Tag Archives: James Bond

Happy Birthday John Taylor!!!

I never know quite where to start when I sit down to do a birthday blog!  After all, I usually have a lot to say and want to have the post be an extra special one.  This one feels even more that way.  Most importantly, it is a blog post dedicated to John Taylor.  While I know that I might not shout it from the rooftops that often or squee much over posted pictures, he is my absolute FAVORITE and has been since I was 8 years old.  Eight.  As a kid, I liked that he was “cute” and had great hair (who didn’t love the John Taylor of 1984 with the blonde bangs?!?).  Now, as an adult, I feel like I appreciate him in a much more in-depth way.  It isn’t that I don’t find him attractive or don’t like looking at picture of him.  That isn’t it as I totally do.  (Seriously?!?  Who doesn’t?!?  It is just a given, right?!)  No, it is more about how much I appreciate all that he has given and continues to give all of the rest of us.  Heck, this year for his birthday, he gave US all new Duran Duran music.  (In case you haven’t heard the song, Pressure Off, click here to hear it on YouTube.)  He has given the world so much that I always have a hard time capturing it all in a simple blog post.

First, he has given us plenty of music.  Most significantly for the authors of the blog and the readers of it, he has given us tremendous bass playing in Duran Duran.  Could you pick a favorite or ten?  An obvious example is the bass in Rio.  Here is a clip with the bass isolated from the rest:

Here is a clip of John talking about playing bass on Planet Earth in 1983:

Of course, John didn’t just play with Duran Duran, but he also played on the side projects of Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders.

Power Station–John with Bernard Edwards

Neurotic Outsiders–live clip of Planet Earth

As many also know, John made a lot of music on his own as well!

Immortal:

Beyond music, he has done quite a lot!  Clearly, he is a man of many talents!

Actor–

Author–

Activist–

Looking at the videos I have chosen to share here, I can understand why I am a fan and why everyone should be a fan.  Luckily for me, I have also had the opportunity to have a few decent moments with the man despite me still reacting like a school girl with her big crush. (If you need a reminder of my inability to deal around John Taylor, I recommend reading this blog here, which captured how badly I handled front row.  I’m all ready trying to get myself prepared for the front row experience at the Agua Caliente casino in October.  Pathetic.)

What were some of those moments, you ask?  Well, the first real interaction with John (if you can call it that since the interaction was so brief) was in the summer of 2005 when I saw John outside of his hotel in St. Louis.  My mission there was to ask for an autograph.  I approached him, asked politely and he agreed.  That’s it.  Simple.  Respectful but more than enough to keep me on a high for the next few years!  Then, in 2007, I got to speak briefly at the Red Carpet Massacre CD signing in Chicago.  I asked him about his socks.  Why?  If any of you were around in 2006, the people posting in the Church of the Bass God thread on DuranDuranMusic decided to send him socks for his birthday.  After he received them, he took pictures with some that he liked, including the pair I sent, which were James Bond socks as seen below:

Bond socks

The next big moment came in 2012 when he came to Chicago for a book reading and signing.  Not only was he super generous in signing a book for me and for my partner-in-crime, but he accepted a Daily Duranie wristband and put it on!

John Wristband

Of course, like everyone else who attended the signing, I was able to get a picture of him signing my book(s).  Yet, I wasn’t satisfied.  It is silly of me, I know, but I still really wanted a picture of me with John.  Finally, this past spring, when Duran Duran played at the David Lynch Foundation Show, I was able to get my picture.

John and Amanda

In keeping with the story of my life, he looks great and I’m out-of-focus and have my eyes closed.  Awesome.  I guess this just means that I’ll have to try and get a better one, right?  At least, this is what I tell myself.

At the end of the day, I still feel like the lucky one.  It isn’t because of those moments (although they were fabulous) or those pictures.  No, I still feel like the lucky one to have been around at the right time, right place in order to discover John Taylor and become his fan.  His birth, truly, was a gift to all of us.

On that note, I wish John Taylor the very happiest of birthdays!

-A

A View To A Kill (That Fatal Kiss) — The Daily Duranie Review

We are finishing the reviews of all early 1980s Duran Duran with this review, the b-side of A View to a Kill.  The b-side was A View to a Kill (That Fatal Kiss).  This song is often referred to as just That Fatal Kiss.  Interestingly enough, this song did not appear on the actual James Bond movie soundtrack (A View to a Kill), but could be heard and purchased by buying the single for A View to a Kill.  It is an instrumental.

Rhonda’s Review:

Musicality/Instrumentation: This is a beautiful arrangement. What strikes me most is that the song has been stripped to its barest elements and is stunning as is. I love that the main instrument used is a flute for the melody, that happens so rarely, especially with movie music, that I have to applaud the choice. The song definitely has the qualities of a soundtrack – the melody is woven throughout, but as a soft undercurrent rather than an “in your face” rock tune. Excellent choices and attention to detail without ruining the simplicity of the music.

Overall: I am a sucker for classical music and listen to a broad range of composers (and conductors)…nearly as often as I listen to rock or anything else. I applaud the instrumentals and wish there were more. I would love to see Duran do more concerts using an orchestra backup. Their music has classic elements that always lend themselves well to these arrangements, and in my opinion it’s the sign of solid songwriting. While I realize that the band probably has help with the arrangements, I will go to my grave arguing that if it weren’t for their musicality – these songs would never work as well as they do. The very best elements of A View to a Kill are allowed to shine, and this is why A Fatal Kiss goes over so incredibly well live.  Well done!

Cocktail Rating:  4 cocktails! 5a05c-4glasses

Amanda’s Review:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  Right away, this song sounds like it is from a movie. The instrumentation isn’t your usual Duran, that’s for sure, as it is far more classical in nature and less electronic. Yet, despite the differences, the essence of A View to a Kill is still there.  The notes have the same feel even if the instruments and tempo are different. I won’t lie  I almost always love when Duran turns to instrumentals and I especially love the ones with more classical instruments. What is typically developed, in those songs, is something amazing and beautiful. To me, this shows that there was a beautiful song at the heart of AVTAK.

Overall:  As I have gotten older, I have found myself drawn more and more to instrumentals and even to more classical instrumentation.  It isn’t that I don’t like electronic instruments anymore. I just think my tastes are broadening. This is a good one in the sense that it gives the flavor of the movie and retains the best elements of the A-side, A View to a Kill. It isn’t over produced but as the song is just allowed to be itself, it is being forced to be over-the-top.

Cocktail Rating:  4 cocktails!

0dd8f-4glasses

A View to a Kill — The Daily Duranie Review

We continue to move on with our reviews.  This week, we are tackling the song, A View to a Kill.  As we all know, this song was written for the James Bond movie with the same name.  Commercially, this song did very well as it hit the top of the charts.  Do we think it deserved this success or could it have been better?  Read and find out!

Rhonda’s Review:

Musicality/Instrumentation: The one thing that has always struck me about this particular song is how well elements of the original Bond theme were woven throughout this song. It’s not as though it’s an in-your-face copy of the James Bond theme, and perhaps you wouldn’t even notice or recognize it if you weren’t listening for them, but there are elements layered throughout the song as part of the supporting framework. The instrumentation seems to be that that not any one instrument has the highlight for any extended period of time. The band used the guitar as more of a rhythm guitar than a straight-up lead-which has always been typical of the band, you can hear the intricate bass line just underneath, synth is used for atmospheric effect and for the loud accents in the chorus, the drums are there but have a slight mute effect to them so they aren’t at the top of the mix.

Vocals: When I listen to this song, I have to wonder why it was written so closely to the top of Simon’s vocal range during the chorus. You can hear the strain even in this studio recording, which has the advantage of technology to fix.  Things you wonder….  But as I sit and listen, as much as I think the song could have been written in a different key,  I appreciate the inflection in Simon’s vocals between verses and chorus. I don’t know how many fans really recognize the talent Simon has for setting the tone with his vocals. And, if anyone wants a good example: listen to this song and then go and listen to any song by the band Offspring. Then you go thank Simon for bringing a little emotion to his vocals.

Lyrics: The one thing I can say about lyrics in this case is that I have no idea what they’re about…but they definitely sound James Bond-ish. “Dance into the fire, that fatal kiss is all we need.” It conjures up images of mystery, spies, and all the goodness that is Bond. Unlike every other Duran song, I’ve never really sat and tried to understand the lyrics to this one. I suppose I’ve always immediately attributed them to the Bond movie and left them at that.

Overall: I think that the source of pride in this song is that it’s a Bond theme, and the only one, that went to #1. It gets regular play at gigs, and at this point I think it sounds incredibly tired live.  When you’re standing in the audience for this one, you can feel the energy getting sucked out of the room – and to me it feels very much like the obligatory “We have to play it because it went to #1”.  Here’s the deal band: “You don’t have to play ANYTHING. It’s YOUR gig.  Play what you want. You’ve got a huge catalog. USE IT.”  So what if people don’t hear this song??  They can come back to another show when you do want to play it and hear it with much more energy.  Our review though, should be shaped solely by the album version.  I think that the more significant problems I hear for this song lie in the vocals, but I blame instrumentation for that as well. The song was written so that the chorus is just barely within (or outside) Simon’s range. You can hear it even in the album version (even though it has been auto-tuned), and it’s not a case where Simon’s voice is straining for effect.  It’s poorly written in that regard, and I suspect much of that was due to internal friction and inflexibility. If there was ever a sign of times to come, you need look no further than the music.  The innovation is there, the ingenuity with using elements of the Bond theme throughout really works well, but the vocals really draw my attention and I realize that all was not necessarily well within the band.

Cocktail Rating:  Three cocktails!

3 cocktails

Amanda’s Review:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I loved this song as a kid.  Who didn’t love this song in 1985?  I loved the brash, catch-your-attention beginning.  I loved the pounding, in-your-face keyboards.  I loved that the keyboards were so clear that it seemed you could play each note and chord along with Nick on your air keyboard (strangely enough, that doesn’t have the same ring as air guitar!).  Then, of course, the guitars are noticeable along with the drums that lay that foundation.  That said, Nick’s keyboards are in the spotlight, regularly.  It feels like they work to remind us all that this was for a movie and not just any movie but for James Bond.  The chorus is worthy of note as it is full of everything from bass, keyboards, horns, etc.  To say that it is full of sound is an understatement.  When I was young, it seemed so lively, so full of energy.  Now, I almost wonder if there isn’t too much, on one level, and not enough on another.  I’ll explain.  When I listen closely, it feels like too much.  Too loud.  Yet, live, lately, to me, it has felt tired.  The band does not seem to have much energy when they play it.  It has gone in the opposite direction of Wild Boys, in my opinion.  Wild Boys seems to always get people excited live and A View to a Kill feels like a yawn.

Vocals:  *sigh*  My comments regarding the vocals of this song won’t come as a surprise.  Frankly, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone who saw Duran’s performance of this song during Live Aid in 1985.  Simon’s vocals here make me nervous.  More specifically, the range of his vocals make me nervous.  While Simon doesn’t have many “bum” notes, he obviously did that infamous day and I always think that he could again every single time I hear this song.  It always me hold my breath a little.  The only time I have felt comfortable with the vocals is when they have done the song in combination with the b-side, That Fatal Kiss.  During those times, it starts off slower and at a lower range.  Perhaps, my nervousness over the vocals has had great affect on my enjoyment of this song, especially live.

Lyrics:  One of my favorite introductions to any song is when Nick introduced this song on VH1’s Storytellers.  In his introduction, he said how appreciative they were that they got a title like “A View to a Kill” to work with as opposed to Octopussy.  Thus, they had something decent to start from.  How did they do?  The lyrics definitely have a Duran spin to them, including lines like:  “That fatal kiss” and “Dance into the fire” during the chorus.  I think Simon wrote the best lyrics that he could for a situation where he has to write something to fit a title.  That said, the lyrics don’t speak to me in any way.  They don’t make me think or feel something.  Perhaps, because the song is tied to a movie, they shouldn’t.  Nonetheless, this is the measure I use to determine the greatness of lyrics.

Overall:  I want to love this song.  It brings me back to a pivotal summer in my childhood.  It reminds me that Duran had huge chart success and made one memorable Bond song.  I like it but it isn’t one that I love.  Those vocals make me nervous and the instrumentation feels too much to me.  Instead of the song gaining energy live, it always feels lifeless to me and I always wonder the same thing.  “I wonder if they only play this one because it was a number one and they think that they have to play it.”  It has become a song that I stop jamming out and take pictures.  I have wondered if part of the problem was the co-writing of John Barry, but I don’t think so.  Is it over production?  Maybe that enters the picture somewhat.  After all, one of my criticisms is that the wall of sound coming at me is a bit overwhelming.  Perhaps, it is the focus on matching the Bond spirit.

Cocktail Rating:  2.5 cocktails!

3a186-twohalfglasses

Today in Duran History – A View to a Kill

On this date in 2002, the “Best of Bond” album was released, which featured, of course, “A View To a Kill” .  I wasn’t positive of this after Adele’s theme for Skyfall, so I had to check… but according to several places online, AVTAK remains the only Bond theme to have made it to #1 on Billboard (US).  Well done!  -R

Best of Bond 2002