Tag Archives: Duran Duran

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

If you read the blog last week, last Thursday, in fact, you would have learned of our new review process.  For now, each Thursday will be a review.  First, Rhonda will tackle the song; then, the following week, I will take my turn with the same song.  Last week, Rhonda started with Union of the Snake.  This week, it is my turn.  Will we agree or do we hear this song very differently?  If you want to review hers, go here.  Also, we decided to incorporate the production part of our review to the overall section.

Musicality/Instrumentation:  This is one of those Duran songs with the very distinct beginning.  As soon as we hear the opening notes, Duranies can all recognize the song.  I’m not sure if they intended it that way but it is that way now.  I know it certainly works to be instantaneously recognizable live as some of their bigger hits are that way (Rio and Girls on Film, in particular).  The beginning of the song really feels like the focus is on Nick and Andy.  I always enjoy those moments of musical conflict or musical back-and-forth between the two of them.  John’s bass is felt, at times, but isn’t a standout.  Neither is Roger, really.  Of course, as the songs moves closer to the chorus and through the chorus, Nick’s seems more dominant.  Even there, though, as with most songs of this album, there are always extra sounds, extra elements added.  It is multi-layered.  Likewise, the bridge of the song also holds some interest as there are definite extra percussion instruments included and very noticeable sax.  Truly, this is one thing that I have always admired about Duran.  They never shy away from using instruments outside of their standard guitars, drums, bass and keyboards.

Vocals:  Like a lot of this album, once the vocals begin, they certainly take center stage, seemingly mixed a bit louder than the already loud sounding instrumentation.  The vocals are a solid performance of Simon’s with some particularly interesting moments in which certain words are emphasized with the use of back-ups singers.  These words are obvious including “singers”, “radio”, “borderline”, and “climb”.  What could have been a cool way to add drama simply becomes over the top and too much.  I think it would have been fine if that had been done for a word or two but they used the back-up singers a lot here.  Too much.

Lyrics:  Ah, this song is one of those songs off Seven and the Ragged Tiger with very cryptic lyrics.  There have been many attempts to decipher what this song means or is about.  Is it about sin?  Is it something sexual?  Is it about losing it and having a nervous breakdown?  Is about the pressure of fame?  I have no idea.  I just know that I never connected to them.  I have had moments that the song seems to fit a situation, but those moments are short-lasting.  What do I think of the lyrics?  On one hand, I like that the lyrics aren’t clear and obvious.  I want lyrics that I either need to figure out or that I can create an interpretation that works for me.  On the other hand, I, sometimes, think that Simon tried TOO much to be clever.  He wanted to demonstrate that poetry.  In previous albums, he showed that creative side without it being or feeling forced.  In this song, it feels a bit forced to me.

Overall:  The song has a lot of potential.  I like the play between the keyboards and guitar during the verses.  The use of the saxophone and extra percussion sounds were a nice touch that showed that Duran wasn’t afraid to use other instruments beyond what the members traditionally brought to the table.  The lyrics could be interesting and the vocals could have been great without the overpowering backing vocals.  Likewise, the production seemed to really push the vocals over every other element of the song.  This enhances the two parts of the song that seem weaker to me (vocals and lyrics).  Also, when thinking about this song as a whole, I can’t help but to think about the more recent live performances of this song that I saw.  It seemed lifeless.  I’m not sure why that is.  The band didn’t seem all that into it and neither did the crowd, for some reason.  Perhaps, if the song was given a very long rest, there might be more appreciation for it.

Cocktail Rating:  3 cocktails!

Loud is the music, the crowd is ringing

So, those that are on Twitter…or even Facebook to some extent, know that John, Simon and Dom made good on their agreement to play a gig for an AmFAR charity auction winner yesterday evening. Dom tweeted a picture from Courcheval, France this morning, taken from his hotel room. It had a beautiful view of snow-covered mountains behind the hotel.  He said something about wishing he could ski. I shudder to think. As I tweeted back in response, Rhonda does not ski. No, no. The idea of careening down the side of a mountain with essentially no brakes aside from the techniques you learn on a pair of skis…well…there’s a reason that my family calls me ‘grace’.  Need I say more?

As for the gig itself, I saw one photo that I really can’t post here because I don’t know the owner…but John, Simon & Dom were all wearing black tie & tuxes, and to this starved Duranie, they were a sight to behold. It has been a very long 17 months since I last saw the band live, to be sure. It’s never good when you’re contemplating in your head just how much money it would take to pay the band to come play a private party, and just how many of my Duranie friends would be willing to help me pay for such a deal. Can we set up crowdfunding for that??  Ha!

In the meantime…for those of you lucky enough to live in England and are close enough to London, you can go see Dom Brown’s band, Blue to Brown, perform on January 17th at The Armoury…it’s FREE, and apparently since Duran Duran won’t be touring for quite some time, Dom’s band has a standing once-a-month gig happening at this pub. Come on now, you can’t really beat that unless of course it was in my backyard here in Sunny California! If you can’t go for yourself, go for me, take video and post it!  Either that, or I need to set up some sort of Crowdfunding deal so that I can fly over to England and see a gig for myself.  It’s research for the blog, right?!?  Probably not, but one can dream.

I keep waiting for a photo to show up of the AmFar gig they played yesterday that I can post…if you’ve got one, send it our way and I’ll put it up here!

-R

I don’t know where I’ve come from, where I’m going to…

There are moments during the course of a day where I’m so consumed by the mechanics of getting through the day – going through the motions, if you will – that I forget why we started the blog, or for that matter, why I insist on continuing (even through what I feel has become the “Sahara Desert” of waits from one album to the next). In the past couple of weeks though, I’ve had two completely separate things happen to remind me exactly why Daily Duranie exists.

I don’t believe it’s any secret that Amanda and I are good friends. To be honest, I don’t think the blog could be what it is if it weren’t for that friendship. We usually work well together. That said, there have been moments when we haven’t seen eye to eye, and those are times, however few they might be, that really end up strengthening our friendship. Last week, we had one of those times, but in this case – I think it was probably a really big moment. A turning point, actually. It’s important to remember that Amanda and I are but two people (no, we really are not the same person – there are truly two of us who write blogs!), and we live a couple thousand miles apart, no less. Amanda has certain goals for herself, ideas for her career going forward, and I have some of my own. Without getting into a ton of detail, the time came for us to really talk about our plans going forward, and discuss what each of us wish to accomplish. During this series of emails, it was very clear that each of us had a very different idea of how it all would work, and what role each of us would be willing and able to play. In this case, it was really me letting Amanda down, which I realized was going to be a big problem, and for a bit, I was very concerned that our friendship was in jeopardy. Luckily for me, Amanda was willing to pick up the phone and make the phone call that I was not – and we talked it out. While our positions and goals did not change, we were able to come to some sort of agreement on how we could move forward.

Yesterday, I spent much of my day getting my son back into the old grind. We had a parent/student/teacher meeting in the morning that ran long, and after we had errands to run before getting my youngest from school. By the time I was able to sit down to take a look at Twitter, it was already evening here on the west coast. I saw that a friend had tweeted something that caused me concern. Not thinking twice, I immediately messaged this friend, offering my love and support – because when it comes down to it, that’s all that really matters in this world. The funny thing, is over the past few weeks, there had been more than a few things that had been tweeted, dissected, discussed and retweeted back and forth between the two of us and a small group of our friends, and we never quite saw eye to eye. Even so, when I sensed her distress in her tweets, the very last thing I considered were the discussions where we didn’t agree – all I could think of was making sure she knew that I was there when and if she needed.

Every single time I’m asked about this blog and why we do it, I wish that I could properly describe THESE moments in words, because when it comes down to it – I don’t write this blog because I love Duran Duran. That might have been what started this journey, but the reason I keep going is because of the friendships I’ve made along the way. I feel far more accountable to Amanda, my friends, and the people who read this blog every day than I do Duran Duran, yet I can assure you that we still support the band. Maybe that is what makes this blog different and gives it personality, and maybe it’s also the reason I continue to cross the Sahara desert in search of another oasis!

-R

Since you ate my royalties…

Seen any good yogurt commercials on TV lately?

Is anybody hungry?

(I can’t believe I just did that…wow.  Where will the year go from here?)

Of course I’m mentioning the Yoplait ad that features none other than Hungry Like the Wolf as background music. This is no teensy snippet of music, it’s literally the focus of the ad. If you miss it, well…I’m no doctor but a hearing check might be in order.

In addition to seeing the ad on TV a couple of times, I’ve seen all sorts of discussion on the topic, ranging from “Hey, I LOVE the new Yoplait ad!”, to “Oh Duran Duran – how could you?!?” Both responses to be expected, of course.

What strikes me, as “Rhonda, the average Duran Duran fan”, is the sheer amount of people who believe that the music is the solely band’s, to do with as they wish. As I shared with a few people on Twitter this weekend, my Music Rights and Law class was about 20 years back, but I do have basic memories that may or may not be completely applicable in this situation, but I can share what I remember. When a band signs with a label and records music for that label, the label typically owns that recorded version that is released on their label.  Granted, there can be all sorts of caveats and exceptions here – but that’s the basic deal. Maybe they throw it all on a compilation album 10 years past the fact, maybe they decide to remaster and re-release the music twenty or thirty years later. Maybe they decide to license the music to a yogurt ad…the point is, the label owns the recordings, at least in large part. Did you notice that I used the word “recordings” rather than “music”? That’s because performances, such as live performances are completely different.

Someone asked if the band receives royalties on this sort of thing. I believe it would be fair to say that:  A. I have no idea so anything I say would be complete speculation. and B. It is indeed possible, depending upon the contract they have with the label in question. If you remember correctly – several months or even a year back now John Taylor was chatting with Katy and had mentioned that they would really like to get their entire catalog onto one label.  There are very good reasons for doing that moving ahead, and one reason is so that they’re able to address all of this and have the same deal for their entire catalog of music.  Make sense?

Is anybody hungry now?

(TWICE.  Twice in the same blog post and we’re not even through the first week of the year yet…)

-R

Only Change Will Bring You Out of the Darkness

It seems to be a pretty quiet day. That might have something to do with the snowstorm hitting a significant percentage of the US, or the impending cold (frozen tundra??), but for me it’s just the last Friday morning of winter break, before we head into the January doldrums of school, first semester finals for my two oldest, my daughter’s 17th birthday (HOW did that happen?!?), and so on.

I was on Twitter this morning, and thanks to @askkatybook – I have something to share with my fellow music fans. You see, she found an article about this 12-year old boy who does music reviews on YouTube. He’s not a fan of any specific band, or any specific genre of music – he is simply a fan of music. Here’s the article link.

I love Joshua’s exuberance and the sheer joy he shares for music. I wish I could capture just a little bit of that and put it into the reviews that I do for Daily Duranie, to be honest. There is something incredibly special to be gleaned from watching Joshua’s videos – and it’s refreshing to see the love for music being shared. It’s not about sales, it’s not about showing a certain level of musical articulation, and it’s not even really so much about being critical, either. The reviews come down to the basics of just sharing the joy of music. In a world where negativity seems to drive content (as well as response to content), it is truly a breath of fresh air to see positivity winning. I suppose that for Joshua, there just isn’t any point in reviewing something if he doesn’t like it – because to him, this is about what he likes, and what he recommends.

As a blogger, I’ve learned the power of writing a post that drives response as well as page views. I’ve very much seen what makes people react wildly. In our case, it sure isn’t the posts about how much we love Duran Duran. Think about that.

-R

It’s Loaded with Fame: Conventions and Celebrities

People go to conventions to connect with other fans, to participate in activities not readily available in daily lives and to escape reality.  Another very significant reason that people go to conventions is for the celebrities.  Many conventions, most conventions, have celebrity or “special” guests.  Some conventions might have just one or two special guests and others have many.  Typically, these celebrities interact with the fans in a variety of ways, including participating in panels or question and answer sessions in which fans can ask questions, holding autographs sessions in which fans can get an autograph and/or holding a photo opps session in which fans can get pictures with the celebrity(s) of choice.

In my experience, people do seem to like going to conventions to meet and see celebrities.  At the Wizard World convention I went to in Chicago, in August, a lot of people I talk with came to meet one or two of the celebrity guests.  Some people came back year after year to see the same celebrity.  Sometimes, the bigger name celebrities had very long lines to get autographs and pictures.  The lesser known celebrities still had people who were interested in getting pictures or even just an opportunity to exchange a few words.  Yet, it did seem that anyone interested in a particular celebrity could get to that celebrity eventually, especially if the fan had the time and the money for one of these extras.  Of course, many of these celebrity focused activities have specific times.  For example, if you wanted a picture of person X, you had to get it done between 1 and 2 pm.  Thus, people scheduled their convention activities even around the celebrities.

I wonder how important these celebrity appearances are to the fans attending a convention.  Do they get people in the door?  Do they get people to pay the money for a ticket?  Would people go if there is just one celebrity or one celebrity who people really cared about?  Is it the fact that there might be many celebrities at a convention that you like?  Does it matter which type of fan activity is possible–meaning that getting an autograph might be more important to some than a question and answer session or vice versa?  In many cases, autographs and photos are extras.  They do not come with the ticket.  You pay for each autograph and each picture.  In some cases, you might pay to attend a panel.  Would those additional costs matter?  Would it matter how MUCH those extras were?

Seriously, I would love to know.  Would you be more likely to go to a convention if there was a celebrity you liked?  What about many celebrities?  Would you want panels/Q&A sessions, autograph sessions and/or photo sessions with the celebrities?  Would you be willing to pay extra for those sessions?  How much for a celebrity you love, love, love (like a member of Duran Duran!)?  How much for a celebrity you like a lot?  Would you go to a convention if there weren’t celebrities there?

-A

Lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling

I need to thank the London Evening Standard for publishing an interview with the band. Just as I was about to scrape the bottom of idea barrel in search of a decent blog topic – there comes an interview. Coincidence? Maybe….or else those ceremonial offerings to the Duranie Gods are beginning to actually work!

If you haven’t caught the interview yet, please allow me to direct you here to read it.  I’m not going to comment on everything, but I do want to touch on a subject that has been mentioned more than a few times as of late. The interview, at least in part, seemed to center around the band’s younger years (due to Denis O’Regan’s Careless Memories pop-up gallery and photography book) and how they would find girls hiding in their wardrobes, hotel rooms, etc.  In the interview, Simon admits Duran Duran were “sexist”. “But not misogynist. We like girls in bikinis but the women always win in our videos. We wouldn’t have made the Robin Thicke video. It’s just a bit too …” He gropes for the word, his hand a claw of agony, “… you know.”

Oh, I do know. Sometimes, I swear the band knows what I’m thinking, and if I were really deluding myself, I’d swear they were reading my discussions on Twitter.

Just a few weeks back, similar comments from Simon were also in the press. I couldn’t help but agree with him and said as much openly on Twitter. I’d commented many weeks prior that at least in theory – that Robin Thicke’s video was probably a mistake. Maybe I’m just getting old and less tolerant overall, but his video is just a little bit (a lot really) over the line for me. I think there is just a certain tone to his video – the fact that the man wins (using Simon’s words!) and that the woman really seems to not be in control, that registers pretty highly on my “this is complete sexist and cruel BS” meter. It makes me very uncomfortable to watch, in a very similar way to how I’ve felt about Chris Brown. I realize that for Robin Thicke, that video is likely just an act, but that’s not the point. Why do women really need to be used like that?? What year is this again?? I’d said as much on Twitter, and gotten into quite a discussion with a few others on the subject. We never came to full agreement, but I enjoyed the subject – just not the frustration of having to explain my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Damn Twitter.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, because I’m forgetting to mention that when those comments of Simon’s became public, the response and outcry was rather swift. “What about Girls on Film, Simon?? Did we forget all about that Duran Duran video then?”  

Yes, what about that video?

This was exactly the point of discussion when I took to Twitter at a later date about Simon’s comments. Yes, Girls on Film (to begin with) does seem to be a bit of a problem when looking back on Duran’s career as one reflects on Simon’s feelings about Robin Thicke’s video. The women in the video are put in various situations including a lovely little pillow fight while on a cream-slathered candy striped pole (oh, the subtle innuendo), a cowgirl riding and then giving a horse a bath…a sumo-wrestler being massaged after losing a fight…and my personal favorite, the lifeguard “saving” a young woman drowning in a kiddy pool.  And that’s just the R rated version. If you want to really see something, the “Night” version has even more going on backstage…but I’ll leave that to you to find if you haven’t already seen it. In the interview linked above, Simon mentions that in their videos – the women “win”. To be fair, I suppose it is possible to see that the women do end up in control of whatever situation they seem to be put in here. After all, it IS the lifeguard who ends up being left in the pool, and who is riding the horse but the woman?? Again…I cringe at the innuendo, but yes, the woman do seem to be on top. (Go ahead, cringe at my play on words!)

However, not all fans see it that way, and to be equally fair – I think they too have a point.  Why make a video like Girls on Film at all? Was the music not enough to stand on it’s own? Probably not, I’d say. I love the band and adore their music..but back in the 80s?? Getting attention meant taking the risk to shock the public. If you’ve ever seen the full length video, you know that at the end of it the entire band holds up a banner that says “Some people will do anything to sell records.” That alone speaks volumes to me as a viewer, and by the way…it worked! Continually throughout the bands career, the “sex” label has been stamped on their heads or branded across their bodies. When you consider the sheer amount of videos, albums, artwork, etc. that they have had in their career that contain images of women…it’s pretty impossible to say that the band is not sexist, which to his credit, Simon openly admits.

However, and I think this is a huge point most fans (among many others) that have criticized Simon’s comments miss, or at the very least misdefine: Misogyny is a pretty strong word. The definition of a misogynist, according to dictionary.com, is a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.” To me, it’s tantamount to calling someone a homophobe or a racist. It runs in that same vein of hatred, and I have to ask: does the band really hate women?  Think about that for a minute.

Even if you think the Girls on Film video completely objectifies women – which it very well might – the women do seem to end up with the upper hand. If we look at other female images that the band has given us over the years, it would seem that the women almost always look stronger than the band. How about Rio? That woman in Rio makes each band member look ridiculous! She yanks Simon off the boat, Nick can’t even bring himself to pour champagne properly, poor Roger ends in some sort of a fish net, and then there’s John – who daydreams about being a soldier, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by yes, a woman. Such weaklings. This band does not hate women. They are not misogynists, even though by Simon’s own admission they have been sexist, a point to which I would wholeheartedly agree.

We can have the discussion about whether or not we’re all sick of seeing models in the band’s videos. We should acknowledge the band has been branded with the word “Sex”, and whether or not we think that’s propelled their fame. We should talk about the band’s sexism. We can even discuss the music and that should really be the point they stand on, historically speaking. What we we must stop doing, is applying the term “misogynist” to describe the band. It is not fair, and it is not a accurate. Oddly enough…if one really felt that way, especially as a woman, how could one be a fan?

-R