Tag Archives: John Taylor

The Future, It’s Still Tomorrow

It is Friday and I have to admit that it has been awhile since the idea of a weekend was something to look forward to. No, obviously, it is not because I have big plans on the town. I wish. No, it just means that I get a break from working all day. This week was the start of online learning for my district and it has definitely taken me a bit to feel like I’m up to speed. I’m hoping that the rest of today is pretty productive so that I don’t have a lot of work to do over the weekend and can just relax.

All that said, there are a few things to look forward to both today and in the next few days for me. On a personal note, I am having a happy hour with a friend tonight and on Monday, my campaign team will get together, virtually, to hold a victory party, no matter the results of the worst election day ever. On the Duran front, there are two things to get excited. First, Duran Duran’s twitter will be getting a workout with a chat with Mr. John Taylor. Unlike previous Fridays, the chat will take place at 2 pm EST or 7pm GMT. I suspect that there will be a lot of people wishing John well, which I can totally understand. Even I am feeling like commenting and I never try! (But it is John, right?!) After that, you can party with our favorite DJ at 1 pm PST. I, for one, cannot wait to see what gems are included in the setlist!

Of course, if you are anything like me, listening to a fabulous set of Duran only makes me want to see a show. While we cannot have that yet, we can remember the good times we have had at shows. Just this week, I saw a couple fun BINGO sheets from Concert Weirdos. (Anyone else follow them on Twitter?) Here they are:

So, how did you do? Did you make a BINGO in the top one? The sad part in the first one is that I can almost cross every single box off. EEK! I’ll just say this. No tattoo for me! I have thought about one but nothing has really ever stuck with me long term to really consider it. What about the bottom one? That was is designed to be “more extreme”. That’s fair as there are more boxes that I cannot cross off. On top of the tattoo one (again), I, thankfully, have never been given the mic to sing at a show. Once in Biloxi, the kid next to me was given the mic for the Reflex. I remember that he really had no idea what Simon was asking and it came out as banana rather than ta-na-na. Anyway, that is not one that I would *want* to do. The same thing could be said about being pulled on stage. I have no need for that! I guarantee that the audience would agree.

What about the rest of you? How did you do on these BINGO sheets? More interestingly than that, are there ones that you have not done but wish you have? Maybe then, when concerts resume, you can aim for that as a concert goal!

-A

On the Other Side

I was thinking this morning about this band, and how with each album, particularly post-reunion, we seem to run into roadblocks.

Granted, Duran Duran isn’t alone. Crazy things happen all of the time, and sometimes to all of us at once – like right now. I just had to chuckle a bit when I thought about it all though.

During Astronaut, they were managing their own reunion. I believe John used the words “Union of the Snake” in some way to describe the sometimes tenuous recording sessions and band meetings. So while to fans, the band getting back together wasn’t a terrible thing (far from it), for the band it must have been incredibly fraught with frustration at times.

Red Carpet Massacre saw the end of the Fab Five. It began as one record and ended as another. I don’t think the recording process is ever that smooth – ask any five musicians their opinions on writing and recording, and I’m sure you’ll get five different responses, but to have your guitarist quit and go from self-producing to working with someone you’ve never met before couldn’t have helped.

Most people likely recall All You Need is Now. Goodness knows I sure do. What started off with a bang (at least with fans), ended up having a serious false start as Simon had to end the UK tour before it started due to vocal problems. The momentum ramped up, only to hit a virtual wall. Crazy times indeed.

Paper Gods seems to be the outlier here….although I know that John said something (why is it always John, or is it just that I pay more attention to him?? Hmm…I’ll add that to my list of future contemplations!) about having to overcome some sort of serious strife or gulf between band members in order to finish the album. My guess is that there’s always something!

Which brings us to present. The unnamed album #15. It seemed as though the creative process was on a good roll. They were nearing the finish line, and sure enough – Coronavirus. Come on now. They’ve had festivals canceled. The 40th anniversary is now going to be a 41st, or even a 45th if we’re not careful. Hyde Park, The 501st and 502nd DD show at The Cosmopolitan (a minor exaggeration on my part)….all of it wiped out for the spring and summer. 2020 has been canceled, as far as I can tell.

The one thing I will say about Duran Duran, even when I’m frustrated, even when I don’t love some of their decisions – is that they’re resilient. Quitting is not in their collective vocabulary. This is a band that could have fallen apart a dozen or more times by now. Things that could have crushed other bands have ended up making this one stronger. (pretty sure there’s a saying about something like that) Sure, John (I think this is the third time I’ve mentioned him in this single blog…) had Coronavirus, and yeah, that pandemic has pretty much stopped the entire world on its axis for a bit, but they’ll be back.

-R

Call Up Your Numbers

Moments madness

I don’t know where the idea of “Galentines Day” came from, but it is definitely not happening here today. I woke up twenty minutes late, far too late to shower and get ready for the day like a normal human. Instead, I woke up groggy from a strange dream where I was at an amusement park, riding a roller coaster over and over again in search of something or someone I never found. It was 7am, and I should have been up at least twenty minutes earlier. What a way to wake up.

I stumbled into the bathroom, squinting because my head, neck and right ear hurt so bad. Apparently I slept in a bad position. I threw on clothes, went out in 35-degree weather without a jacket to feed the chickens (it was cold and woke me up a bit!), made a sack lunch for my youngest, put coffee on, and got her to school just in time. Came home, grabbed the dog and took him to his “spa day” at the groomers. You know, for Valentines Day, because he’s my dog and deserves the pampering.

Along the way, I started thinking. When was the last time I had my hair done at a place that didn’t just squirt it down with a spray bottle before chopping? As an aside, gotta love the experience in going to those places. I look at my hair one last time before getting out of the car and wonder, “Well, how bad could it possible get?” It’s like a game of Russian roulette. Sometimes I’m lucky, and other times, I grow out a very bad haircut for several months. Always an adventure!! But really, how long has it been since I had a real stylist? I think it’s probably been at least seven years, and likely more. Our bank account loves it – I pay about 1/10th of what I used to pay for a cut and color – but I secretly fantasize about just going and getting it done again. I miss having great hair. Oddly, my husband says he doesn’t even notice the difference. Awesome.

Sure to pass

Spa day?? What’s that?! Needless to say, I’m in a mood. It’s not really a bad mood…more like a “Who needs a good slap?” sort of mood.

Oh wait, you’re saying that IS bad? Hmm. I may need more coffee.

Once I was back home, I scanned social media. It didn’t take long to find fuel for blogging. After seeing a article from one of those teen mags titled Stars on 45’s – it gave me the creative inspiration I needed. John Taylor was the star, and he reviewed a collection of singles, including ones from Human League, Tina Turner, Echo and the Bunnymen, Nik Kershaw and Lionel Richie. To cut a long story short, John was less than impressed with anything he heard. Words like “disappointed”, “charmless”, “hated”, “faceless music” populated the article, to the point where I admittedly found myself chuckling.

He wasn’t a fan of Alison Moyet’s voice, hated Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You” (I have to quote him, “I don’t know why people call us millionaires when Lionel Richie is around.”), and he very much didn’t like “What’s Love Got to Do with It” from Tina Turner.

Falling off the same mountain

Granted, I agreed with him on several of the singles, even today. But, I think even John might agree with me that the article makes him sound like a complete egomaniac. Clearly John was on the side of “Nothing is going to ever sound as good as the music we create. Why can’t these people up their game a bit?” To be fair, Duran Duran was at the very top, the apex, the Mt. Everest of their career at that point. They were so in the middle of it all that there was no way for John to know that in just a couple of short years, he’d be looking UP at the top of that mountain. Hindsight, you know. It’s 20/20.

So while I feel like I can poke the bear just a little bit here (it’s all in good fun),I also read the article knowing exactly what was about to happen. I know that John was young, and at that time – the ego was probably on full display for all to endure! Can you imagine, even for one minute, what it must have been like for Simon, John and Nick in 1986? They went from being the biggest band in the world (yes, I said *the* biggest), to arguably at least struggling to keep a grip on the mountain trail back up to the crest! They might not have lost their way completely, but they had definitely begun the extended slow slide downward.

In 1984 when this article was written, John was about 24. That’s only a year older than my youngest, which is fairly mind-blowing. He grew up rapidly from the time that Duran Duran first solidified itself with Simon at the helm to that point. I’m not entirely sure John really knew who he was as an adult at that point. I mean, he went from teenager to teen idol with the turn of a page. He never had an opportunity to really know himself without a legion of screaming, adoring fans following him. He went from that one year, to less-than-full audiences in small theaters over the course of what – maybe five or six years? Perhaps even fewer?

Never let the zeros get you down

How does the ego manage all of that? Never mind the drugs and alcohol – although let’s be honest, we all know how much that played part. Even without it, for the most well-adjusted amongst us, can you imagine having to deal with it? When you’ve pegged your own “self” to what you have created…or when the band you are in becomes bigger than YOU are, what do you have left when the audiences inevitably fade? Sure, we can all take the encouraging high road and say it doesn’t matter. The thing is though, when you’re young and still very much learning and developing (they say the frontal lobe doesn’t finish maturing until the late twenties!), it does matter.

Listen, I have issues just seeing the natural wave of audience interest and traffic on our site during the years when Duran Duran is actively touring, versus when they are quietly recording. I have learned not to look. It doesn’t matter. (Secretly though, I wonder what it would be like to blog if they truly had a bonafide hit album.) For a time, l worried about the numbers. It definitely did not help my writing. Not one single, solitary, bit.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, think about social media today and it’s effect on youth. All of those “likes”….. they matter. As adults, many of us couldn’t care less about how many people follow or unfollow (I for one can’t honestly say how many followers I gain or lose on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t even know how many the blog has, and I don’t care. Haven’t looked in years!), but kids care a lot. There’s a problem when we start assigning quantitive value to a person based on “likes”, but really – isn’t that the same thing that is done to a band or artist? Sure, perhaps the mode is different. We count albums sold or radio plays, or streaming numbers, which translates into dollars, but the emotion is likely the same.

Nothing really gets that high

A band looks out into the audience and can see how many people are there. I mean, they can’t really count them, but they can tell whether a venue is full or mostly empty. They can hear the cheering and the applause. To go from a club, to Madison Square Garden or Wembley and then back again, all before the age thirty. Well, that’s a trip.

I said today that an experience like that most assuredly needs therapy, and I don’t mean in the form of white powder or alcohol. At 24, I was about to be married. I was young, immature, and stupid – so much so, that I didn’t even know it. My self-worth was meaninglessly attached to things like my boyfriend giving me a ring, the clothes I wore, or the apartment I lived in. I had no idea of who I was, what I wanted to do with my life, or how much I needed to grow. I would have been a total disaster if I’d attached my ego to my popularity or wealth. It couldn’t have been much different for Duran Duran.

-R

PS. Happy Valentines Day!! You’re very appreciated and loved!! We adore all of you who take the time to read, and we hope every single one of you has a wonderful day!

January 2020 Katy Kafe with John

Finally, I might be caught up with the kafes! Okay, I know. There is one more in which Katy and Nick share their predictions and thoughts about the Oscars. Generally, I don’t review that one as I am not the biggest movie buff. Anyways, this January kafe features our bass player and yours, Mr. John Taylor. It also highlights fan questions. As always, I will only be sharing what catches my attention. If you want to hear the whole thing (without any of my commentary), I recommend heading over to DuranDuranMusic and listening yourself.

Question: Any new TV show?

John started to watch Schitt’s Creek, which he has been enjoying. (Me, too! My nieces have harassed me enough that I started it.) He felt like he needed a comedy, which I can understand.

Question: Some Duran songs that you don’t love but have to play live?

No. He said that he cannot help but love them. (Really??? Ugh. Come Undone? Oh, wait. That’s me.) Although, he did admit that he might not listen to them but appreciates how they were constructed. (I can get that.) He also likes the idea of trying to play each song the best ever each and every time he plays.

Question: What inspires you to write new music?

In answering this question, John shared a story about buying a nw Wire album, which brought him back to when he was a kid wanting to make music. He said that he has learned about where to go to get inspired, which is especially important while working on a new album. (Interestingly enough, he talked about how they are at the very difficult point in making #DD15 in which they have to finish the songs. It isn’t easy but they push in order to put out something “that the fans could be proud of.” I have to admit that comments like that really warm my heart.)

Question: What can we expect from the next album? Different from Paper Gods?

It is “quite different” from Paper Gods, according to John. That said, it still is Duran Duran with the same formula as usual. He is not ready to talk more specifically about the music. They are not there yet.

Question: Would John consider teaching a master class on bass playing?

No. He might consider some class about creativity in a broad sense but does not consider himself a teacher in that way. He also mentioned about how he was self-taught. Simon, on the other hand, can teach other singers. (Interesting. I think John makes a really good point that I completely appreciate as a teacher. Just because *you* know how to do something does not mean that you can teach it to others. Teaching is an art and a science, for sure.)

Question: Does current events influence the band’s work?

John admitted that it does to some extent but he tries not to have politics overtly influence as it is hard enough to finish songs.

Question: How do you maintain normalcy on the road?

The internet helps John stay in touch while on the road. He also explained about having things like Netflix has helped to create more of a common culture, making things feel more normal. He says that it helps having really nice people around them, too.

Question: Favorite Duran song that you wished fans embraced more?

John quite likes Finest Hour even though he thinks they did not get it completely right. (I love that song so I agree with him!)

Favorite album art work from other artist: London Calling by the Clash

Theme song for his life: James Bond theme

Do you respond if someone calls you Nigel: No. (Ha!) His parents eventually called him John. (That’s a fun fact.)

Funko Pop Dolls: John wonders if they double as sex toys? (Uh…what?!) Then, he manages to point out that sex toy discussion is usually Warren’s territory. (Oh…my.)

I have to admit that I heard some concerns about how John sounded during this one but he seemed perfectly normal to me. Yes, the work surrounding the album seems stressful but I get it. I am the exact same way when I’m in the middle of an intense campaign. In my opinion, that feeling could result in something amazing. As always, I enjoyed listening and taking some notes. It was a nice way to end my weekend.

-A

Hothead – The Daily Duranie Review

Here we are. We have indeed arrived at the time to review Hothead. Produced by Chris Kimsey, featuring spoken word by none other than Simon Le Bon, there isn’t much written about Hothead. The song does not seem to be a fan favorite, so let’s get to the bottom of it!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

The first thing I notice is the guitar, which quite frankly for a Duran Duran song, isn’t always the norm. Not buried too deeply in the mix, not an esoteric enigma, vaguely floating up in the stratosphere – for this track, the guitar helps ground the track like a root in the soil. The synthesizer takes on it’s old role, creating atmosphere and answering the guitar in the chorus.

The thing is, the music is kind of catchy. I like the slight grit to the guitar posed against the silky texture of keyboards. The semi-haunted house feeling of the descending synthesizer chords during each verse help to create interest, and it lends a bit more meaning to the point of the song. I picture wandering down into the proverbial rabbit hole, or falling into a pit while in a forest! This is the first DD album, to my knowledge, where the band samples from newscasts and television, incorporating those bytes into the background of the sound. I like that they did that, because those samplings give the song context. It isn’t difficult as a listener to understand the time frame in question, or why the song was written. Given that triumph, I don’t hear much bass though, which is strange – I think it’s in there, but during this period of time I think bass was more “felt” than heard. The band seemed to have backed off from the more complicated bass lines of Rio days and before. The drums are solid, no with no-nonsense, which probably is appropriate given the texture and point of the song.

Vocals

So, this is where things start to go sideways. The very first voice I recognize is that of Former President George Bush (the first one). That can’t be a good omen, can it? You hear news report snippets, which are sampled and as I said before – give context to time and setting of the song, and then Simon begins. Not quite spoken word, not quite singing…but then he does sing the chorus, doesn’t he? That’s followed by a stop gap, more than a little cringy, yet oddly appropriate, “hothead” sung in high-soprano by backing vocalists. I can’t decide if the cringe is meant due to the meaning of the song, or if that’s just *my* take on it. Before I can decide for sure while writing, I hear Simon’s rap section.

This may not be a popular opinion, but the words “Simon” and “rap” really don’t belong in the same sentence. It is very difficult to get past the sing-song aspect and take it seriously. Some artists rap well, and some just don’t. It’s my (possibly unpopular) opinion that Simon does not.

Lyrics

I’ll admit something right here and now: I’ve never read the lyrics to this song before. Lyrically, the song is strong, and arguably, more “political” than Paper Gods. The words were timely then, timely now, well-written, and (still) have a great message. They’re not dated, and they’re definitely not vague. He wasn’t wrong that governments use media and propaganda to change the mind of the public, and that whatever they say today might totally change tomorrow depending upon whatever view they wish to spread at the time. There is absolutely a message warning us to wary of those with the loudest microphones. I can’t argue with any of that. It isn’t the words that are the biggest problem.

Overall

While I can’t say it is a favorite song, there are a couple of things I liked. The guitar line is great, and I love the call and answer with synthesizer. I do give credit for innovation. The sampling of the news bytes was something that we may take for granted in 2020, but in 1990 was still fairly new. Overall, the music is pretty good. The lyrics themselves are solid, although I know they’re not the poetic ramblings that fans enjoyed in earlier albums. The real problem, at least for me, are the vocals and their delivery. I’m not opposed to rap or spoken word – but the sing-song delivery that seems to accompany the way Simon raps does the song an enormous amount of injustice. It cheapens the message and makes it out to be far more of a game or joke than I think was intended. I feel like the song started off to be a great idea, but during recording, it went ass-over-teakettle.

Cocktail Rating

two cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This song definitely starts out in a non-typical Duran way with extremely obvious guitars. While I cannot say that I’m the biggest guitar fan, I think the jarring nature of the intro guitars is fitting with the theme of the song. You cannot talk about politics like this with a pretty synthesize sound, for example. Speaking of synthesizer, I really like the keyboards that pop up more when the guitars are pausing. The drums are solid with nothing too crazy going on. I don’t hear a lot of bass, though, which is a bummer. One thing that I notice about the musicality of this song is how the instrumentation is strong until the vocals and soundbytes begin then it almost feels as if the music takes a backseat.

Vocals

I’m not even sure where to start about the vocals. I guess I will start with the soundbytes of news headlines. I don’t mind them. In fact, part of me finds it fascinating what they chose and makes me wonder why those. To me, they fit with the theme of the song. Then, there is Simon’s vocals. At first, they aren’t terrible. I don’t mind them. Then, the first chorus happens. What the heck is that all about? Why the shouting like of “hothead”?! Why have a female vocal singing “hothead” for far too long? What is the point?! I don’t get it. Then, Simon’s vocals take a noticeable change for the final verse. It is more spoken word but not really. I don’t get that either. The vocals just make the song feel disjointed, lacking cohesion. It feels like they couldn’t decide exactly what they were going for so they did a bunch of stuff. It doesn’t work.

Lyrics

I have to admit that I find these lyrics pretty interesting but then again I spend a lot of my life involved in the political sphere. One thing that I find most interesting is how the overall message about media, politics, propaganda, etc and so forth is not dated at all. These issues are still relevant. In fact, they might be more relevant now in 2020 than in 1990 especially with the rise of social media, fake accounts, interference from other countries, etc. I look at other lyrics that might fit in the same category and feel like some of them feel more dated than this. The biggest example is Too Much Information. It definitely feels like the focus is on the Gulf War of the 1990s. Again, I give a little shoutout to the soundbytes as I found them to be interesting, too.

Overall

This song is definitely not a fan favorite and I totally get why. While there are elements that are interesting like the lyrics and much of the instrumentation, the vocals really detract from the rest especially since they are so front and center during the majority of the song. I do appreciate the fact that the band decided to do something political in nature but because of the vocals, specifically, I think it turned a lot of listeners off. They did not get the message or did not or could not think about what the lyrics might mean. That said, I do give credit for even mixing things up, musically, by having the guitar start it out and in such a dramatic way. I have to just wonder that if they had tweaked things a bit if the final result would have been significantly better.

Cocktail Rating

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two cocktails!

2019 Year End Kafe with John

The thing about breaks is that you sometimes miss things when you are away. Sometimes, that is a good thing if the things you are missing might cause stress or might be tasks you want to avoid. At times, though, you might be sad that you didn’t catch something as it came out. This is the case with the year end Katy Kafes with each of the band members. I saw that they were released but I certainly didn’t have a chance to listen. I figured that I might not be alone in missing these as December is a super busy for lots and lots of people. So no one will be upset if I listen and blog now, right? I’ll start in the beginning with John’s Year End Kafe as it was released first on December 12th. As always, this blog post will just share my reactions to some of what he talked about. If you want to hear the whole thing, I recommend becoming a member of DuranDuranMusic and listening yourself.

If you are new to the Year End Katy Kafe, a lot of the focus is on band member’s favorites. Similarly, you can read their lists of favorites on the band’s official website. While I like reading the list, there is something about listening to why they made these choices that bring it to life for me.

Favorite Movie:

John’s choice was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He described as a “tender movie about male friendships.” That is not what I would think of with a Quentin Tarantino film but I’ll trust John on this one.

Favorite TV Show:

John split his vote on his one. He first mentioned The Crown. He finds the episodes very moving. Apparently, it is changing his sense of British history and how he views the royal family. As a historian, I enjoy the show as well. (No spoilers–I just started season 3). He also liked the show, Chernobyl, about the nuclear accident that happened in 1986. He mentioned other shows like Succession and Euphoria but he feels like the first ones are more “important” and “historical.” Again, I have to appreciate that.

Best thing listened to this year:

John called 2019 the year of Lizzo. He found her album brings a lot of joy. (A lot of my students really like her, too!) One part that I found super interesting about his comments was his prediction that she would win a lot of Grammys, which would actually “paralyze” her. I would have loved to have a follow up on that one. What exactly did he mean there? Would that create too much pressure?

Best Duran moment of 2019:

If I had not read the year end lists, I would have assumed that he would have mentioned the NASA affair, but instead he mentioned Simon’s 60th birthday bash which took place on a boat trip. Apparently, it was a lot of fun with lots of dancing. (I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that!)

What John Is Looking Forward to the Most in 2020:

John would like to see a change in politics. He described both the US and the UK in political “deadlock”. According to him, he thinks that both countries need someone amazing like “Obama or Thatcher (God forbid).” He would love to see people coming together rather than be at odds with each other. Since this Kafe took place before the election in the UK, he did say that he was going to vote but was not certain who even though he voted against Brexit. (This part of the Kafe very much grabbed my attention. I would love to have a conversation with John about this as someone super involved in politics. I don’t know that I would describe the current political situation in the US as a “deadlock,” but I get where he is coming from. I, too, would love to see the country come together and agree with him that leadership for that is needed.)

The Kafe finished with a brief discussion about favorite book and what his plans were for the holidays. One thing to note. He is probably going to be back in the Kafe in January, maybe answering fan questions. You might then want to get some ready!

-A

You Can Put Me Straight

It’s a Tuesday sort of catch-up on the blog today. There have been a few newsy items that have gotten my attention lately, so I decided to gather them together and bring them to you in one blog. Let’s hope I don’t leave anything out!

Found at the intersection of Incubus and JT

So, I don’t know about anyone else, but any time a band happens to mention their love for a member of Duran Duran (or the entire band for that matter), it catches my eye!

Incubus released “Into the Summer” last week, a tune that they’ve apparently bounced around for four or five years now, but finally gelled. Most notably for Duran Duran fans, their bassist Ben Kenney calls the song his “ode to John Taylor”. He describes “Into the Summer” as being very 80s retro and fun. That was enough for me to decide to give the single a fair listen.

One doesn’t have to wait long to hear the similarities – the bass line is definitely John Taylor circa Rio, and refreshingly, the whole song has that sort of joy and fun vibe I connect with Sunrise, Rio and many others. There’s a sort of 80’s power vibe feel that intersects with Rio, and somewhat surprisingly to me, it works. And yeah, I’d almost think John was playing. Even more surprising, I like the tune enough to buy it. Who knew I’d ever own an Incubus song??

You can find “Into the Summer” on Spotify, Apple iTunes, or even a snippet can be heard here at Billboard.com.

Simon sails away

Most any Duranie knows of Simon’s fondness for sailing, but did you know that he recently took to the seas along with a group of inner-city teenagers as part of his ambassadorship with Tall Ships Youth Trust? The youth onboard were responsible for all duties onboard, from cleaning to steering and everything in between. The journey was the final leg of a Round UK Challenge, funded through crowdsourcing by the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

The opportunity empowers the youth, giving them the chance to see that they too have control over their lives. The Tall Ships Youth Trust is a wonderful charity, and it is especially fantastic that Simon is able and willing to give his time.

Andy’s solo show SOLD OUT!

Andy Taylor’s first solo headlining gig in 30 years on November 27 at the London 100 Club has sold out! The capacity of the club is incredibly small at 350, which mean any of you holding tickets to the gig is incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be there! I know many people, including myself, who are envious of your good fortune. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

As an aside, I can’t help but notice the poster design for the show. It appears to be….a wolf??? Check it out below:

If it’s really a wolf, then of course it is. I mean, why not? (Actually, I can think of ten thousand reasons why, but that’s just me) If it isn’t a wolf, then forgive me, my eyesight is obviously failing.

Moving on…

DB3 gig

What’s DB3, you say? It’s Dom’s band featuring Phil Spalding on bass and Ian Thomas on drums. They were starting to play shows a year or so ago, and then canceled a couple of dates, but it seems they’re ready to get back out and start playing live again. They will be appearing at The Rec Room in Horsham (West Sussex) on November 30th. (To be honest, it may as well be happening on the moon for all I know about the UK…but I’m just here to relay the news!) Tix are available on the website for the The Rec Room for £8.33. If you happen to find yourself with a ticket, please consider writing up a little something to share with your friends at The Daily Duranie – we’d love to host your review!

That’s all for now! Jason will be back tomorrow with another fantastic post – enjoy and I’ll catch you Thursday!

-R

Happy 22, Medazzaland!

Medazzaland is 22, today. For some reason, that number doesn’t bother me nearly as much as hearing, for instance, that Astronaut is 15…or that I’m about to turn 49 in a few weeks. Let’s just not talk about any of that, though.

They’ll say we’ll get over it

As I waxed nostalgic earlier to a friend, I can remember when Duran Duran appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell show in 1997. They were promoting Medazzaland, and I was folding laundry while my oldest was bouncing away in her little chair. I can remember hoping she’d stay quiet long enough for me to listen to the interview and see them perform!

I hadn’t bought Medazzaland yet. In fact, I don’t think I even knew they had an album coming out until I watched the show that day, which, when I think back on it – is pretty alarming. It also explains my headspace at the time. I was definitely in the full throes of postpartum depression. Motherhood was proving to be a far bigger challenge than just diapers, laundry and bottles.

Why do we still face the music?

Seeing Simon, Nick and Warren that day made me smile for what might have been the first time in months, but I also felt pretty wistful. Admittedly, they didn’t feel like the Duran Duran I’d known. It was kind of like running into people at your high school reunion. Everyone wears these name tags with their maiden names on them, along with senior pictures to remind everyone of what they once looked like – but you don’t really recognize them. You don’t KNOW them anymore. That’s kind of how I felt with Duran Duran back then. I mean, by the time Medazzaland was released in 1997, Rio had already been out for fifteen years. So yes, I guess I did struggle with that a little bit.

I’d never heard “Electric Barbarella” until that day on the show, and I can remember thinking that the tune was catchy, so I decided that I’d go get the CD when I had a chance. As different as they were, there were still hints of sounds I recognized. (No, it wasn’t all about Simon)

Not long after the Rosie appearance, I bought the CD. I can remember running into the music store and buying it while my husband and Heather happily waited in the car. It was a shock to hear Medazzaland for the first time, as my husband scanned through the songs – only hearing the first 30 seconds or so of each before moving on. I just didn’t know this band anymore, and I think that was a real shock to my system. I’m not writing this as a topic of argument, I’m just explaining how it felt to me at the time, in 1997. Things change.

Now and then you’ll get the strangest notion

There are a good many people out there who claim to love Medazzaland now, 22 years after it’s initial release, but I can remember talking to many of those same people online in the year 2002-2003 or so. There were not nearly as many well-wishers then. Music has a tendency to grow on your ears and your heart, I suppose. I’m still not sure that I love the album as much as I love others, but I recognize its importance in the overall catalog.

Medazzaland kind of allowed Nick, Simon and even Warren to spread their wings and experiment with their sound as a trio for the first time. John was gone. Andy and Roger had been gone for quite a while by then. This trio was the new Duran Duran (or Duranduran if you prefer), and they were making a-go of it. In a lot of ways, this was a brand-new band. I would imagine that it was on this album that Warren really grew more comfortable because he’d already had the success of Ordinary World and Come Undone, and John wasn’t around to side with Simon. So he and Nick grew closer, worked together far more extensively, and the music evolved as result.

Wild ambition can you really blame us

This is why they took the cover of Rio and “redesigned” it. It wasn’t just happenstance they chose that image to graffiti for the cover. They were making a statement that this was a new era. This was not the band who created Rio, this was new. They wanted to be known for who they were at that moment, not for the Fab Five, Rio, or Sing Blue Silver. There is no clearer proof than on the album closer, “Undergoing Treatment”. Read the lyrics. In fact, read them all. The story is right there, laid out in the words, and playing in the music. The problem, of course, is that you can try to outrun it….but you can’t hide from your past. It tends to follow.

Like it, love it, or something else entirely, Medazzaland was a tidal change for Duran Duran. Creatively, they pushed the envelope and broke out of boxes that critics and, yes, even fans, had insisted they stay in. Funny thing about time, too. It softens the hard edges, makes the black and white seem a bit less so. I listen to the album today, and much of it feels and sounds very much like the band I know. Call it wisdom, call it old age, even. Pop Trash, Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, All You Need is Now and Paper Gods all came later, and on each album there are the remnants and evolutions of sounds from Medazzaland. That’s success in my book.

Can you give a little more?

The defiance the band found in Medazzaland is still present in their music today. It gives their sound this fiery edge that I’ll hear every once in a while, which I appreciate. The difference, at least one that I hear, is along with that defiance, there is also pride. Shouldn’t they be, though? After all, they’ve been in this business for forty years. They’ve undergone enough personnel changes to have created four or even five different bands. They’ve come full circle, and then some.

Happy anniversary, Medazzaland!

-R

John Taylor on Let There Be Talk Podcast

I’m late, I’m late…I know… My tardy excuse today is that I was listening to the “Let There Be Talk” podcast with Dean Delray as he interviewed John Taylor. Yesterday, I scanned through it, picking up on bits and pieces, but today I forced myself to sit down and listen to the entire thing (at over an hour and a half – it’s a monster).

If you haven’t listened, or feel like you need a fairly comprehensive (but elementary) education on Duran Duran’s history, this may be the podcast for you. Likewise, if you are more of an auditory learner, give it a good listen. Make sure to have beverages and other sustenance available because it is hella-long. Here’s the link: Let There Be Talk featuring John Taylor.

Hard rock, The Viper Room, and plenty of gushing

Here’s the real deal: Dean Delray is very obviously someone who comes from more of a rock background, and by “rock”, I mean hard rock. Van Halen. Black Sabbath (whom he mentioned during the first MINUTE John was on the podcast), Guns ’n’ Roses… you get the idea. He has a voice that sounds like he smoked for 40 years and hung out at the Viper Room as a regular for at least 10, but who really knows.

He is what I would call a man’s man (more on that in a bit), and although he does a fair job of gushing (and yes, I do mean gushing) over Duran Duran and John Taylor (not that they don’t deserve it)…I would venture to guess the guy has spent next to no time ever really listening to their albums, or reading about their history. He knows the highlights, which to be fair is more than I can say about MANY of the people who have interviewed the band over the years. The problem is that Dean was going to attempt to chat with John for 90 minutes. Where does one go, conversationally, when you only know a smidgeon of what they’ve done??? That said…let’s just get on with the highlights before I get into more trouble.

I appreciated that the conversation opens with a discussion of the post-punk era. That lasted for approximately 15 precious seconds, when the conversation takes a strange turn. Delray brings up Black Sabbath – which caused my eyes to nearly roll back into my head. Is there really any other band that sums up the antithesis of what Duran Duran really IS at their core, than Black Sabbath? Obviously Delray was reaching for something to connect with John because Sabbath is also from the Midlands. I get it, but I don’t like where he was trying to go.

If you had to name one band that was DD’s polar opposite…

And hey, were John and Nick ever fans of Black Sabbath? I nearly spat coffee at my screen as John commented that no, he was never really into Sabbath, but he and Nick went to a show where they were playing, and knew to get out while they could. Again I ask, is there really any other band that is quite the polar opposite of Duran Duran? Probably not. I mean, Duran Duran is light, love, joy. Black Sabbath (and yes I actually *do* know their music well, thankyouverymuch) is more darkness, anger, and some control issues mixed in for good measure.

Rest assured, the train was brought back onto the right track as they continued to discuss where Duran Duran fit into this post-punk movement. John discussed how he switched from guitar to bass, and why he aspired to the sounds from black American bands like Chic. He talked about the funky power trio being at their core and how those rhythm sounds (as well as the bass) spoke to him. John also said that time really belonged to rhythm sections, as opposed to punk which belonged to guitar.

Delray then mentioned that in the 80s, Duran Duran were everywhere. DJ’s would play them, then follow with Van Halen and Prince. The common thread was that the 80s were a dance scene – bands wanted to be able to crossover and create songs that could be danced to, like “Jump” from Van Halen.

Dance, dance, dance

Funny, I just had this same conversation with my youngest as she prepares to go to her very first school dance on Friday. She’s only in 6th grade (she’s 11), and the dance is being billed as a dance/social with a carnival theme. Rather than just music and kids dancing – nowadays parents try to add in other activities. I talked about how at my middle school dances, girls (primarily, but not always) formed circles on the dance floor while we danced to the popular music of the day. She asked me what was popular then, and with profound joy (seriously, way too much joy, I think…) I pointed at our car stereo, which was tuned to SiriusXM 1stWave. “Anything they play on this channel is what Mom would dance to, including Duran Duran.” As we talked further, we agreed that kids don’t seem to have a lot of bands to dance to. It’s EDM, or like where we live – country. It’s not the same now. They have to play carnival games instead, I guess.

“What we lacked in know-how, we made up for in cajones.” – John, on “Let There Be Talk”

Simon, before…and after

They spend some time chatting about life before Simon. (Seems like that could be a fitting title for an autobiography) John gave a rudimentary timeline of the singers who held the mic before Simon came gliding in with his suave attitude, pink leopard pants, and book of lyrics. Sometimes, I wonder if the book of lyrics wasn’t more of a driving force behind Simon’s induction into Duran Duran than anyone wants to say….hmm…(thank goodness he’s still there though, am I right??) He mentionedTin-Tin Duffy and his band the Lilac Time, then talked a little more about Andy Wickett, and explained the course of events that brought him into Duran Duran. He said that Andy was a phenomenal singer, but that it just didn’t work out for him as a front man.

Simon joined the group by listening to what became Sound of Thunder a couple of times, flipping though that now infamous book of lyrics, and settling upon words that fit the music. The uniqueness of Duran Duran maintains that basic approach to this day, but back then it was John, Nick, Roger and Andy who wrote the music. Simon wrote the lyrics. All five members were equal.

Doesn’t it suck to be a boyband?

Just the topic is enough to set me off. Dean Delray doesn’t realize the minefield he stepped into as he asks the next question.

“There was a time when of course you become the teen idols. You’re fucking everywhere…Teen BeatTiger BeatDream Magazine (is that even a thing?)….any kinds of those. But at the same time it was really helping you, it was cursing you maybe in a legitimate music world. People thinking they’re just a boy band, even back then because we have boy bands all the way to now. Uh…did you feel that way, like ‘fuck this is great but it sucks at the same time’?”

John kind of pauses, which I appreciated…and I’m going to assume that he needed to collect his thoughts before answering. I know I needed to collect my jaw as it hit the ground while I was listening. He then says “uhhhh….I don’t remember thinking it sucks.”

For me, that was all that was needed. However, for the people in the back, or for those who, like Delray, believe it was a double-edged sword…John continues to explain that he didn’t mind being the pinup and in fact points out that his fans had his poster pinned up in their room to Gela (this made me chuckle) whenever possible. Amusing. If I were his wife, I’d probably put up with that exactly one time before throttling him. (typed with a grin)

“Life is foreplay for when the lights go down.” – JT


Videos

Like most who interview Duran Duran, Dean Delray doesn’t really get the videos. He knows they’re works of art “They’re 35mm films, dude, not videos!”, but he also thinks they cost millions. “Planet Earth cost about $10,000 US”, John corrects.

John gives Dean the quick rundown on why Duran Duran relied on videos, explaining that Rio was charting in Australia, about as far away as one could get from the UK, and yet they couldn’t affordably travel there to play, so their managers suggested they make videos. He described going into the studio to make Planet Earth and meeting Russel Mulcahey, and then talking about how it wasn’t until the mid-80s that videos became a multi-million dollar business. It remained pretty clear that Delray just didn’t get it as he finished the conversation on videos by saying “That thing you did on the yacht was great!” He expanded by talking about how they looked rich, living the good life and trails off just as John says that they were really “just goofballs” on the video.

Exactly. Sure, it took place on a yacht, but the moral of that video is that you can put the goofballs in nice clothes, allow them to drink champagne, and let them sail on a yacht…but they’re still going to fall all over themselves in front of a girl and throw the guitarist overboard!

They speak briefly of Sing Blue Silver, and it is just about at this point when I begin to wonder if John knew he was going to be teaching Duran Duran 101 before doing the podcast. His reward for providing that knowledge is Delray’s reply “That thing is so great!”

Oh come on….you know you’re thinking the same thing I am. Did he really know what Sing Blue Silver was?

Power Station and an evolving Duran Duran

So here’s the thing, John gives a full narrative on how Power Station came to be. The two main highlights here are:

Had Robert Palmer agreed to tour with Power Station, John feels (in hindsight, mind you), that they would have continued on, but they wouldn’t have been as important as Duran Duran.

John has so much respect for Nile, it is truly inspiring. They talk about Nile and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chic has been nominated eleven times. ELEVEN…and even then, only Nile has been honored with an award of excellence as a guitarist. John says he (Rodgers) wears that (the knowledge) very well, that if it were him, he’d be bitter.

As many probably recognize, it was during this period that Duran Duran really evolved from a five piece to a three piece band. Dean asks about the money and the fame. Rather than succumb to discussing what had been lost along the way, John turns it around.

“A run like that, sooner or later, has to end. The momentum of what you’ve done carries you. Objectivity of your work, it has it’s place.” He continues by saying, “Treat audiences and your band mates with respect, and you can have a career.”

Delray asked about Neurotic Outsiders, a project that – out of everything – he seemed the most familiar with. He cites the Viper Room and knows the people in the band. John explains that it was a good space for him to work through the burnout he’d had (for him, it was the second time he experienced burnout with Duran Duran), and to work on staying sober and being a decent parent. This was a way for him to still have fun, by playing a residency on Monday’s at the Viper Room.

New album and closing thoughts

They closed with a bit of news on the coming album – which I shared yesterday. I also took special note of a date that John mentioned while talking about Simon’s history with the band. As they chatted about the band’s beginnings, John commented that on July 1, 2020 – it will be the 40th anniversary for the current lineup. I know this has always been a sticking point for fans, many of whom claim that the band has somehow “missed” their own anniversary in 2018.

I’m the last person to tell Duran Duran what date should be celebrated, or how they should do so. My job is to applaud it. In the case of the date though, it would appear that they want to celebrate the time when Simon was in fact part of the band. This makes sense. After all, the Duran Duran we all tend to think of actually involves Simon! So, stop with the “they forgot to celebrate their anniversary” nonsense. They didn’t. Sure, they celebrated the inception of the band back when they did the 78-03 tour. That’s called “marketing”. It’s a thing, and it isn’t an affront to anyone. It also isn’t “confusing”….it was about selling tickets and hyping up their reunion as the original five. They came up with a slick way to make it all seem a lot less contrived than saying “Hey, we need to hit the road to see if anyone will even buy tickets to come see us.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

This band isn’t one for looking back – listen to any interview over the years, and they’ll tell you that themselves. We fans have made far more out of this 40th anniversary than anyone else likely intended, including the band and management. The sights are set incredibly high, and the expectations are out of this world. No matter what the band does at this point, it may not be enough to pacify. This is unfortunate. Listen to the podcast. The one thing John says that is key for Duranies in resetting their expectations, is that the band talked a lot about what to do (if anything) about the 40th anniversary. The one thing they agreed upon, was that the best way to celebrate their career next year was with new music.

Sounds great to me, John!

Wow, after that post, I need a break! Good thing today is my “Friday” for blogging! Happy Weekend, everyone!

-R

Still In My Heart: Remembering Live Aid & The Power Station

By Jason Lent

Another Live Aid comes and goes and, as always, people have their annual chuckle about Simon LeBon missing a note during Duran Duran’s indifferent performance on the momentous day. For me, Live Aid arrived only four days after my first rock-n-roll concert and my ears were still ringing. As much as I wanted to see Duran Duran, it was The Power Station that had me glued to the television. A few nights earlier, my father took me to the outskirts of Florida civilization to witness John and Andy’s side-project at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. The excitement of seeing The Power Station certainly made it easier to accept the splintering mess that Duran Duran had become.


Duran Duran had played the Hollywood Sportatorium, affectionately called the Vomitorium for its lawless behavior, a year prior in March of 1984. Being a school night, I wasn’t able to convince my parents that it was the most important night of my life and I had to be there. They chalked it up to being a music crazed eleven year-old but I was serious. I knew Duran Duran were at their peak and I’ve always regretted missing that tour. My dad came through in 1985 and we stood in line for tickets as soon as the unexpected Power Station tour was announced. 


The videos for “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” were colorful, sexy, and rocking. The album was an instant favorite for me whereas Arcadia’s album has taken years to fully win me over (and it has). For a first concert, I could do far worse than The Power Station and my excitement built and built as we drove down a one lane highway towards to Florida Everglades in the middle of empty fields. While South Florida eventually paved its way west into the Everglades, in 1985 the Sportatorium sat alone on the edge of civilization. We were on an adventure in my 12 year-old mind!


The decrepit arena lived up to its reputation. A few weeks earlier, a Robert Plant concert was postponed due to rain which wouldn’t be that odd except the Sportatorium was actually indoors! The crumbing ceiling was a sieve. Upon arrival, we climbed up the side of the concrete box to section 117 after a stop at the merch table to buy a concert program which I still have to this day. The scheduled support act Spandau Ballet had pulled out due to someone blowing out a knee and, I think, The Bongos might have opened the show. Can anyone confirm that? I just learned they had a song called “Barbarella” so there’s that. Regardless, I don’t remember the support act and the arena’s acoustics were a sound engineer’s nightmare so it could have been Poison and I wouldn’t have noticed.


Thinking back on concerts in the 1980s, I really miss the way they started. The excitement of the first song felt bigger back then from Jon Bon Jovi shooting from under the stage to Howard Jones’ mime winding up an audience. The opening riff of “Murderess” is still burned into my memory. As the curtains pulled back, Andy Taylor’s guitar sliced through the clouds of pot smoke and enveloped my entire being. This was rock-n-roll! I was hooked for life.  


The setlist was a mix of somewhat odd covers and the entire debut album. One of the biggest memories of the night was Miami Vice star Don Johnson joining the band on stage for a cover of  Rod Stewart’s “Some Guys Have All the Luck”. One of the most interesting songs would have been The Velvet Underground classic “White Light/White Heat” but I don’t remember it and I wouldn’t have known the VU back then. The Animotion cover of “Obsession” that DesBarres cowrote was a bigger deal to me on that night. Looking back at the setlist, I’m surprised that there were only two Duran Duran songs played (“The Reflex” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”) but I was so overwhelmed by the concert that I left on a high. 


A few days later, I spent a Saturday shifting from the living room couch to the front lawn to kick a soccer ball around awaiting the Duran Duran and The Power Station slots at Live Aid. The Power Station came out swinging at Live Aid, perhaps trying a little too hard. DesBarres runs all over the place while John and Andy play everything a little too fast. Tony Thompson, always a massive hitter, fills the stadium with ease but he was certainly thinking ahead to his set with Led Zeppelin a few hours later.


Next up was Duran Duran and it was quickly apparent that there was trouble in paradise. Roger Taylor looks completely sick of being in Duran Duran and the other four are clearly operating from two different camps. Andy Taylor sounds like he wants to bury Simon and Nick under a wall of distortion and John looks a bit ragged from his lifestyle. This is not a healthy band and Andy’s disgusted look to the stars when Simon misses the infamous note was a portent of what was to come. The fallout of Live Aid changed Duran Duran, and me, forever.


What happened after Live Aid comes back to me in pieces. I definitely didn’t buy Andy Taylor’s Thunder out of loyalty to Duran Duran but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the singles. The Power Station concert had opened my ears to dirtier guitars just in time for the rise of glam metal on MTV. When Notorious arrived, it was such a break from where Duran Duran had left off that it pushed me deeper into the world of Whitesnake and David Lee Roth, both of whom I saw at the Hollywood Sportatorium before it was torn down to the disappointment of absolutely no one. 


I finally saw Duran Duran in 1989 at the Miami Arena, which replaced the Sportatorium for us in South Florida. Empty seats and a lack of energy is what little I remember from the night. It was a difficult time to love Duran Duran but a lot of the songs on Big Thing and Notorious have aged better than Seven & the Ragged Tiger for me. Maybe The Power Station saved Duran Duran from themselves. It gave Andy an exit strategy, it finally forced them to address the divide that formed between the five men, and it forced Duran Duran to find a new sound in the aftermath. The Power Station also lit a fire in my soul for rock-n-roll that burns to this day. Other people have “cooler” first concerts to brag about but I wouldn’t trade that night in 1985 for any of them. 

Jason’s Power Station ticket from 1985!