Tag Archives: Duran Duran side projects

Repost – Step Into My Flame: Reflecting on Arcadia

This post is an oldie, but a goodie from way back in January of 2013. It was the first of many posts that C.K. has contributed to Daily Duranie. Since this week marks another anniversary for Arcadia and So Red the Rose, it seemed like the right time to crack open the archive and find it! Enjoy! – R

I could walk into a room full of Duran fans and incite a riot with any number of comments. I could pick on Andy or Warren, as each has a dedicated following; I could shout out that Red Carpet Massacre is actually one of their best albums (don’t worry—I don’t think that—but confess to loving half of it); I could say they were better off with Sterling Campbell than Roger…(well maybe that’s just bordering on the absurd…)….I could say that if Dom were the guitarist from the get-go, Duran would have more hits and more stability and would be rightfully enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and routinely performing the halftime show at the Super Bowl (okay, now I’m just blatantly kissing up to the management of this blog)…anyway, I think we DD fans are an easy group to get riled up, on any number of topics.   

However, I’m not here to do that today. I don’t think I will, anyway—we shall see. Rather, I’m curious about what the readers of Daily Duranie feel about one of the band’s most famous and successful side projects: Arcadia. My general sense of the fan community’s attitude to the album is that, in context, it was a relief to know that Simon/Nick and (sort of) Roger were “doing something” while Andy and John were off with Robert Palmer and The Power Station.  Thus it was nice, in 1985, to hear Simon’s voice on a song on the radio while “Some Like It Hot” and “Bang a Gong” were being played nonstop, and John and Andy were jamming out in front of toilets and scantily clad women on MTV.     

I also think there is a segment of the fan base that treated So Red the Rose as Duran’s fourth studio album—listened to it over and over again, poured over the artwork and lyrics that accompanied the vinyl and/or cassette release, watched for the videos on MTV like a hawk.  I count myself among this group—I absolutely love the album.  But is loving Arcadia akin to, say, also loving Medazzaland or Pop Trash (count me guilty there too)? For the most part, I think the current Duran fan base dismisses those albums, which his fine—to each his or her own. Or is my affection (obsession?) with So Red the Rose more widespread and shared among the fans?  

I am not a musician so, at least consciously, I can’t claim to know or be attached to Andy’s guitar style or John’s style as a bass player, etc. For me, Duran Duran begins and ends with two elements: Simon’s voice and Nick’s synths. So I guess it’s logical, given that perspective, that I gravitated toward Arcadia.  

I scanned the past blogs and comments on Daily Duranie to see what people said about the project. Amanda’s blog on October 12 of last year addressed the question of why some of the later side projects were not as popular among the fans as Arcadia and Power Station.  Two replies to that blog cited the fact that other projects like The Devils and JT’s solo albums weren’t their style of music, while Arcadia was “amazing” (wrote Joel) and “a great vehicle” (Jetrell69) for Nick/Simon and “Roger’s drum machine.” (LOL-and I don’t use that term loosely!) 

But not everyone loved So Red the Rose. In response to another blog that month (on October 23, the anniversary of the release of Notorious), Heather Todd wrote that, “Arcadia went down a road I wasn’t interested in taking. I wanted more Wild Boys!” I can relate to that point of view. Let’s face it—Arcadia was weird. Even I, as a devotee of the album, can say that.  It had odd artwork, all those numbers, the guys with their black hair, the Grace Jones spoken word portion that is the only thing I don’t like about “Election Day,” and all those six and seven minute songs on the second side…it certainly was a far cry from tight, pop-oriented “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” It was Nick unleashed, unbridled.   

At the time, and for many years later, I viewed Arcadia as Duran’s second best album.  I know that statement is fraught with controversy on multiple levels…but it simply reflected how I felt. I even grouped the Arcadia cassette with the Duran Duran ones, always slipping it in between Arena and Notorious, in its proper chronological place. Why did I like it so much?  I thought it was extremely catchy. I loved the diversity—if you wanted guitar, you listened to The Flame; if you wanted a pop song, you listened to Election Day; if you wanted to be absolutely depressed and sad, you listened to Missing; if you wanted powerful songs with a message, you listened to Goodbye is Forever and The Promise.  

So Red the Rose had the “meat” and depth to it that Seven and the Ragged Tiger (SATRT) lacked. It was like a bizarro, alternate universe counterpart to Rio—darkly mirroring it in everything from the artwork to the running order. (Yes, Lady Ice is Simon’s first of many pseudo-Chauffeur songs and probably my favorite.) And it did represent a return to that “darkness” that harkened back to the first album. I remember listening to the second side of Duran Duran and creating all of these dark videos in my head, and the second side of So Red the Rose evoked a similar response. (Rio does that too, although I think that’s as much about the videos as it is the songs themselves, e.g. I’m not sure I would associate Save a Prayer with running on the beach if I had never seen the video)  

It was weird, dark, moody and gray…but it was also cool. How great was it to hear Sting and Simon sing on a song that wasn’t “Do they know it’s Christmas?”?  Or David Gilmour’s killer guitar on The Flame?  (ed note: David appeared on “The Promise”. Our apologies for not getting this correct the first time.)   

I listened to So Red the Rose over and over again in 1985 and 1986. The only thing that tore me away was getting Notorious for Christmas in 1986 (I was 14—too young to drive and get it on release day!). But in 1987, I purchased the Playing for Keeps soundtrack because it included “Say the Word,” the lone b-side from Arcadia (remixes notwithstanding). I loved “Say the Word” but was glad it wasn’t on So Red the Rose—in much the same way that I love Secret Oktober but was glad it wasn’t on SATRT—it just functioned better outside the album.   

So, over a quarter century after its release, where do I rank So Red the Rose? I would say it’s in the upper tier of Duran albums. Off the top of my head, I probably like it better than anything after 1990 with the exception of Medazzaland and AYNIN; I’d say it’s on my Mt. Rushmore of Duran albums: Rio, the first album, AYNIN, Notorious, and Medazzaland.  (My Mt. Rushmore has six faces!).  

Jetrell69 had also commented that, “I had hoped we’d see another Arcadia release.” I recall The Devils album being billed as such in 2002, which of course led me to be very disappointed in it. The closest we’ve come to an Arcadia follow-up is likely Medazzaland.  Musically, maybe I’m way off with that comparison, but it seems to be the most similar in style and tone to So Red the Rose.   

You’ll notice that I did not get into an Arcadia vs. Power Station analysis. I avoided this for several reasons. For starters, I never even bought The Power Station album until 1990. I simply had no interest in it before then. Admittedly, I loved it, and that I think the ’96 follow-up, Living in Fear, is excellent and I still listen to that on occasion.   

However, to me, Arcadia is unique among all Duran side projects because of Simon’s voice.  I would no more compare Arcadia to The Power Station then I would Arcadia to any other band—it’s apples and oranges. Maybe that’s a topic for another blog or poll question…but not today.   I’m curious what you think. Am I overrating Arcadia? Is it truly “the most pretentious album of the decade” as Simon called it? Or do you view it as I do, as the dark companion to those early, classic Duran albums, and the bridge from the “original lineup era” to what followed?  Don’t keep us in the dark…comment below!!!    

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

Ultimate Box Set: Side/Solo Project Final Vote

The Daily Duranie has been working to create an Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set.  While Rhonda and I have definite strong opinions about what should be included, we didn’t think that made sense to just have it be from us.  Therefore, we have taken time to ask all of the Duranies who read this blog to help us create it.  The Ultimate Box Set would have multiple categories including:  Singles, Album Tracks, B-Sides/Bonus Tracks, Live Tracks, Side/Solo Project Songs, and Remixes.  So far, readers have chosen 7 tracks from all of the categories except for Side/Solo Projects and Remixes.  The results so far are:

Singles:

  • Planet Earth
  • Save a Prayer
  • Ordinary World
  • Girls on Film
  • Pressure Off
  • Rio
  • New Moon on Monday

Album Tracks:

  • New Religion
  • The Chauffeur
  • Hold Back the Rain
  • Friends of Mine
  • The Man Who Stole a Leopard
  • The Seventh Stranger
  • Paper Gods

B-Sides/Bonus Tracks:

  • Secret Oktober
  • Late Bar
  • Beautiful Colours
  • I Believe/All I Need to Know
  • Salt in the Rainbow
  • Planet Roaring
  • Faster Than Light
  • (Come Up and See Me) Make Me Smile

Live Tracks:

  • New Religion
  • Careless Memories
  • The Chauffeur
  • Rio
  • Wild Boys
  • White Lines
  • Planet Earth

Now, we are ready to finally choose the 7 songs that will represent the best of Duran’s Side and/or Solo Projects.  In case, you want to listen to the choices, I made some playlists on YouTube for all of you:

Arcadia:

Power Station:

John Taylor:

Simon Le Bon:

Dom Brown:

Now, I think we are all ready to pick SEVEN side and solo project songs that should be included on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set!!!

-A

[socialpoll id=”2451163″]

Ultimate Box Set: Side/Solo Projects Part 3

This week, we continue on with our polls surrounding side/solo project songs that fans feel should be considered for the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  The goal is to pick 7 songs each week until the readers have gone through all of the various Duran related side and solo projects before having a final vote.  So far, songs have been picked from Power Station, Neurotic Outsiders, Arcadia, The Devils and TV Mania.  This week, we will tackle both Dom Brown and Freebass.

Before I attach the poll, I have to say something about these two projects.  Dom Brown, Duran’s current guitar player, has done work on his own.  In fact, he has released two solo albums, “Touch the Flames” and “Between the Lines”.  If that was not enough, he has a blues band, Blue to Brown, with his father that also resulted in an album.  If you haven’t heard these albums, I highly recommend them and can be purchased on Dom’s official site.   Normally, when I have done these polls, I have put up YouTube playlists to provide the opportunity to hear the songs before voting.  Unfortunately, there are only a handful available.  I will post the ones I found:

I can provide even less about Freebass.  According to the Duran Duran Wikia  page, Freebass was formed in 1997 by Roger Taylor and Marco Silver in Birmingham.  An album was recorded and the band’s only single is “Love Is Like Oxygen“, a cover of a song done by the British band group, Sweet, was released in January of 1998.  At the same time, the band broke up.  Marco Silver continued on and is now using the name, Free Bass Inc.  You can hear “Love Is Like Oxygen” by clicking the link above.  I will include the other songs on the album on the poll, but lack means of providing all of you a chance to hear them.  I apologize.  If someone knows where/how I could share, please let me know.

Before I get to voting, let’s take a look at what side/solo projects remain in consideration so far:

Power Station:

  • Some Like It Hot
  • Get It On/Bang a Gong
  • Communication
  • Murderess
  • Harvest for the World
  • Still in Your Heart
  • She Can Rock It

Neurotic Outsiders:

  • Feelings Are Good

Arcadia:

  • Election Day
  • The Promise
  • Goodbye Is Forever
  • The Flame
  • El Diablo
  • Lady Ic
  • Keep Me in the Dark

Now, it is time to vote on which Dom Brown and/or Freebass songs should be considered for the Ultimate Box Set.  Vote here:

[socialpoll id=”2445914″]

-A

 

Ultimate Box Set: Side/Solo Projects Part 1

The Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set finally reaches the last category.  Since winter, fans/readers of this blog have voted on singles, album tracks, b-sides/demos, and live tracks.  Now, we begin voting on the last type of Duran song to be included in our box set.  This category really isn’t Duran but songs written and recorded as part of a side project or by a member on his own.  Before I get into how I will split up this last category, let’s look at which live songs were chosen.

After starting with the 50 most often songs played live, we narrowed down the choices to 35 then 21 before picking 7.  Here are the winners:

  1. New Religion
  2. Careless Memories
  3. The Chauffeur
  4. Rio
  5. Wild Boys
  6. White Lines
  7. Planet Earth

If you notice, many of those songs are played at the majority of shows, including Rio, Wild Boys, White Lines and Planet Earth.  Although, that last song was notably absent at some spring shows!  Anyway, I’m sure that there will be some fans who read this blog and participate in these fun polls who will want to determine which version/arrangement of these live tracks should be included.  I agree.    Yet, I will do those polls as part of our daily questions.  I’ll have to determine how many different live versions exist for each one, but that voting should be fun.

Meanwhile, we move on to the side/solo projects.  Clearly, this category is a large one with many bands (Power Station, Arcadia, Neurotic Outsiders, The Devils, TV Mania, Freebass, etc.) as well as solo songs by Simon, John, and Dom.  Here’s the deal.  I considered including Andy and Warren’s projects but opted not to for two reasons.  First, I needed to limit the category somehow and, second, I decided to stick to current members only.

Like other massive categories, I didn’t want to include all songs by all side/solo projects all at once.  Talk about overwhelming!  Therefore, I had to break them up, somehow.  My plan is to stick to similar projects while attempting to balance the number of songs.  Thus, this week we will start with Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders.  Both projects featured John Taylor and had more of a rock style.  In case, you aren’t familiar with these projects, I will help on that front.  I have put together YouTube playlists to help.

Here’s Power Station:

Here’s Neurotic Outsiders:

Now, hopefully, you are all ready to pick the 7 songs out of the list that should be considered for the side/solo project songs on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set!  Let’s vote:

[socialpoll id=”2443192″]

-A