Tag Archives: Astronaut

Duranie Homework: Rank RED CARPET MASSACRE!

Last week, I asked people to rank Astronaut from their least favorite song to their most favorite song.  I now have the results from last week!  Based on the participants’ responses, here is how the fan community ranked the songs off the first album from LEAST favorite to MOST favorite:

  1. Bedroom Toys
  2. Taste the Summer
  3. One of Those Days
  4. Want You More
  5. Still Breathing
  6. Astronaut
  7. Point of No Return
  8. Finest Hour
  9. Chains
  10. Nice
  11. (Reach Up for the) Sunrise
  12. What Happens Tomorrow

Anything surprise you?  I was actually a little surprised that What Happens Tomorrow ranked slightly higher than Sunrise.  It also seemed to me that people either voted for the “ballads” more or for the more rock like songs.  I was NOT surprised to see Bedroom Toys at the bottom.  Now, I can’t just let people sit back and enjoy the results.  Oh no, we need to move on!  Here is your new homework assignment!!

Directions:  You will rank the songs off RED CARPET MASSACRE from LEAST favorite to MOST favorite.  Please note:  In order to make your determination, you may need to re-listen to the album one or more times.

The songs that need to be included in your list are:

  • The Valley
  • Red Carpet Massacre
  • Nite-Runner
  • Falling Down
  • Box Full O’Honey
  • Skin Divers
  • Tempted
  • Tricked Out
  • Zoom In
  • She’s Too Much
  • Dirty Great Monster
  • Last Man Standing

How to turn in your homework:  Once you have completed your ranking and are ready to turn in your homework, you will need to head over to the Daily Duranie message board.  Specifically, you will post your homework in this thread here: Rank RED CARPET MASSACRE!  Please note:  You may have to register for the boards in order to complete your assignment, if you are not already a member.  Of course, even after you post your assignment, you may want to go back to the thread in order to see others’ homework!  You can compare your homework to others as cheating does not exist for this assignment!

Your assignment is DUE by SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21ST.

What is your assignment worth?  It is worth being a part of the larger fan community and having YOUR opinion count!  Besides, this is all just for FUN!!!  Another recommendation is not to think TOO MUCH!  Just go with your gut on how you rank the songs!

I will compile all of the results to determine how fans rank the songs off of Red Carpet Massacre.  From there, we will move on to the other albums.  Have fun!

-A

Something more than dreams

On a day where precious little seems to be happening in the land of Duran, I’m lucky to have stumbled upon a news item worthy of discussion.

There is an article being circulated by a few news pages on Facebook  about a man who wrote his daughter an excuse for being late to school. Here’s the note:

excuse for school

Now, I realize that in the note he’s comparing Bruce Springsteen to God. I also recognize that for many readers, this is not a realistic, or even possible comparison, regardless of the reason. I’ll leave you all to debate that particular comparison or topic amongst yourselves, on your own forms of social media.

Instead, it had me remembering the time I took my own daughter out of school to go meet Duran Duran in Hollywood. At the time, Heather was eight, and she was in third grade. I should also mention this was at the signing for Astronaut, which came out in 2004. I’ve written about meeting the band, but I don’t know how much I actually said about just being with Heather for the experience. (I may have written some along the way, so I apologize if you’re reading and thinking, “Get over it, Rhonda. Who cares?!?” For the rest of you, this is new!) Not only was it Heather’s first time meeting Duran Duran, but it was mine too…and it was the only time either of us met them as a full group.

There are moments that happen in life when only later while reflecting do you begin to recognize their significance. That night is one of those times for me. During this particular period in 2004, Heather was getting heavily involved in dance. It was a huge commitment for everyone because I could never go anywhere without considering who would get her to the studio and back home at night. In addition to the time commitment, I felt like I was really losing my daughter in a lot of ways. Rather than spending quality time with me, she was being taught by circumstance to consider the studio her home, dance teachers and classmates her family. I missed her, but I recognized that dance was her passion, even at the tender age of eight. In the meantime, I’d planned a Duran Duran fan convention in New Orleans, met new friends, got involved online, and basically branched out on my own, trying to find and get reacquainted with the person I was prior to being “mommy”.

Along came the announcement of the signing. I wavered quite a bit before making the decision to go. Hollywood is a trek from my house (I almost never drive up there because I hate the traffic), it was during the middle of the week – twice – once to buy the album and get the wristband, another trip to actually meet the band for the signing, and I knew that trying to make the schedule work in between all of the other responsibilities I had was going to be impossible.

As always, I hesitantly tested the waters with my husband. Back then, I was afraid to tell him about events with the band because I knew he didn’t get it, and I knew it would just cause problems. I hate to say it, but I was a pretty wimpy wife back then. I figured I’d mention it at dinner, get the proverbial eye-roll and look of disgust, and then let it go. So I remember very uncertainly commenting about it – just an offhanded, “So, Duran Duran is doing an album signing in Hollywood, can you believe that?” sort of thing. Back then we had a small round table we ate at in my kitchen, and I remember Heather getting so excited. She was overjoyed that mommy would finally get to meet Duran Duran. In her head, there wasn’t even a question whether I’d go, or whether I’d really get to meet them. I was really kind of surprised that she understood the significance at her age, but for whatever reason, she did. She really seemed to understand that for me, this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, and that I’d waited since I was ten. That kind of made Walt take notice when otherwise, I don’t think he would have spent two seconds even listening. Fandom of any kind isn’t his thing, so I didn’t have any grand designs about having any sort of understanding from him about meeting Duran Duran. Going to meet a band probably seemed like a gigantic waste of time to him. Heather spoke so animatedly about it, saying that she wanted to go with me and how much fun it would be. Walt looked at me and said, “Why don’t you go then?” I am pretty sure my jaw hit the table.

Of course, I knew plenty of reasons why I shouldn’t. Dance classes. School for Heather. Driving up and back. What would I do with “the baby”? (“the baby” at that time was my son…who is now 16, about 5’10” and towers over me….and I don’t even remember now what I did with him that afternoon!!) After a little thinking, and pinching myself that I might actually get to meet Duran Duran, it was decided that Heather would only need miss one morning of school and…miss dance class to go to the signing. (Just to drive this point home: Heather never missed dance class. Not while sick, not while injured, not when friends had birthday parties, or for family functions. Never.)

So we went. It was one of the best experiences ever, and not just because I got to speak to Roger Taylor and tell him that he was my favorite band member and that I was so glad he came back. (Yes, I really did say those words. At least I didn’t tell him that I spent a good part of my days back when I was 12 waiting for him to show up on my doorstep realizing that I was the girl for him. I did have some good sense.) As exciting as it was to be so close to the band that I could tell Simon had seen the inside of a tanning booth at some point and that yes, Nick’s skin really was absolutely flawless…the best part was being there with Heather, and watching her see MY reaction.

How many times do we really get that chance to share something from our own childhood with our children? I don’t mean just taking them to Disneyland or whatever amusement park you spent time as – I mean a real passion. Something that truly defined you, or made you who you really are underneath all of that “Mom” stuff? For me, Duran Duran is very much that “thing”. (I laugh ruefully here, because little did I know in 2004 just how much Duran Duran was about to play part in my life. Little did I know….) I kept sneaking glances at Heather as she looked around at all of the people we were waiting in line with, and watching her reactions as we’d talk about the band. There was no filtering my love (or anyone else’s) or exuberance for the band. She was experiencing my fandom exactly the way I would have shown it even if she hadn’t been there. She saw the good, the bad, and maybe even a bit of the ugly.  But the best part for me was that it was something we experienced together.

I shared a part of my deepest, and sometimes darkest, inner me with my daughter. And as a result, Heather has never once…not even a little…ever made fun of this blog or what it has become. Let’s face it, the blog is a pretty easy target. Upon first glance, one might think it’s a cute little love note, or marginalize it to just being a serious symptom of being a fanatic. Two grown women, writing a blog about a band?!? The jokes almost write themselves. I know this, and Amanda knows this. My family (mostly) thinks Daily Duranie is a waste of time, no matter what I share with them about our traffic or the sheer amount of people who thank us or recognize Amanda and I when we’re together at a Duran show. I’ve learned to keep the blog to myself and not share with the family, or if I do share – I just make light of it, because it’s easier than hoping for respect I’ll never get. Not Heather. For whatever reason, and I tend to think it’s because I shared a little bit of what makes me “tick” with her that night, she’s never once made fun. She encourages me, tells me to follow my heart, and does exactly for me as I do for her when it comes to her dreams.

I don’t remember what I wrote on the note I gave to the school for her excuse. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say anything about standing in line for hours to get a wristband to see Duran Duran, though. I wish I had, because I think she learned as much about me that night as I did about her.

-R

Duranie Homework: Rank ASTRONAUT!

Last week, I asked people to rank Pop Trash from their least favorite song to their most favorite song.  I now have the results from last week!  Based on the participants’ responses, here is how the fan community ranked the songs off the first album from LEAST favorite to MOST favorite:

  1. Fragment
  2. Kiss Goodbye
  3. Lava Lamp
  4. Starting to Remember
  5. Hallucinating Elvis
  6. The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever
  7. Lady Xanax
  8. Someone Else Not Me
  9. Mars Meets Venus
  10. Last Day On Earth
  11. Playing With Uranium
  12. Pop Trash Movie

Anything surprise you?  This album had some strange results.  There was little agreement beyond not liking the two very short songs of Fragment and Kiss Goodbye.  Other than that, there were songs that some people really liked and others did not at all.  Now, I can’t just let people sit back and enjoy the results.  Oh no, we need to move on!  Here is your new homework assignment!!

Directions:  You will rank the songs off ASTRONAUT from LEAST favorite to MOST favorite.  Please note:  In order to make your determination, you may need to re-listen to the album one or more times.

The songs that need to be included in your list are:

  • (Reach Up for the) Sunrise
  • Want You More
  • What Happens Tomorrow
  • Astronaut
  • Bedroom Toys
  • Nice
  • Taste the Summer
  • Finest Hour
  • Chains
  • One of Those Days
  • Point of No Return
  • Still Breathing

How to turn in your homework:  Once you have completed your ranking and are ready to turn in your homework, you will need to head over to the Daily Duranie message board.  Specifically, you will post your homework in this thread here: Rank ASTRONAUT!.  Please note:  You may have to register for the boards in order to complete your assignment, if you are not already a member.  Of course, even after you post your assignment, you may want to go back to the thread in order to see others’ homework!  You can compare your homework to others as cheating does not exist for this assignment!

Your assignment is DUE by SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14TH.

What is your assignment worth?  It is worth being a part of the larger fan community and having YOUR opinion count!  Besides, this is all just for FUN!!!  Another recommendation is not to think TOO MUCH!  Just go with your gut on how you rank the songs!

I will compile all of the results to determine how fans rank the songs off of Astronaut.  From there, we will move on to the other albums.  Have fun!

-A

How Beautiful the Closing Down

Listening to Paper Gods, I am struck by how strongly the album ends. Has any Duran Duran album closed with a stronger trio of songs than Butterfly Girl, Only in Dreams, and The Universe Alone? Very few, when I actually sat down and thought about it. Why does it matter? Duran Duran album sequencing provides insight into how the band views their own material. Sure, Simon will say he can no more compare the songs to his children and avoid picking favorites, but the running order does not lie. A band is not going to bury their favorite song in the middle of an album.

Let’s look at Duran Duran album sequencing through the back catalog and see where Paper Gods stacks up. As usual, these rankings reflect my opinion and not those of Daily Duranie, Simon Willescroft, Rob Sheffield, Georgie Davies, or the man who stole a leopard (is he still in prison? Maybe he got out for good behavior?)

Tier One: My favorites

Duran Duran: Sound of Thunder/Friends of Mine/Tel Aviv

The gold standard.  Admittedly, these songs don’t just end the album, they represent nearly half of it since there were only 9 tracks to begin with. But I’m going to stick with my 3 song criteria to be consistent. Tel Aviv is my favorite “instrumental” in the band’s catalogue, even though it does have vocals. Friends of Mine and Sound of Thunder are classic Duran songs that have stood the test of time.

Paper Gods: Butterfly Girl/Only in Dreams/The Universe Alone

Yes, after going through the entire catalogue, I think we have the 2nd best ending to a Duran album. Butterfly Girl could be a single; it’s fast-paced, funky fun. If Notorious and Runway Runaway had a child, it would be Butterfly Girl. Then, we get the two funk ballads to close things out. (I don’t know what else to call them). I am a fan of the power ballads like What are the Chances, but I can only handle so many of those. I think Duran struck the right balance with Only in Dreams and The Universe Alone, building the synths and orchestral beginnings around the funky core of each song. It’s a really powerful way to end the album.

Medazzaland: Midnight Sun/So Long Suicide/Undergoing Treatment

Blasphemy, to rank this album’s ending so high! What can I say? I love all three songs. Undergoing Treatment has one of the more clever Duran lyrics and its funky acoustic vibe is a nice contrast to the mournful Midnight Sun (yes, the demo version is better, but the album cut is still great) and the driving rock ballad So Long Suicide.

AYNIN: Too Bad You’re So Beautiful/Runway Runaway/Before the Rain

Runway Runaway is still my favorite song off of AYNIN, five years later. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and subversive at the same time; an upbeat song evoking images of child leaving home, moving on to adulthood. And if Runway Runaway is #1 for me off AYNIN, than Too Bad You’re So Beautiful is a close second. Another bitingly clever lyric about dating while musically harkening back to Hold Back the Rain. Speaking of rain…Before the Rain really grew on me after hearing it live. All in all, an extremely strong ending sequence. (Note: I am not counting instrumentals in this analysis, thus the exclusion of “Return to Now,” which, truth be told, I am largely indifferent to.)

Tier Two: Very Strong

Rio: Last Chance on the Stairway/Save a Prayer/The Chauffeur

I am not a fan of The Chauffeur, but I recognize it’s a great and classic Duran song, and a fitting ending to Rio. Last Chance was my favorite song off the album growing up, and obviously Save a Prayer is classic. This would be top-tier (and probably is for most of you reading) but for my feelings about The Chauffeur.

Duran Duran (The Wedding Album): Shelter/To Whom it May Concern/Sin of the City

This is a strong way to end an album. I’ve always felt Shelter could have been a single, and I enjoy the guitar driven songs like Sin of the City and To Whom It May Concern. But…I’ve never particularly liked the lyrics to To Whom It May Concern (I get it, it’s about a lawyer they fired). I’ve always felt like that music was wasted with those lyrics…and similarly, I wish Sin of the City was shorter and all of the extraneous non-musical parts were stripped out. Again, I realize that it’s Duran Duran, they’re an art band, but sometimes those extra sounds work (e.g. fireworks in New Moon) and sometimes they don’t.

SATRT: Shadows on Your Side/Tiger Tiger/Seventh Stranger

The weak link here, for me, is Tiger Tiger. Otherwise, I might rank this as highly as the debut album’s ending sequence. The Seventh Stranger is one of my all time favorite Duran ballads (and would probably rank as my favorite album-closing song), and Shadows on Your Side might be my favorite song off the entire album. Tiger Tiger is fine, but I think its appeal for me is more one of sentiment (it takes me back to 1983! It’s the opening to As the Lights Go Down!) than of actual musical quality, as compared to the rest of the catalogue. That being said, I still put the ending sequence to SATRT in the upper half of Duran albums.

Best of the rest

Big Thing: Land/Flute Interlude/Edge of America/Lake Shore Driving

I don’t dislike any of these songs, but if I’m comparing them to the rest of the catalogue, they don’t hold up. I do think the ending works in context of the Big Thing album. Lake Shore Driving is as explosive an ending to a Duran album there is, as if all of the pent-up energy from the acoustic/mellow b-side of the album finally finds its release. Again, nothing bad here, but I’m not going to rank these songs, as a group, ahead of many of the other aforementioned album closing trios.

Liberty: Can You Deal With It/Venice Drowning/Downtown

These three songs are emblematic of the entire album. They are not necessarily bad (especially when you listen to John Taylor’s version of Can You Deal With It), but something went horribly wrong in production. They would probably sound good live. Venice Drowning’s lyrics are especially tough (I think it was the Rolling Stone review that called out this song and I was hard-pressed to disagree).

Pop Trash: Lady Xanax/The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever/Kiss Goodbye/Last Day on Earth

The problem here is that we have the closest Duran has ever come to a country song wedged between an excellent ballad and one of the best, most guitar-driven and edgiest songs the band has ever written. I’m just not a fan of The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever, the minute-long guitar solo at the end notwithstanding. I also think Kiss Goodbye/Last Day on Earth would have worked better as the album’s opening track, not the closer, with Lady Xanax closing out the proceedings.

RCM: She’s Too Much/Dirty Great Monster/Last Man Standing

The highlight here is She’s Too Much, one of the more underappreciated cuts off RCM. I don’t necessarily dislike the other two songs, but I don’t think they are especially memorable, either. I did think Last Man Standing was cool to see live, as each member left the stage as the song wound down to just the drums (similar to what U2 did when they would close a set with “40.”) If Cry Baby Cry were an actual album track and not an extra, then RCM would rank higher.

Astronaut: One of Those Days/Point of No Return/Still Breathing 

This will get me some hate mail, I’m sure. Let me be positive: I love One of Those Days, it’s one of my favorites on Astronaut. And if I’m in the right mood, I do enjoy Still Breathing, even though I’ve always interpreted it as Simon’s credo about the 90’s lineup. Which is difficult for me because I love that era of Duran, even though it had to end. Overall, Duran has set the bar very high with their ballads, and I don’t think the two that end Astronaut hold up well. Just an opinion…now, had some of the discarded tracks been used, we’d have a different story (e.g. “TV vs. Radio” has closing track written all over it and would have been an amazing way to end Astronaut).

Notorious: Meet El Presidente/Winter Marches On/Proposition 

Meet El Presidente is my least favorite song on the album, so for as much as I love Proposition, that’s hard to overcome. I am lukewarm on Winter Marches On, but it at least feels like an album-ending song.

Thank You: Thank You/Drive By/I Wanna Take You Higher Again 

I don’t even like including Thank You in these types of rankings, since they aren’t Duran Duran songs. Except for Drive By. See my comments above about The Chauffeur.

So what do you think of my rankings? Are they paper-thin? What did I get right? And more importantly, where did I go wrong?  (I know, I know: I must have a case of Chauffeurophobia…!)

-CK

Duran Duran History: Richard & Judy

Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back ten years to 2005 when the band was doing promotion for Astronaut.  On this date, Simon and Nick were interviewed on Richard & Judy (Channel 4) in the UK. From what I know, Richard and Judy are a married couple who had a number of different TV shows over the years in the UK.  In 2005, their show was in the format of a daily chat show that aired in the early evening.

This interview apparently has been included on the bootleg entitled “Astronaut Promotion 3”.

Has anyone seen this?  If so, please share some details!

-A

 

Duran Duran Albums A-Z

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.

Rio (1982)

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.

Notorious (1986)

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.

Astronaut (2004)

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.

Medazzaland (1997)

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.

Liberty (1990)

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 Guest Blogger thumbnailJason 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.

Duran Duran Mix Tape Vol 1 Side B

Back for the Duran Duran mix tape B-Side today,  just in time for your New Year’s extravaganzas tonight!

11. One of Those Days

This is the other sneaky good song on the “B” side of Astronaut. According to the liner notes, they wrote it last (only a few months before the album’s release).  I wonder if this song gives us a glimpse into the sound of Reportage. Much of Astronaut feels forced to me, like the band felt pressured to make Duran-sounding dance music for the 2000s. Where it works, it works well (Sunrise, Nice) but in other cases…it just doesn’t (for me). Yet “One of Those Days” has more of an indie rock 90s feel to it…not sure if Simon had the lyric first (probably not), or Andy first came up with the riff, but whatever they did, it worked. It feels out of place on the album but too good to exclude, which is why I’m guessing they buried it on the second side.   On a side note, the band was supposed to play this during the rehearsals for “Red Carpet Massacre” (in fact it’s even listed on the set list for those shows if you look it up), but alas, it actually got cut. I was there…those shows were played five minutes from my house…my one chance to hear this song live and they cut it.

12. Midnight Sun

I wanted to list two tracks on this Duran Duran mix tape that were both 10th on their respective albums…what’s wrong with that? Okay, not true, in actuality…wait for it…I LOVE THIS SONG. Like most of Medazzaland. Again. I’ll stop.

13. Land

This is probably the only mistake I made on this Duran Duran mix tape. I decided to get back to moody songs. Here’s the deal: on Big Thing, Land is a grand, sweeping ballad that is the perfect centerpiece to the second side. But it’s a clunker on any playlist like this. For the last 25 years I have tried to shoehorn it in and to no avail. Will delete it after I finish writing this.

14. Big Bang Generation

I think I’m done with moody songs. Aside from loving the song musically, lyrically it gets me too (more so as I get older). “Now all our heroes gone…” certainly resonates.

15. I Don’t Want Your Love (Shep Pettibone 7” Mix)

The late 80s hit single that NOBODY outside of Duran fandom remembers, until you play it for them. It was all over MTV and the radio in the fall/winter of 1988 but people have collective amnesia about it. Baffling.

16. Falling Down

I know, I know—the only thing worse than creating a playlist with most of Medazzaland included is overloading on RCM tracks. Buckle up, people, because I’m not done. And as tough as that album and its impact on the fandom was, this is a phenomenal song that deserved a better fate.

17. The Valley (2009 Songbook Live version)

An amazing live Duran song; especially the guitar. If you haven’t seen Songbook, go to YouTube and watch it…or buy the DVD, it isn’t hard to find. John’s description of this song and Simon’s lyric is fascinating. The short version is that Simon hated this song and everyone else (including Yasmin) thought it was the best song on the album. The album mix criminally turns down Dom’s guitars (a shot at Andy and the “new sound” the band was going for, which is unfortunate), thus you really need to get this live version.

18. Sunrise ( VH1 Live Special)

The hybrid Nevins remix/album version that they play. I’m glad that something the original lineup did in the early 2000s will at least remain a staple in the set list and resonates with the fans. This song has come light years from the early 2003 version (which Rhonda likes much more than me. It’s all good. We are a “big tent” fandom.) For all of the criticism Duran gets for being “over produced” (and in many cases it’s true), here is an example where production not only salvaged a song but turned it into something special. (Ironically, the complete opposite is true on “What Happens Tomorrow,” with the early 2003 live version being far superior to what ended up on Astronaut.).

19. Nice (2005 Hammersmith Palais)

Another one I wish would get played in the set going forward, although it probably won’t. One of the best songs from Astronaut. My wife and five-year old son heard it at the store recently, so at least it’s getting some satellite radio airplay.

20. Do You Believe in Shame? (Live 2009 Songbook)

I warned you that this Duran Duran mix tape would veer into something different…I wanted some live cuts…but decided to at least go back to the “slow and moody” theme. I may have screwed up by including “Land” but you can’t go wrong with DYBIS.

20. Leave a Light On (Unstaged)

Another favorite from AYNIN. When I first heard this song, I thought it was just a cheap “Save a Prayer” rip-off that Ronson made them do. But the lyrics and music grew on me and the song took on a much more personal meaning. I actually couldn’t listen to it without tearing up. To me, “Leave a Light On” is about hope and written from the perspective of someone who has made it back to the “Ordinary World” that he had to so desperately find. The promise of the “half-dreamed shade of yesterday/in bloom tomorrow” spoken of in “So Long Suicide” is delivered. This person who was grieving is healed now; the void in his life, and heart, is filled: “You ease the lost cause out of me/With your sweet hand to bring me home/I’m not alone.” Am I massively projecting? Yes. But as Simon says in the “Songbook” interview, these songs, once released, belong to us.

And on that note, you have…a December Duran Duran mix tape!

What say you? Should I have put more Medazzaland songs on? Should I be less moody during the holiday season?   And more importantly—what is on YOUR current Duran Duran mix tape?

Duran Duran Mix Tape Vol 1 Side A

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.

4. Chains

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!

-C.K.

Today in Duran History – Atlantic City

On today’s date in 2006, Duran Duran played at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  This was included in a group of dates that the band played in between Astronaut and the release of their next album, Red Carpet Massacre, and it was the first set of dates they played after announcing that Andy Taylor had permanently departed from the band.

-R