Tag Archives: Daily Duranie Reviews

Tiger Tiger — The Daily Duranie Review (R)

Today I’m reviewing Tiger Tiger – an instrumental off of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  I think this might actually be the very first song that we’ve reviewed where there are absolutely no vocals of any kind, so hey – something new!

Musicality/Instrumentation:  There are certain songs that give me immediate, inescapable chills, and this one is on that extremely short list for me. I simply cannot listen to this song without having them, and I can’t listen to this song without visualizing the beginning to Sing Blue Silver. (and if you’ve never seen Sing Blue Silver I want you to go to Amazon right now…right this very second in fact…and order the DVD. It’s worth the money, and every Duranie should have this in their collection. ) I love the opening – it sounds like an orchestra warming up (although I doubt that’s what it is) and then is silenced with the opening keyboard notes. That leads into the familiar notes where I see a convoy of semitrucks on the highway in my minds eye, along with hearing the beginning of the well-known keyboard melody.  Now, what I truly love about this song is the soprano saxophone, played by Andy Hamilton – which certainly becomes the entire melody line for the song, backed up by synthesizer.  I really appreciate that the band took the initiative to have the lead instrument in the song be the saxophone – an instrument that really is not in the actual band line-up, although to be sure it is included in a good many songs in the band catalog.  Even in my youth, I grew to love Tiger Tiger on this album, likely because of the saxophone – but also because of the simplicity of the song itself. It is a head-clearing few moments for me as I listen.  At 3 minutes and 19 seconds in  length, the song is not incredibly long, but it flows beautifully and takes you on a short musical journey.

Vocals:  No vocals here…so Simon gets a free pass…this week.  🙂

Lyrics:  This song is so good it didn’t even NEED lyrics!

Overall:  This song gets everything right in the way that the rest of this album falls short.  The production isn’t messy, it’s not overdone – and while there is a lot going on in background tracking and melody lines, it sounds simple, yet finished.  I love that there are no lyrics – because it allows the listener and the music to just BE..and on an album like Seven and the Ragged Tiger, where there is just layering upon layering, it’s really nice to have a song just take you away to a daydream.  For me, the beauty in this song is it’s simplicity.  Not only does it showcase the musical chops of Andy Hamilton and Nick, it also proves what Ian Little and Alex Sadkin are indeed capable of producing.  By far one of the best tracks off of this album, if not *the* best track.  second-to-last song, although I can see why it works there as well.  I really cannot think of a single thing that could have been done to make this song better, music like this is why I became a fan in the first place.

Cocktail Rating:  Five very well-deserved cocktails!

dca2a-5glasses

-R

Shadows On Your Side — The Daily Duranie Review (A)

This is my turn to go ahead and review Shadows On Your Side as Rhonda did her review last week.  This is one song off Seven and the Ragged Tiger that I liked as a kid but never really thought about much.  It got hidden by the “hits”.  So, now, that I’m taking a long look at it, what do I think about it?

Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song starts like so many others on the album.  It is pretty immediate and inescapable.  There is no significant lead in, no time to get used to it.  No, it is full sound all at once within the first few seconds.  It is hard to discern individual instrumentation, except for the obvious keyboards and very occasional guitar when Simon seems to take a bit of a breath.  When it is played, the guitar is very cool.  At times, you can sense John’s bass but it is fleeting and subtle.  Again, like so many others, it feels like there was an effort to ensure that every little second of the song was filled with layer upon layer of sound.  The only time it does not completely feel that way is when the tempo slows down during the bridge and allows for some highlighting of guitars and keyboards.  I have always liked whenever highlighting seemed to be featured.

Vocals:  Classically wonderful vocals from Mr. LeBon here, I must say.  The thing about the song is that it always, ALWAYS makes me want to sing out loud.  Yes, that isn’t anything new when it comes to Duran or Simon, specifically.  Yet, there is something about THIS song that always gets to me.  Simon’s vocals feel like they are soaring just like the lyric.  The passion is clearly felt, especially during the chorus.  Then, I adore the low notes of the very end when he sings “shadows on your side” over and over again.  There is something haunting and emotional about it.

Lyrics:  These lyrics like so many on this album seem to focus, at least on some level, on fame and the effects of fame.  Lines like, “shining crowd”, “the music is louder than all of their roar” indicates crowds, fans, fame.  Yet, at the same time, there is distress about this fame with lines like “everybody to say that you’re having the time of your life when your life is on the slide”.  The shadows imply darkness, being hidden, at some level.  Obviously, at least how I’m interpreting it, the shadows are good, in some way.  Perhaps, they are good in providing denial.  Maybe, they are good in removing the spotlight.  If this interpretation is accurate, the fame the band was dealing with wasn’t always a party.  I have to say that I adore these lyrics.  I love that I’m able to analyze them and, maybe, get an insight into their lives then.  On a personal note, I have always felt like this song was something I could relate to.  As someone who deals with her own darkness, at times, I understand how the darkness can feel like it is on my side.  There is a comfort there.  I get it.

Overall:  There is much about this song that I really like.  The lyrics are fabulous and Simon’s vocals are great.  Musically, I like the guitar parts and feel like they add a very nice touch.  Yet, I struggle with being overwhelmed with all of the musicality coming at me.  As a kid, when I first got this album, I loved that.  Now, as an adult, I wish for more subtle, less tense.  I prefer the music to breathe a bit more.  Is this a result of the writing?  Possibly.  I suspect it is due more to the production.  All that said, I would SO love to hear this one live as it is one of the better tracks off Seven and the Ragged Tiger, in my opinion.

Cocktail Rating:   3.5 cocktails!

9c6d2-3halfglasses

Shadows On Your Side – The Daily Duranie Review (R)

We continue reviewing the Seven and The Ragged Tiger album today with Shadows on Your Side.  This week is Rhonda’s week to review, followed by Amanda’s review of the same song next week.

Musicality/Instrumentation: I like the quick drum intro to this song because it’s just different….it’s just a two beat pick-up, but it works. What immediately strikes me about the instrumentation as recorded is that it’s very top-heavy with very little noticeable bass to support. Yet, if you really listen – the bass is there in the mix, down very deep, and it’s a groovy bass line besides. Not at all boring, the bass work sounds intricate, with John’s hallmark playing. Once the song gets to the chorus, there are very noticeable guitar riffs that keep the structural integrity of the song, but adds just a touch of grit to what could end up being a very glossy song otherwise – the guitar gives just the right amount of texture to keep it interesting. It’s the ying/yang effect between Simon’s voice and Andy’s guitar…which works really well. The song is upbeat, and keeps that driving beat throughout. If you know what you’re looking for, you can hear a rhythm guitar during the chorus as well, which just goes to show that in this band, a versatile guitarist is not only needed – it’s an integral part of the recipe. I especially like the bridge where you can very much hear Andy and Nick playing off of one another – giving the song their best.  No friction there, simply playing melody and background together, and it’s beautiful.

Vocals: I find myself wondering what I can really say about Simon’s vocals here.  They’re good and strong.  He has emotion without overdoing it, and I do love the way he quietly sings “Shadows on your side” in a deeper part of his range here.  I really can’t find anything wrong – it’s Simon singing the way that Simon does best.  

Lyrics: I don’t think I ever stopped to consider what these lyrics meant until today.  That really is no testament to the quality of the lyrics themselves as much as it is a statement of my own lack of attention to detail on this one.  No matter, as I listen today, I find a similar element in this song as I do to other songs on this album.  Simon sings “Shackled and raised for a shining crowd, they want you to speak but the music is louder than all of their roar, with the heat of the planet’s core…” Those words seem to indicate that things looked a whole lot better from the crowd than they might have felt from the stage back then.  I almost imagine Simon as a puppet during the shows – doing his job, singing the lyrics, entertaining the crowd but almost wishing he were anywhere else at the time.  The relief comes at night, when he is whisked away from the crowd to someone waiting – someone or something in the shadows, hiding from prying eyes.  Maybe it’s not even that there’s someone there for him, it’s that he can retreat back into where he’s most comfortable, away from the public.  It almost seems as though references are made to the discomforts of fame throughout the entire album in various lines of lyric – something I’d never really picked up on before.  The next verse continues with “Promises made with a distant friend, truth should be known it can only bend to a tune of its own, hey you’ll never hear that voice again.”  I find these lines to be really interesting.  Is this a comment to the “friends” Simon has made along the way? The girls he’s met after shows?  Someone else entirely?  Hard to say, but very intriguing.  Everyone has a safe-place.  Somewhere they go when they need to get away or hide.  “With everybody to say that you’re having the time of your life, when your life is on the slide.”  Well then.  Doesn’t everything always look better from the outside than from within?

Overall:  This is an easy song to overlook on this album – it was on the B side (oh, remember the days of B sides?!?), it wasn’t a single, and as such it probably was never one of the most mentioned.  What strikes me most is that individually – the elements of the song are very good, and they work well together. However, due to what I would blame as a poor mix – I feel as though a lot of the impact is lost or at the very least, difficult to hear.  This is not only something found in Duran’s music of the time, but is also a defining element of the period, and it is what truly “dates” some of this music because it is not well-balanced.

Cocktail Rating:  3 Cocktails!

fd301-threeglasses

 -R

Union of the Snake – The Daily Duranie Review (R)

This being the first review of 2014, we have decided to mix it up a bit. Since we have fewer breaking stories from the band…*coughs*…we are going to break up our reviews into two parts. Each week you can look forward a review: one week will feature my review of a particular song, and the next will be Amanda’s review (of the same song). Additionally, instead of doing a separate category for production, we have incorporated production into the “Overall” section – found at the end of each review just before our final cocktail rating.

For the next two weeks, we are going to examine “Union of the Snake” off of, yes…Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  This was the lead single off of the album, released in October of 1983 and peaked at #3 on both the US and UK charts.  Rhonda will start off the review, followed by Amanda’s next week.

Musicality/Instrumentation:  The introduction to this song is intriguing to me, purely because of the dichotomy of Andy on guitar verses Nick on synthesizers. This is one song where there is a real “call and response” happening between the two – which I find plays into the theme of the song beautifully.  What I did not notice much of, though, is bass. There are moments when I can actually hear John’s bass, but it’s very faint (in my opinion). I think the sound would be better supported with a touch more of him in the mix, and it wouldn’t sound quite as top heavy. One element that I love in this song though, is Andy Hamilton on both soprano and tenor saxophone. He can be heard throughout the song, and rather than a guitar solo, we hear Andy Hamilton on soprano sax about 2/3 of the way through the song. The tenor sax is heard in several places and helps to provide some much needed depth and dimension to the overall sound. I also really appreciate the extra sounds – like the click/clack sounds of percussion that take place throughout – it’s an added element without being too intrusive and overwhelming. Speaking of percussions brings me to the drums.  Truthfully I would have not necessarily noticed Roger’s drums – they are there without being overly obtrusive.  However, I read that Roger took this beat from David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, and now that I listen to the song – I very much hear that influence, which works well with the instrumentation.

Vocals: I really like Simon’s vocals on this song – what I don’t enjoy quite as much though is the very loud backup singers in the mix.  They seem to overpower Simon, and I don’t know that it adds as much as it detracts. I’ve always imagined Simon singing the entire song with a sneaky smile on his face – as it very much sounds that way when I listen. He sings the song with emotion, but not so much that it becomes comical.

Lyrics: Ok, who here can tell me what in the hell this song really means?? In doing my initial research for this song, I ran across several suggestions online ranging from “tantric sex” (apparently Simon offered this up as a reasoning behind the lyrics) to the borderline being the area between the conscious and subconscious minds. Again…this courtesy of Simon Le Bon, who just loves to toy with us all. Thanks, Simon. I must fall to my own reasoning, which sadly in this case, is very much lacking. I think that I always felt the Union of the Snake was the band, and the line “The union of the snake is on the climb. It’s gonna race, gonna break through the borderline” was about the band’s upward movement. World domination and all.  “If I listen close, I can hear them singers…”  “voices in your body coming through on the radio”…I don’t know why, but I always felt that was about the fans. That if he listens, he can hear us.  We’re loud, you know. I joke, but I find these lyrics in particular to be a good example of the prose-type lyrics that Simon was famous (infamous?) for writing during this era.

Overall: As I mentioned, we are incorporating production into the “overall” category – which really is meant to be a survey of how the different elements fit together.  With that in mind, this is one of the songs off of this album that I feel was produced rather well. The overall sound is not overwhelming, and I can hear most of the instrumentation pretty clearly.  However, I do find it odd that John was not worked into the mix better to add more of a “grounding” to the sound.  I still think the background singers are incredibly loud at times, and while I can understand the reasoning for having them there – I don’t think the intention was to overpower the lead singer. I like the call and response between synthesizers and guitar, and I feel like entire song is more of a “it’s us against the world” type of anthem, which plays out well through the instrumentation and lyrics.  Overall, I have to wonder if this was truly the best song on the album that could have been the lead single – it was done at the last minute, with mixing taking place up to the last minute before EMI took the tapes for pressing, although to be sure, the song does not sound as though it was rushed together – and perhaps in that regard, the song was well-executed.  The song was never on my list of favorites for the band, but I believe that since this song was the first released from this album, Duranies were starving for new music – and this song met the need.

Cocktail Rating:  3 Cocktails!

-R