Tag Archives: John Taylor

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

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

 

 

There is Definitely Something You Should Know! DD on BBC Four

I love it when there’s news!

As I checked my email this morning, there were a couple of Google Alerts.  In full disclosure, I typically ignore them. More often than not, the alert is about someone with the last name of Duran, which has gotten really old at this point. This morning though, that was to be the case, as I uncharacteristically stopped scrolling and opened the alert.

My Duranie radar must still be working, because the alert announced that Duran Duran will be taking over BBC Four on June 29th!

At 9pm (GMT), viewers will see Duran Duran: There Is Something You Should Know. According to the press release on duranduran.com, “Back2back Productions has been granted exclusive access to the legendary group. Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor open up about their extraordinary career, talking more candidly than ever before about the highs and lows they have endured together over the years.”

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing a brand new interview. I miss those guys.

Then at 10pm (also GMT), the band talks about their early inspirations as they look back together over TV programs, music and films that they grew up with from the 60s, 70s and 80s in a show titled, Duran Duran: A Night In.  Also from the press release, John Taylor notes, “Without the BBC, there would be no Duran Duran. Forty years ago this October, the BBC first aired ‘Barbarella’. It was while watching that late-night screening of the Jane Fonda sci-fi epic that members of a burgeoning Birmingham post-punk band decided the name of one of the films characters – Durand Durand – would make for a cool and unusual band name.”

I think this show would be very interesting, particularly since I’m from the US. I’d love to see it!

But wait!

Most fans know that the BBC is in the UK. While there have been a few requests to stream the shows so that fans may watch worldwide, if you’re not in the UK, you’re pretty much out of luck for this one, at least for now. <cue tears>

Invariably, these types of programs eventually make their way onto YouTube or are passed from fan-to-fan, and I think we can probably expect the same for this one in due time. For now, as it should be…no matter how painful it might be to know I’m going to miss out, the UK fans will be able to experience the shows first. Yes, I absolutely believe they should have the opportunity to see it all first. Make no mistake, I am 100% envious knowing that I probably won’t see this material for a while, but certainly not angry or spiteful. There have been many times the US has had Duran Duran playing live shows here, with very little regard to the country from which they were born. The UK is their home, and as John mentioned – without the BBC there would be no Duran Duran.

People get so angry about the silliest things, such as this night of television. I’ve seen so many upset comments this morning!  Sure, I’d love to see these television shows. I love this kind of thing and I have no doubt that Amanda and I would have tried to watch together and we would have had many vodka tonics and laughed our way through it because these guys crack us up every single time.  Experience tells me though, that I probably will still have the chance to see these shows at some point, just not on June 29th. Somehow, I suspect I’ll likely survive the famine. Maybe.

I just don’t think I am exactly in the position to be complaining here. Duran Duran didn’t get their start here in the US. They certainly weren’t born here in America, and they didn’t cut their teeth in some dank and dark nightclub in an alley in Los Angeles or New York. It wasn’t American TV that embraced them first, like it or not.  I can’t be angry about a TV show or two being shown on the BBC, that is for sure.

Their 40th anniversary celebration isn’t over yet. It’s just begun! It is likely that we can look forward to other special events opportunities in the months to come.

However, if you want to get a sneak peek at the trailer, take a gander at the link below! I’ve watched it about 50 times now, so that should tell you just how badly I wish I could see the show with my UK friends. So sure, take my envy and laugh your way through to June 29th. If anybody figures out a way to watch the show, don’t forget to whisper it to your good friends Rhonda and Amanda!  We won’t tell!!

Duran Duran Take Over the BBC – Trailer!

-R

 

May 2018 Katy Kafe with John Taylor

I’m super excited that I get to listen to this month’s Katy Kafe!  I’m sure that it has nothing to do with the fact that it features John Taylor.  Nope.  No way.  The band member doesn’t matter.  Ha!  Buy that one, I’ll tell you another.  Despite my excitement, I feel like I should apologize in advance.  It is the end of a very long week trying to prepare for my evaluation at work.  Anyway, I will accept responsibility for any error I make in response to what John talks about.  Thus, as always, I recommend going over to DuranDuranMusic and listen for yourself.  By the way, this month’s edition is like last month’s in which Katy had asked for questions on Twitter and then went on to pass some on to John.

40th Anniversary

Well then.  Katy started out with a bang by asking John about plans for the 40th Anniversary.  John mentioned that there is a “shopping list” of possible events or things to celebrate, which includes museum shows, performances with orchestras, and even items like cologne.  I’m not kidding. John did state that the anniversary of Simon joining the band is the summer of 2020 and that they have mixed feelings about the anniversary like people “over 30” have about birthdays.  After all, they have always tried to look forward and not backwards.  All of this said, it sounds like Rhonda and I better start saving as those type of shows sounds amazing!

B-Sides/Lesser Known/Played Tracks

John was asked if they would consider playing B-sides and lesser known tracks.  I appreciated that he acknowledged why a lot of fans would want that but did admit that it would be a lot of work especially considering that they would want it to be just as multi-media as other shows.  John admits that he isn’t really all that excited to play some of them, including one that I would love to hear, Late Bar.  He much prefers when they have new music to play.  John did mention what I thought sounds like a cool idea, which is to have each band member pick a lesser known track then rotate those four songs each night.  Personally, I think this is a fabulous idea.  For one, it would make a lot of fans happy to hear a lesser known song.  For the other, it would encourage fans to go to more than one show if they wanted to see/hear all of the lesser known tracks chosen.

Most Under-appreciated Duran Album?

John’s choice?  Big Thing.  His reasoning is that it is a real journey that has all types of songs on it.  Katy liked that answer as do I.

Proud Bass Lines?

Which songs is John really proud of his bass playing?  He really likes the first three albums as far as not only his bass but everything.  In more modern times, he likes what was done for Paper Gods as it was a combination of the modern day synth bass with the “John Taylor sound” that worked well.

What advice would he give to himself?

After pondering the question for awhile, he stated that everyone has a responsibility to be the best person possible especially if you had a good foundation, which he includes loving parents and a good education.  This means that people should not waste their lives.  Words of wisdom from Mr. Taylor.

Vegas Residency

According to John, the band would consider a residency in Vegas.  John really loves the idea of residencies.  Very much noted as I would love that, too!  That said, he acknowledged that it would be more difficult for the rest of the band since they live in the UK.

First Song to Play?

What were the first songs that John learned to play?  The list includes some classic punk songs like Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols, White Riot by the Clash and Boredom by the Buzzcocks.

Musical Update

First, John hopes it comes out for the 40th anniversary (summer of 2020).  (Psst…me, too!)  Another wish is that people would want to dance to it.  “The style of music is going to be very familiar to Duran fans,” he said.  Well then.  I was on board before hearing this but now…I’m super excited about it.  Will I have to save money to go somewhere to see this, too?  Of course, he reminds us all that the music will still be different since people will be singing the songs  that we don’t know as characters in a narrative.  I’m still super excited.

What JT solo songs could be included in a Duran show?

Before I even heard John’s answer, I thought of about five myself.  I know that there are still a lot of fans who haven’t heard his solo stuff or don’t love it.  I cannot help but feel like they are missing out on some really good, heartfelt stuff.  The first song that John mentions is a Power Station song, Lonely Tonight.  He goes on to mention Air Miles, which he believes Duran could take to a whole new level.  I concur.

What motivates and inspires JT to keep making music?

John is constantly looking for inspiration and to keep his passion alive.  Sometimes, he just wants to be done as it is hard to keep going and keep reinventing.  Nick, though, is always motivated to keep making music, which helps him.

Next Album Style?

John claims that it won’t be a “million miles” from Paper Gods.  They don’t allow themselves to sway too far from what a Duran song should include but John would like to expand that a bit.  That said, he is excited by whatever they come up with.  He hopes that someone comes into the studio with them that will drive them like Mark Ronson or Nile Rodgers.

Overall, I absolutely loved listening to this Kafe.  John was in good spirits, open with his feelings and thoughts.  It made me want to turn on a little Paper Gods or some old b-sides.  Even more importantly, I I’m so looking forward to the future plans for the band.

-A

Birmingham Music Awards Report

I hesitated to use that title.  As much as I wish that I could have really reported about the Birmingham Music Awards, all I can do is share a couple of thoughts about it since I wasn’t there.  For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s what the press release on the band’s official website said about this event:

“DURAN DURAN’S JOHN TAYLOR TO APPEAR AT FIRST BIRMINGHAM MUSIC AWARDS
DURAN DURAN’S John Taylor Pledges Support for New Birmingham Talent

A search for Birmingham’s brightest and best musicians/music industry professionals is underway as the ‘Birmingham Music Awards’ hosts their first ceremony on May 2nd. The organisers of the BMAs are on a mission to bring together the best of the city’s contributors to music, and their campaign has been given an extra boost as Duran Duran founding member John Taylor confirmed he will present the Rising Star Award on the night.

John said:

“Birmingham is where the Duran Duran journey began. We formed in 1978, playing Barbarella’s and many other venues around town, eventually becoming resident band at The Rum Runner. We signed our major label deal and the rest is history. I like to keep in touch with new and aspiring musicians and musical artists – it’s where the energy is – and I love coming back home and rekindling my passion for the city, so I was honoured to be invited to participate in the first Birmingham Music Awards. It’s going to be a great night for the local scene!”

The project is also backed by more music industry heavyweights including Martin ‘Ace’ Kent from legendary rock band Skunk Anansie and Kieron Pepper (The Prodigy/Sleeper).

BMA Co-Founder Jo Jeffries said:

“We are determined to conceive and grow one big Birmingham music family. We want to work together to deliver the recognition our city deserves, and more music success stories made in Birmingham, so naturally we were thrilled when John agreed to come and present our Rising Star Award.”

“There are so many reasons to be excited about being a musician in Birmingham right now; the whole creative landscape is changing, the urban scene is exploding, key music education providers such as ACM and BIMM have moved in and we want to add to the momentum and recognise the achievements and talents of so many.”

…The Birmingham Music Awards and John Taylor are proud to support the amazing work that Changes UK are doing to help those less fortunate in our city to find recovery and fulfilling lives free from addiction. Please see their website: https://changesuk.org/

So this event actually took place this week!  Despite my usual insanity during the week, I did see a couple of pictures of John, including some with fans!  (By the way, if you were there and would love to do a guest blog for us, send a message!  We would love to have you!)  Yet, today, I saw a little video clip of John’s appearance there.  It is a must watch!

I appreciated that John talked about the city and how it meant a lot when he was forming Duran.  I have seen many clips where it seems like John is a bit conflicted about his hometown.  Yet, now, there seems to be nothing but love for it.  Perhaps, over time, he has grown to love it in a way that he couldn’t when he was younger.  (For the record, I relate.  The town that I lived in while a teenager does not get much love from me at all.  Maybe someday.  Of course, I could love it more if it had things like John talked about here in reference to Birmingham.  I didn’t have music, especially not live music.  Sad sigh.)

After recognizing Birmingham’s importance to the history of Duran, John moved on to talk about whether or not real instrumentation matters.  I’m sure it comes to no surprise that the crowd and John certainly believes that it matters.  I suppose it is important to mention when thinking about up and coming artists.  Do kids these days believe that to be true?  I know some of my students who are musicians themselves think it matters but overall?  I don’t know.  I sometimes worry about the future of music in light of technology.  I’m not one to say no to all forms of technology (obviously) but I also believe that there is something more emotional, more soulful to real instrumentation as opposed to sampling.

The last topic that John dived into was recovery and the organization he was supporting by being there, Changes UK.  I always admire his openness when it comes to recovery and being sober.  Clearly, he believes in organizations like this one as he is always willing to jump in and make an appearance when needed.  Seeing John being so open, so supportive makes me proud to be his fan.  Way to go, John.

-A

To be a Fly on the Wall

Imagine yourself, invisible to those around you, sitting in a studio. Or a hotel room. Or someone’s home. You can see and hear everything around you, but they can’t see you.

Now, imagine that scenario on this date in 1986,  as John Taylor and got together in London to discuss “the next Duran Duran album”.  Keep in mind, this is after Roger and Andy had left the band. Simon, Nick, and John were left to figure out the next step for what was arguably (at the time) the biggest band in the world. Where to go from there?

I don’t think I would have envied their positioning. After all, the higher you climb, the farther the potential fall. At this point in 1986, I was 15 years old. The idea of Duran Duran ceasing to exist, or the idea of “new” people ever being in that band were unfathomable to me as a fan. I am quite certain I wasn’t alone. What to do when two of the original members (as the fans knew) left?  Bring in new people? Continue as a threesome? How would Duran Duran look and sound?  Would the fans still respond?

Important questions, to be sure, and I’m not as certain that the answers were all that clear. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to consider moving forward? Sure, there was probably quite a bit of ego and bravado at the time, given their previous success. I’m also certain that at least in part, they wanted to prove to Andy and Roger that they really could go on without them – and that is likely what motivated and drove them to keep going. Even so, I have to wonder what that first meeting to discuss the next album was like.

We could likely debate all day about the outcome. Notorious, the band’s fourth FULL album (Arena was released in 1984 but was not a full-length studio album), and was their answer to how they would move forward. I can remember hearing the album for first time, just after I turned 16, and saying that they didn’t sound the same. It was just different without Andy and Roger, and to be honest – at the time I wasn’t sure I liked it. Their sound had matured more than my musical tastes at the time, I think. Like many of their albums since, it took me a long time to come to terms and have an appreciation. That’s not a critique of the album, but rather my more-ridiculous musical interests of the time.

Even so, I have often wondered what it would have been like during that initial planning, and certainly not just for Notorious!

-R

Spring Break and Songbook!

Happy Spring Break to anyone is lucky enough to have this week off, and that includes Amanda and I! I’ve decided to take some time for myself this week, in which case my posts are likely to be shorter than normal.

With that in mind, do you know what was aired on Sky Works on this date in 2009? Anyone?  Songbook!  I didn’t see this until well-after its airing…but since it has been seven years since it aired, so let’s watch again!

In full-disclosure, I did not have time to watch both of these clips before posting. They were uploaded by two different people but one seems to have more the interview and the other looks to be more of the performances. That said, I can’t be sure they don’t overlap. So, my apologies if they’re not perfect. I’m going to watch now, and you know – if I have to see Duran Duran perform with Dom twice, I suppose I’ll manage. Somehow.  😀

In any case, enjoy!!

-R

You Speak to the Crowd

When Rhonda and I started this blog, we promised ourselves that we would never shy away from topics that might create some sort of stir.  Today’s blog is one of those.  Consider this a warning to you (and to me!).

Yesterday, DDHQ posted a few pictures of John Taylor at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles, a march advocating gun control.  I’m certain that DDHQ knew that posting these pictures would get people excited.  Some people might love it and others…not so much.  Normally, I just look at the posts and move on as I rarely read the comments for a variety of reasons.  Yet, something possessed me to look at them yesterday.  On Twitter, the reaction to the photos and John’s participation in the march was generally positive.  Facebook, on the other hand, was a very different story.

Within an hour or so of being posted on Facebook, comments numbered in the hundreds.  Some loved that John demonstrated and others expressed negative reactions ranging from concern to disappointment to anger.  Instead of responding on the thread, I am opting to respond to some of what I saw here.  This way I can address the negative reactions as a whole rather than individual comments.

A number of fans responding to the photos commented on the fact that John Taylor is British and should not have a say.  Indeed, he is British, but, he is also an American citizen now after going through the process of naturalization.  He lives in the United States, pays taxes and votes.  In my opinion, this gives him every right to speak about what takes places in the U.S.

Others did not appreciate him speaking out because he is a celebrity.  Some expressed concern that by doing so, he was in danger of losing fans.  Let me dissect both of those ideas.  First, I don’t really get the idea that famous people should not express their opinions.  Why does having a certain career mean that they should stop having political opinions?  Is it just celebrities who should stop being political?  What other careers should not express political beliefs?  Should I be silent on politics outside of my classroom simply because I’m a teacher?  Should a lawyer because they might challenge or defend laws?  Should judges?  Now, obviously, in the last examples, there are times when politics should be put away.  For instance, I do not push my students to believe like I do.  I push them to be able to defend their opinions with facts and evidence only.  Likewise, judges need to be impartial when hearing cases.  Other than that, teachers, judges, etc. can have political beliefs outside of those specific cases.  John’s job is to write and perform music.  If we compare John’s job to a teacher, for instance, then some might argue he should keep politics out of his job, and thus his music.  What he did yesterday is not about the music.  It is something he did outside of his job.  He didn’t tell people that they had to agree with him, politically, to buy his music.

The other concern that I saw a lot of people express is that John’s political activity might alienate fans.  This idea makes me sad.  Is that really where we are?  Do we really have to agree completely to be a fan?  Do we apply this for our families and friends?  I don’t know about the rest of you but I definitely know people who disagree with me on various issues.  This doesn’t make me like them less.  Perhaps, the key with me is that I separate what someone thinks about this or that issue from that person’s behavior and treatment of others.  I also believe strongly that I’m not going to love everything done by Duran but that this does not diminish my love for the band either.  Goodness, my love ones do or think things that I don’t like and that doesn’t make me love them any less.  Let me give you an example from Duran’s history to explain what I mean.  Was I thrilled that they worked with Timbaland in order to reach a broader audience and get more commercial success?  I was not.  Does this mean that I shouldn’t be a fan anymore?  No.  It means I don’t like this one thing they did and disagreed with their approach.

Some reading this might say that this is easy for me to say.  After all, I was out marching yesterday, too.  I agree with John on this political issue.  While I’m sure that it does make it easier to me, I can think of other bands that I like, musically, that I’m not in alignment with, politically or otherwise.  Again, I can separate the two.

Beyond all of that, I believe strongly that everyone should be able to speak about what they think.  Therefore, I was totally fine with those fans who came on to say how they love John and the band but disagree with him.  What I was not okay with were some of the comments insulting John or bringing up things like his past drug use. Those kind of comments are never necessary.  There was nothing that John did yesterday that deserved mean or insulting comments.  All he did was express his opinion as an American and a human being.  That’s it.

-A

All You Need is Now, out on CD in 2011

On this date in 2011, All You Need is Now came out on CD…for those of us who still like actual, physical, music to have and hold.

I’m having a difficult time with the idea of that happening seven years ago today. Is that even possible?

I can remember driving down to Best Buy that day. Originally, I wasn’t going to get a copy. I’d already heard the album, I’d already reviewed it, and I didn’t see a point. But the night before, something stirred in me. I had to have that CD! So, I got up in the morning, took my kids to school and made a quick trip down to our local Best Buy.

I searched the shelves, hoping to find the treasure. It was the Best Buy “Exclusive” edition I wanted, and I looked to no avail. There was no way they could have already sold out, so I asked a sales associate to look it up. Sure enough, they’d gotten a whopping three copies in stock. Ok then, where were they, I wondered?  I had two sales people crawling on their hands and knees, going through shipment cases before finally one of them sat back triumphantly with a copy in hand.

I marched over to the cashier and walked out of the store with the last CD I ever purchased at a Best Buy. (I just order off of Amazon now and have it sent to my house if I really want a CD! Yes, I could truly come a hermit if I wanted.)

I know that a great deal has been said about All You Need is Now. Those who once proclaimed its greatness now talk about it as though it was “just” a Rio reboot. I have a tough time seeing it quite so simply. Regardless of what the band and others might say, I love the album. I like that they tried to provide an answer to what Rio or a follow-up might sound like in 2011 – in some sense. I still believe it was the perfect bridge between Red Carpet Massacre and Paper Gods.  And, since I’ve already spent some of my week being unabashedly biased – I like that Dom received writing credit for a lot of it.  So there.

I fell in love with All You Need is Now from the very first listen.  It is an easy album to like, and there are times when I miss that easiness. Sure, technically speaking, Paper Gods is probably a more superior album. I can admit that. However, when it comes to me and my moods – sometimes I just need a little All You Need is Now.

And by the way – there is NOTHING that makes me smile more than when I watch this video. That alone is worth its weight (and mine) in gold.

-R

40-year old anecdotes

The other day, Herald de Paris published an interview with Andy Wickett.  I had seen a great deal of headlines posted by Duranie friends about this piece of work, but I hadn’t read enough of the article to make comment until today.

As a simple introduction for those who may not recognize the name, Andy Wickett was one of the lead singers of Duran Duran prior to Simon. I know, I know, it is difficult to believe that such a time existed. Last year, Mr. Wickett released (the article calls it a “monumental” release. I’m not sure I’d characterize it quite so strongly, but whatever) demos of songs he recorded with Duran Duran prior to Simon.

Funny thing is, I’ve had those demos for probably at least ten years now. I bought them as a bootleg type of thing online, so last year’s monumental release wasn’t exactly new.

In any case, Andy explains that before Duran Duran, he was in a band called TV Eye. There is a little history between TV Eye and Duran Duran, as they shared the same Cheapside squat for a while – I believe one band was upstairs and the other downstairs (or something like that). At the time, Stephen Duffy was the lead singer for Duran Duran, and at some point, he and Stephen basically switched bands. Andy began singing for Duran Duran and Duffy for TV Eye.  According to Wickett, he brought a song with him from TV Eye called “Stevie’s Radio Station”. Duran Duran loved the song, and “Stevie” eventually became “Rio”.

Andy Wickett recalls writing the melody for “Girls on Film” one night, although the lyric that Andy had written it as “Girls IN Film”, which Nick suggested he change.  It was recorded as a demo, which Nick and John later touted to EMI and A&M. According to Andy, both companies loved his voice and wanted more songs like Girls on Film.

At this point though, Andy left the band for “personal reasons”. Upon leaving, he wanted payment for “Girls on Film” since he helped write it, and in turn he was offered £600 if he would sign a waiver, ultimately releasing the band from further payment to Mr. Wickett. He signed the document, and later found out from his attorney that he could not fight and/or win a case for royalties against EMI.

If any of this back history interests you, I would steer you towards John Taylor’s brilliant autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran. He writes about the band’s entire history, since of course he, along with Nick Rhodes, were the founding members. Best to get the details straight from the person who was there the entire time, I’d say.

However, the point of the article that fascinates me this week, is the claim from Andy that Duran Duran’s managers offered him £10 to give Simon 20 minute lessons – having him sing “Girls on Film”.  He comments in the article that he believes he influenced Duran Duran’s vocal style, since the managers paid him to teach Simon how to sing like him. He says they used a lot of his lyric ideas and song titles such as “Sound of Thunder” and “To The Shore”, and that “they”  influenced the Durans and Stephen Duffy.

He goes on, citing that DD and their management came to see him perform with Xpertz, a reggae band he’d joined after leaving Duran Duran. The Xpertz had a song at the time named “All The President’s Men”, and on Duran Duran’s next album they had a song titled “El Presidente”.  Take that for what you will.

Personally, I hesitate to extol anything as fact from someone whose best memory of being in Duran Duran is “lots of fun white stuff”.  I mean, sure – there was a lot of cocaine during the 80s. John Taylor himself may have mentioned that a time or two. But that’s the best memory he could manage? Not the songs? Not even performing?

The truth is, I have a difficult time with Andy Wickett, not that I’ve ever met him. I know fans who have and swear he’s the sweetest. I’m sure that is true. For me, the dilemma is simple: Andy is someone who could have easily profited heavily from some of the band’s earliest songs. He has intimated in the past that he felt the band knowingly cheated him out of money (never mind that he was not coerced into signing his name on a legally binding waiver, but did so willingly). It is troublesome to attribute everything he shares as fact without considering that he just might have an axe to grind. Regardless of whether truth, nonsense or likely somewhere in between, I cannot forget the entanglements of history when I read some of the things he says in interviews.

There are several people who probably feel as though they’ve been screwed by Duran Duran over the years, for one reason or another. That’s the cost of being in a successful band, I suppose. It also means that many people want their share, and are willing to say whatever it may take to make someone think twice about them and their contributions, however distant or prominent they may have been. I’ve personally seen and heard things from various ex-band members over the years about albums as recent as Paper Gods and All You Need is Now that just seem petty, yet the band still maintains some level of professional decorum with those people. It is something that I don’t know that I could do half as well.

I was not around during the days of TV Eye, Cheapside, or even the Rum Runner. I have no idea if what Andy says about giving Simon vocal lessons is really true – but I suppose anything is possible. If I genuinely thought that Simon would answer me seriously, I might ask. The thing is, at this point—it doesn’t even matter. Simon is the lead singer of Duran Duran, while Andy Wickett is marketing his new album, Creatures of Love, by retelling 40-year old anecdotes.

-R