Tag Archives: B-Sides

Too Much to Know?

Sometimes, life has a way of sending a bunch of little signs that all add up to one idea.  That is how my week has been leading to this little blog post.  It really started early in the week when Rhonda posted a couple of blogs about both Anna Ross’s new music (which if you haven’t heard by now, you NEED to get on that!) and a new song featuring Dom Brown.  Then, there was some discussions on Twitter about John Taylor’s solo work.  Lastly, there was a moment at Wednesday’s Killers show that really made me think.  While none of these things really seem to go together, they all got me thinking.  Do Duranies really want to embrace all of Duran or just some Duran?  If so, am I guilty of this, too?

I really started to think about this question after a moment in the Killers concert that I would never expect to see at a Duran show.  A few songs in, Brandon, the lead singer, asked the audience if they would prefer to hear an obscure, “b-side”, called “Under the Gun” or a classic hit of theirs, “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine.”  Shockingly enough, the entire audience wanted the more unknown song.  With any show, I wouldn’t expect the entire audience to be made up of die-hard fans.  I would expect a lot of die-hards but some who are just fans.  For example, I love the Killers but I cannot say that I’m as hardcore about them as I am about that other band.  Nonetheless, I stood in shock by the fans’ voting for the lesser known song.  I’m sure that there are plenty of Duranies reading this blog that thinks, I would definitely vote for the b-side.  Yes, I’m sure that most of the fans reading a fan blog like this would be die-hard.  Would people who are just casual Duran fans?  Would the vast majority of any Duran audience vote for it?

I’m thinking about my experience in San Francisco where I was half way back.  I’m pretty certain that the people around me were fans but not hardcore ones.  They had not seen any of the previous shows on the Paper Gods Tour.  Some of them, it sounded like, had never seen Duran before.  The songs they referenced were all the hits of the 80s.  Based on their reaction to the newer songs, they had not heard Paper Gods.  Those fans?  They would vote “A View to a Kill” over “Khanada,” for example.

Then, I started to think about how even the die-hard fans who read this blog reacted to the blog posts about Anna and Dom.  While those posts got positive reactions, I guess I was expecting more. This led me to think more broadly.  I know that there are Duranies who love, love, love the band but don’t own all their albums.  I know there are many, many fans who are HUGE John Taylor fans but are not super familiar with his solo catalog.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not criticizing.  Sometimes, it is takes awhile to get into new music.  I also won’t lie.  None of the songs or projects that I just mentioned sound exactly like Duran.  It could be that many of these fans have listened to some solo and side projects that just don’t like them enough to listen more.  Again, I’m not criticizing or blaming.  After all, I have tried to love all of the solo and side projects but I don’t put Andy Taylor’s solo work on very often or the second album from Power Station.  Does that mean that I don’t love Andy or I don’t love all of Duran?  Of course not.  It just means that his work is different than what I’m used to and that there are parts of Duran that I love more than others.

I think my point, though, goes beyond what’s in a collection or what would be cheered for at a concert.  It is more about what Duranies are actually interested in, generally.  There is a large part of the fan base that really does just love Duran of the early 1980s.  I have now spent years asking various questions or opinions about everything from songs to videos to live performances on this blog.  Way more often than not, Duranies will choose something off of Rio or the 1984 live performance.  Again, I’m not criticizing anyone here.  Heck, I just answered the question about favorite b-side with Secret Oktober like tons of other fans out there, but I do acknowledge that it is a standard answer.  My favorite album is the first one.  It isn’t Rio but Rio is one of my favorites.  I get why this is the case.  Most of us fell in love with a certain band with a certain sound and look.  It is hard to love changes in the same way.

Yet, I wonder if we as a fan base could really benefit from challenging ourselves.  Instead of just playing the Rio album, pop in Medazzaland.  Instead of listening to Arcadia, try a little Neurotic Outsiders.  When you feel like busting out some solo work, try Anna’s new material.  I know that I need to take my own advice with this.  I’m good with John’s solo stuff because he’s my favorite and I genuinely really like but I want to know more of Simon’s, for example.  That means I have to push myself to try something new or something I’m not as familiar with.  Somehow, I don’t think I’ll regret it.

-A

What in the heck is a B-side anyway?

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve completely lost the plot? I’m right there with all of you feeling that way today. Like many, I’ve noticed the stylish instagram pics that DDHQ has posted of Wendy Laister’s (DD’s manager) son and his buddies wearing the “latest in DD fashion”.  I  commented on it before because quite a few fans were upset.  My position is that I don’t care. Sure, if it gets kids interested – by all means, who am I to argue?

That said, sometimes, I really think the message gets lost in translation.

Here’s an example: on one hand, we’ve got the kids wearing the DD gear, and the band seems to enjoy playing festivals. I’m no genius, but I think it’s probably fair to say that those types of things are designed to help to get this band heard by a younger generation….like the generation of my kids.  On the other hand, they’re playing places like Capri for very secretive, very private parties for billionaires.  Nothing like perpetuating that air of exclusivity that I grew up recognizing to be part of Duran Duran. I’m not complaining, either. In fact – that exclusivity was one of the many things that intrigued me about Duran Duran. The idea of jetting off to Sorrento and Capri, the private parties, and even the “untouchableness” (probably not a word, but it is today!!) of this band, were all things that attracted me to this band from day one.  Well, maybe since the Rio video.   These are all things I’ve said on this blog  before, correct?  But does it attract millennials?  Aren’t they all about access (hence social media)?

Here’s the thing – most of this stuff, I’ve decided, doesn’t matter. I mean, singularly, yes – going to Capri to play a private party matters. Wendy’s son and his friends “modeling” t-shirts matters.  Even those festivals matter.  Some people like the ideas, a lot of others don’t, but in the end – these things don ‘t REALLY matter, or probably shouldn’t matter, to fans, unless you’re like Amanda and I and feel it necessary to give commentary.  <wide grin here> All together, these things add up to one band trying to reach a multitude of different people.  Whether that is actually working for or against the band depends upon who you ask, and today – I’m taking a giant step back from that subject because I really don’t know. Does anyone??

What I do know today is that DDHQ posts some sort of an “engagement” type question every day or so on social media. These questions, not entirely unlike what Amanda and I used to post (and still do through our polls), are designed to keep the fan base talking about the band, even when they’re not doing much. Or when they’re traveling from Capri to who-knows-where-before-they-have-to-play-in-Oakland-on-Friday.  Today’s question asked what your favorite B-side or bonus track might be.

Before answering, I thought about the question, because I think it’s really very telling, oddly enough.  I get the point that we have to keep trying to expand our listening audience (there I go, using the word “we” as though I’m somehow “on the team”….but after this many years being a fan, doesn’t it sometimes feel that way??).  The only feasible way to do that is to become relevant to a younger demographic, because the one I belong with is shrinking, both in size and in strength. We don’t buy. (which is part of the reason why they’re trying to market the t-shirts and things to kids to begin with!) But, when they ask questions like this, trying to engage their audience, they’re talking to people like you and I because of one semi-obvious detail:

What’s a B-Side???

Millennials, such as my two older kids, don’t really know what a B-side is. They grew up after vinyl. (Although rest assured my kids know what in the hell a b-side is, even though they think the idea of having to get up and flip a record over is dumb. Too bad for them that Sony has decided to start pressing vinyl again!)  For that matter, kids today don’t really have the same understanding about what a single might be. To them, they’re ALL singles. You go and buy a song on iTunes. Done.  Never mind the bonus tracks!

So, to the young ones that may or may not stumble upon this question and others like it in the future, and may or may not be reading this blog, allow me to help.

Back in MY day, when we trudged through snow, uphill, both ways, to school each day, we had records, which were flat disks with grooves and a hole in the middle. You’d play them on a record player, and a needle would go down into the groove, and as the record spun – music would magically spill out through the speakers.  There were two sides to these records: the A side and the B side.  Now, I can’t speak for all people here, but in my case – I was convinced that the more well-known songs were on the A side, and the stuff I didn’t really know as well would be on the B. I may have developed this theory back when I was a mere child because when I’d buy singles at the record store (they were also called 45s), the song I’d know from the radio would be on the A side, and the back side would have another song I didn’t necessarily know. Duran Duran was famous (infamous?) for putting an entirely different song – one that wasn’t even included on the full album – on that B side.

As I grew up, I realized that the REAL gems on an album were often on those B sides. And bonus tracks?  Well, those are the songs that were so good they couldn’t even put them on the album!! They were like SECRET gems!!  (Just go with it, people)

So for many of us “old folk” (I hear some of you talk about us in GA lines or at shows!), the very best songs in the catalog are the B-sides and bonus tracks that they almost never play. Even better? We’d almost rather hear a concert filled with THOSE songs than the stuff many of you have heard your parents play over the years. Hungry Like the Wolf?  A View to a Kill?  Nah.  We want Late Bar or Secret Oktober, or even Virus!

And I’d fall over in a dead faint if they ever pulled out something like  Cinderella Ride.

But I digress. If anyone needs help understanding what is or is not a B-side or bonus, I’d direct you to the discography section on the DD website as a good place to start!

-R