Tag Archives: Duran Duran

1980s Teen magazines and legitimizing Duran Duran

How many of us, back in the day, faithfully read any circa-1980s teen magazine with Duran Duran on the cover?  Each week, I’d accompany my mom to the grocery store. I’d go up and down the aisles with her until she’d reach the produce section. In our neighborhood grocery store, the magazine aisle served as a type of border to the apples and oranges. I’d vanish down the aisle, and take care to look at each magazine, reassuring myself that I hadn’t missed anything. Some weeks, I’d come up with a few magazines, having to choose (because there was no way my mom was paying for all of them), and others, I’d come out empty-handed. Many times, I’d have read the articles before I’d even left the store, but I still had those pin-ups to hang!

When I think back to that time period, I don’t remember the magazines mentioning much about the music. It was always the fashion, the lifestyle, the idea of being a celebrity, the idea of marrying a celebrity. Those magazines were selling a fantasy life (in many respects) to teens and preteens like me. Nothing ever went wrong for anyone, their lives were sunny and perfect in every way. Wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, happy, filthy rich, and way the heck out of my league. Even if a celebrity or band member had sadness in their lives, it was always written in a way that tied up the loose ends:  tears and despair, with a big red happy bow on the end. Then it was back to sunny, carefree days of champagne wishes and caviar dreams, right? Every article was written with a dreamy, “don’t you wish you could have him?” voice. I bought it all, hook, line, and sinker. But the music? The real reason for this band being in our record collection? Very little was ever really said.

I think about this today because one of my friends on Twitter (@guyfansofDuran, I’m talking to you, here) mentioned something today about Star Hits, a magazine that he characterized as being the kindest to the band, commenting that even that magazine never really reviewed the show, just included pictures of the guys. Not finding fault with fans, he was merely commenting on the state of the media itself back then, and he’s right.

What is sad is that I don’t think I ever really even thought about there being a problem with that during my trips to the grocery store. It never occurred to me as I was hanging up poster after poster of Roger on my wall, that someday, I would acknowledge that I was a part of the problem.

I suppose I was, in some sense.

I never demanded that those magazines review their shows. I never sent an angry letter, or muttered a cross word about their coverage, or lack thereof. I bought the magazines because they had pretty pictures and sometimes even had interviews. They didn’t talk about their music, they asked about John’s favorite car, the name of Nick’s cat, their moms, and their favorite vacation spots. I don’t think the magazines covered much of their musical career, so to speak, beyond asking whether or not they were working on a new album at the time.

I never even thought about reviews of their shows back then. I was on a relentless hunt for their posters, though. In 1983, 84 and most of 85, I didn’t think about going to their concerts beyond that first time when I asked my mom about going to see them at the LA Forum. That didn’t go over any better than a lead balloon in my house, so after that I didn’t even try. I did what I was able, which was collect their albums, buy my weight in teen magazines,  wallpaper my room with their posters, and wear whatever band t-shirts I could find and convince my parents to buy. It didn’t occur to me that I had any other choice, or that I should aspire to know more about their musical process.

It is difficult to sit here and write this blog, mostly because I want to be able to stand up and say that while sure, I noticed the band was good looking—I was in it purely for the music. It is somewhat embarrassing for me to admit that I wasn’t. I’d love to say I was “above all that silly teen stuff”.  Nope. Though it was their music that I couldn’t get out of my head after I first heard it on KROQ, I would be lying if I said that I never bothered with their appearance. You bet I did. I fawned over their posters, and sighed audibly when I would watch their videos.

Even more painful, here in retrospect, is the knowledge that the only reason those teen magazines didn’t go into a lot of detail about the music, or do reviews much beyond printing a limited number of performance pictures, is because their audience was primarily female. Young females, under 18. At the time though? I never thought twice about it.

I suppose I could say that it wasn’t my fault. I was a product of the times. I didn’t know I could be interested in the music (make no mistake, I was interested. My point here is that the magazines didn’t believe that girls could be) because magazines like Star Hits, Teen Beat and others taught me I needed to be more concerned with the fantasy-life, fairy-tale, starry-eyed dream aspect. I needed to worry more about how to find and marry one of those band members, and less about the artistry or technical merit of their music. I could say all of that. But is it true?

I am just not so sure it is that simple. Nor do I think it needs to be.

I wish that I’d known magazines other than Spin and Rolling Stone that would have covered more about the music back then. I have no doubt whatsoever that I would have read them and learned everything I could. That doesn’t mean though, that I’d have given away my Tiger Beat collection. As embarrassing as it might be to admit, I’m not sorry that I plastered my walls in Duran Duran. That was a legitimate part of my childhood (and honestly part of my adulthood). I have very happy memories of organizing those posters and giggling over the articles with my friends at school.

Part of fighting sexism is being proud of who you are as a person. I am as proud of being a female, teen Duranie as I am of being one-half of the Daily Duranie now that I am growing ever closer to the half-century mark. Consider that done.

I do have to wonder how it all might have been different had the band been taken seriously from the beginning. It took the David Kershenbaum mixes to get them any sort of regular radio play here in the US, and that happened in 1982. The pinups came a few months later here in the states. It was never only the music or only their looks that made them into the biggest band in the world. They had it all, combined with luck and timing.

Sure, the teen magazines never did much to legitimize them, musically speaking. I’m not sure that any critic would have taken the words to heart even if they had. However, those teen magazines opened up a whole new world to kids like me. I don’t know how long or how closely I would have followed Duran Duran had it not been for 16, Bop!, Teen Beat and many others I’ve since forgotten. They were my window into their world.

Yep I was definitely part of the problem.

I’ve decided that I’m not sorry.

-R

Rob Fincham of The Purple Lights in the studio with Nick & John!

Alright, music fans – have you ever heard of The Purple Lights?

In full disclosure, I had not. I really do try to keep myself up to date and educated. However, as it was once described—the internet is a super fat pipe, and I am but a single, very thin, straw. I miss a lot. I would need to make it my career in order to even have the time to begin scratching the surface. Sounds like a great job, but not one that I am meant to do, I’m afraid.

I am more than willing to be enlightened, particularly when said group tweets out a photo in the studio with Duran Duran. Off to the internet I go, in search of knowledge and hopefully a track or two! My first stop is Soundcloud, which has a few tracks. I tentatively hit play and prepare myself.

Here’s the thing: I’ve learned a few things about myself since beginning the blog nearly eight years ago. One of those things is that I tend to be the cynic between the two of us, and if someone is going to give a bad review—it’s probably going to be me. I’m blunt to a fault, and I sometimes react with a knee jerk rather than be contemplative. So, I’ve learned that sometimes, it really IS better to sleep on things (and maybe even a few times!!) before publishing. Imagine that! Live and learn.

Every time Duran announces studio time or collaboration with someone, I worry. Is the sound going to be something I can actually champion? In my position, it is very easy to fall victim to being so overly critical that it does zero good for anyone. Overthinking, judgmental…maybe even a bit unfair at times. I’ve done it all and then some. It’s fine to have an opinion, and it is fine not to like all of the choices, but by the same token, I need to give it all a chance and not react before I think. Easier said than done.

So I listen to the first song on Soundcloud. “Not Alone”. The music is great. It’s got a real groove to it, which isn’t too surprising since they call their brand of music, “Groove Rock”.  I hear everything from pop, heavy or even acid rock to reggae influencing their music, and I like it.   I can’t wrap my head completely around who The Purple Lights remind me of, but they definitely remind me of something I’ve heard before. Maybe a bit of Hot Hot Heat?  Interestingly enough, I also hear a bit of early Killers in there somewhere too. I like it. Modern, but approachable, and the music is outstanding. Musicianship matters!! I’m definitely on board with this.

Of course, we have no idea why Rob from The Purple Lights was in the studio with Nick and John. Could it have been about the musical? New album? Something else?? We never know for sure. We also never quite know if it’s going to go anywhere. It’s the joy of the process, right??

No matter, it’s beginning of what is sure to be a year or more of pictures or inexplicable pictures being tweeted that include people I’ve never heard of in them. I’ll I scratch my head in wonder, and head to my trusty Google search bar. It’s the one thing I can count on for sure from Duran Duran—with every single album, I learn something new. I can appreciate their drive to expose themselves (and in turn, their fans) to new musical direction.

Nick with Rob (The Purple Lights) Fincham and John, courtesy @ThePurpleLights Twitter

 

Can’t wait to see where this goes!

-R

Through the Barricades – a Wild debate over Spandau’s new lead singer

In the few minutes of spare time I’ve had since my last day of work, I’ve kept up with posts in a Spandau Ballet Facebook group. Just as Duran Duran fans sometimes find themselves embroiled in debate, Spandau fans are currently going a similar, yet far more intense deliberation. The subject, is  of course, the new lead singer. His name is Ross William Wild, which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue or my keyboard quite so easily yet. He’s young, good-looking, and most importantly, at least to Spandau fans—he is not Tony Hadley.

Whether or not that is a problem, depends upon with whom you’re chatting. Ross performed at his first Spandau Ballet gig last week. Social media went wild, no pun intended. There were many who felt as though he has the potential to re-energize the band. Some felt strongly that Spandau needed to hang it up. Still others have taken to calling the band nothing more than a “tribute” at this point.  (That last one is an “ouch” for sure!) It would appear that either you are “for” Tony and therefore hate everything about this new frontman and the existing members, or you are “for” the newest reincarnation of Spandau and therefore cannot possibly still love Tony. There is simply no in-between. Choose a side and get on with it…or so may seem.

I bring this seemingly un-related issue up here on a Duran Duran-dedicated fan blog purely because it has been both fascinating and heart wrenching to watch the debate unfold. The issues are vaguely similar, yet incredibly different, to some of the things we ourselves have debated.  It has been enlightening to witness the passionate outcry, and it reminds me that fandom is driven completely by emotion. Barely containable under the best of circumstances, fans struggle with change. Emotions run high. Choices are taken on an incredible, personal level.

This claim can be substantiated by recalling the heated debates in our own fandom over guitar players or even changes in musical direction from one album to the next. The fact is, fans are entangled tightly around the heart of Duran Duran. Like it or not, sometimes it is forgotten that we fans are not the band.  Many times over the past week I have read posts from fans proclaiming, “had it not been for the fans, the band would never be here”. We’ve grown up as fans, entered adulthood as fans, we are skipping down the path of middle-age as fans, and it can be very difficult to separate our own lives from the career of the band.  Decisions made by the band, are taken as a direct hit to fans. It makes no difference how pragmatic, practical or business-oriented those choices may be. Fans take each one to heart.

Fans are so personally involved at this point—twenty, thirty or even forty years in, there’s just no way to ignore what a serious change like a lead singer leaving (regardless of the backstory, which still seems to be in question) would do to any fan base. I don’t envy Spandau, they have quite a rebuilding process ahead. It is painful to see fans, completely torn by loyalty—to whom is very much the point of contention here—say that they’ve enjoyed their time with Spandau but they cannot continue on, citing that the band is not the same with Ross, or that he’s not good enough. It is heartbreaking to read posts pointing blame, or completely discounting the work of one young man purely because he dared to step into a spot previously owned by another. The arguments of why Tony left, or who is to blame, will not doubt continue.

I feel for Ross. Like someone else I know, he is the one most likely to “pay” in this situation. He cannot win. Even if he is every bit the singer that Tony is, the reality is that he is not Tony Hadley. He is Ross William Wild. That alone is a sin far greater than any bum note he may ever hit. He will never sing “Through the Barricades” like Hadley, even if he sings it note for note. The same can be said for “True”, “Gold”, and pretty much any other song in their catalog. I have already seen the words “hired gun”, “stand-in” and my favorite, “hack studio-singer” used to describe Ross. Unfair? Definitely, although I know I’ve read most of those words before somewhere…. He’s in an impossible situation because while many have and will embrace him, just as many (if not more original SB fans) will not. Many will openly (and loudly) proclaim him to be nothing more than a stand-in. It is most assuredly a no-win situation.

Tony Hadley tours with his own band as a solo artist, and still sings many of the same songs Spandau will also continue to sing with Wild at the helm. How on earth can anyone move forward under these circumstances? I am not sure.

While undertones of this debate seem very familiar, the truth is— what we’ve dealt with as Duran fans is likely 1/10 of the agony and turmoil Spandau fans have felt, particularly lately. It is painful to watch, particularly since I have some limited sense of what it feels like.  Spandau Ballet as we once knew it ceases to exist. While the band has stood at the crossroad and decided to take a new direction, fans must decide for themselves. I do not envy them.

-R

Happy Birthday Nick!

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get this blog done.  This week marks the last week of the school year for me, which means that I had to grade over 100 essays and clean up my room within a week.  Luckily, I finished those tasks this morning, allowing me some time to wish my favorite keyboardist a happy birthday!!!

To celebrate Nick’s birthday, I figured it might be fun to share some of my favorite Nick clips.  Let’s start with the first song that really caught my attention as far as the keyboards in Duran goes:  Save a Prayer.

Yet, the first time I remember paying attention to him as a person was in the following video:

There was just something about Nick’s look in this video that I loved.  Funny story.  I loved it so much that I decided to go as Nick Rhodes for Halloween one year.  I, of course, chose this video as the one to model myself after with the black pants, blue shirt, white tie.  As I went around my Chicago suburban neighborhood, most people had no clue who I was.  Needless to say, I felt sad that I had to explain myself to all these people.  The people typically reacted by saying, “Wait.  You are a girl dressed like a boy who is dressed like a girl?!”  Clearly, they lacked some knowledge on a great deal, including the fabulousness of one Mr. Nick Rhodes.

Another video that I adored Nick in was New Moon on Monday.  As many of you know, it is my favorite Duran video of all time.  While I know that the band might not love it, but I do.  There is so much to love, including the storyline of the band members being a part of a resistance to an authoritarian regime.  I adored watching Nick and John working together with the older woman.  It gave me a sense of the strong friendship between those two.

Besides those clips and some of my favorite scenes in the classic Duran documentary, Sing Blue Silver, involving the game, Galaga, I don’t think I appreciated Nick as much as I should have as a kid.  No, it took until adulthood to do so.  I think it started with the Astronaut EPK, especially when the band members describe Nick about 4:40 in:

I loved this EPK because you could hear both the love and the honesty from each member about each band member.  Roger called Nick a “perfectionist” but he did it with a clear and obvious smile.

Around the same time, I began to go “on tour” or traveling to go to multiple shows.  I had heard so many stories from other Duranies about their experiences with the band that I desperately longed for a story or two myself.  Luckily, I had a chance to see the band in person outside of the concert venue in the summer in 2005.  While I lucked out in getting both John and Nick’s autograph then, Nick was the first band member who stopped to actually chat with the fans hanging around.  To say that he was friendly and approachable would be an understatement.  He readily agreed to photos and autographs to anyone who asked.  I was thoroughly impressed as he truly did not need to do any of that, especially after a show.

Looking back to that time with Nick, I realize how important this was to my fandom.  I found myself falling for the band even more, which I didn’t know was possible.  Just as important, I trusted that the band consisted of great guys who deserve the love and support from the fans.  Instead of accepting this amazing moment as the peak of my fandom, I wanted more.  This led to more shows, more tours, and even actions like writing this blog.  Had the experience gone badly, I might have been turned off from fandom, from Duran Duran.  Instead, the opposite happened.

In more recent years, I have adored Nick’s parts in both All You Need Is Now and Girl Panic.

As many of you know, Rhonda and I were lucky enough to be able to wander through Brompton Cemetery where Nick’s part was filmed.  It was a definite highlight for me.  Beyond being a completely cool cemetery (and very different from American cemeteries), it also was the sight of a hilarious moment for Rhonda and myself.  As we began to wander through, the clouds opened allowing it to not only pour but also to hail.  So imagine the two of us running and searching for any sort of shelter.  When we found a place, the only thing we could do was to laugh hysterically, knowing how ridiculous we must have looked like.

Then, there is Girl Panic.  I won’t lie.  Nick’s part might be my favorite.  His dialogue and conversation amuses me.

So on this day, I channel all of my appreciation into wishing Nick an absolutely fabulous birthday and hope that he has the best year of his life.

Happy Birthday, Nick!!!

-A

Thursday News Mash-up: This is where it starts

LOTS of news to report today…

Duran Goes Dutch. Maybe.

First of all, I made a small, yet significant error in yesterday’s post. Apparently, Duran Goes Dutch is not a bootleg, exactly.  Unless of course the copy you have in your collection is in fact a bootleg.  Got it?

Yeah, me neither. Apparently, there are two different versions of Duran Goes Dutch. One is apparently an official version, made to look like a bootleg (Why?!?), and another is actually a bootleg. (Again I ask, why?!?)  I have no idea which is which, nor do I know if mine is a bootleg or not because it is currently packed somewhere. Ask me again in six months.

Punkmasters Does it Again!

Patty Palazzo has more creativity in her pinky finger than I do in my entire body. To prove it (not that she needed!), she released a few designs as an advance, certain-to-whet-the-appetite sneak peek into her new collection, due out on June 24. Get your credit cards ready, Duranies. I bought three!  I only stopped there because, well, Retirement 2.0…. and I figured I’d save some for all of you. Besides, June 24th is coming….

Check out the video Patty shared on Facebook, and turn up the volume while you do it, because I hear a certain John Taylor was responsible for the awesome soundtrack.

 

If creating soundtracks for Punkmasters wasn’t enough…

John spoke today at an event I would have easily given both of my eye teeth to be at, the Brilliant Minds Symposium in Stockholm. He gave a keynote speech that I am hoping will miraculously show up on YouTube. What is the Brilliant Minds Symposium about, you ask? According to dd.com, it is a new thought and leadership forum debating the convergence of humanity & technology. I love this stuff! Let’s face it, if Duran Duran doesn’t break my bank, I could easily get the job done by traveling the planet in search of these sorts of events. I’m doomed.  DDHQ posted just a couple of photos of John’s keynote presentation, and I was especially drawn to the words behind him. In one photo the words “Here and Now” were in the background, and in the next “Gatecrash Intimacy”.  Now I’m really curious! No matter, it is indeed exciting to hear about John’s involvement, and I’m hopeful that we hear more about the experience in the weeks ahead. (hint, hint!)

We have a Glam-father!!!

After reading numerous rumors yesterday that Simon’s daughter Saffron and her partner Benjamin had welcomed a baby into this world, Simon himself posted the news several hours ago on Twitter. Saffron had a baby boy, and apparently both mom and baby are healthy. Who could ask for more than that, really?  This is wonderful news for the entire Le Bon family, and of course we wish everyone all of the health and happiness in the world. It is hard to believe that we’ve not only watched as Simon and the rest of the band have had children, but now we’re seeing the children having children.

We’re really kind of lucky to have had the band around this long, you know??

Simon tweeted that we can now refer to him as the Glamfather… I love it!

Last, but certainly not least

I just wanted to chime in with my own good wishes for another happy and healthy year on this planet for Mr. Nicholas Rhodes.  Yes, you are The Controller, and yes, I do believe you’re at the very least alien…and probably vampire too. (Can you be both? I say yes!) In any case, I wish you the nap you likely deserve, and as much art, good health, laughter, love and kindness as you can stand in a year.  I do hope you and the band won’t stay away for too long – I miss seeing your knowing grin as you peer over the top of your keyboard rig down into the audience…particularly during Hungry Like the Wolf, but throughout the show as well. Happy Birthday Nick!

 

Until next week, I’m off!

-R

 

 

Duran Duran Bootlegs

I’m officially on summer break now, or as I call it, “Retirement 2.0”.  While I’m supposedly enjoying my time off, I’m also cleaning out, organizing, and packing up the house. I’m not sure how successful the tasks are going so far, because my house still looks pretty much the same, but currently in my garage I have about thirty-two black and yellow large bins from Costco that are stacked four high and about four deep. Moving has been wonderfully cleansing so far, and I’m not even done yet.

While I’m at home, my husband Walt lives in Santa Barbara during the week. Often, I will get texts from him exploring new places, and I won’t lie – I’m a little envious as I’m cleaning out the closet, packing up my office, or weeding in the backyard. This past Monday though, I got a very curious picture from him.

He had been wandering around State Street during lunch, and found himself in a record store. He is apparently far better trained than I realized, because he immediately looked for any DD vinyl. When that didn’t pan out (I already have everything they had in stock), he looked at their CD’s and DVD’s. Hitting the jackpot, he texted me this picture:

Now, curiously enough, I didn’t recognize these DVD’s. Upon closer inspection, Boys on Film was filmed from an MTV appearance at New Year’s Eve Rock and Roll Ball at the Palladium in NYC 1982 (12/31/82). Then there’s Duran Duran Coachella, filmed in 2011. Lastly, there is Duran Duran San Francisco 2016, which was filmed at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. All of them must be bootlegs.

I didn’t ask, but Walt dutifully bought all of them anyway. They all have varying copyrights and addresses – two of them are archives (one says The Archivists Society and the other is Duran Archives, each has a different UK address), and the other is from Duran Films in New York City. I haven’t watched them yet (that is today’s assignment), but I can hardly wait to see the quality of what I am fully expecting to be shoddy iPhone video. We will see.

It turns out that only after he’d already bought these, he saw even more of these DD concert bootlegs for sale. It’s almost unnerving. I mean, Duran Duran has no control over what is being filmed and later sold, and naturally – none if this is new or even news. I just haven’t seen so much of it gathered in one actual brick and mortar store before. (I don’t get out much, apparently!)

He also picked up a CD for me, which might even be worse than the DVD’s. It’s called Duran Duran Ultra Rare Trax.  Let me just say, the trax are not rare…and the only thing “ultra” going on here are the ultra-tacky descriptions of the songs compiled on this clearly homemade CD.  Below is just a sampling of the titles and descriptions:

  • Notorious (Disconet): Title track from their 1986 LP. Pushed forward their chic influences to the fore. Cutting funk guitars and slap bass supply the backdrop to a fine Disconet Mix.
  • I Don’t Want Your Love (Prime Cuts): The Prime Cuts people get to work on this Duran Favourite, with its excellent back track it rolls on and over. Another Prime Cut.
  • Save A Prayer (DMC): A nice up-tempo dance version of this usually classic ballad. The Earliest Duran number we could find a dance version of.         (I don’t think they looked very hard, just saying.)
  • A View to a Kill (Art of Mix) 007 meets POP! Duran go big screen. A great track given the Art of Noise treatment.
  • Duran (Megamix) The first time ever DMC mix available for the first time on CD format. Previously a cassette 1984 release. Coupling together some Duran classics – Is There Something I Should know, Planet Earth, Girls on Film, Rio, among others.

It goes on from there. Writing is clearly not this bootlegger’s forte. I can hardly wait to listen, though.

I’m not one to encourage bootlegging, but I have to admit I’m more than a little amused to sit down and watch some fairly recent Duran Duran shows. I can’t think of a better way to spend my break – particularly since the alternative involves more packing!

Is there a place for bootlegs in the industry? On one hand, the band seems to have no control over what is filmed and sold – and the economic impact to them is pretty clear. I mean, it is their music and their image, and it seems wrong that they shouldn’t get some royalty from that. On the other though, there are people out there may actually want videos from shows they attended, or maybe even for those who can’t get themselves to places in the world where the band has played.

What about unreleased music? I own Duran Goes Dutch, which is a fairly rare and collectible vinyl that isn’t official at all. The music is rare because the songs are arranged very differently. The band didn’t necessarily take advantage to press that vinyl, but someone else did. Fans like me have benefitted from being able to own the record. I’ve also read that bands, perhaps not Duran Duran – I really can’t say, have bootlegged their own material at times because their label wouldn’t commit resources to doing so for various reasons. It’s a sticky situation, not nearly as black and white as it may seem, and I definitely am not claiming to know the ins and outs. The issue is certainly worthy of discussion.

I’m going to sit and think about all of this while I watch my new videos today!

-R