Yesterday’s winner: Picture T
I have news! I have actual, real, current Duran Duran news to talk about! As you can imagine, I’m beyond excited about that! What is it? Well, as many of you know, Duran Duran had a little press release up on their website yesterday talking about how Duran recorded this week in London with the Voce Chamber Choir and the London Youth Chamber Choir! According to this press release, they came together to record several new songs for the upcoming album! To read the complete press release and see some pictures go here. Along with that, the Voce Chamber Choir also posted a little blog about it, which you can read here. That little blog has a few more details and some more pictures!
I have to admit that I was completely THRILLED to see this tweeted this morning! It seemed to me that many of us in Duranland were dying for some news, any news, something from the Duran camp about the album. Then, we get this! Obviously, I’m excited to see some news. I think every Duranie was yesterday!! More importantly, though, this news makes me hopeful. First, I love that they are working with actual choirs. I adore when they have used more classical instrumentation in the past , like the instrumentals on All You Need Is Now, and think this kind of touch could make these songs (did you all catch that…SONGS…as in more than one) really special. Beyond that, I like what this must mean about where in the process the band is with the new album. As far as everything I have seen and heard about how they make an album, they usually start by just jamming. People just throw out ideas until something catches everyone’s attention and then they build the song from there. Typically, this is more on the musical front with lyrics and melodies coming later. For recent albums, including this upcoming one, I have heard many references about waiting for lyrics. It makes sense to me that the lyrics would often come last because they have to fit the mood, tempo, etc. of the music. It might be harder to write music to go with words. Anyway, then, from what I know, once the songs are written, they have to record them. It seems to me that if they gathered these two groups together to RECORD VOCALs, the songs have been written, words and all, I assume, and they are in the recording stage of the process. Now, of course, we have no idea how many songs are left to record and we all know that the mixing often takes a long time after that. Nonetheless, this feels like progress and hints of songs that I look forward to hearing.
If that wasn’t enough, apparently, there was a post made over on Mark UK’s message board about a fan who had a chance to visit the band in the studio, which you could read here. Unlike the news above, this is not an official announcement. Nothing in that thread is official or came from the band, in any way, shape, or form. I’m not going to comment about what all was stated there other since there is nothing official, but I will say that there was a lot there that got me thinking and wondering. It got other people thinking, wondering, and commenting as seen on the multiple page thread. Some of the things stated there involved Mark Ronson’s contribution to the album, the state of the recording process, touring, possible release time and one song title. I suggest that if you are curious, go there yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Yesterday was a good day in Duranland. I loved having news…real, official news. I didn’t mind seeing a fan post either simply because I enjoy the speculation and the discussion that arises from such. It is good to see a little life in the Duran universe. I can only hope that there is a lot more to come in the near future!
P.S. Just a reminder that today is the VERY LAST DAY to send in your list of your Top 25 Duran Duran songs! We start the big reveal tomorrow!!!
We begin our big finish of Seven and the Ragged Tiger with Rhonda’s review of The Seventh Stranger this week.
Musicality/Instrumentation: I will say one thing about the music on this album – it flows extremely well from one song to the next. The same basic elements and sound are found on virtually every track, and this last track is no exception. The song is not especially fast in tempo, and the song tends to have more of a lead-in (intro) than many others on this album, beckoning the listener in for one last round. While the amount of track layering on other songs was bothersome for me – there’s just too much texture to sort out – on this song, I found the layering and mixing to be just the right amount, with the exception from about 4:30 to about 5:00, where it tends to end up sounding a bit more like cacophony. There is a really clean guitar solo that reminds me the tiniest bit of Andy’s work to come much later on the Astronaut album, and the signature call and response between keyboards and guitars is very much present as well. What I don’t hear a lot of on this particular song is bass. I’m sure it’s there, but it’s not the driving rhythm we’re used to hearing along with drums. Those instruments are far more subtle, with a lot more percussion used as background. Overall, the music is interesting without being obtrusive – it’s a good sound for a closing track, letting the listener down easy as opposed to dropping them flat.
Vocals: One thing I really like about this song is that Simon’s vocals are in the lower part of his range, highlighting his versatility. After hearing song after song with soaring, stacked harmonies that range to the upper part of his vocal range, it’s a welcome change to have something a tinge darker and more mellow. It is apparent when I hear songs like this that Simon has had classic training – I can almost hear him dropping his jar as he tackles some of the lower notes to create a fuller sound. If there’s ever a question of his abilities, one does not have to go far to find the answer, that is for sure.
Lyrics: So many of the lyrics on this album seem to follow in the same theme : learning how to deal with fame. This makes sense to me because during this time – Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world, and to the band, it probably very much felt like it all happened overnight. To me, this song seems to express Simon’s desire to find someone to trust in a crowd. Different faces, every single night – who to turn to? It certainly describes a feeling of complete loneliness in a crowd of thousands, which seems to be incredibly daunting. As a fan, I can’t imagine what international fame must have felt like back then – all five went from being “regular guys” to being on the cover of every magazine, on our TV’s, radios…and pursued in every corner on the planet. In some ways, it almost seems as though Simon is commenting on the fact that he is one of the most recognizable people on the planet (at the time), almost no one really knows him, and yet I get the sense from the song that he is searching for that comfort of knowing and being known. Great lyrics.
Overall: Admittedly, I spent much of my youth skipping this one…or at least only half paying attention when the song would finally play on the turntable…fading into silence after it ended. There is a lot right with this song: the lyrics are great, Simon’s vocals are among the best on the album, and the music isn’t at all overpowering. But, I still feel as though some of the best parts of the band: bass, drums – are nearly completely overlooked on this one. Balance is what this entire album left behind, and I think that they never quite find it again until much later in their career.
Cocktail Rating: 3 cocktails!
You all can file this under the heading, “Things I would love to ask the band if given the chance”. It is true, I have questions that, if I were ever sitting down with any of them and knew I’d get a REAL answer for (not the pat, politically correct answer I’m sure they reserve for interviews and things), I’d ask. Here are a couple:
1. Is there a song that you’re sick to death of playing live?
I’m pretty sure that they’d never answer that question honestly. To begin with, it’s likely “bad form”, and they don’t want to offend anyone by mentioning one song or another. On the other hand, they did write all (most) of the songs they play live – and I suppose in that respect, they’re like children in some way – so it feels wrong to love one more than another, perhaps. Even so, I just have to think in some far corner of their mind, there’s at least one song that they’d like to forget for an extended period.
2. What is your least favorite Duran Duran song?
This is a far different question from the first one, because you can like a song and just be tired of playing it. I’m literally asking – what song do you really just not like? I’m sure there’s got to be one out there, don’t you think??
3. What producer have you least enjoyed working with?
Again, I think that the band can come up with some very lovely sentiments about every single producer they’ve had – but can they be honest and tell me who was really just hard to work with? Who did they clash with maybe on a personal level? I’m sure it’s a tough question and not one they’d want “out there” – which is why I wouldn’t really expect that they’d ever answer, but hey – it’s my blog. 😀
4. What is your least favorite place to go on tour?
Listen, I’m pretty sure Los Angeles has to be near if not at the top of their list in most cases (John aside, of course) but I am curious. They’ve been many more places in the world than I, so I’m wondering where has been the least liked!
5. I’ve seen where a fan will bring up something about the fan community and the response from anyone in the band is typically “We don’t get involved in fan community things.” Why is that?
Is the band really not interested? I wonder this because as many fans mention to me in response to many of my posts, fans are what keep the band “in business”. We buy the product. Why on earth wouldn’t the band be interested in what their customers do, or events that the customers plan? Perhaps that’s not what is meant – I suspect they mean that they don’t want to be involved in the drama, and that I completely understand. That’s why I’d ask the question though – to set that record straight.
What are some things that you’d ask the band if you were given the chance and knew they’d give a real, straight answer?
This past week has brought some really nice memories to mind. It was 10 years ago today that the US leg of the Astronaut tour began in Florida. TEN YEARS AGO?!?
I feel like I just blinked and went from getting mysterious, static-filled cell phone calls from friends in various cities who wanted to share parts of their show with me to…well…this moment right here as I’m looking back on fond memories and typing away. Ten years flew right on by.
Does anyone remember how much fun we had? We were all excited and happy to be once again (or still!) obsessed with Duran Duran. Many, many people had planned to be in attendance at many of the shows on that tour. Still more of us had never had the chance to see the original five live on stage before, so this was our chance to make that happen. None of us realized until later just how special this tour really was, or could have been had Andy finished all of the dates. We didn’t know that Andy Taylor would eventually leave the band. We liked the new album (we certainly LOVED the idea that the original five were back together).
For me, 2005 was the chance to do it the way I would have wanted back in the 80s. I wanted to see all five of them live. I wanted to go to more than one show on a tour, and I wanted to go with my friends….who just happened to live at least halfway across the country from me. Only a slight geographical issue to deal with, along with a husband who couldn’t quite figure out what semi-truck (with Tiger Tiger blaring in the background, of course) had just ran him over. So badly, I wanted to seize the moment, and just go.
Funny thing about life though… sometimes even when you’re given a second chance, you can’t just up and leave responsibilities lying in the wake. I had two small children here at home, and the aforementioned husband. I had friends making plans to do week after week of traveling and shows, and I knew there was absolutely no way such things would go over well here. I would be lucky to go to ONE show, much less travel, and so I really did live vicariously through friends who threw caution and responsibility to the wind in order to travel. I wished I could have been like them. I did wish that I was more “unattached”. I loved my kids and husband, but this felt like such a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I didn’t want to miss out, yet I knew that there was no way I’d be able to do half of what I wanted. No, I was not nearly as brave as those friends who left real life behind for a while in favor of fun and a little DD-styled mayhem.
I can remember having “the conversation” with my husband just as presales began. I had a tentative plan of attack: my friends wanted to meet in Chicago. I agreed to the plan for VIP tickets and a weekend trip. There was quite a large group of us that would be there that weekend. Since I already knew I would not be able to attend the LA date due to being on vacation, my plan was to beg and plead for a chance to go to Chicago instead, along with possibly going to the show in Las Vegas, where still more friends would be in attendance.
My husband was incredulous at my asking to not only go to a show without him, but one that was also across the country. Additionally, he couldn’t understand for the life of him why I needed to go to Vegas as well. “You only go to ONE show on a tour, Rhonda. There’s no point in going to two. Absolutely not. I WORK. You stay home and take care of the kids. It is what we’ve always done, and there’s no need for you to be running around like you’re a teenager. Is this how you want to spend our money? ” I was furious at the idea of his resistance, but determined to at least see the show in Chicago. Oh…and YES dear, this was exactly how I wanted to spend our money. OUR money. I had earned the right to go and have some fun after years of what felt like servitude, staying at home, cooking, doing endless loads of laundry and cleaning up after two children under the age of 10 along with a slightly messier husband. Eventually, he agreed, but not without a lot of arguing and flat-out sulking up until the day I left. He had made sure to tell me, several times in fact, that going to this single show was fine, but that after I came home, that was it. No more traveling. (keep in mind that I’d just been to New Orleans for a fan convention a month or so prior, as well as taking our oldest out of school to go to an album signing event earlier in that month. This after many years of never even mentioning Duran Duran….so for him this was indeed a big change.) I agreed to his terms, all the way up until someone mentioned the Milwaukee show, which happened to be the same weekend I was going to already be IN Chicago.
The question was asked, “Couldn’t we just buy regular, non-VIP tickets for this show in Milwaukee and go?” No one would need to stay longer before traveling home. Milwaukee was only about an hour and a half from Chicago or so, and no one really had to know. Yes, yes …I thought. I could see this plan working. So, the slightly more devious side of me agreed to have one of my friends buy my ticket and I’d send them money to pay them back. Yes my friends, this is when my Duran Duran “life of crime” began. I bought that ticket and never said a thing to my husband…
…until of course my husband found out on his own. He’s a smart one, that guy. So… you all can just imagine for yourselves how that conversation went….I have tried to block it all from memory at this point.
Yes, I’ve been to “a few” shows since that stolen Milwaukee show (which was FABULOUS, by the way!), and of course there’s this blog, among other things. It’s been a wild ten years, hasn’t it?
Believe it or not, there are times when I really wonder why I started this blog. Coming off a nice “anniversary” of sorts last week, which you can read about here (ICYMI), I had all sorts of warm fuzzies over this fan community. Thankfulness, hopefulness and love all around.
Then Saturday happened. Call me crazy, but its a pretty sad state of affairs when someone cannot write a simple blog without people coming unglued over the words. I still feel as though the spirit with which Amanda wrote was completely misread. What was an honest post about how the community aspects of being fans is what keeps all of us here and present during times when the band isn’t touring or even around was taken in a thousand different directions than the one intended. I’m not sure how Amanda felt coming away from that day, but after I caught up on the posts and comments, I felt horrible.
I saw everything from “Give the band a chance” (What is that supposed to mean, exactly?) to “You’re degrading the opinions of other fans.” (Are you joking?) Personally I think a more appropriate comment would have just been “How dare you say anything remotely negative about Duran Duran!” because that at least would have made sense and been truthful. Thinly veiled comments regarding maturity and impatience (which, by the way – I’d already said myself at some point in the past couple of weeks. Thanks for noticing.) spiced up the day as well. Then there were others who flat out just either didn’t agree or didn’t understand the blog. Those comments were the most helpful of the bunch, because at the very least – it shows me where our writing needs to be tightened up, and quite honestly: not everyone is EVER going to agree with us anyway. Newsflash: we already know this.
Where to go from here? I’m not really sure. I’ve been told twice in the last week that social media is on its way out, blogging has become a thing of the past, and that we have no real purpose these days. “There are more important things to do.” Maybe so.
Maybe I should mention that the purpose of her blog was merely to prove that relationships (between fans) are what keep us glued to the community. What if I wrote that we have some ideas on how to keep ourselves entertained between albums, and that we even had ideas for upcoming in-person meetups and events to celebrate the new album when it arrives. Would that have changed the responses?
Amanda told me on Saturday that many of the responses she received just proved her point – that the people who responded said they just had other things going on in their life and that since the band was busy, they were busy too and didn’t take time to check in. That makes sense. Amanda and I are still involved because we write the blog every day – album or not. I can’t really drift too far away, even if sometimes I might like the idea of not thinking about the ban for a change. I read from others that without a central message board, there’s just nowhere to gather. I agree. Yet, if you go to DDM – it’s a ghost town on their boards. Why is that?
As you should have noticed, this post isn’t about what THE BAND is doing. Let’s remove them from the equation for a bit – because they’re doing whatever it is that they’re doing. Their creative process isn’t really my concern right now. For this blog post, I’m not interested in debating whether or not they need to be on Twitter or any other social media. Let’s talk about being fans. What keeps us going when the band isn’t touring or in the news?
I started this blog because I had a lot to say. Simon once said in an interview that there were outspoken fans in the US that wanted the band to know what it was like being fans, about how the music made us feel. I really don’t know whom he was referring, but he was accurately describing Amanda and I. A few years into this blog now, I find that I write to keep people connected. I write not only for the band, but also as a platform for fans to connect. I keep hoping to bring people together. That’s why I started this blog, and that is why we keep going.