Tag Archives: Duran Duran

It’s Just Music

It’s rigged

If you’ve escaped the news regarding the US Senate Impeachment Trial, it is entirely possible you have heard about another scandal. Deborah Dugan, the recently ousted CEO of the Recording Academy, claims that the Grammy award system, among a myriad of other very serious allegations, is rigged.

Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission this week. She is alleging sexual harassment and discrimination against the Recording Academy. This was following her own untimely exit on January 16. She was placed on administrative leave following another female staffer complaints of misconduct (by Dugan). Complaints of sexual harassment in Hollywood are not new. Given the complexities and drama enveloping the situation, I suspect there will be more news to come. However, I did find the allegations about the awards system worthy of comment.

Clown-car acts of try-hards

With each passing year, I pay less and less attention to the music award shows. Call it aging, call it a lack of care or concern. The fact is, the awards, and certainly the visual spectacles they create for television, are boring to me. They resemble circuses of excess, complete with clown-car acts of try-hards, attempting to outdo whomever stepped onstage before.

I used to force myself to watch. Desperately trying to stay informed, as well as exercise and maintain a decent ear for new music. I never could quite understand why I had zero trouble listening to music from my parents day and prior. I appreciated the history and where music has traveled since. Yet listening to modern music (at least the most “popular” being heralded on these awards shows) makes me crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found plenty of new music to enjoy – just not the stuff pedaled on these shows for mainstream audiences.

As I’ve watched shows like the Grammy Awards, I’ve sat back in wonderment over some of the nominees, and most definitely the winners. I can’t count how many times I wondered how fill-in-the-blank-here actually got nominated, much less won. That isn’t about my own personal taste, either.

Finger on the pulse of mainstream

I can’t ignore the fact that people of color dominate many of the categories. Yet far too often it ends up being white people getting the award. Yeah, I’m playing the race card because it’s been way too damn obvious to ignore. Certainly, I could never prove a thing; but if me, “little-white-woman-from-California” was wondering about it, rest assured, I wasn’t alone.

Granted, I don’t have my finger on the pulse of mainstream music these days – but some of the choices felt (and sounded) completely out of left field. Sadly, it didn’t surprise me when news reports about this alleged “rigging” began surfacing this week. In fact, I believe my sarcastic comment was, “No. You don’t say!!” I mean, come on. Who DOESN’T think these shows are a joke??

Did you know that the membership in the Recording Academy (according to Slate) is only 21% female, and only 28% people of color? Interesting, given those groups of people often dominate entire categories. Yet, their role in the voting and governing body is minimal. The process is that the full membership casts choices in all categories. Then, for each of those categories, committees cull through the top 20 choices, down to a final 5-8 nominees.

All of this sounds familiar

What I found interesting here, this committee meets and the members push forward their own choices. So for example, if you’re someone who works with say, Ed Sheeran – you’re going to push forward his nomination in whatever category you’re working on, regardless of whether or not he’s truly the best example of this years artists in that category. Doesn’t matter because, well – this is a popularity contest. It also doesn’t matter if Ed (again, just an example!!) was even in the top 20 voted by the entire membership body for that category. Dugan’s complaint claims that for the 2020 Grammys, 30 of this year’s nominees were added to the final list of nominees, despite not making the initial cut to the top 20.

I wish that were all, but she also claims that this year, one of the nominees for Song of the Year came in at #18 in the top 20 (meaning that the entire membership made their choices for this category, and this nominee was the 18th most popular choice). Yet they made it through to the top nominees. Maybe when faced with the choices that were in the top 20, this particular committee of people decided that #18 was really one of the top 5-8 choices for the category. Sure. I suppose in this day and age, anything is possible. But really??

Hearts and ears of the white men

While I’m the first to say that I think the award shows are a joke – it is a little numbing and disconcerting to read that they’re REALLY this messed up. I’m a lot less surprised that Duran Duran didn’t win more of them during the course of their career, I’ll say that much.

No, I’ll even go one further. We already know that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is political. Getting on that nomination ballot is an exercise in futility. At the very least, you’ve got to have the hearts and ears of all the white men in the room. Then there’s the Grammy Awards, which has also now proven it’s own irrelevance, assuming that even some of the allegations are true. I can’t imagine they’re untrue at this point. With so many patterns of behavior emerging, it is difficult to imagine otherwise.

Does it matter?

I guess that at least for me, I have to wonder when it stops. Will it stop? When does the public finally say no more? Or, perhaps it doesn’t matter enough to anyone to bother? “It’s just music.”

Yes, it is music. This week, it is the Recording Academy in the crosshairs…it’s also The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Oscars, the entertainment industry, business, and beyond. It is about equal opportunity, People of Color, LGBTQ, white people, women, men….about humans. Our behavior, our history, our collective culture, and our future.

Sure, it’s just music and this is just an awards show. All of it superficial and irrelevant…except it’s not.

-R

It is About the Music

Time and time again, when it all boils down, the music brings us together. Each time I think I know this, it ends up being proven to me again. This time, with some of my neighbors.

During the year that we’ve lived in Atascadero, we have been meeting new people. Somewhat facetiously, I’ll mention how I can’t see my neighbors (mostly true), or that I don’t really even know the people who live across the road from us (well, we’ve waved at one another and I do know their names now…), but to be honest, Walt and I have hoped we’d meet some people we could eventually call good friends. Luckily, this happened not long after we’d moved in and were invited to a small neighborly barbecue on Memorial Day weekend. We hit it off with the brand new neighbors who were hosting. Occasionally we get together, which has been very nice.

Several months back, this couple joined a group of people who get together once a month for dinner. They take turns hosting, and essentially people come over on the first Friday night of the month with a bottle of wine and a dish to share. Everyone chats and eats, then typically by 9pm or so – everyone goes home. They invited us to try it out, and it was fun.

The thing is, most of the people who attend are at least 10-15 years older than my husband and I. Our neighbor friends are about our same age, but they have a drastically different lifestyle from my husband and I. They don’t have children, they live here only part-time, and they do quite a bit of international travel. I believe the last time I left the country was with Amanda when we crossed into Canada. They, along with my husband, work in the technology industry, so they share that. Otherwise, our main commonality is a love of wine, and of course being new to this area. At least, until I discovered something new last night.

After a weekend of digging holes to plant apple trees, I finally convinced Walt to go into town and have some wine at our favorite wine bar. He invited our neighbors along, and we were all in a jovial mood by the time we sat down at a small table. While we chatted, the subject of San Francisco came up, and somehow – one of them mentioned The Cat Club.

My ears perked up at this, because The Cat Club is probably one of my favorite places in the world. I have only been a couple of times, but the club is one of those places that immediately felt like home. The dark surroundings remind me so much of the club where I met Walt – Fashions on the Redondo Beach pier. That place closed a long time ago, sadly. Even now as I sit here typing, I can remember how the bench seating along the wall felt, or the way the highly lacquered and polished wood bar looked in the light when we’d order drinks. I spent many a Friday and Saturday night dancing to anything from The Cure to Gary Numan, Depeche Mode to Blondie, in that club.

The Cat Club, while much bigger than Fashions ever was, has that same inviting feeling. Actually, Amanda and I spent a couple of nights there when Duran Duran was playing in Oakland and San Francisco a few years back, and I’ve been clamoring to go back. We live a little closer these days, but we’ve yet to make the trip. In any case, the words “Cat Club” coming out of my friends mouth was enough for me to put down my wine glass and ask her to repeat herself. Once I realized what she said, my pavlovian reflexes kicked in. I enthusiastically responded that the Cat Club was the best dance club ever. I think maybe this was loudest I’ve ever been around them since we met!

Our two friends, immediately broke into huge grins, excitedly telling tales of their own visits to the club, and how they plan to return in mid-February for a night of dancing with other friends. They invited my husband and I along with them for the weekend, and without even looking at Walt, I was ready to commit. I couldn’t believe that these two people actually hung out at the same dance club I’d been to previously. It turns out that one of them fully committed to the whole New Wave thing when he lived in Germany while growing up, telling Walt and I all about how he had bleached the sides of his hair and the clothes he wore.

I couldn’t quite believe my luck. As much as we seem to have come from completely different backgrounds, our musical tastes are very similar. We talked about various groups we had seen live – and yes, they already know about my love for Duran Duran – and then moved on to comparing record collections. Suffice to say, I liked my neighbors well enough before, but now I know we have friends that will go with us to see concerts, too!

Music really does tend to bring people together. It’s the bridge and the gift that keeps on giving!

-R

A Relevant Catch-Up!

It’s a Thursday catch-up before my weekend begins!

RRHOF Class of 2020

The inductees for the class of 2020 were announced yesterday directly from Cleveland at the Hall of Fame museum. They include: T-Rex, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Notorious BIG, Whitney Houston, and the Doobie Brothers.

There are three things that happen whenever the subject of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame comes up. The first is that people complain about who isn’t listed. Secondly, other people are thrilled by at least one band on the list. Third, someone announces that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame isn’t relevant.

First of all, I’m always more fascinated by the acts that didn’t make it. You can call that “being negative”, I call it being critical of the process. I have that luxury since I work for myself. The real story here for me is understanding the convoluted, secretive, process for how these acts make it, or don’t. So for example, in this year’s class, we have both Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. Yet Kraftwerk, who truly paved the road that both of those aforementioned bands travel upon, was overlooked. Kraftwerk has been nominated six times prior, yet bands that they inspired will be inducted before they are honored.

Another questionable outcome of this year’s inductees is that the winner of the fan vote – which by their own description of how the fan vote works is supposed to weigh upon the final decision – was not included. In this case, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I will live another year without the Dave Matthews Band being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (if you don’t read my sarcasm here, you should), but I still find the outcome curious. Why have a fan vote if it doesn’t matter in the end? (also, thank goodness it didn’t matter this year. What happens when the day comes when it is Duran Duran?? If it didn’t make a difference for DMB, will it for DD??)

Secondly, I’m thrilled for Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode. Yes, I feel as though the velvet rope keeping New Wave acts out of the RRHOF has been lifted a bit. I like seeing bands from the 80s and beyond be recognized and included. And, now that Trent Reznor and Depeche Mode will be part of the voting body in future years, it will be interesting to see if the list of nominees and inductees changes at all going forward.

Lastly, there is a difference between making a comment on news items, and being emotionally vested in something. Seeing the forest through the trees here is an important life skill that many seem to lack. As an example, my level of concern over the RRHOF (which truthfully is minimal beyond the day the nominees are announced, and the day the years inductees are mentioned) has far more to do with the larger implications on social history than it ever would about any one specific band or artist. I would venture to guess it is that way for many who choose to comment. Once again, I find it far more fascinating to ponder over the omissions than I do the inclusions.

There are always those who indignantly inform me that the RRHOF doesn’t matter anywhere else in the world besides the US, as if that somehow makes it matter less. “Oh, it’s only the US who cares and there’s a much larger world of people out there that don’t even think about it.” Of course that’s the way it is. The lion’s share of the music and entertainment industry is here in the USA. This is not news, nor is it a surprise! This is about the bigger cultural picture, not just whether Duran Duran has, or will ever be nominated. Whether or not Duran Duran even cares about the Hall of Fame is not something I’m arguing for, or against… I’m commenting on the news in general as it refers to music and social history. Carry on.

Tis the season…for rumors!

It’s the time again when Duranies can’t seem to wait for things to be announced, and instead hang heavily to online conjecture. So far, I’ve learned today—via Twitter—that the band plans to do shows in 2020, and that there are many “surprises” coming our way to celebrate DD40.

No kidding. You don’t say?!?

I don’t have a line of communication with DDHQ, nor do I have a bevy of insider information to share. That said, I can confirm that the band is doing festivals in 2020, because I’ve been following their announcements…just like everyone else. I also am aware that there are at least 40 surprises coming from the band, because DDHQ shared as much at some point… although your guess is as good as mine as to what those might be. I’m almost afraid for my bank account to even guess.

I’ve also heard unsubstantiated, not-even-remotely-confirmed tales of a new boxed set coming, a special show in Birmingham to commemorate the actual date of anniversary, a 4 week residency in Vegas at The Chelsea, and a new album that will drop just before their date in Ireland with an advance single…and who knows what else because I can’t remember some of the more outlandish things.

To be fair, some items on that list seem plausible. I can certainly see a new boxed set happening because why the heck not? 1997-2015, maybe??? I wouldn’t be shocked by the band playing in Brum because…well…they should! They’ve said over and over again that they hope the new album will be out in time for their festival appearances, and of course they’re going to have a single off of any new album as a promo, that’s what bands do! The only item I really question is the Vegas residency because…well…really?? The band has already played there a bunch during the interim between albums. That said, Vegas shows seem to sell well. I can’t imagine the band staying there for four weeks, but then again, they could fly in and out (although I still say “really???” Who knows? I’ll believe it when I see it, I guess. Regardless, tis the season for rumor, and we’ll keep you updated!

As for me, I’m out for the weekend! Stay safe and play nicely!

-R

Out In the Stars

There’s one I want to meet

Every once in a while, I run across something I either haven’t seen before, or forgotten that I’ve already seen! Today while browsing Facebook, a link for a fan-made video for “Northern Lights” popped up. I have the vaguest recollection of hearing that this existed, so I clicked on the link.

The video is complete with titles, suggesting that it was produced by Duran Duran (not exactly), and takes scenes from 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, mixed with what I believe are clips from “What Happens Tomorrow”. Overall, it isn’t a bad piece of video, and provides a little visual context to the music. Props to ReborninOktober for the effort. (This person has done videos for other DD deep cuts as well – check them out on YouTube)

Coming round now to share

While I watched, I thought about how the band ran a video production contest for the entire All You Need is Now album. Fans submitted videos for each of the songs and the band chose their favorites. I seem to recall the videos being shown before DD gigs on that tour at some point. It was a great way to showcase fan production along with meeting their need for videos. After all, at one point or another, they had mentioned a hope of doing videos for the entire album. Done!

In this day and age, I’m not sure of the value behind music videos. My kids, for instance, don’t ever mention them. All three of them are avid You-Tube viewers, but music videos aren’t the type of content that keeps them going. It would seem to me that it is only my generation, the MTV kids of the 80s, that hold them with any sort of esteem. These days, marketing a rock band takes a different sort of direction from great lighting, story boards and say—supermodels.

Do you hear my wish

Don’t get me wrong, I love music videos. I’m one of those 1980s holdovers. While I have eagerly gotten on board with social media of all kinds, and loved connecting with the band when they were active on Twitter, I miss good videos. I miss good Duran Duran videos. Hell, I miss real MTV! I don’t know if it’s really the type of music I listen to that ages me, as much as my enthusiastic eagerness to back another music video channel that sends me straight to middle age. However, who takes the time and creativity with music videos anymore? I think maybe they’ve become something more of an afterthought than anything else of value.

So, where does that leave us? I dare suggest we’re at a point where fans take the effort into their own hands. All across YouTube, I find live performance clips, amateur photo montages, cleverly chopped and edited video mashings, and even expertly storyboarded, completely original production masterpieces—all done by fans, and not just for Duran Duran, but a plethora of bands, musicians, and artists. While at one point I may have worried about copyright material (and perhaps the lawyer types out there still do), I also consider the artistry and creativity, done with the inspiration of a favorite artist. While I doubt there’s any mistaking most, if not all of these videos for Russel Mulcahey’s genius, it is likely his work that served as brainchild and inspiration for many of these people.

Nothing I would rather like

No, it isn’t MTV. I suspect there will never be another. I do spend a little time mourning over those days gone by. I have a deep sense of gratitude for the era in which I grew up and matured. I also appreciate that in this day and age, we’ve been given tools to create our own masterpieces if we so choose. Many fans have done just that, and while they’re not widely broadcast, there are plenty out there worth watching. Sometimes, I’m even hard pressed to decide if it’s an official video or not!

In the meantime, here’s the link to a video for “Northern Lights”. If anyone happens to come across a video to share – let me know!

-R

We Twist and Shout

When we first began composing daily posts for this website, our goal was simply to share the daily activity of Duran Duran fans. Sometimes it centered around the good things, of which there are many. Other times, we focused on the not-so-great, which are not nearly as numerous, but sometimes overshadow everything else. I don’t know that we were cognizant of how many times we would write about friendship.

As fans, the one thing that bonds us all is our mutual love for the band. While we may not see eye-to-eye on anything else, including our favorite songs and albums, we all share mutual admiration for this band, which is sometimes forgotten during the heat of debate. Often, we are so set on being “right” that we forget we’ve all come together, more or less, for the same reason. Even Amanda and I forget that from time to time as we discuss blog topics with others, or defend our positions on certain posts.

Over the years, we’ve seen a great many blogs come and go. What I haven’t seen a lot of, though, are podcasts. The allure of speaking and being able to make a succinct point without tiptoeing though the minefield of written word is there, at least for me. I just don’t know that the world needs to hear more from me, at least on the subject of Duran Duran. This is why I appreciate podcasts like The D-Side, produced by my friend David. This month marks the completion of his first year at the helm, and he celebrated both the new year and the occasion by hosting a party in his hometown of Atlanta over the weekend.

I was not able to attend, unfortunately, but what drew me to write about the event was that others did. Out of nowhere, people hopped on a plane to Atlanta in order to spend one evening with other Duranies in celebratory spirit. We’re not talking about a weekend filled with events, or even a special concert somewhere. It was one evening in a club, and for some, they left the very next morning to get back to real life. If that doesn’t speak to the true definition of friendship amongst Duranies – I don’t know what will.

Duranies get a bad rap at times. Sometimes, yes, it’s earned. Bad attitudes, snarky on-line behavior, and of course the ever popular “knife-in-your-back” way with which some handle themselves tends to color all of us with one broad stroke. Even so, true friendships are out there. Amanda and I consistently run into people who gleefully tell us they met because of the band, and have remained friends ever since. She and I are in that same category. We met at a convention and have traveled great distances to meet up or get together, whether for shows, to do a road trip, or even a fun weekend.

I suppose I’m just saying that if you haven’t quite found your Duranie tribe just yet, don’t give up. With each album cycle, we find new opportunities to meet new people. Even if they don’t become your forever best friend, those people can feel a lot like home when you find yourself going to something alone.

Congratulations to The D-side on a first full-year of podcasts. I look forward to hearing more in 2020! Something tells me we’ll both have a lot to talk about and mull over.

-R

Liberty – The Daily Duranie Review

Here we are, fresh into a new year, and we’re getting back on a reasonable schedule with our review series, we promise! Today, we’re going to check out the second track off of the Liberty album, which coincidentally is titled “Liberty”.

There isn’t a lot of background on the song that is readily available. The same could be said for the album, produced by Chris Kimsey, as a whole. It was the first DD album that the band didn’t schedule a tour behind, and it seems that the whole project lost a lot of steam upon its release. John has openly admitted his struggles with drug addiction during this period, stating that he does not remember much about the making of Liberty. This was also the first album that Warren Cuccurullo was made an official band member, along with Sterling Campbell (he left in 1991). Both were also given songwriting credits.

Simon has been quoted saying that he felt like the band had lost it’s concentration during the writing and recording, as though the band just stopped paying attention. This period of the band’s history, in hindsight, seems somewhat chaotic and scattered. Perhaps that feeling contributes to the lack of love fans tend to have for this album.

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

The beginning of the song still sends chills down my spine (this is good), and I think the opening synthesizer chords going into the keyboards sounds great. This is a band that has learned a lot from the days of Notorious, taking away the great jazz, horns, and syncopated rhythms from that album. There is a great down and dirty rhythm going on, just bubbling under the surface.

The bass is easily as good, if not better, than anything else John has done – I especially appreciate it on this song because while it isn’t quite as forward in the mix as on past albums, it can be felt. The drums, while pretty basic, are good and clean, although they feel fairly autonomous to my ears – it isn’t like when John and Roger play together, but by the time of Liberty it had been five years and two albums since Roger played with the band. Even so, I can recognize the difference.

What I don’t hear much of, is the guitar. It is there, but it’s not out front. You can’t miss the guitar solo at the bridge, although it isn’t meant to be an “in your face” solo. It’s far more about creating an aesthetic, which seems to be pretty thematic for the band during this period.

Vocals

As soon as I heard Simon’s voice come in with the lyrics, I felt that pang of missing the band. I guess that’s something. Throughout the song though, I go from really enjoying Simon’s voice – it starts out like honey dripping down the side of a glass, to wishing he didn’t rely on falsetto. I’m a fan of his lower range, I guess – but the midrange is the Simon we know and love.

Lyrics

The feelings seem the same as in other songs – unrequited love, breakups, wanting what one can’t immediately have, and that sort of thing. I have no doubt that there’s a deeper message to be read here if one is so inclined. In some ways, I wonder if the love note isn’t more about the band members they’ve lost along the way. At this point in the band’s career, I would imagine the notebook filled with Simon’s poetry had been used up. The words are a lot less vague or symbolic, but the feelings still work.

Overall

As it turns out, there’s a reason why I never became a music critic. When we do these reviews, I listen to the songs we’re writing about over and over. The first time, I listen to the full song. The second, I try to focus on the music. The third, it’s for the vocals and the lyrics (I pull up the lyrics and read them along with the song). Then I tend to listen to the full song one more time, and finally – I write the review while listening to the song over and over in the background until I’m done. If it’s a song like “Hothead”, which will be our next review, listening over and over is an incentive to HURRY THE F***K up.

So, when I say that there’s a reason I didn’t become a music critic, it is because I’m too biased. I didn’t even know I *had* feelings about Liberty until I turned it on the first time. Hearing the keyboards and then Simon’s voice made me remember how much I miss them. I miss seeing this band and smiling up at them as they play. That feeling stuck with me the whole way through the review. How can I give the song a fair rating with that going on?!? I digress…

Liberty isn’t a bad song. There was the potential for something great here, and it is still lurking in the depths of the song. I wish they’d fleshed it out a bit more. The groove is good. I appreciate the jazz and syncopation. I think that instrumentally, Nick carries it and everyone else shows up as an “also appearing”. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I did have a moment when I thought about the Duran of the past – of the 80’s – and how things had changed. If I were an unbiased, unfeeling journalist, I don’t think I would have even considered that. I’d have listened to the music and let it stand on it’s own. With DD though, I can’t do it, though I try. Simon’s voice, when it is deep and passionate, does something to me. When it’s falsetto, high and thin, well, it *also* does something to me. I’ll be kind and leave it at that!

Cocktail Rating

Three cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

Musically, there is a lot here that reminds me of old school Duran. While the keyboards get the focus in the very, very beginning, soon there is a nice mixture going between the instruments. I especially like how the bass really forms the backbone with the keyboards periodically chiming in to get noticed. It isn’t like the instruments are fighting for dominance like we once heard in early Duran but more like complimenting each other. Interestingly enough, though, is that I don’t notice a lot of guitar until the song is more than half over. I’m not sure that it is super effective, though. I think the purpose was to act as a sort of bridge but, to me, I find it distracting. I think the song was fine without that.

Vocals

The vocals feel like a mixed bag to me. On one hand, I love Simon’s vocals in the beginning as they are deep and draw the listener in. I also love the layering of lines like “If you want to stay with me” which creates a depth of sorts. Yet, the song does not always stay there. At times, Simon moves to a pretty high range, which confuses me. I don’t really understand why that was needed. Was it to create a certain feeling? To make the listener think that the main character’s mood or feelings change as he tries to deal with the changes with his relationship? I’m not sure but I think it detracts from the quality of the rest of the vocals.

Lyrics

I remember the first time I listened to this album and this song, in particular. I was struck by how much Simon’s lyrics had changed from those early 80s lyrics. Back then, I struggled to understand exactly what the heck the lyrics could be talking about. It always felt like some sort of mystery or puzzle. (Union of the Snake, anyone?) With this song, though, it seems so straight-forward. To me, it always read as a song about a relationship on the verge of ending with lines like, “Thank you for fine times.” Of course, the person is willing to keep the relationship going but has put the ball in the other person’s court, so to speak, with lyrics like, “If you wanna stay with me, At your liberty.” Could it be about something else? Could it be that I’m supposed to look deeper? Maybe but nothing has ever hit me about it except for exactly what I said earlier about the obvious story. Interestingly enough, I thought that I would hate lyrics like this when I just read/heard them but I didn’t. I found the change acceptable even though I liked the way it was before.

Overall

Looking at each of the sections of the review, I notice a theme. Liberty features some good elements but also some parts that take away some of the awesomeness. It feels like there is inconsistency there. I have to wonder about some of the choices that were made in the studio. Why decide to be so obvious in the lyrics? Why include the guitar where it did? Why have Simon sing so high, vocally? If they worked more on this song, would those pieces be adjusted? Maybe they needed to work less on it. I don’t know. Now, this isn’t to say that the song isn’t enjoyable. I really do like the song and it easily gets in my head when I hear it. It just isn’t a song that my appreciation grows for it once I listen more carefully.

Cocktail Rating

Three cocktails!

Another Edition of True Confessions of a Duranie

Welcome to the irregular series where I say something that I am almost sure may get me invited to a public flogging ceremony, but I’m bound and determined to do it anyway! Call it a confessional, call it crazy…hell, call it stupid if you will, but I’m doing it anyway because I can!

I think “Leave a Light On” is probably one of the weakest Duran Duran tracks I know, carelessly thrown onto on one of their strongest albums. Now, before you start throwing tomatoes (I see you out there. Put the tomato down and back up slowly), let me make my case.

Spoiler alert: it’s the music. Not the vocals, and not the lyrics. Simon brings his end of the bargain…but what about the rest of the band?

There aren’t a lot of songs in the DD catalog that force me to quell an urge to cringe upon hearing the first note. No, not even Hungry Like the Wolf does it to me (although the eye-roll is automatic) This song though, is pretty damn cringe-y. (is it with an e? Without? I can never decide since it really isn’t a word….)

It’s that keyboard that has the somewhat ominous sound of a cheap Casio model. Now, I know that Nick is about as likely to employ the use of a Casio keyboard as I am to get remarried in a pink suit surrounded by flamingos…but I can’t help what I hear. (so that means it’s not totally out of the realm of possibilities, but the overall chances? Not good)

Once upon a time, I wanted to be Nick. I bought a couple (ok, a few) Casio keyboards. Turns out, it wasn’t the keyboard that was the problem. Oh well, back to clarinet I go…. Anyway, while I’m definitely no expert, and Nick should have not one single concern about losing his place in the band, I can replicate the beginnings of Leave a Light On pretty easily. Sadly, I can’t decide if that’s a win or a lose.

Moving on to the other perpetuators of this sonic disappointment…. The beat is so slow. So, so, SO very slow. I know it’s meant to be a ballad, but the tempo drags like I do after a Last Night in the City with Amanda. After that initial cringe, I feel like I’m in need of finding a couch to nap on nearly every time I hear it. I have to ask – where in the heck is the bass? What about the guitar? It’s hardly in there! I know, I know – Dom is even listed as songwriter. That alone makes my confession blasphemous. Alas…

There’s no bottom to the sound, so the keyboards sound completely unsupported and out on their own. The sound is thin and I dare say, cheap. To my ears, it is a song that is in the process of being written on a keyboard in hopes of having other instruments join in later. Maybe that’s the point, and it’s meant to sound impromptu. That Casio keyboard. My ears!!

Sure, Simon sounds great. When his voice comes in, I can feel my body relax. His voice pours over the melody like honey. The lyrics are solid and heartfelt. I like the meaning I’ve applied to them, because the song kind of reads like a love song to the fan community…at least in MY head. His voice softens the entire song, particularly that whiny, tinny keyboard line, and I almost start to think I might come around to liking the song after all…and then it’s it’s the last verse, and I can hear Simon’s voice start to strain a bit, and then it’s decided. Nope. Hard pass.

For the longest time, I pretended this song wasn’t on the album. It totally ignored it’s existence in the same way I ignore Nite Runner. People would ask about All You Need is Now, and I’d dutifully nod and say I liked every song, never even casting more than a nervous glance in the general direction of Leave a Light On.

I can’t help it!!

This tune. I just can’t. Now, I understand what kind of social suicide I’m attempting by even daring to mention that a song off of this, or any Duran Duran album, might be weaker than most. Particularly on an album like All You Need is Now, where nearly all of the songs tick the right boxes for me, it is hard not to see and hear this song as the sore thumb. I’ve lived in secrecy long enough! Come at me, world.

-R

If I Had a Time Machine

DDHQ asked their typical Question of the Week today – wondering what show we would attend if we had a time machine.

At first, I gasped at the enormity of the question. Forty years of gigs seems like quite a few to wade through before settling on an answer. Do I go to the biggest one? Was there one show that I regret not being able to attend more than any other? Hell if I know!!

Suddenly, the answer became clear, which I’ll admit —is strange. I mean, we’re talking about an answer coming to me over the course of composing a single tweet, but it did. As easily as flipping a switch to turn on a light bulb, I knew exactly what I would choose.

In 2005, I did something that was so far beyond anything I could have ever dreamed for myself – I still think about it from time to time. I boarded a plane headed for Chicago. Once I got there (late night on St. Patrick’s Day, no less), I took a shuttle bus to a nearby hotel (The Doubletree near O’Hare) that was christened the Duranie Dorm. Inside, I was immediately greeted by people I hadn’t seen in six months. I don’t think I can properly describe the warmth, happiness and pure joy that spread like a bright light – going from the pit of my belly through to the ends of each of my fingers and toes. In that moment, I felt every bit of the Duranie magic that I have longed for in the years since. I was a part of the crowd: wanted, welcomed and included.

The following night, Amanda, my friend Jessica and I went to the All State Arena. First, we attended the VIP cocktail party – which by the way, was much nicer than they are today. I don’t mean that the food was better or that the drinks were fancy – it wasn’t that. It was the energy of the room. This was before the days of a fan hierarchy, before we were all aware of ourselves, so to speak. We were all there as fans from the 80s, looking to make good on a promise to ourselves to see this band play new music live. It didn’t matter who knew them, who had met them, or who had photos with them as much as it did that we were all there together in that room. Rather than listen with jealous ears over the tales of previous chance band encounters, most of us listened with thoughts of “could that really happen to me?” Our hearts and souls may have even answered that question with “Maybe. You never know.”

Once we heard the beginning sounds from Clear Static, the opening band – we raced down to our seats in the third row, right in front of where John would later stand. I still can’t quite believe I was there. Nearly fifteen years later, it feels like it was all a dream. We stood, danced and cheered for Clear Static. and then—we heard the heartbeats indicating that the band, the one we came to see, was in front of us.

I can distinctly remember being so nervous—I mean, John AND Roger were directly in front of us, smiling away—I couldn’t make my camera work. I fumbled with it, my hands shaking. Third row was so freaking close!! The rest of the show comes back to mind in teeny bits and pieces, so fragmented in my memory now that I can never be sure if it was something that happened that night or one evening later in Milwaukee. John grinning at us, Roger twirling his stick, and some guy playing guitar over in the far corner of the other side of the stage – trying to hide in the wings and not draw attention to himself (This was one of the shows when Dom stepped in for Andy while he was gone).

Afterwards, we squealed, talked, celebrated and basked in the afterglow. I’ll never forget it.

For me, my fandom isn’t defined by the things I didn’t have the chance to do (oh sure, I still think about that 1984 Sing Blue Silver tour from time to time), but by the experiences I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy. That night, and really – the entire weekend – was magical.

In many ways, I think that in the fifteen years since that show, I have continually tried to recreate that experience. It was the first concert I went to with not just one friend, but many. I had never traveled to see Duran Duran, or any band for that matter, so that was a first for me. The fan community felt far more like a warm hug than the rabid, cannibalized mob it tends to morph into whenever the band has been present in the years since. I can’t say times were so much better, but my own experience as a fan was shaped by that gig. I’d gladly do it all again.

-R

Back in the Saddle

Hi, my name is Rhonda. You might not remember me….

As you can see, we’re back. In my case, it was a very good recess. The thing is, normally when I say I’m going to take a break, I really don’t. I end up tinkering around on the blog, spending time online, and still doing a lot of “Duran Duran fan” sorts of things. This time, I didn’t, and I’m not sure I really missed it.

Back in 2010 when I wrote the first post for Daily Duranie, I will openly admit that I had very little else going on that didn’t have to do with my children. I felt like a nameless, faceless body without an actual identity beyond that of “Walt’s wife” and/or “mom”. I was aching for something else, and Daily Duranie became that something. For years following that first post, I gave my heart and soul to the site, the blog, and even to some extent – even the band.

This blog is about being a fan, but unlike Amanda – I also feel that this blog is about me. Each day I write, I share some of who I am with those who take the time to read. I try to be as honest (sometimes painfully so) as possible. It is 100% me. I don’t write as a distant third party. I’m not a journalist, my voice is loud and clear in my writing, and that is by MY design.

Amanda and I became The Daily Duranie. We heard the words every time we were together. I don’t speak for her, but for me, it became less about us as autonomous fans when it came to fandom and Duran Duran. We were called the Daily Duranie girls, or A&R, or AmandaandRhonda. (No spaces intended) We were permanently connected as far as Duran Duran or the fan community is concerned.

I didn’t mind. I liked being equated with this blog we created together. There is a great sense of pride that this little piece of cyberspace has become something that other people enjoy and look forward to reading. For me personally, I didn’t feel like I was anything other than “mom” for a long time. Writing the blog filled in some blanks for me. I felt a sense of purpose that went beyond diaper changes or school drop-offs, and the feels I’d get along the way checked off quite a few boxes for me.

I also believed that there was something else out there for me beyond being a wife and mother. I just had to find it. I was convinced that the blog would lead me to something bigger. Incredulously, many people within this community quickly embraced the blog. They’d seek us out when we’d attend shows, and it was GREAT to feel that love. I needed it more than I can explain, or even knew at the time.

Since that point, it’s been a rollercoaster. Sometimes we’re up, and sometimes we’re down. Such is life. Late last year, I asked Jason Lent – a wonderfully talented music writer and friend – to take one of my blogging days. It wasn’t an easy decision for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with Jason, but it worked out. I really believe he’s reaching a new segment of readers that we’d never have connected with otherwise. Quite frankly, he’s a much better writer than I am, anyway.

Looking back, I don’t know if I actually found that “something” I was searching for. I don’t have any more or less of a career now than I did in 2010. I don’t really have more friends, and although many people recognize me when I’m with Amanda – if I’m alone, I’m rarely approached. Contextually, I think that if I’m not with Amanda, it doesn’t ring a bell to anyone. Why would it? The point is, the identity I thought I had all this time really isn’t ME – it’s the blog. It’s a side effect, and while I am the last person who will complain, I think it’s worth noting. Truth be told, I needed a break at the end of last year, both from day to day writing, as well as just feeling the weight of writing for ten years. So, I took it.

I’ve used the free time that Jason has given to reconnect myself with music in a different way. I’m playing clarinet again, and I’ve been working on some longer-term projects here at home. I’m spending a lot of my time focusing on things that make me truly happy, and not so much on the things that make me feel pressured to be something I’m not.

One of those pressures, oddly enough, is this fan community. Back in 2005, I was overjoyed to have opportunities to travel, see concerts, and do the things other people did. With each tour, I would up the ante, trying to do more. Lately, I felt this immense pressure to go to things, whether it was because if I didn’t I’d let someone down, or because “I’m one-half of Daily Duranie”.

Hi, I am Rhonda, and I am addicted to the chase of fandom. This is something I’ve thought about a lot during my time off.

First of all, it isn’t just about me. I am not an island, and I don’t live alone. My responsibilities are to my husband, and to our children. For far too long, I let that boundary slide in favor of making other people, including myself from time to time, happy. I accept those consequences – of which there have been many over the years – things I never write or talk about.

Second, I write Daily Duranie. I help run the website – but Daily Duranie is not who I am. It isn’t a person. I’m Rhonda, and this blog is just my hobby. At one time or another, I tried to make it into more than that for myself, but it just isn’t. Square peg, round hole…or something like that.

I am grateful that I started this website. It provided me with something to sink my teeth into when the drudgery of motherhood felt endless. Ten years later, with one child completely on her own, another that is grown but living at home, along with one tween to go —that part of my life doesn’t feel quite as much like a dark tunnel. I have new interests, things to do, and not nearly as much free time to brood.

Over the past month, I saw a lot of people post and tweet about flying here, or there, to see the band when they play next. Fans twittered incessantly about the Funko figurines, t-shirts, and so on. Duranies posted photos of themselves with the band, talked about parties they were at with some of them, posted about things they knew the band was working on or planning. Little by little, I realized something huge.

This blog, the things I’ve already done, the people I’ve met, and the precious little I know about the band beyond what is publicly “known”, I think this might be as far as the fan experience, or even the “career” as a blogger goes for me with this band. Not that I’m quitting, gosh no, but that I’m not going to continue the chase for more. I’m satisfied right here. For so long, I really believed it would all lead to something else. I don’t know what that “something” would have been. A book? A career? I didn’t know, I just believed that if I worked hard enough and got to know enough people – something would surface.

Let me be clear – in hindsight I can see that many things broke the surface for me. I’m so grateful! I interviewed people I never thought I’d have the opportunity. I’ve been places I would have never gone otherwise. The fun I’ve had, well – it kept me going. Allowed me to breathe when I needed, and laugh when I was hurting. That alone, and believe me when I write that it has been plenty as is, might be my full ride.

The band is still sort of an enigma, at least for me. I don’t know them. Hell, I don’t even know the roadies! I still chuckle that even though we’ve written Daily Duranie for nearly ten years now, I can’t say I’ve had a photo with most of them. I’ve waved at a few of them though, and clinked glasses with Simon Le Bon. I’ll take that any day!

This light-bulb moment isn’t one of sadness though, although it might read that way to many of you. It’s actually freeing to type the words. There’s no need for me to pressure myself to get to more things, attempt to network with people who clearly do not care one lick about me beyond what I can do for them, or try to be this super happy, stars-in-my-eyes, insipidly positive person that all of you know that I am not. I can’t be everything for everyone. I owe the very best of myself to my husband and children. That’s it. It’s taken me nearly twenty-five years to figure it out, but there it is.

I write what I feel at the time. My honesty can be painful to some, and PR is not my speciality. I’m not a sycophant for the band or anyone else. I’m 100% me, and I’m doing it my own way.

I am happier and more content than I’ve ever been, believe it or not. I’m also still very passionate about continuing this blog. However, I am through jumping through hoops to prove myself to be a worthy Duranie, or friend. I am not everyone’s cup of tea – hell, I’m not most people’s – and that’s fine. I have a family to manage, a small farm/homestead to run, and while I care about friends – my family comes first. I will happily cheer for people who are able to head to the UK and beyond for gigs, but unless I get extraordinarily lucky, I’ll be applauding from home. My traveling days are pretty much done, and I had a good run.

Maybe some of you can count yourself among the inner circle, the backstage people, the VIP’ers that get into everything. For the unaware, those people are the fans, friends, and yes – even sycophants, that certain staff, management, or band members seek out in the audience and beyond, awarding them with access passes or tickets to other gigs and so on. I’ve had friends who have gone from fan to inner circle and never looked back. It puzzles and confounds me how some make it, and others never seem to past muster. I just know aside from some very brief glimpses, I’m still on the other side of the curtain with most of the rest of you.

Admittedly, that used to bother me. I worked hard, as has Amanda. We’ve written this blog for years. Didn’t that mean something? The answer is no, it doesn’t. We’re fans. The extra time and effort we spend writing entitles us to nothing. My past discontent with real life bled into my passion for this band, and only now can I see how much it distorted my expectations.

I still love the band. Their music brings me a great sense of joy. Whether or not I ever go to another show, meet anyone in the band, sit with insiders at a bar, or anything else, changes nothing about their music makes me feel. This knowledge is the easiest part of being a fan, and continues to fuel my energy and creativity for writing.

Much of fandom has been great. I have a few friends I’ve made along the way, and some of them have learned to tolerate me, despite my shortcomings! On the flip side, I’ve also felt the burden to stick around, pay for expensive tickets, and even travel places when maybe I knew I shouldn’t, purely to keep up with friends and their own expectations. Not something I’m particularly proud to admit, but it is the truth. I’m just saying, it happens. It did to me.

Going forward, and yes – Daily Duranie will continue, you should expect to read the same unabashed, sometimes bluntly written posts from me as always. That won’t change. You may notice that I’m not present at as many shows or events as I once was. I’m not sad about that. I’m actually relieved to admit that this band and their concerts are pricey, and I can’t buy-in the way I did several years back. That doesn’t mean I’m not a good fan, or that I don’t still love them, but that I appreciate my real life means just a little bit more these days.

Happy 2020. I hope you’ll keep reading!

-R

Dilate My Mind: Notorious

Is Duran Duran’s Notorious the band’s biggest sidestep of an album?

Admittedly, Notorious makes a pretty obvious target for this category. It came at a time of huge change for Duran, after all. They had taken a break at the top of their game as a five-piece, and come back as a threesome. Without the beat of Roger’s drums, and Andy’s rock guitar riffs, it has to have been the greatest change in their sound, right? You could claim that the remaining trios ‘discovery’ and use of a very American sound was the biggest departure they have made from their more Euro-centric dance roots.

On the other hand, there’s a strong case to be made that without Chic, there would never have been a Duran as we know them in the first place. Without the inspiration that they found in the funk and rhythm of Chic’s catalog, a quintessential part of the Duran sound, from the beginning, that deep drum and bass heartbeat, goes missing. 

You can hear “My Own Way” in “Notorious”, and “A Matter of Feeling” in “Mediterranea”. “Winter Marches On” and “My Antarctica” draw from the same well. Just to start. And introducing strong backing vocals may have felt new for Notorious, but it certainly isn’t a practice they have abandoned. 

With Nile Rogers coming on to produce the entire album, instead of the previous one-offs of remixes and singles, Notorious wasn’t an aberration, so much a fulfillment of a musical promise. And it’s one that the band has returned to again and again throughout their career.  – Laura Skarka

Gotta Have That Funk

“Duran have often been applauded for ‘not making the same album twice’ but we couldn’t have done so had we tried.” – John Taylor

If we take John at his word, there is no core group of albums with “the Duran Duran sound” from which to make a sidestep. I would disagree to a certain extent as the band has often shown a desire to bridge the sonic and ideological space between punk, glam and disco. It took the departures of Andy and Roger Taylor to finally bring this to fruition and Notorious remains the perfect blend of the various influences John and Nick built Duran Duran around.

Ground-zero for punk and disco was New York City in the 1970s but the scenes were on different paths until Blondie merged the Parallel Lines with songs such as “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another”. If there exists a template for the Duran Duran sound, this album seems as likely as any to be the best example of red-hot guitars and shimmering dance rhythms. With Notorious, Duran Duran finally had the musicians in the studio capable of taking that vision to a new level.

Much has been written about Nile Rodgers, and deservedly so, as his guidance and guitar work allowed them to capture the funk and soul of Chic in its purest sense but it is drummer Steve Ferrone (Average White Band) that drives the album. With his creative playing, John Taylor’s bass lines pop like never before and Rhodes’ synth work brings a moody elegance to the vibe. I’m reaching the word-limit on Dilate My Mind so I leave you with this graphic! – Jason Lent

Like Some New Romantic Looking For the DD Sound

What, exactly, is the “Duran” sound?  To answer this week’s “Dilate My Mind” challenge, one first has to answer that question.  Is it the darker debut album, in which you can still find remnants of the band’s punk influence?  Or maybe the more radio-friendly SATRT?  Is it the lush beauty of “Save a Prayer,” or the in-your-face harshness of “The Wild Boys”?  Can it be the latent funk found in “New Religion”?  Funk that was brought to the fore by Nile Rodgers in the remixed version of “The Reflex,” Duran’s most successful single on the holy trinity of its first three albums?  

The argument that Notorious represented the greatest departure from the “true” Duran sound relies on the false premises that Duran’s “sound” from ’78-’86 was homogeneous, and that somehow funk was absent from it.  Neither is true.  

Of course, another argument is that there have been far greater deviations elsewhere in the catalogue.  Liberty would seem to represent a greater departure than anything that came before; so too, one could argue that Medazzaland and some (not all, but some) of Red Carpet Massacre.  


No matter how you view it, though, Notorious is a logical extension of the funk that was always in Duran’s DNA and launched them to their greatest success with “The Reflex.”  You’d have to be buried in the sand to think otherwise!  – C.K. Shortell

Uncertain To the Core

I don’t think Notorious can be considered the biggest sidestep from the Duran Duran sound in the band’s history… because their music is so wide-ranging that I’m not really sure that there IS a ‘Duran Duran sound’!

Even if we put it into context by going back to 1986 (i.e. ignoring everything that came afterwards) and suggest that the album was a major sidestep due to Roger and Andy not playing on the record, I can’t agree that it differs in sound from its predecessors more than 7ATRT and Rio did from the first album.  The difference between the melancholy almost-post-punk of the first album and the colourful electropop of Rio is particularly notable.

If we do take the whole history into account… well, then, there are other albums that could be considered more prominent sidesteps than NotoriousLiberty featured some (glorious, IMO) leaps into a slightly harder rock sound, which had been forgotten about by the time of The Wedding AlbumRed Carpet Massacre had a contemporary hip-hop vibe that hasn’t ever been repeated.

Besides, while there is an undeniably unique funk sound to many tracks on Notorious, it still features songs that don’t share that sound – ‘A Matter Of Feeling’ and ‘Winter Marches On’ could have fitted into any of the ‘80s albums (except, perhaps, for the bounce-a-minute Rio).

Most importantly, though, I think Notorious is a very important and iconic part of the band’s history, and as such it’s also a huge contributor to their overall ‘sound’… if there is such a thing! – Dee Cooke