Tag Archives: Japan

Thank You, You’re Welcome (Part Two)

Having “covered” who would do some amazing Duran Duran songs in Part 1, I’m ready to take a deep breath and assess Thank You. Was it the worst album of all-time as some snarky critics have said? Of course not. Something called nu-metal locked down the top spots years ago. However, it was a misguided album born from good intentions. Let’s try to figure out what went wrong.  

David Bowie’s Pin Ups seems to be the logical impetus for this project given the song choices. Bowie’s decision to cover The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, and The Who was unexpected and Bowie knew that. Coming off Aladdin Sane, Bowie was at the peak of his creative powers and Pin Ups remains one of the most challenging and rewarding covers albums of all-time. It isn’t a stretch to think a band which emerged from the New Romantic scene born, at least partially, from Bowie’s artistic vision would try to emulate the project. 

Duran Duran were riding high after “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”, so they had some creative and commercial freedom when they undertook Thank You. History has shown that the band often does their least interesting work in such situations. From Seven & the Ragged Tiger (saved commercially by a remix of “The Reflex” that wasn’t on the album) to Paper Gods, the band’s follow-up to a truly special album has been uneven at best. Thank You falls into that category but imagine what could have been if they took a slightly different path. 

Thank You Redux

1. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines

Such a fun cover that it has to stay. The band’s roots in NYC club culture via Birmingham justify this crossover into hip-hop. They could have taken this somewhere special, though, if they had paid respect to Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern” at the same time since that is where Melle Mel “borrowed” the song from.

2. I Wanna Take You Higher David Bowie – Fashion

As much as “Ashes to Ashes” makes sense, “Fashion” would be a more fitting Duran Duran song. John Taylor’s bass guitar would suit this track and Warren’s guitar playing fits the solo like a glove. You HAVE to have at least one Bowie song on the album, right?

3. Lou Reed – Perfect Day

A surprisingly well conceived cover of Lou Reed that pays homage without trying to change who they are as a band. It has a beautiful polished sound and LeBon’s vocal works. There is a hint of despair in his voice and the production keeps every instrument in their lane. There is restraint in the playing that would have served the band on the rest of the album. 

4. Watching the Detectives Roxy Music – Both Ends Burning

Another field day for John Taylor on bass and an appropriate nod to one of the biggest influences on Duran Duran in Roxy Music. All these years later, Duran are inducting Roxy Music into the rock-n-roll hall of fame because the connection is so strong. If you listen to “Planet Earth”, you can hear some influence from this song on Siren. A lesser known Roxy song works well here because the most popular stuff would be difficult for Duran Duran to re-invent in a unique way.

5. Lay Lady Lay New York Dolls – Lonely Planet Boy

I never hated this cover but the guitar tone was “Come Undone” all over again. Dylan influenced everyone so there is no need to point it out. I’m leaving T. Rex out of the discussion since the band (i.e. Nick) would have never allowed them to cover it in the wake of The Power Station. This New York Dolls song is begging to be turned into a synth-pop dance song like Duran pulled off with Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging”. 

6. 911 Is A Joke Blondie – Fade Away and Radiate

Yeah, it is cool to namecheck Public Enemy to earn hipster points but no, just no. The band owes a huge debt to Blondie for bringing dance music into punk and for giving the band a support slot when Duran Duran were trying to crack America. This moody track from Parallel Lines has enough texture to satisfy Nick and Warren in equal measure. And why not bring in Clem Burke on drums for this cover? 

7. Iggy Pop – Success

It works. Only Duran Duran could turn an Iggy Pop song into a Gary Glitter stomp. Given the band’s commercial highs and lows, it could almost be the theme song for their career. Turn it up!

8. Crystal Ship The Normal – Warm Leatherette

The band already showed how good this sounded during a tour and this is the most seminal track in the history of synth-pop. The Doors cover sounded like a cloud of pot smoke which isn’t the Duran Duran way. Bonus connection: Grace Jones covered this once.

9. Ball of Confusion Japan – Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Let’s see. Nick Rhodes “borrowed” his look from Japan’s David Sylvan. The Japan albums were a direct precursor to Duran Duran’s sound with funky bass lines and sweeping synths.  And, best of all, this cover would be a cheeky nod to “Girls On Film” which, for all I know, was a concept lifted from this Japan song. Too close to home? Perhaps, but Duran Duran earned their success and a little nod to Japan is warranted.

10. Thank You Sister Sledge – Lost In Music

Don’t touch Zeppelin. Every instrument in Zeppelin comes from the opposite place of Duran Duran. There has to be a shout-out to Nile Rodgers somewhere on Thank You Redux and I think “Lost In Music” would keep the band in a safe place for a disco cover. This could be played loud with a hint of the “White Lines” sound they had at this time. Turn it into a real rocker without losing the dance vibe. It would be dangerously fun live. 

11. Drive By

It doesn’t fit into a covers album and I need to save space so this album will fit on vinyl. 

12. I Wanna Take You Higher Again ESG – My Love For You

Maybe a little obscure at the time but ESG’s influence has come full circle in music. They have been sampled (mostly illegally) by hundreds of rap producers and their funky dance sound influenced everything from post-punk to house music. Rather than Public Enemy, Duran Duran can point to ESG as an influential band on their modern mix of funk, rock, and dance music without sounding so desperate. Duran Duran could have a lot of fun with this track especially if Nick added some melodic synths over the melody

Too Much is Never Enough

So last night, Duran Duran played Budokan in Tokyo. For a place that the band seems to really enjoy visiting, like so many other areas of the world, they do not seem to visit Japan very often. I think the last appearance there was in 2010 for a conference (I believe this may have been a private gig, but I’m not positive), and before then they played Tokyo in 2009. (Yes, I looked this up because there is absolutely no way I would ever remember this kind of thing. My brain is full.)  The band seems happy to be in Japan again, with Dom commenting last night that it was a dream of his to play Budokan.

During their time there, I’ve seen a few comments here and there from some of our Australian fellow fans. Suffice to say no one is happy that the band is not making the trek to Australia and/or New Zealand while in that area of the world. What boggles my mind though, is the anger towards America, and American fans as a result. In fact, I’ve seen other fans comment in response that the band must be tired ending the tour as a direct result of how much time they’ve spent in America.

That’s right. It’s America’s fault for continuing to line their pockets and fill whatever venues they need filled for shows. It is absolutely the fault of the U.S. for being just over 1 million square miles, or about 2.6 million square km larger than Australia, not to mention Japan and even Europe, with dozens of large cities that are not closely connected. It is also America’s fault that the worldwide media/entertainment industry is headquartered there, and the US dollar seems to still matter on a global level. Naturally, there are also comments about how DDHQ is located in New York, of all places. Surely that must be the reason for the obvious favoritism, on top of everything else. Those damn Americans!

Of course I’m being facetious, but I’m also frustrated. We hear about how terrible we are, and how unfair it is that the band  chooses to be here after every single tour is announced. It is to the point where I nearly wince when the band announces U.S. shows.

If we’re going to point fingers, look at the promoters in whatever country we’re talking about. Simon and John, for instance, do not sit down, spin a globe and decide where to go based on where it stops. There’s no grand scheme here to leave out entire continents. It comes down to dollars, timing, and the willingness of promoters to book them. I can’t answer why promoters aren’t knocking down their doors to book them in places like Australia, or most of Europe. I think the markets in those places of the world must be very different. Bottom line is that it is not 1985. The world has changed, the music industry has changed, and, like it or not—the band has changed too. While we still think they’re the biggest and best band in the world, it would seem that concert and tour promoters do not. Right or wrong, it is the way it is.

I’m sorry that Duran Duran didn’t tour everywhere.I am very empathetic to other Duranies, and yes, it IS unfair. While I’m frustrated at the moment, I also care about fans in general. On the other hand, I can’t help but be thankful that the band comes here so often because yes, I love them too.  In some ways, I feel as though I should apologize for their frequent visits here, which is ridiculous because I have no control over what they do. Sometimes I think people would appreciate it if Amanda and I came out and told the band that they shouldn’t visit the U.S and spend the time elsewhere.

First of all, the band isn’t going to listen to us because—and I’m thankful for this—I am not a tour promoter or a band manager. I’m a mom, blogger, and fan. Secondly, it isn’t because they toured  America more than once that they didn’t visit Europe, or Australia, or even why they didn’t do more dedicated shows in South America.  I know it is convenient to just blame those “damn Americans” but let’s get real for just a minute before everyone goes back to hating. The band is able to book a plethora of shows here and have them well attended enough to pay their bills AND make a profit.  They can play a variety of different places over an extended period of time, and since the U.S. is one large country, I suspect the logistics with paperwork and so forth is a bit easier, too. All of it adds up to money and turning a profit. Like it or not, the band makes their living that way, as do the hundreds of people who work for them in one way or another.

I get it. America is the scapegoat, and if fans really feel like they need to blame someone or somewhere, we’re an easy target. I just wish fans spent a little more time thinking about why Duran Duran might continue touring here, rather than just blaming America for all the places the band has missed.

-R

 

The Big Egg in 1989 – do you remember?

Oddly enough, I barely remember 1989.  I can tell you that on this date in 1989, I was living in the dorms at Cal State Fullerton, and I’m pretty sure that I knew my (then) boyfriend and I were going to go see Duran Duran at the Universal Amphitheater in March. Aside from those two things, I can’t tell you much about what was going on in the world back then.

HOWEVER…I do remember this show for a couple of reasons. First of all, they played at a venue named The Big Egg.  Come on now.  Who forgets a name like that?? Secondly, I have seen video from this show. The wardrobe choices alone are burned into my memory for all eternity. Yes, I’m poking fun…because I can, and because none of them are standing in front of me. <insert big wide grin here> Listen, the 80’s happened to ALL of us. I just thank my lucky stars that me and my frizzy, peroxide-bleached hair from back then is nowhere to be found online.

So, while I wasn’t at the show (how many of us really traveled to Japan back then anyway?)…I still enjoy when this date comes up each year so that I can search for just the right YouTube video to share.

Enjoy Maximum Big Surprise (mash-up medley of Election Day and Some Like it Hot)  The video quality isn’t great but it was the best I could find this year…

 

Happy Wednesday!

-R

 

 

 

Today in Duran History – Violence of Summer Promo

On this date in 1990, Duran Duran played Violence of Summer on the Japanese TV Show, Hit Studio International.  This song, off the Liberty album, is not a single that pops into people’s heads when Duran Duran singles are mentioned, especially since it only reached number 64 on the Hot 100 Billboard Chart in the US.  They also did not tour for the album that this song appeared on.  Yet, they still attempted to do promotion as the clip below shows:

What did you think of this interview and performance?

-A