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Violence of Summer – The Daily Duranie Review

So here we are, at the beginning of the Liberty album. Violence of Summer [Love’s Taking Over] was the 21st single from Duran Duran, and the first off of Liberty. Curiously, this song was originally titled “Live-in Lover”, using the same musical track but different lyrics. A demo of this song (which we always find fascinating to hear), is included on an unofficial compilation Didn’t Anybody Tell You? if you can find it!

The album itself, or at least the band image, seemed to change dramatically between Big Thing and Liberty. Shorter haircuts, paler skin…and a serious muscular increase in guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, along with the addition of drummer Sterling Campbell. It was very clear this was a very different Duran Duran at the beginning of the 1990s. With that, let’s get started!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

I don’t know how one can listen to this song and sit still. It is incredibly pop – I mean, there’s absolutely no hiding that fact with this one. Nick doesn’t even try with his semi-funhouse sounding keyboards. The other thing I notice about the song, almost immediately, is that the sound is incredibly top heavy. There isn’t much of a bottom (bass) to it, although it is there deep in the mix! Drums are there, but again- not obvious. The result is a song that doesn’t feel balanced. Fun, yes! Balanced? No.

Guitar is barely discernible as well – enough to where I have to wonder if it’s there at all! I do love the piano both at the beginning and end, and it is only then (at the end) that I hear the high hat cymbal, along with a ton of background “bubbling” as though they’ve poured (yep, you guessed it!) soda pop into a glass!

Yep, this is 100% pure, shamelessly fun, pop.

Vocals

I don’t know what in the hell was going on in Simon’s life at this time, but his vocals sound like he took a rake, swallowed it, and dragged it back out. They’re incredibly rough sounding. I don’t know if they made him sing the song 5,000 times in succession or if he had a nasty sore throat. He still hits the notes, but the ones at the top of his range suffer. Oddly, it isn’t off-putting and adds to the style of the song.

Lyrics

The themes are decidedly Duran, but presented far differently. Fleeting love, flirtation, and a bit of the female/male push and pull – nothing we haven’t seen before. What IS different, however, is the way the themes are portrayed. Rather than the somewhat romantic, poetic imagery as in previous albums, Violence of Summer is rather blatant. Girl with boy meets another boy and decides to go with him instead, causing what I can only assume is a fight later on. It’s a bit, well, pedestrian, really – and seems to be such a huge departure from songs like “Edge of America” or even “Palomino”. This is a very different Duran Duran in 1990.

Overall

Violence of Summer is a fun song. It is the song I blast in my car at 2am when I’m driving somewhere and need to stay awake. It is a carefree, sing-a-long without a worry song. The song isn’t deep, definitely not introspective, and not really the Duran Duran that I am used to. When critics speak of how pop driven Duran Duran has been during their career, my mind automatically drifts to this song.

The song still sounds incredibly top-heavy to me, as though I have my stereo turned all the way to treble without any bass. I fault the mixing here, as well as the production, because it does feel very overdone. Additionally, Simon’s raspiness – it’s distracting only because I know what he normally sounded like, and this wasn’t it. I can remember hearing this song when it was released, and while it had many of the hallmarks of a typical Duran Duran song – something was indeed different. The unbalanced sound, the lyrics about girls and bikers, and the naming of Warren as an official member of Duran Duran (1989 at the end of the Big Thing tour), along with Sterling Campbell were all things that changed the band’s sound. It would be unfair to review this song without fairly considering those major changes. I enjoy the song, but it has never been one that I take seriously. It has merit for those occasions when I need those carefree moments.

Cocktail Rating

3 cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

It hard for me to imagine, off the top of my head, another Duran song that is so focused on piano. It grabs you right away. Now, of course, this isn’t your serious piano recital kind of piano but one that it is designed to be fun and pop-focused, which I don’t mind. I like that Duran mixes it up a bit like that. Of course, other instruments chime in but it really feels like I have to really concentrate to notice them, especially guitar for the most part. As with many other Duran songs, there is some effects going on as well giving an almost underwater sort of sound through the verses. Rhonda called it “bubbling” in her review above, which is a good word for it! One final note on the musicality of this song that I have noticed is how little difference there really is between verse and chorus until the end. I have to really to listen to there lyrics to tell when the song switches from one to the other, which doesn’t feel like typical Duran to me.

Vocals

I’m not exactly sure what to think about Simon’s vocals here. One thing that amazes me about Simon’s voice is how it helps to create a mood, a feeling.  In this case, his vocals works to create a fun mood, forcing each listener to sing along even if you try to resist. I tend to think that is the only thing that was the focus when recording and mixing this one. All that was wanted was for Simon to add to the pop nature and feel of the song. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. One thing that intrigues me is how the band never played this album live and from what I know this song has never been played live much despite it being a single. Did the vocals play a role in that?

Lyrics

The lyrics to this song are different than a lot of Duran lyrics up until this point.  Usually, they have been either poetic or vague enough that a story is not created.  These lyrics, on the other hand, feel exactly like a story where this woman is flirting hardcore with a “biker” who is a “metalhead.”  Then, of course, the context is summer when “love takes over.”  I am not a huge fan of the whole storyline thing as I much prefer to give my own interpretation unless the story could/does act as a metaphor to something else.  That said, there are some lines that I just cannot help but sing, including, “Don’t give me drink, I don’t wanna get too stoned.”  Who hasn’t said the exact same thing at some point or another?!

Overall


I cannot say that this is best quality Duran Duran song ever made. While I appreciate the fact that this song makes me want to sing along no matter what, I miss some more typical Duran elements. I wish that the lyrics weren’t so obvious, for example. On top of that, I missed the balanced instrumentation. It feels to me that the band worked really hard to create a feeling rather than just letting the process go where it may. What interests me is the fact that there are SO many remixes of this song on various releases. Why? Did they think that the remixes would help it sell? Yet, they did not tour the album. It all just makes me wonder what they were all thinking about.

Cocktail Rating

I Believe/All I Need to Know – The Daily Duranie Review

We have some good news and some not so good news. First, we are back with another review! Unlike last time, there were not years in between. This is the good news. The not-so-good news is that we’re super late in getting it posted. This was to be Friday’s post, but due to a series of mishaps and illness, you’re seeing it today. Cheers!

The previous review focused on Lake Shore Driving, so you would think that we would move on to the Liberty album. However, we cannot forget about the b-sides of the Big Thing album. Interestingly enough, many of the extra songs during that era were what we might call remixes of sorts, such as Burning the Ground. You know, tracks that used previous Duran songs, mixed and mashed together in some new way. While we will tackle those in our own way eventually, we will be skipping them for now. For today, we’ll focus on “I Believe/All I Need to Know”.

Before we dive into what we think about the song, let’s give a little background to it. It was the b-side to All She Wants Is. According to Duran’s Wiki page, “On the aforementioned single, the song is listed as a medley, presumably referring to the two halves of the title, “I Believe” and “All I Need to Know”. “I Believe” comprises the main instrumental part of the song and can be heard on its own in bootlegged form on The Medicine. “All I Need to Know” however is so far not known to exist in any form.”

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

I love a balanced song. There is deep appreciation from me for a well-written piece of music. Not one instrument speaks louder than the rest, and the sum of all parts creates a gorgeous, delicate sound. The chords are what keep the song sounding full and lush, but they allow Simon’s vocals to take center stage. That’s how I would describe I Believe/All I Need to Know. The song is packed with instrumentation – everything from bass and drums (and a beautifully recorded hi-hat cymbal) to harmonica and a sampled piano on the keyboards. The guitar is there, but isn’t recorded as a lead guitar, it’s more rhythmic, which suits the song. I love that it’s not really one instrument (aside from vocals) that creates the full melody, which is unusual – even for Duran Duran.

Vocals

Simon’s vocals for this song really accentuate his range during this period. He goes from the lower, deeper notes up to soaring heights in the chorus. There’s no sense of strain, no falsetto, and he sounds incredibly relaxed. Say what you will about Big Thing, but this song fits incredibly well with others from that album, such as Land, Palomino and even Edge of America. He has a sort of melancholy to his voice here, and while it does sound easy and relaxed, there’s also a little bit of wistfulness which really lends itself well to the song. His vocal quality is at it’s best, and I find myself wishing that they would record more songs in this range. Simon sounds brilliant.

Lyrics

One thing I want to comment on before looking at the lyrics is that Amanda each read the lyrics and attempt to make sense out of them in our own way. That means that we don’t always (or often) come to the same conclusion of what they mean. That’s really the way lyrics are supposed to work, too. You (the listener) are supposed to find your own meaning to the words. This is is also why Simon chooses not to explain his lyrics, because he doesn’t want to influence whatever sense the listener gets out of them. In our case, we have certainly tried to explain lyrics, and we include our thoughts on the them in our reviews. For the most part, this is because we enjoy looking at the words ourselves, and we hope that we are not ruining the lyrics for anyone else in the process.

Funny thing about Duran’s lyrics. I don’t know that I ever really paid that much attention to them when I was younger. Maybe I did, and I just didn’t understand them. Or, more likely – I was too busy daydreaming to notice. Regardless, I sit here and read through the lyrics, realizing that a lot of their songs, at least in my ears after the first album, seem to have everything to do with their experience of fame.

The taxman’s in the pocketbook

The pressmen are at the bar

And all the world is at your door.

Just those three lines remind me of what it must be like for them. Unlike most of us who come home from a day’s work, they can’t get away quite as easily. Even in 1988, Duran Duran was an all-encompassing gig. By then, they’d already seen the world, toured it extensively, said goodbye to a couple of original members, and had reached the summit of fame. I think there’s a sense of the frustration Simon must feel in the lines:

I’m just the ordinary guy you used to know,

I’m not after your money,

or even your advice

I believe you’ll follow me,

it’s all I need to know

I read this as though he can’t really get away (although he sings of walking away…or maybe he’s telling other people to walk away!). There’s also a line about turning your head away now and don’t think twice, and I go back and forth about whether that’s a reminder to himself (which I could certainly see), or if it’s an admonition to the listener. Either way, I read the song similarly as I do others of this period – the struggle with fame. As I read them, it seems to be an ongoing theme in their lyrics, even during Big Thing, which takes place well after the insanity of the early to mid 80’s. While no, I wouldn’t say the lyrics are necessary of the same vague, poetic, obscure nature as say, The Reflex, I feel like I am able to have more of a connection to them. Perhaps because I’m better able to draw something out of them? I don’t know for sure.

Overall

I like the way the song conveys a certain feeling. for me, I get a sort of wistfulness, or even melancholy from it. The song feels easy, not at all angry or brooding – but maybe just a tinge sad. I don’t know that I’m surprised by that, given the time period of it’s writing. (although at the time, I am certain I would not have picked up on it!) Regardless, I appreciate the way this band has always been able to convey it’s feelings through music. I also like the simpleness of the sound. It’s a good, solid B-side for the album, although I personally think it could have been put on Big Thing and done very well. I saw somewhere that the band says that some of these extra songs that somehow escaped the album were made all the more special as a result – and I would offer this one in particular as a prime example.

I don’t listen to this song often enough. It is one of those songs I fail to think about or give enough appreciation to in their catalog. I don’t know why that is – but I’m going to fix that and add it to a playlist.

Cocktail Rating

4 Cocktails! 4 cocktails rating

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

Listening to this song, more intensely than I normally do, I realize that there really is no lead in. The next thought that follow quickly after is how this really is a classic Duran Duran song. I love that all instruments are present with some taking on more noticeable moments like the keyboards after the chorus. I also really enjoy the fact that the bass creates a strong steady undercurrent throughout the whole song. It makes a strong foundation, allowing the other instruments to come and go as they need. In many ways, it has the feel of more old school Duran songs as opposed to the more dance-orientated songs on Big Thing. It doesn’t feel like the ballad tracks from that album either. It is a good go between in terms of tempo and overall musical vibe.

Vocals

Whenever I think about this song, the vocals are the very first thing that comes to mind, especially the chorus.  While I love the deep vocals of the verses, there is something so smooth about the chorus that really catches my attention.  Perhaps, I like the contrast between the slower, deeper vocals of the verses as opposed to the lighter, more melodic aspects of the chorus.  Of course, the backing vocals here help to add to the lush feel of the chorus in the second half of the song. It is like the emotions and the voices build up until so much just bursts through.

Lyrics

You know what is funny?  I have listened to this song countless times and even sang along with it a lot and never really looked at the lyrics.  The line that always grabbed my attention is, “I’m just the ordinary guy you used to know.”  Now that I have really examined the lyrics, I cannot help but to wonder if this wasn’t the lyrics of a very specific story.  It sounds like someone who used to be trusted and connected with someone who broke that trust, but is now pleading their case and hoping for some understanding.  Could this be an experience that Simon had?  Someone else in the band?  Maybe the band member wasn’t the one asking for understanding but the one who determines if there would be a new understanding.  The line about not being after one’s money could definitely be a person trying to reassure a band member.  So, what do I think of these lyrics?  I don’t know that they excite me like many Duran lyrics that lend themselves to interesting interpretation or act as poetry.  Yet, they don’t turn me off either.  

Overall

Overall, I really like this song. Musically, it fits well within the standard Duran catalog with the balance of instrumentation. I believe the music is enhanced with the quality of Simon’s vocals. The only area that I question is the lyrics. While they are not bad, they are almost too specific for my liking, but do fit in well for a b-side.

Cocktail Rating:

3.5 Cocktails

Reposted Blog: DAILY DURANIE REVIEW-CHICAGO THEATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS-OCTOBER 21, 2011

This past week, I was reminded about how I attended a number of Duran Duran shows during the month of October. For example, we suffered and survived through quite an experience at the Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans in 2006. During that same weekend, we attended the very first show at the Sears Centre in 2006 in Chicago. Speaking of Chicago, we also went to a show at the Chicago Theatre in 2011 as part of the All You Need Is Now Tour. This got me thinking. We have been focusing on the Paper Gods Tour for so long, at the same time looking back to the AYNIN tour with such romantic notions of fabulousness. Were those shows really all that amazing? So, I did a little research here on the blog and found our review from that 2011 show in Chicago. Read the review for yourself then decide if we have been right to think so highly of that tour.

I have to apologize for how late today’s blog is.  Today was the day in which both Rhonda and myself traveled back home to reality after a VERY brief little mini-tour in Chicago.  Before I get to the actual review of the show, let me enlighten you readers on a fact about the Daily Duranie.  We should never be allowed to attend shows together as we had about 90 minutes of sleep last night and consumed quite a bit of vodka.  I have also had the good fortune (not) of losing my voice.  I can’t blame Rhonda on that one but I can blame a certain band that we all know and love.  

This review wasn’t going to be standard.  We had every intention of actually doing a little video clip of the two of us giving the review.  We filmed it at 5:45 in the morning.  Let’s just say…it wasn’t fit for public consumption.  I have no doubt that we looked beyond exhausted and probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Thus, we decided to return to the good, old-fashioned words method of reviewing a show.  I will be summarizing and combining our thoughts.  For the most part, we saw the show in a similar light.  That said, if part of the review belongs to one of us, only, I will make that clear.  Also, do remember that this was my first show since April and the first one since the UK trip.  For Rhonda, it was the first show since Valley Center earlier this month.  Our perspectives differ, which may or may not impact our review.

Setlist:
This was the exact same setlist as the previous two nights.  How boring for them and for those fans who went to more than one of these shows!  Of course, it could mean that they really feel like this setlist and that they thinks it works for them.  We won’t lie.  We were terribly disappointed that they didn’t play Secret Oktober.  Many, many fans were requesting it on twitter, which could be openly seen on the twitter scroll in the background before the show.  Some fans even brought signs and banners.  Yet, they ignored those requests.  Why?  I am sure that they could say that it didn’t receive that great of a response when it was played but it didn’t feel that way to us when we saw people’s reactions.  As this point, they aren’t really listening and responding to the fans, which is upsetting.  You would think that they would listen to their audience.  After all, we are the ones in the crowd watching the show.  You would think we would know what would work.  Besides, Secret Oktober would have gone in place of Tiger Tiger, a b-side over an obscure album track.  It is not like casual fans would really know either one of those so it would be harmless to switch it up.  In fact, it would make serious fans happy and it would open up those casual listener to not-common Duran, which can’t hurt.  Rhonda pointed out that as Duran moves further on, the audience will become more and more just serious fans.  You would think that they would want to make us happy since we will be there until the end.  It would also provide energy to the audience as serious fans would get really excited!!  There were songs that went over well, including Planet Earth due to its position in the setlist, Notorious except for the extended part of that as Rhonda felt like it went over better in Valley Center, and Wild Boys with Relax in the middle of it.  Relax falls into the song, seamlessly, as people really know it so people jump in right away!  Speaking of extending songs, Rhonda isn’t a fan.  She would prefer to fill those minutes with another song, which is a good point!  We wonder why Duran chooses to do this.  Is it to make a song more interesting to them?  Do they think it will make it more interesting for us?  Will the critics and reviewers respect them more if they do this?  As far as the new songs go, in our opinion, Safe and Blame the Machines isn’t catching any one’s attention.  We aren’t sure why people don’t seem to enjoy BTM, but people who are unfamiliar with it don’t seem to.  It is like they don’t get it.  As far as Safe goes, we both feel strongly that the female vocal makes a huge difference.  Unfortunately, Anna’s voice is very different than how the song was recorded.  We thought that All You Need Is Now went over pretty well and Leave a Light On was okay.  Perhaps, the band would be better served by dropping either BTM or Safe for different new tracks like Too Bad You’re So Beautiful, for example.  We both liked Leopard.  Rhonda really liked the video at the end of the newscaster telling the story to be a good way to present that part of the song.  I liked how John had the audience clapping right away with the song.  It was a good way to bring in audience members who haven’t heard the song before.  Plus, he was singing the lyrics to himself, which I always like.  

Stage Setup:
Rhonda is not fond of the faces at the top of the stage.  I, on the other hand, didn’t look at them at all.  I couldn’t see them from where I was.  Rhonda feels that the angle of the faces make a big difference as some angles are not flattering.  We wonder why these faces were even necessary.  The band is on stage and there are lights and video footage or images on screens behind the band.  Isn’t that enough to focus on?  I really like a lot of the video footage they chose to play fit the songs.  For example, the military images fit well with Before the Rain with the military sounding drums.  We both appreciated that Anna wasn’t as noticeable for this show as she had been in the spring as back-up singers and musicians should be just that—back-ups.  We don’t get the reason they need an extra percussionist.  Is she just to get more men to come to the shows?!    

Band Performance:
John and Dom seemed to interact quite a bit!  They certainly seemed to enjoy playing together.  I noticed how John would be obviously pleased when Dom did something well and vice versa.  Rhonda also feels like the band is laughing more than they did in Valley Center.  Perhaps, they are more relaxed now after their past six months or so of serious stress.  Simon was good with lyrics, setlists and even vocally.  He did make one little mistake in Girl Panic but nothing major.  Yet, the one thing he did that got people to react was when he made a comment about the Iraq War ending before All You Need Is Now.  He described former President George W. Bush and former Prime Minister Tony Blair as “war criminals”.  The crowd openly booed him.  Both Rhonda and I didn’t understand why Simon felt it necessary to say anything like this at all as any political statement runs the risk of alienating one’s audience.  We also couldn’t figure out the reason people booed.  Did they boo because they didn’t want to hear anything about politics at all since they were there to have fun?  Did they boo because they don’t agree that Bush and Blair were war criminals?  If you were there and you did boo or felt like booing, can you drop us a line and let us know which reason caused you to react in such a way?  

Overall:
The show was good.  It was great that it was a solid two hours long.  Rhonda felt like this show was an improvement over Valley Center and that this show felt like a FULL show.  We did see that Simon tweeted that the band agreed that this was the best show of the tour and possibly one of the best of their careers.  While we both thought the show was a solid performance, we didn’t think it was one of their best and here’s why.  We thought that the audience did not produce the tremendous energy needed for one of the best shows.  At times, the crowd was into it.  Obviously, there were some audience members who were into it the whole time but there were many who weren’t.  I was sitting in the PIT (4th row) and there were people even in that section who were sitting down and when I glanced around I noticed that in other sections as well.  (By the way, who does that?!  Why would you sit at a Duran show?  Okay, maybe, there is some physical limitation, then you should be dancing in your seat as much as possible, in my opinion, especially when they took good seats from others.)  Now, is the lack of audience energy because the band didn’t perform as well as could be?  Not necessarily as they cannot control who comes to their shows and their level of dedication and fandom.  However, perhaps, mixing up the setlist as suggested above might have helped.  A couple of changes in songs could have made a HUGE difference.  It is also possible that Simon thought it was such a great show because the Daily Duranie was there!!!  LOL!  That said, we are absolutely thrilled with the show and cannot wait to go to the UK for 4 more shows!!!

-A

LakeShore Driving—The Return of the Daily Duranie Review!

Don’t ever assume we’re done…even when years go by in between reviews! Yes, it is true that approximately three years and eleven months have gone by in between the review of “Edge of America” and “Lakeshore Driving”, nevertheless, we are BACK and the reviews will continue until we’re done!! Be on the lookout for them twice a month, on the second and fourth Fridays!

To those who have not previously had the pleasure, an introduction is necessary. Basically, we challenged ourselves to review the entire Duran Duran catalog. (we don’t know what we were thinking. It is in line with agreeing to write daily, we suppose…) Granted, neither of us are music critics (but isn’t everyone a critic?), neither of us have been trained in music journalism….but that’s never stopped us before. Why now? We’re also not unbiased. (Hey, that’s a double negative, isn’t it? Damn.) That said, we try to be hard on the band, but we’re unabashed Duranies. Say whatever you will.

A couple of extra things, just to be clear:

1. We are not employees of Duran Duran.  They aren’t holding us in duress, nor are they telling us what to say and write. (We’d bet that sometimes though, they wish they could…or at least, could shut us up!)

2.  We pay for our own music. That said, anytime they want to send us music, we’re all for it. We can be bought. (Ok, ok…Just kidding about the being bought part!)

We review each song using the same guidelines of musicality/instrumentation, vocals, lyrics, and all of that put together – or overall. Then, at the end, we assign it a cocktail rating. Why cocktails? Have you not met Amanda or I yet???

1 cocktail :  It’s really not our thing and honestly at this point, the band should be sending US cocktails just to keep listening.

2 cocktails: It could really use work.  There are problems in most, if not all, areas of the song/album.  It’s not making our ears bleed, but it’s close.

3 cocktails: It’s not bad, but it’s not great either.  We aren’t going to turn it off, but we might not actively listen either.

4 cocktails:  We’re liking what we hear!  It reminds us as to why we’re still fans after all of this time!

5 cocktails:  AMAZING!  Can this band really get much better?!?  This is the Duran we know and love!

Of course, we may even do half cocktails when necessary! 

As you may have guessed, this week we press on to finish Big Thing by taking a good look (and listen) at Lakeshore Driving. As the final song on the album, it takes over from where Edge of America leaves off, quite literally. Does it pack a punch, or leave the listener dazed and confused? Read on and see just how many cocktails this one earns!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

Obviously, the most forward-sounding instrument is the guitar, which for me is a breath of fresh air. I love the hard-driving, rock guitar as the track starts out. It contrasts beautifully against the far lighter, almost playful, keyboards. It reminds me of the way it used to be when the guitar and keyboards would have a sort of tug-o-war quality about them, and I admit I had to remind myself that this was actually Warren playing. It’s not like the rest of the music he plays with Duran, that is for sure. Then as you keep listening, you get this wonderful second track of guitar that comes out. It is very Nile Rodgers-esque, similar to the style heard on Notorious. It is a jam session that comes to life, without being overly indulgent. I don’t hear a lot of bass or drums, unfortunately. The guitar tracks are so forward that it’s difficult to hear anything else as the song continues on. I’m not really sure I’d call it balanced, but by the same token – I don’t know that it really needs to be. In fact, perhaps the unbalance is what really works for the track.

Obviously there are no vocals or lyrics for this one, so we’ll move on….

Overall

I do love the track. It isn’t crazily long, but I like the fact that we’re hearing what this band can really do if left to their own devices. I enjoy that Duran Duran doesn’t always play by the rules. Sometimes, in hindsight, I think they’ve forgotten how to just play. I miss that. I love the feeling that this song just sort of “happened”, and it is a great placement at the end of the record. The tension and sound just continues to build and build, which is a great effect, because I just feel like I’m being swallowed into this whirlpool of sound – it’s an excellent song to listen to when you just need to stop thinking! Towards the end, the sound is full, and it’s easy to think it will never end, until it does. The effect of it just abruptly cutting out is crazy – it’s like you’re floating along grooving away and then there’s just, nothing. You drop like a 50 pound brick back into the harsh reality. This album quits, genuinely leaving you wanting more! So rude, but so good, too.

Cocktail Rating:

Four and a half cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

Before I dive into specifics, I have to acknowledge the pairing of this song with Edge of America.  It is truly rare for me (and I’m guessing countless other Duranies) to listen to this song by itself despite having its own unique track number.  After all, there is little time in between the two on the album and when they played the two tracks live, it felt like a brief pause rather than a complete change in song.  I’m sure that it was done deliberately even though the two have very different feelings.  After all, Edge of America is more introspective and softer while Lake Shore Driving is an instrumental and one driven by guitar. While I didn’t see this song performed live, I have seen clips in which Warren would come to the center stage by himself to play, clearly giving the guitar the spotlight.  That isn’t to say that it is the only instrumentation present but it definitely overshadows the rest.  You have to listen closely to hear the bass, for example.  So the question is – is Warren’s guitar and its prominence something appreciated or not?  While it is different, I’m not sure I’m a fan. When I think of the best Duran material, it is that fight for balance between the instruments in which some instruments rise to the surface for a few notes before another takes over.  That isn’t this. It could have been but it feels like so much guitar to me when I would have preferred more rhythm section, for example.

Overall

One aspect of doing reviews that I missed was taking the time to really listen closely to a song. In many cases, I learn to appreciate a song more. As I began to type this review, I starting pondering where this song is located on the album and how it is connected to the song, Edge of America. I never really thought that much about it before now, but in writing this review, I think I get it. The Edge of America gives listeners a sense of despair, of hopeless. It leaves you with the idea that the country is not meeting the needs of its people and the emotion that is left, the emotion that can be expressed is anger. “Learn to love your anger now. Anger here is all you possess.
Welcome to the edge.” That song has always reminded me of many of my students who face an incredibly uphill battle. One student, in particular, pops in my head. This kids was the youngest of a bunch of boys. All of his siblings have ended up in prison as his single mother had struggled with substance abuse and making enough money to provide for her kids. This student was bright and he soon realized that so much was going against him. As he recognized this, his anger grew. Eventually, it became his only emotion. Why share this story? I feel like Lake Shore Driving is the anger, the anger that follows the sadness, the despair. I saw it with that particular student and many others. What does this mean in terms of my review? Simple. When I listen to the song on its own, I think of it as this overbearing guitar driven track. When I place it in context, it means more. I can appreciate it more.

Cocktail Rating:

3 cocktails!

San Francisco Show Review Video Blog

Right now, as I type this, I am sitting in the passenger seat as Rhonda is driving.  Clearly, we take this whole blogging thing seriously or else we are just that crazy!!  Before we got into the car to drive back to Rhonda’s, we did do a little video to review the San Francisco Show.  We talked about our experience about half way back in the floor as well as some changes in the show (different song!).  One thing we forgot to mention was that the DJ also changed things up for the better, which we appreciated.  Tomorrow we will try to summarize the Paper Gods album cycle and more since we have one more day together before I head back to the Midwest.  Something to look forward to!  Ha!  Until then, here isn’t today’s video!

Highlights and More from Night One of Spring 2017 Tour!

I apologize for the lateness of the blog today (as well as the lack of a question of the day).  Wi-fi has not been super cooperative for us as we have been out by the pool most of the day, enjoying drinks and Duran trivia (let the record show that our friend, Lori, and I beat Rhonda and our friend, Suzie!!).

Today’s blog is a little vlog that captures the good, the bad and the ugly of last night’s show.  Just kidding…it is more about the highlights, lowlights and hopes for tonight’s show.

Without further ado, here are our thoughts about last night’s show, the first Duran show of their Spring 2017 Paper Gods Tour.  This show took place at the Agua Caliente casino and resort and definitely features some excitement (a new song!!) and some disappointment (have I mentioned that Planet Earth is my favorite Duran song of ALL TIME?!? and it wasn’t played!!!).

-A

Chicago Show #2 Review!

I wanted to think of a catchy title but nothing is hitting me this beautiful Sunday afternoon.  I guess I could have named it the weird but wonderful Chicago show number 2.

The Smoke/Fog Machine:

Within the first few minutes, we knew that the show was going to be super entertaining.  The band came out to play Paper Gods with the smoke/fog machine enveloping the stage, creating a very cool atmosphere.  Yet, last night the smoke machine didn’t turn off when it was supposed to.  It kept going and going.  Poor Dom Brown couldn’t even be seen.  I was impressed that he could continue to play in the midst of it!  As soon as we all realized that the fog machine had a mind of its own, we started laughing.  Soon enough, Simon and John were laughing, too.  Thus, right away, we knew that this show was going to be a funny one!

Clothing changes!

I’m not going to lie.  My friends and I have spent quite a bit of time the last few days discussing John’s…pants, you know the ones he has been wearing most of the time at the shows.  They look like track pants with an orange stripe up the side and a length that is questionable at best.  Clearly, we do not love these pants.  Thus, as the pants came up in conversation, we began pondering whether or not we should offer to take him shopping or if we shouldn’t buy pants ourselves and toss them on stage for him to wear.  Yet, last night, the man wore different pants!  Text messages expressing our delight were quickly exchanged.  We all approved of these other pants!!!

Simon also appeared in a new white jacket, which also met our approval.  That said, the man wore a new hat during White Lines that we had to wonder about as you can see below.IMG_2747

Again, seeing Simon in this sparkly pink hat alerted us that this show was something to behold!  Perhaps, there is a connection between this moment and another Simon moment that happened on this exact date in 2009.

We have to wonder when is the madness going to end??????

Those Damn Beach Balls:

Speaking of madness, again, giant beach balls appeared during Rio.  Many of them found their way to the stage where the band would gleefully punch, throw, or kick them back out to the crowd.  At one point, John’s microphone stand almost fell over from one while he was singing into it.  Then, just a couple of minutes later, he sent a beach ball into the audience, knocking the stand completely over.  It was all distracting.  Where do I watch?  Am I watching the band?  Watching the balls to ensure that I don’t get hit on the head with one?  Even after the song ended, the crowd and band continued to toss them back and forth.  Craziness.

Holy JoSi, Batman!!!

Oh my.  I’m still reeling from all of the fabulous JoSi moments last night.  Honestly, there were SO many that I wondered if I had taken a time machine and it was 2005 all over again.  On top of the frequency of those John and Simon moments, they were also longer and…dare I say…more quality.  Longer eye contact, for example.  At one point, Simon walked over and kissed John’s shirt, which was the mouth from Rio.  Well, then.  Simon even grabbed at John’s collar to pull him closer.  Let this pattern continue for the rest of the tour.  Please.  I beg the Duranie gods!

Song Highlights:

Both Rhonda and I are REALLY loving New Moon on Monday.  For both shows, it just adds something to the show.  I love how it connects Duran’s history with more recent Duran.  I also thought Pressure Off was great, but I missed the confetti terribly.  Wild Boys was great fun!  I have also liked I Don’t Want Your Love both nights.  Last night, though, I noticed that while Simon introduced the song, John and Dom were mouthing the words that Simon was saying.  Clearly, they have heard it a time or two.

There were a couple of moments that reminded me of times past.  First, during Planet Earth, I had heard that the crowds had not been shouting “switch it off” anymore.  Well, we proudly did.  Last night, John saw us yell and responded by saying, “That’s right!”  On top of that, Simon ventured off the stage to encourage the crowd to sing the “ta na na” part of the Reflex.  If that wasn’t enough, Simon also messed up the lyrics to not one song but two (Hungry Like the Wolf and Save a Prayer).  Again, we wondered if we didn’t go in a time machine?!

Ravinia and the Crowd:

While these two shows were great fun, I’m for one glad to be moving on to different venues.  While last night’s crowd was way better, there were still so many people there who were NOT there to see Duran Duran.  It is hard to remain excited when you hear people say things like, “Who’s Nick Rhodes?”  On top of that, the venue is far from the city, from downtown and a serious pain in the ass to get to and from.

Overall:

I would have to say that Friday’s show was probably a better performance but last night’s show was way high on the entertaining side.  They seemed more relaxed and that they were having fun.  We look forward to seeing how things go for the next couple of shows in Detroit and Toronto.

-A

 

Duran Duran Unstaged DVD Review

I love getting new Duran Duran merchandise and my most recent purchase, Duran Duran Unstaged on DVD, arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago.  I figured that I have had plenty of time to watch thoroughly (what I suffer through for this blog!) in order to provide a solid review.

Cover:

The cover of the DVD is not what I was expecting.  When Unstaged first happened in 2011 to when there were screenings here in the States, the image accompanying it was always this one:

Original Unstaged

This image isn’t a bad one.  After all, it goes really well with the All You Need Is Now album cover.  Yet, the DVD came with this image:

Unstaged front

In some way, the fangirl in me like this one better as the guys are all featured.  That said, I have to wonder about the inclusion of the lead singer of My Chemical Romance in the upper left.  Anyway, I like seeing the band members in full on performance-mode.  That said, will buyers be confused when they find out that it isn’t just a “regular” concert performance but a David Lynch production with various images combined with that concert performance.  In that sense, the original cover might be more appropriate.

The Show

Now, I have seen Unstaged at a movie theater and I have seen it on my computer screen.  Watching it on DVD was better than the computer screen (my monitor isn’t all that good!) but it wasn’t as fun as seeing it in the theater.  Then again, all things Duran would be better in a theater.  I have now been lucky enough to see Live from London, A Diamond in the Mind (at our Durandemonium convention in 2013) and Unstaged in theaters and all three were better in that format!  Of course, though, I will take what I can get!

The Special Features

There are 10 of them:

  • Reunited
  • Backstage
  • In the Studio
  • First instrument, concert and song
  • Starstruck
  • Q&A
  • Nick’s dream
  • Simon’s dream
  • White light
  • Trailer

Reunited

This special feature is a compilation of individual interviews with the band members discussing the band’s reuniting.  Nick and Simon focused on how they never left while John and Roger gave background info about when and where it took place.  The other focus of these interviews was Mark Ronson and seeing him DJ.  I remember having seen all of these interviews before when Unstaged was about to happen.

Backstage

This clip has no talking to it but shows the band backstage, getting ready, warming up before showing a bit of them performing.  This feature was new to me.  I only wished there was more to it!

In the Studio

This is the EPK that was released prior to the actual release date for All You Need Is Now.  I still love this and love that it reminds me of how much I adore the album, All You Need Is Now.

First instrument, concert and song

This part goes back to those individual interviews in which each band member is asked about their first musical instrument, first concert and the first song that made them cry.  Again, these were not  new interviews.

Starstruck

More individual interviews followed in this one.  In this case, the band discussed when and who first made them starstruck.  While these interview clips were like the rest, I don’t remember having seen these before.  To me, anything I haven’t seen makes it worth the price of purchase!

Q&A

This was the strange Q&A that David Lynch led before the show.  He spoke in a weird “language” and read questions that people sent in (where?  how?  I don’t remember!  Does anyone?).  Some questions were were all members and others specified certain band members.  I remember having seen this before as well.

Nick’s Dream

This one was new to me!  In this one, Nick discussed his dream, which he concludes was due to being tired and jet-lagged causing people and things to be out of sync!  Good thinking!

Simon’s Dream

Unlike Nick’s dream, Simon retelling his dream wasn’t new to me.  I did appreciate that at the end Simon did not have any idea what his dream meant.  That made me laugh the first time and this time as well!

White Light

Like Nick’s dream, this one was unfamiliar to me!  In this one, Nick is sitting in a darkened room.  It is unclear if he is talking about a dream or a story.  It sounds like he can definitely be a dream but he claims it happened.  Hmm…

Trailer

Last but not least is the trailer to Unstaged.  As I watched it one more time for this review, I decided that I have seen the trailer a bunch of times.

Overall

Most of the special features were ones that I have seen before and are available on YouTube.  That said, there were a couple of clips that were brand new to me.  I always love seeing new Duran footage.  I also really appreciate having all of these clips together in a format that doesn’t require me searching online, then having to make sure that they are what I was looking for, etc.  No, they are all together here, adding up to a nice extra 25 minutes.  Not bad.  Would I have liked more new parts?  Of course, but I am glad to have what is here for my Duran collection.

-A

Daily Duranie Video Review for Pressure Off!

Anyone see any good videos lately?  Anyone??  Anyone??  Bueller?  Obviously, we might have taken some time to watch a certain little video for Duran Duran’s Pressure Off a time or two thousand.  Then, of course, we took some more time to bring you all another of our ridiculous, why-don’t-we-ever-stop-talking video reviews of it!  While we could go on and on here in writing, we won’t.  We’ll just let the video speak for itself…after all, we talk enough for the video AND a written blog.  (Yes, it seems we are always very wordy!)  Enjoy!  snort

Now, you probably want to watch something much more…fun so we thought you might enjoy seeing Pressure Off again for the 38,456th time and then the 38,457th time and the 38,458th time…You get our point!

-A&R