conversation opens with a discussion of the post-punk era. That lasted for approximately 15 precious seconds, when the conversation takes a strange turn. Delray brings up Black Sabbath – which caused my eyes to nearly roll back into my head. Is there really any other band that sums up the antithesis of what Duran Duran really IS at their core, than Black Sabbath? Obviously Delray was reaching for something to connect with John because Sabbath is also from the Midlands. I get it, but I don’t like where he was trying to go.

If you had to name one band that was DD’s polar opposite…

And hey, were John and Nick ever fans of Black Sabbath? I nearly spat coffee at my screen as John commented that no, he was never really into Sabbath, but he and Nick went to a show where they were playing, and knew to get out while they could. Again I ask, is there really any other band that is quite the polar opposite of Duran Duran? Probably not. I mean, Duran Duran is light, love, joy. Black Sabbath (and yes I actually *do* know their music well, thankyouverymuch) is more darkness, anger, and some control issues mixed in for good measure.

Rest assured, the train was brought back onto the right track as they continued to discuss where Duran Duran fit into this post-punk movement. John discussed how he switched from guitar to bass, and why he aspired to the sounds from black American bands like Chic. He talked about the funky power trio being at their core and how those rhythm sounds (as well as the bass) spoke to him. John also said that time really belonged to rhythm sections, as opposed to punk which belonged to guitar.

Delray then mentioned that in the 80s, Duran Duran were everywhere. DJ’s would play them, then follow with Van Halen and Prince. The common thread was that the 80s were a dance scene – bands wanted to be able to crossover and create songs that could be danced to, like “Jump” from Van Halen.

Dance, dance, dance

Funny, I just had this same conversation with my youngest as she prepares to go to her very first school dance on Friday. She’s only in 6th grade (she’s 11), and the dance is being billed as a dance/social with a carnival theme. Rather than just music and kids dancing – nowadays parents try to add in other activities. I talked about how at my middle school dances, girls (primarily, but not always) formed circles on the dance floor while we danced to the popular music of the day. She asked me what was popular then, and with profound joy (seriously, way too much joy, I think…) I pointed at our car stereo, which was tuned to SiriusXM 1stWave. “Anything they play on this channel is what Mom would dance to, including Duran Duran.” As we talked further, we agreed that kids don’t seem to have a lot of bands to dance to. It’s EDM, or like where we live – country. It’s not the same now. They have to play carnival games instead, I guess.

“What we lacked in know-how, we made up for in cajones.” – John, on “Let There Be Talk”

Simon, before…and after

They spend some time chatting about life before Simon. (Seems like that could be a fitting title for an autobiography) John gave a rudimentary timeline of the singers who held the mic before Simon came gliding in with his suave attitude, pink leopard pants, and book of lyrics. Sometimes, I wonder if the book of lyrics wasn’t more of a driving force behind Simon’s induction into Duran Duran than anyone wants to say….hmm…(thank goodness he’s still there though, am I right??) He mentionedTin-Tin Duffy and his band the Lilac Time, then talked a little more about Andy Wickett, and explained the course of events that brought him into Duran Duran. He said that Andy was a phenomenal singer, but that it just didn’t work out for him as a front man.

Simon joined the group by listening to what became Sound of Thunder a couple of times, flipping though that now infamous book of lyrics, and settling upon words that fit the music. The uniqueness of Duran Duran maintains that basic approach to this day, but back then it was John, Nick, Roger and Andy who wrote the music. Simon wrote the lyrics. All five members were equal.

Doesn’t it suck to be a boyband?

Just the topic is enough to set me off. Dean Delray doesn’t realize the minefield he stepped into as he asks the next question.

“There was a time when of course you become the teen idols. You’re fucking everywhere…Teen BeatTiger BeatDream Magazine (is that even a thing?)….any kinds of those. But at the same time it was really helping you, it was cursing you maybe in a legitimate music world. People thinking they’re just a boy band, even back then because we have boy bands all the way to now. Uh…did you feel that way, like ‘fuck this is great but it sucks at the same time’?”

John kind of pauses, which I appreciated…and I’m going to assume that he needed to collect his thoughts before answering. I know I needed to collect my jaw as it hit the ground while I was listening. He then says “uhhhh….I don’t remember thinking it sucks.”

For me, that was all that was needed. However, for the people in the back, or for those who, like Delray, believe it was a double-edged sword…John continues to explain that he didn’t mind being the pinup and in fact points out that his fans had his poster pinned up in their room to Gela (this made me chuckle) whenever possible. Amusing. If I were his wife, I’d probably put up with that exactly one time before throttling him. (typed with a grin)

“Life is foreplay for when the lights go down.” – JT


Videos

Like most who interview Duran Duran, Dean Delray doesn’t really get the videos. He knows they’re works of art “They’re 35mm films, dude, not videos!”, but he also thinks they cost millions. “Planet Earth cost about $10,000 US”, John corrects.

John gives Dean the quick rundown on why Duran Duran relied on videos, explaining that Rio was charting in Australia, about as far away as one could get from the UK, and yet they couldn’t affordably travel there to play, so their managers suggested they make videos. He described going into the studio to make Planet Earth and meeting Russel Mulcahey, and then talking about how it wasn’t until the mid-80s that videos became a multi-million dollar business. It remained pretty clear that Delray just didn’t get it as he finished the conversation on videos by saying “That thing you did on the yacht was great!” He expanded by talking about how they looked rich, living the good life and trails off just as John says that they were really “just goofballs” on the video.

Exactly. Sure, it took place on a yacht, but the moral of that video is that you can put the goofballs in nice clothes, allow them to drink champagne, and let them sail on a yacht…but they’re still going to fall all over themselves in front of a girl and throw the guitarist overboard!

They speak briefly of Sing Blue Silver, and it is just about at this point when I begin to wonder if John knew he was going to be teaching Duran Duran 101 before doing the podcast. His reward for providing that knowledge is Delray’s reply “That thing is so great!”

Oh come on….you know you’re thinking the same thing I am. Did he really know what Sing Blue Silver was?

Power Station and an evolving Duran Duran

So here’s the thing, John gives a full narrative on how Power Station came to be. The two main highlights here are:

Had Robert Palmer agreed to tour with Power Station, John feels (in hindsight, mind you), that they would have continued on, but they wouldn’t have been as important as Duran Duran.

John has so much respect for Nile, it is truly inspiring. They talk about Nile and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chic has been nominated eleven times. ELEVEN…and even then, only Nile has been honored with an award of excellence as a guitarist. John says he (Rodgers) wears that (the knowledge) very well, that if it were him, he’d be bitter.

As many probably recognize, it was during this period that Duran Duran really evolved from a five piece to a three piece band. Dean asks about the money and the fame. Rather than succumb to discussing what had been lost along the way, John turns it around.

“A run like that, sooner or later, has to end. The momentum of what you’ve done carries you. Objectivity of your work, it has it’s place.” He continues by saying, “Treat audiences and your band mates with respect, and you can have a career.”

Delray asked about Neurotic Outsiders, a project that – out of everything – he seemed the most familiar with. He cites the Viper Room and knows the people in the band. John explains that it was a good space for him to work through the burnout he’d had (for him, it was the second time he experienced burnout with Duran Duran), and to work on staying sober and being a decent parent. This was a way for him to still have fun, by playing a residency on Monday’s at the Viper Room.

New album and closing thoughts

They closed with a bit of news on the coming album – which I shared yesterday. I also took special note of a date that John mentioned while talking about Simon’s history with the band. As they chatted about the band’s beginnings, John commented that on July 1, 2020 – it will be the 40th anniversary for the current lineup. I know this has always been a sticking point for fans, many of whom claim that the band has somehow “missed” their own anniversary in 2018.

I’m the last person to tell Duran Duran what date should be celebrated, or how they should do so. My job is to applaud it. In the case of the date though, it would appear that they want to celebrate the time when Simon was in fact part of the band. This makes sense. After all, the Duran Duran we all tend to think of actually involves Simon! So, stop with the “they forgot to celebrate their anniversary” nonsense. They didn’t. Sure, they celebrated the inception of the band back when they did the 78-03 tour. That’s called “marketing”. It’s a thing, and it isn’t an affront to anyone. It also isn’t “confusing”….it was about selling tickets and hyping up their reunion as the original five. They came up with a slick way to make it all seem a lot less contrived than saying “Hey, we need to hit the road to see if anyone will even buy tickets to come see us.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

This band isn’t one for looking back – listen to any interview over the years, and they’ll tell you that themselves. We fans have made far more out of this 40th anniversary than anyone else likely intended, including the band and management. The sights are set incredibly high, and the expectations are out of this world. No matter what the band does at this point, it may not be enough to pacify. This is unfortunate. Listen to the podcast. The one thing John says that is key for Duranies in resetting their expectations, is that the band talked a lot about what to do (if anything) about the 40th anniversary. The one thing they agreed upon, was that the best way to celebrate their career next year was with new music.

Sounds great to me, John!

Wow, after that post, I need a break! Good thing today is my “Friday” for blogging! Happy Weekend, everyone!

-R

Back to the Sugar Shack: Liberty Turns 29

Another Duraniversary popped up this week on the socials. Has it really been twenty-nine years since Liberty arrived, somewhat uncomfortably, in our lives? Often dismissed as the band’s worst album, it was a difficult album for me to grasp upon its release. The 80s were over, that much was clear and where the new decade was headed remained unclear. Caught between decades, Duran Duran’s Liberty remains an important piece of the band’s history, and might even be a more consistent listen than the commercial juggernaut that followed it.

As far as album openers go, Duran Duran has done far worse than “Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)”, and it made for an effervescent first single. The 12” single was a wonderful introduction to the band’s new direction. The artwork and the video clicked for me, and I was excited about the album. Ultimately, it never wormed its way into my bloodstream like previous albums had. Some of this was the new decade and exciting new bands arriving on the scene. However, Duran Duran also bears some responsibility for putting forth an album where insecurity and over-confidence lock horns.

Overconfidence or insecurity?

The over-confidence comes through in the guitars of Warren Cuccurullo and the lyrics of Simon LeBon. Playing against the melody, as if to prove a point, Cuccurullo’s work disrupts the otherwise perfectly pleasant “Liberty” while LeBon’s socially charged lyrics on “Hothead” are all a bit silly coming from a band that capitalized on the decade of excess better than most. While the band revisits that sentiment a bit on “Too Much Information”, the song rocks so hard that I give them the benefit of the doubt. A cola company is sponsoring the war? Well, they also sponsored your biggest tour. We are winking at each other, right? 

The insecurity comes through whenever LeBon tries to sing about sex. Unless your Prince, rhyming jism and catechism sounds creepy and desperate. “Take Me To Your Water” doesn’t exactly conjure pastoral images of an English countryside and “Read My Lips” unfolds like a drunken come-on by a once cool geezer in a once trendy club. Listening almost three decades later, I hear a writer trying to recapture his mojo by becoming edgier. While it worked in 1990 for Madonna with “Justify My Love”, LeBon’s poetry was never meant to be so direct and explicit.

Liberty and The Wedding Album, side-by-side

It isn’t hard to pick “Serious” and “My Antartica” out of this album as the crown jewels of Liberty. I’d trade “Ordinary World” for “My Antartica” in a set list each and every show. It is more “Duran” than “Ordinary World” even if it didn’t re-ignite their commercial fortunes. The sophisticated “Serious” ranks up there with some of the best music on Notorious and still sounds like a hit single to me. Having hung my heart on the importance of Andy Taylor’s guitar, the rock-n-roll stomp of “First Impression” remains an absolute high point even if the song is, ahem, a bit like this Lords Of the New Church song (https://open.spotify.com/track/3Em6rJJUdozR2qj6jnAZ5u). If nothing else, it finally gave Sterling Campbell’s youthful energy room to move.

But, really, is Liberty a more consistent listen than the wedding album as I hypothesized earlier? Side by side, I find about six songs on each that I am excited to hear more than a few times a year. The production of Liberty is, even by the band’s own admission, dreadful. The rumor of demos being out there on a bootleg sounds tantalizing (someone hook me up!). Much like the fabled Reportage, a different production might have yielded a far different result for the album and the Duran Duran story could be totally different. However, the wedding album has some filler on it and the cover of “Femme Fatale” should have been enough to sink the whole idea of a covers album. 

For your reconsideration

Without Liberty, the band would not have been forced to reconsider everything. Commercial flops have a way of doing that. Returning with a hit single in “Ordinary World”, the confidence of a band rejuvenated was enough to sell us on an album that wasn’t a huge artistic leap from Liberty. If anything, revisiting Liberty on its 29th anniversary makes me appreciate how important it was in shaking up the band. We learned that Campbell was not a good fit, that LeBon’s lyrics were best when shrouded in metaphors, and that the band could write sophisticated pop songs when they didn’t push too hard to fit into the foreign landscape of a new decade. For their so-called worst album, that is a pretty fabulous outcome! 

He’s back!!

As I type, I’m fairly certain that most everyone who reads this will already have heard that a Mr. Andy Taylor has found his way back to social media via Instagram.

That’s right, Andy is back, sharing pictures and memories! If you haven’t found him yet, he’s AndyTaylorOfficial on Instagram. Now is a great time to find and follow him! He’s planning to drop a new album soon under the BMG label, and apparently hopes to do shows in 2020. Great news!

One thing I love about Andy, is that he’s unafraid to engage with fans. It is nothing to see Andy respond directly to a comment on one of his photos. While I think he’s only had to see the question, “What can we do to get you back with DD, Andy – they desperately need you?!” about 50,000 times during the short period he’s been on Instagram, I can appreciate how sick he must be of having to answer. If you’re really an Andy fan – just be thankful he’s back in the game, even if not directly with Duran Duran. He’s obviously not talking about Duran Duran because he’s doing his own thing, and happy about being around to do it. Sure, you can miss him in the band. I miss him, for that matter!

So what has Andy been up to since we last saw him? He has a six-year old grandson that Andy says is “the apple of my eye”, and even prior to his surprise appearance at Glastonbury with Reef, he has been doing some “light training and many sweaty rehearsals – ‘if you want to Rock n Roll’ & play even better than before the drugs.’ Good on you, Andy.

I’m happy to see Andy is back and seemingly more committed than ever. “…you got to give a fcck about something these days.” The last time I “saw” Andy (online, of course) he had his own AndyTaylor.TV website.

Here’s the thing about Andy. He gave me a chance and let me write for his website. I’ll never forget that. He was just a normal guy, and he gave me the opportunity to use his platform to get my voice out there. Say what you might about Andy, but he never once seemed afraid to consider my opinion, or suggested that I must be insane because I’m a fan. It is more than I can say for a lot of people in lesser “public” forums. In fact, he treated me with nothing but kindness and decency, all the while being the “Andy Taylor” I expected. Yes, he is a former member of my favorite band. He’s also a great guy with a big heart. He’s 100% real with all the good, bad and ugly as anybody else. I admired that then, and I still do now.

I’m looking forward to hearing what Andy has been working on, and cheering him on however possible. I’m still a huge fan! It is great news to see he’s back out there rocking away, and we’ll be supporting him the whole way.

-R