Tag Archives: Astronaut

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

 

 

 

Makes my hair stand up on end

Happy Monday, everyone. I’ve been spending my morning trying to catch myself up with the world. I left with my daughter Heather very early Thursday morning to fly to Ohio for her very first college dance audition. The next two days were filled with seminars, meetings, classes, auditions, interviews, tours and talking to parents. There were several moments over the weekend when I would look over at Heather and just marvel at where we are in life. Parents, like myself, just don’t realize how quickly it all goes – one day you’re registering for elementary school and the next you’re talking to college administrators about dormitories. It is crazy! Time really does fly. Ten years ago, I don’t think I really believed this moment would arrive. I was busy thinking about album signings and getting to see the band play. College felt incredibly far off and not something I really needed to think about.

At some point over the weekend, likely Saturday as I waited at the airport, I saw that Roger had posted his thoughts about the anniversary of Astronaut. Ten years. I took pause when I read the words because these ten years went by in the blink of an eye. Ten years ago, I had my then seven-year old waiting with me to meet the band. She and I shared a very special moment because she saw a side of me  that until then, I kept very hidden. She saw me live out a dream – meeting the band at the LA Virgin Megastore signing. My kids knew I liked Duran Duran, but until then, I hadn’t really participated much in the whole fan community thing. It was that year that I went to the convention in New Orleans, and it was the following March that I traveled to see my first show. However, it was the two nights I spent waiting in line with Heather, first to buy the album and then later that week coming back to have our album and CD signed, that really bonded Heather and I in a way I couldn’t have expected. She started to understand that her mom was much, much more than just the lady who comforts, cleans, cooks and drives. I wasn’t JUST a mom, I was a person, with my own likes, dislikes, friends, wishes and dreams. Heather marveled at how much going to that signing meant to me (It mattered so much that I signed her out of school to go with me – and if you know me, you know that kind of thing NEVER happens.), and I think she was thrilled I shared that with her. She could see my excitement during those evenings, and although she still remembers Simon quizzing her about her favorite books and having Andy excitedly jump out of his chair to shake her hand (cutest thing ever), it is the time that we spent together that she remembers most.

This past weekend, she and I shared another pretty monumental moment. I saw my daughter not as this incredibly disorganized, chronically LATE but beautifully talented child, but as a young woman, getting ready to make her own way in this world. She’s standing at her own fork in the road here, trying to figure out which way to go. The comforts of home beckon her to stay – which would be the easiest, but not necessarily the smartest; the unknown intimidating her even though I think down deep she realizes she still has plenty of growing to do. Just as Astronaut changed my life in many, many ways…college will change Heather’s. Standing here as “The Mommy” is much more difficult and heart-tugging than I thought. I found myself fighting back tears, both happy and sad, during the few moments of solitude I savored over the weekend.

Life changing moments happen without warning. I suspect that I will look back on #DD14 (when in the heck are they EVER going to name it?!?!!) and equate it to another pivotal moment –  high school graduation and college for my first born.

-R

 

 

Today in Duran History – Astronaut

On this date in 2004, Duran Duran’s Astronaut was released in the US.  This album, of course, was the only album released from the Fab Five’s reunion.  I, for one, won’t ever forget that day.  I went to work, as normal, but had a staff meeting, which meant that I had a longer lunch than normal.  I had the perfect amount of time to stop at Best Buy to get my hands on this prized possession.  Then, I won’t lie.  At lunch, I actually had the CD insert standing up on the table at the restaurant.  I showed my fandom with pride.  I was too excited to hide it!!!  That time was filled with such joy–happiness that they were back together, happiness that they were making new music together, happiness about being involved in the fandom once again.  At the time, I definitely would have said that it was the best Duran album ever.  The future seemed bright and I couldn’t imagine that the reunion would ever come to an end!  Good times, indeed!  What do you remember from that day?  From that time period?

In order to celebrate, let’s Reach up for the Sunrise!

-A

Today in Duran History – Birmingham CD Signing

On this date in 2004, Duran Duran held a CD signing party at the HMV in Birmingham.  What were they signing?  They were signing copies of Sunrise (thanks for the correction, UK friends), of course!  They held a few of these for this album and did, at least, one for Red Carpet Massacre in 2008.  I am not sure why they don’t do more.  They are able to sell more albums that way, as attendees typically need to buy a copy in order to attend, in order to have something to get signed.  Then, it is a quick and controlled way for many fans to be able to have a moment or two of face-to-face time with their favorite band.  Positive interactions with the band, or any celebrity of choice, tend to reinforce fandom!!

Was anyone at this particular signing?  Anyone want to share their story?  I know that there are scenes of this signing on the Astronaut Dual Disc but it isn’t the same as hearing from fans who were there!  So, if you were there, start talking!

-A

September Katy Kafé with Roger Taylor!

Ok, so initially I had this titled as October’s Katy Kafé with Roger Taylor. Obviously I’m trying to make this year fly by even faster than it already is…probably because I want to be able to laugh even harder at Roger Taylor for his year end Kafe….but more on that later.

Truth be told, these are probably my most favorite blogs to write at the moment. I LOVE the Katy Kafé’s. I love the camaraderie that Katy seems to have with the band, the fact that she’s able to joke with them, and basically she asks the questions that are swirling around in my head as she’s interviewing whomever she has in the Kafé. Once again, however, I want to give the same disclaimer as always: this isn’t a word-for-word translation. I listen to the Kafé straight through, take copious notes, and then pick out the highlights to share. If you would like to hear the whole thing, I strongly recommend that you join DDM. Let’s be honest, people – tour time is coming. Even *I* rejoined, and that was something I swore I’d never do.  So there’s my endorsement for spending $35.00. Do as you will.

Let’s get to the Kafé then. They open the conversation speaking about New York City. Roger loves New York, as does the entire band. He spoke of how the skyline and the city reminds him of a theater or movie set, because his entire life in England was spent watching videos set in NYC. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, as they spend a great deal of their time and promotion on the east coast.

Fashion Rocks: In case you haven’t been paying attention, Fashion Rocks is TONIGHT. If you’re in the states, you can watch it on your local CBS station (9-11pm EDT/PDT). I’m admittedly fuzzy on the information for international viewers, but I heard that you can see a live stream somewhere online. I checked and found a link for a backstage live stream, but I didn’t see anything for the actual show.  If I get a link, I’ll post it. The show itself features Usher, KISS, Jennifer Lopez….and a few others I don’t really care about…and then the REAL stars of the show (to us), Duran Duran. Keep in mind, their set is only six minutes (as Simon mentioned in a previous Kafé)…but it will be the best damn six minutes of this entire day. Roger talked about how someone asked him how KISS could be playing a fashion show (something I’d considered myself) and he said that he could totally see it – they had a certain fashion, I suppose. I mean, if you look at the 80s hair bands, you can’t really miss the pleather leggings and over-the-top wardrobe pieces, so I guess Roger is right. Begrudgingly I’ll agree, and Katy was right when she said that they put on an amazing show (I’ve seen them live and lived to tell about it). Interestingly enough, Katy once worked for KISS, years ago…and her comment about the experience? “It was very….’different’ from say, working with Duran Duran.” Oh, I’ll bet it was. And then some.  All I know is that I’m looking forward to seeing the band on TV tonight, and I’m really curious as to the surprise they’re doing for fans using the SHAZAM app. Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Check out the info here. My iPhone is a dinosaur and I can’t download the app…so I’m counting on the rest of you to tell me what it’s all about!

Unstaged:  Who is going to go see this tomorrow near them?!?  *raises hand* I sure am!!  I can’t wait!  Roger says that he is very surprised that this film has had the “legs” it’s had for so long. I must agree. The film is three-and-a-half years old now, and prior to that MoMA screening I figured it had been tossed in a drawer somewhere, never to see the light of day again. But, if you thought you were done hearing about Unstaged after tomorrow (or Saturday), think again. Katy is spreading rumors (somehow, I really doubt it’s a “rumor”…) that people may be able to watch Unstaged on their TV’s at home very soon….but she cannot confirm just yet.  Watch this space.

Nile Rodgers: Roger spoke about Nile, saying that he brought an energy and passion that he hadn’t ever seen before. Roger is convinced that Nile will make this record even better – “icing on the cake”, and will expand the quality of the album. Katy said that during all of the promo that Nile has done for Daft Punk and before and certainly beyond, that Nile never fails to mention just how proud he is of the work he has done for Duran Duran. Roger followed with saying that he thinks Nile is in a much different place now than he was with the Astronaut album. (for those who do not realize – Nile Rodgers did some production work for the band on Astronaut.) The recent success Nile has had gave him a lot of self-confidence.

Album News (You know you want it): They are going back next week into the studio to FINISH THE ALBUM. Mark and Mr. Hudson will help to finish. Roger says you get to a point where you have to just say “This is it”. (He didn’t say they were at that point, but I’m hoping….) He said that they’ve been working for nearly two years on it and that they’ll finish it “soon”. Then he raised his voice in case we didn’t hear and said “and it’s the TRUTH this time”. We’ll see Roger. We will see. Katy asked if they had a title yet, saying that she had heard one was swirling around but Roger said no, nothing is 100% yet. They have something in mind but it’s not definite.

Live performance and rehearsals before a tour: Katy then moved on to playing live. According to Roger, the band will tour to support live (I think I heard an audible sigh of relief from the community-at-large…or was that just me?), but they’re not to a point where they’re even thinking about it yet. They don’t record thinking about how something will sound or be replicated live, that comes later.  Katy then read my mind and asked about rehearsal time before a tour.  John Taylor has always been pretty forthcoming about the fact that this isn’t a band that likes to rehearse, but prior to a tour, according to Roger – they have to spend the time. This is probably due to the songs being new. It starts off very low key in a small room, and then they move up to a bigger room and then to a room that’s large – like the size of a venue. Roger says this is his least favorite part of the process because you’re performing like you would live but you’re getting absolutely not feedback from the audience. He was quick to add that the people at home might not realize it, but that the band very much feeds off of our energy at shows (Not to burst Roger’s bubble, but I think that it might even be interesting for him to know that we can tell that they feed off of us. The relationship is very mutual because the audience, at least among the most ardent fans in the audience, can very much tell when something is “off” with the band, and we feed off of THEM and their energy, too. It’s a symbiotic relationship!) As Roger aptly put it, rehearsing is like the chef doing all of the cooking in the kitchen before putting on the 3-course meal.

Mazda gig: Roger said it was good and that they enjoyed playing live again. He mentioned that it wasn’t a huge audience, and that he is always pleasantly surprised when everything comes back (meaning the music for all of them) so easily. He always thinks these gigs (where they’re playing older material together after a long time) are going to be a complete disaster, but that they turn out fine. He says that they are excited to play live again.

What’s next?: Katy prefaced this section by saying that the band would take a break in December for the holidays and then come back in the new year with a single. She then asked about a label – would the band go with one for this album? Roger said that it’s all still being negotiated but that they probably would go with one this time, that the last album was handled very differently and that went really well, but that this time they want the power from a corporation behind them. Katy asked about DJ dates for Roger – hoping for a scoop of some sort. Roger said that he hasn’t had his DJ “head” on in a while, but that once they get to mixing and finishing the album maybe then he’d think about it. Just as I was taking a big heavy sigh, figuring that this album must still be a very long way from being completed, much less released – Roger finishes the Kafé with a proclamation. Katy tells Roger that the next time he’ll be in the Kafé is for the year-end ones in December, and he says…of his own accord (clearly he did not learn from the last time he did this, poor guy…) that the record will be completely done by year end. “Mixed, done, and in the can!”

Oh dear. Well, I look forward to the near-relentless amount of “I told you so’s” that will happen in December, then. (Whether they are his or my own, actually!)

That’s all for this time, dear readers!!

-R

Today in Duran History – Alice FM

On today’s date in 2004, Duran Duran was interviewed on Alice 97.3 FM (San Francisco). I was hoping to find some audio of this on YouTube, but I came up empty handed.  For me, this time of year always brings me back to memories of 2004. I was deep within the throws of planning for the upcoming Friends of Mine convention in New Orleans, the band was eagerly doing promo for their soon-to-be-released Astronaut, and it seemed like nary a day went by without some news or an appearance from the band. The fan community was hopping with the excitement, and even though I didn’t have a single friend here in Orange County that was into the band like I was, thanks to the internet I never really felt alone. It all felt new and exciting. Little did I realize that it was just the beginning, and that I would have amazing times ahead.  

Jump ahead from 2004 to the year 2012, and on this very same date I saw Duran Duran at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Alabama. Not only did I see the band, I got ready at the crack of dawn in order to be at the front of the GA line, and on that fateful night, Amanda and I had front row.  It was a good night, to say the least…but better was on the way.

Just two years later, and we’re waiting for the newest Duran Duran album. It would appear that we still have quite a wait ahead, as the band recently suggested that the newest release “goal” is Spring of 2015 (I read somewhere that Nick is hoping for some point in the first half of the year…), but perhaps we’ll start seeing some promo and news to keep us going until the album drops.  Let’s hope!

-R

Today in Duran History – Milan

On this date in 2005, Duran Duran played at Filaforum in Milan, Italy.

Here’s the set list:

SUNRISE
HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF
PLANET EARTH
UNION OF THE SNAKE
ASTRONAUT
I DON’T WANT YOUR LOVE
COME UNDONE
WHAT HAPPENS TOMORROW
HOLD BACK THE RAIN
REFLEX
TIGER TIGER
CHAUFFEUR
A VIEW TO A KILL
ORDINARY WORLD
SAVE A PRAYER
BEDROOM TOYS
NOTORIOUS
NICE
CARELESS MEMORIES
WILD BOYS

COME UP AND SEE ME MAKE ME SMILE
GIRLS ON FILM
RIO

(set list from dd.com of course…Hey, we don’t keep ALL of this stuff archived!!)
Want video?  I found some…

The video quality isn’t fabulous…but it’s Make Me Smile!!

If Notorious and Big Thing Could Talk…

by C.K. Shortell

Sometimes, I think Duran Duran albums talk to each other. Specifically, they talk to their predecessor. I remember the first time I listened to The Wedding Album and hearing the line “You rescued me from liberty” in Love Voodoo, and wondering if I was reading too much into the lyric to wonder if Simon wasn’t taking a shot at the last album.  Or the beginning of “Hold Me,” when he starts with “This time…” — somehow I got into my head that “Hold Me” was one of the first songs written for Notorious and that line/ad lib was basically Simon’s way of expressing the uncharted territory the band was in, now down to a trio.  Additionally… all the lyrics to “Still Breathing,” which I took as a declaration against the previous lineup of the band. I can’t prove any of this, it’s just in my head when I listen to these songs and albums.

This topic circles in my head for a few reasons. First, we are between albums. Speculation abounds about the sound of DD14. We know the band never does the same thing twice. We also know that, on AYNIN, they finally felt comfortable “reclaiming” some of that old ground/sound. So what will happen on the next album? In what way will it be a reaction to what they did on AYNIN?

Additionally, Notorious, the album, has been in heavy circulation on my iPod for the last few months. I think there are a lot of parallels between Notorious and All You Need Is Now. Both feature very strong title tracks that will likely be a staple of the band’s live set as long as they continue to tour (I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that the song AYNIN will continue to be featured, but you never know).   Both were heavily anticipated after a pause in the band’s career in which it was uncertain what direction they would take. Both were heavily influenced/co-written by the album’s producer, and both featured a mix of guest musicians on other tracks (and in the case of Notorious, it remains the only Duran album that features the work of both Andy and Warren).

Why do I bring up these parallels? I am trying to draw conclusions about DD14, and I think we might gain insight by understanding the relationship between Notorious and its follow-up, Big Thing.

I’ve always viewed Notorious as being a very solid, “orderly” album, with perfect alignment between the A and B sides, the Hitchcock theme, and the neatly packaged video that tied back to the album artwork. Big Thing is the exact opposite. It’s noisy, disorganized, loud (at least the first half), moody (the second half) and unconventional. Notorious features a virtual all-star cast of guest musicians, including Nile Rodgers, Andy, Warren, and Steve Ferrone, not to mention the album cover featuring super model Christy Turlington. Big Thing boasts no such lineup—it is the truly the first (and ultimately only, as it would turn out) Taylor-Rhodes-LeBon collaboration, with Warren sprinkled in, albeit in a non-writing role.  On Notorious, the songs tend to follow the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro format, which the exception of Winter Marches On. On Big Thing, it’s the exception when a song follows that format. Notorious is defined by its title track; the song Big Thing mocks itself and the music industry in general, and is probably one of the more forgettable songs on the record.

When John, Nick, and Simon hosted an hour-long countdown of their favorite Duran videos on MTV in 1988, they commented that on Notorious, they were very polite to each other and trying to figure out how to function as a band. Not so during the Big Thing sessions, where “we were all screaming at each other.” This is not surprising. The trio had weathered the uncertainty of the Notorious era; they had put out an album and toured and had success despite the loss of Andy and Roger (of course, they were no longer the biggest band in the world, but at least they knew there was still an audience for their music, albeit a smaller one than before).

So, with that out of the way, they pushed themselves creatively on Big Thing. What resulted was an album of disparate sides: the first consisting mostly of noisy, dance “house” music, and the second slower, moody ballads. Side one featured the hit single “I Don’t Want Your Love,” that is possibly the band’s most underrated and forgotten hit (and one of my personal favorites), and the follow-up single “All She Wants Is” which didn’t chart as well, but did see a lot of club play. The B-side is built around the lush anthem “Land,” one of the longer Duran songs in the catalogue that clocks in at just over six minutes. Preceding it are the haunting “Do You Believe in Shame?” and airy “Palomino.” I remember first listening to Big Thing and strongly disliking the second side, and then about a week later I had a strange tune stuck in my head…and it turned out to be “Palomino.”

Conversely, I did love “Edge of America” the minute I heard it, and still do to this day. And I always have considered “Edge of America” and “Lake Shore Driving” to be one song, even if they have different titles and are on separate tracks. It’s an unconventional way to end Big Thing but it works, as the Nick’s synths and Warren’s guitar bring the proceedings full circle to how the album started.

There are many other details about Big Thing that we could cover (the two different producers, the controversy over the mixes of “Drug” that highly annoyed John, etc.) but those can be left to another blog. The question is, how can Big Thing’s differences from Notorious inform us as to DD14’s differences from AYNIN?

For starters, I suspect that there will be more of a balance between ballads and dance songs on DD14. AYNIN was heavily skewed toward upbeat music (much like Notorious) with several well-placed slower songs to even out the album’s pacing. I think it’s natural for the band to be inclined to write some more moody material after an album as upbeat as AYNIN.

And speaking of the band…by all accounts, it’s just them, just like it was on Big Thing. Or at least it’s more of “just them” than the AYNIN sessions, which included Mark Ronson, Ana Matronic, Kelis, Owen Pallett, and Nick Hodgson, as well as newscaster Nina Hossain. There was a report that Ronson worked with them initially but every quote I’ve read since indicates that it’s just the five (Rhonda says four…because we certainly don’t hear much of Dom being there lately. Just saying..) of them in the studio.

Is this a good thing or not? I think time will tell. Duran has made some tremendous music when they close ranks and keep it “in house”—see Big Thing and The Wedding Album and Astronaut, at least as originally conceived. But therein lies my concern: Duran Duran also seems to make ill advised decisions when there is no outside producer to referee things. (I’m convinced that Ronson or even Timbaland—yes, Timbaland—or any of us, for that matter—would have told them to keep “Beautiful Colours” and “Salt in the Rainbow” on the Astronaut album.  As it was, they went through three producers on that one.)

Do you think I’m reading too much into the relationship between Notorious and Big Thing to infer anything from AYNIN and DD14? And are you worried about the apparent lack of an outside producer tied to this project?

438d2-ckshortellC.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, one of whom loves watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a two year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.