Yesterday’s winner: Picture A
It is Sunday. It is the beginning of the new week. Since I’m not going to “work” right now, due to summer vacation, I’m struggling to keep track of days and days of the week. While I’m paying more attention to social media and Duranland, I’m still finding myself missing things or gliding over posts/tweets, etc. I’m distracted. I figured, then, that it might be good for me (and you!) to go through the past week and summarize the latest.
John Taylor responded to a news piece from ITN News in which they declared Redditch, an area very close to where John grew up, to be the least musical place in the UK. This did not sit well with our Mr. Taylor, who had recently met with local musicians there. Thus, he put together a “mixtape” of the music there to show ITN News that their research didn’t cut it. To read the full article and listen to the mixtape, go here.
The monthly collector corner’s was also posted. This month focused on sheet music and song books of various Duran singles and albums, the last of which featured music from Big Thing and Liberty. Very cool stuff! To read the full article, please go here.
From Duran’s Facebook and Twitter accounts:
While their social media asked people to raise their virtual hands if they owned a copy of A Diamond in the Mind on vinyl, to guess whose shoes matched band members for a Tweetsake, to watch a clip of Wild Boys from the 2012 Olympics as well as to visit some other links, including on from GoFugYourself.com about Simon, the post that got the most attention featured a couple of photos. If you missed these posts, the photos were from a photo shoot completed on June 26th.
Here is one from Duran’s facebook page! The other can be seen on their post from June 26.
From what I saw, this excited most fans! Who doesn’t love current pictures?! More importantly, the idea of a photo shoot got more than a few people’s minds wondering. What’s the photo shoot for? A magazine? A project? THE ALBUM?! Could it be a sign that the album is getting closer to being finished?!
Beyond the fan focused posts, there were a few posts about The Reflex. Why? Simple. It was 30 years ago on June 23rd that the song reached number one on the Billboard charts. The article on duranduran.com from Billboard can be found here. Like many other fans, on one hand, I cheered this moment!!! On the other hand, the fact that it was 30 years ago made me feel darn old!
I think that is about all the news for the week. Did I miss anything? What stood out the most to you???
On this date in 1995, Neurotic Outsiders played together for the first time. For those unfamiliar with Neurotic Outsiders, it was a side project of John Taylor. John discusses the formation of the band in his autobiography. He mentioned that he became close with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols when Matt Sorum of Guns ‘n’ Roses called both of them to play at a fundraiser. Matt brought Duff McKagan, also of Guns ‘n’ Roses, along. After they played, the guy, who ran the Viper Room in Los Angeles where the fund raiser was held, asked them to do a residency by playing there every Monday. They settled on the name, Neurotic Outsiders. Initially, they played a bunch of cover songs and invited other musicians to join them. Eventually, they took their show on the road. Then, a label offered them a record deal and they chose to write new songs for it.
While I couldn’t find a video from this particular show, I could find a live clip of the band performing their song, “Jerk.”
Did anyone see Neurotic Outsiders perform live? If so, what did you think???
The rumor is that on this date in 1960 John Taylor was born! It seems like I’m getting most of the birthdays this year. Thus, I’ll celebrate John like I did with the other members with some of my favorite videos! Of course, it is no secret that John is my favorite band member, which means that I could choose about 15 million different videos, but I will work to be highly selective!
A young Mr. Taylor:
The video that hooked me!
My favorite live!
Another one I always love live with the JoSi and John/Simon/Dom front and center:
John solo–Fields of Eden
John solo–Hey Day
John Taylor, Actor:
John Taylor, Author
Last but not least…one of my VERY, VERY FAVORITES:
What videos should I have included? What would you include?
On that note, we wish John a very happy birthday!!!
Third post in a single day. You’d think I did this full time….
(let’s just not talk about that, OK? Moving on…)
Today brought wonderful gifts in the way of a tweetstake (I desperately tried to win but alas, I cannot type that fast. I knew the answer and typed that out supa-fast, but then I stumbled over the damn hashtag for #ADITM. *sigh* Oh well. Had to try – congrats to @Barbarella5 for being lightning fast – good for you!!!)…and the second gift? A Katy Kafe. WITH VIDEO.
I’ll let you catch your breath on that one. That’s right, this one had video. This was fabulous because we were able to see John Taylor “in person”! This was also very difficult, because I found myself struggling to remember to take notes. Really Rhonda? I couldn’t watch him and think about what to write down at the same time. (And I wonder why I didn’t win the tweetstake. Gee, I really don’t know….;) )
Personal struggles aside – I took copious notes. No really, I did!! I sat through some of the conversation several times just to make sure I got it all down. I know, I know, it’s a lot to ask of me…but I do it for you. MWAH. (that’s a kiss, all the way from California.) Once again, I give the disclaimer that my note taking skills, stellar as they may be, are not done word-for-word, and if you really want the full experience (and you do, because this one is video, people…), you should join duranduranmusic.com.
The opening convo is that John is Skyping from home in England, and that it’s his turn in the Kafe on his birthday month this year. Shout out to Katy for mentioning Dom, since yes – his birthday is coming up on June 14th, and we DEFINITELY count him as part of the band… even if he’s completely forgotten us on Twitter and Facebook these days. *sigh*
Where was I? Oh yes….John Taylor.
On Mr. Hudson: Turns out Mr. Hudson has a first name and it’s BEN. It’s the little things you know. They’ve done three songs with him and apparently they’re all on a first-name basis with him now. And of course, we are now too because he’s part of the Duran family…until he sends us a comment telling us to stick to Mr. Hudson. 🙂 (hey, it could happen!!) John says that he had no idea what to expect from him – he knew of his work with Kanye, and last year he’d heard ‘Fred Astaire’ from a mix that Mark Ronson had given to them. As originally reported here on Daily Duranie, Mr. Hudson…er…Ben… is from Birmingham and grew up only a few miles from him. John says that they have formed a strong partnership and he’s helping the band to “tidy up” the other songs they’ve worked on. They seem to be at a point in the process where they have a reasonable idea of what they want to include on the album (11 or 12 songs seem to be the goal) and now it’s about making them sound like a cohesive statement with the same sort of energy. John basically said that while they recorded these over the course of 18 months (give or take…) they want it to sound as though they recorded over the course of a month or two. He also said that Ben came to them at a point where they felt like they were running out of gas, and so he came to the project bringing a whole new energy. Whereas the four members all do things and make decisions very deliberately, Ben isn’t self-conscious, and that must have breathed some very needed new-life into the project.
About those “extra” songs: As we all know, once the band has reached the end of the recording – there are songs that make the album and songs that don’t. I myself have wondered from time to time where those songs go, and I’ll bet others have as well. In my head I picture a bank vault with one of those wheels with spokes that operate the door… (in my head I also picture myself being allowed in that vault to listen with glee to my hearts content, but you know…that’s just fantasy.) Katy must have been in my head at some point, because she asks what they do with the extra songs. John is very quick to answer that they’re always asked for three or four other songs – bonus tracks – that end up somewhere. He said something about fan sites and I started to choke on the iced tea I was having, because you know – I happen to know of a fan site that would be thrilled to “unearth” a bonus track for people to have and hold. (More fantasy. I know. I have a very active imagination.)
Covers (and Tribute Albums): Katy asks him about LUXXURY’S Girls on Film cover because it truly highlight’s John’s bass line. He comments that it (the cover) was indeed “salve for recoiled fans”, referring to the fan reaction regarding the debut of Moby’s version of Rio a couple weeks ago. John was very surprised to see the reaction from fans and then went on to describe his own reaction when he first heard the song. He explains that when he heard it, he was overcome with emotion, actually in tears, because to him – it was that good. While he may have had tears in common with many fans after hearing the song, it was most assuredly not for the same reasons. I think this is difficult for John to understand, and yet – probably not. What blows my mind is that here’s John Taylor, one of the writers of the original, telling us – his fans – that he loved Moby’s version (he and Moby are friends), and yet we, fans of this band, STILL cannot get behind that work? However, even John recognizes that Moby’s song triggers very different emotional spaces than Duran Duran’s version…yet for ME…that’s exactly why I like it. I don’t know, maybe I’m the crazy one?? (Don’t answer that.) John continues to talk about the Manimal project (Making Patterns Rhyme), saying that in a lot of ways, it’s good that it’s creating some controversy and getting attention – because these days, it’s very, very difficult to get attention (more on that in a bit!). He finishes by saying what I already believe to be the case: Making Patterns Rhyme is probably not a project for the die hards out there, it’s intended for a more alternative-minded music listener. I agree completely, given the little bit that I know. That said, I’m going to keep promoting it because dang it – I can’t have fans getting lazy and closing their ears to new things!
A couple of speaking engagements John has/will participate in! A few weeks back, John went to speak to a group of local musicians at Death or Glory Records in Redditch (UK). The owner of Death or Glory wanted to keep the purity of the musicians forum he’d organized – meaning it was not publicized to fans beforehand. I have to applaud that choice, because that gave these local musicians the chance to really talk to John as a musician, without people like me around squealing “Oh my God…it’s John Taylor, right in front of me!” You know? The story behind the event is that in some publication, it was announced that Redditch is the “least musical” place in all of England, which is atrocious because Redditch actually claims John Taylor among their own. (That right there seems like enough to me to say the place is among the MOST musical, you know??) The owner of this record shop decided to rally against that label and started organizing these events – forums – for musicians to come together and talk about some of the successes and challenges of their chosen career. For this event, John and the group talked a lot about the differences between trying to break through today verses back in the early days of Duran Duran, and ultimately while everything is different technologically – the crux is still the same. John says that “you’ve got to take what’s in here” (meaning the heart…within the mind and body) and make it into something that speaks to millions. That one action has stayed the same, no matter the time period. One thing that has changed though, is the internet. I know fans (including me!) talk about how wonderful the internet has been for us. It’s opened doors between all of us as fans. We connect. I applaud that. But, as John says, it’s made us lazy. He’s right. We sit at home and just wait for the music to find us. We don’t have to work for it like we once did. He’s right. I don’t have to go searching for news on the band by listening to the radio, scouring the television to find interviews or going down to the local “Wherehouse” records to see if they have any new magazines or music from the band. Now I search online. In a lot of ways, it’s much, much easier…and it’s much more difficult to keep our attention for long. On the other hand, the artist has to work much harder to stand out among the masses, to connect in ways they never thought they needed, and to keep our attention longer than it takes to click to the next website.
Personally I think that’s where the industry really struggles. They have no idea how to hold our attention and they have no idea how to translate “likes” on a FB page or “favorites” on Twitter into dollar signs. In a lot of ways, I think there’s just far too much available. We have to switch on a dime from one thing to the next in order just to keep up. I think that might be some of the reason why the band seems to have retreated a bit from social media – because it’s just very difficult to keep up with all of it and none of them want to be slaves to it all (nor do they feel as though they need that pressure). I can certainly understand that. Just imagine the young artists coming up today….they don’t have the luxury of an established fan base, and in today’s world, that’s how you get them. It’s exhausting.
Additionally, John will be speaking at DHI family day. (Developing Health and Independence) This organization helps people – whether they’re homeless, or have substance abuse issues – they help. John was asked to speak, and he sees his role to deal with the stigma. As John says, he’s a guy who came from a great family, had a wonderful job and still fell into drug and alcohol abuse. If he was able to stand up and ask for help, he wants others to feel like they can do the same. John says that he doesn’t see himself as terribly philanthropic, but that he tries to say yes when he’s asked to give back to the community. (I think he’s a very nice guy. There are a lot of people out there who have just as much to “give” as John might and yet they don’t. Whether he’s shy or not, we’re proud of him!)
Careless Memories Photo Book/Denis O’Regan: John explains that they have a very exacting team working on this book (and they are hoping to have finished copies ready in another month). Nick sees this as a very important project that he’s taken under his wing, and they’re working with John Warwicker (graphic designer who created, among other things, the cover for Astronaut). It sounds like it will be a top notch collectible for the very wealthy amongst us when it’s completed. (still hoping for the “bargain basement but still really cool version for the rest of the fans”…) Katy asked John if he minds looking back on Sing Blue Silver and John said that he “quite enjoys” it now. At one point he was “pathologically afraid of looking back”, but not now. Then he drops a scoop worth tucking in the back our heads for later: He thinks the next thing they’re going to work on is something similar (to the Careless Memories photo book) for the Notorious tour and project. Interesting!!
They wrapped up the Kafe after that. John is planning to stay home with Gela (whom he hasn’t seen much of lately as she’s been promoting her own book, The Glitter Plan…which we reviewed here) and then the following evening he’s going into London for a party with “the guys”.
He waits until nearly ten seconds prior to the Kafe ending to get into “better light”…but when he does? He definitely has not forgotten how to work it! Well done John! Always leave ’em wanting more…
Second “real” blog post in two days. You’d think I was gearing back up for an album or something…
I think most Duranies are aware of the Making Patterns Rhyme tribute album that Manimal records is producing, and if you’re not familiar with the yet-to-be-released full album, surely you’ve heard Moby’s Rio and Belief’s Sound of Thunder. If not – go check them out, the links are there for your convenience!
Yesterday, John Taylor asked DDHQ to ask about your favorite Duran Duran cover song. I almost tweeted back that I was going to sit down with some popcorn and drinks, and let the games begin. I knew that I’d be reading a litany of “You can’t do Duran Duran better than Duran Duran”, but I was curious to see what other answers might come up.
Personally, I haven’t paid a ton of attention to covers over the years. I knew they were out there – but I didn’t really care. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t really feel the need to hear them, either. I was so busy just enjoying Duran Duran that I didn’t think I needed to pay attention. I knew Reel Big Fish had done Hungry Like the Wolf, and I remember Hole’s version on The Chauffeur…and I can’t really forget the medley of DD songs that Rockapella performed (I have it on my iPad somewhere…), but I didn’t take the time to really search or listen beyond that. Somehow, I suspect I’m not alone.
So, when John Taylor asked about our favorite covers yesterday, I really thought about the question, and more importantly, why he might be asking. There were definitely an overwhelming number of those “it’s nothing if it’s not Duran Duran” type-replies, and I suspect that John knew he’d see that. So, why ask? I’m sure he was curious what we have heard. After all, not every single Duran Duran cover has been promoted by the band. (and from the research I’ve done in the past couple of days, I can understand why…) I think asking that sort of question gives him a reasonable gauge of what we’ve exposed ourselves to hearing. I also think he wanted to somehow indicate that while he appreciates loyalty to the band and all – he fully expects that we might occasionally hear, and enjoy a cover of their music…and that it’s OK. Additionally, just talking about covers gets fans thinking about covers, and maybe, just maybe…it gets us listening and exposing our ears to what is out there.
My own response, and theory to what is going on here with the complete dismay, dislike, and venom (I could go on…) for the covers of Rio and Sound of Thunder (not as much so for the LUXXURY version of Girls on Film…) is that quite simply: I don’t think fans are used to hearing them much. We haven’t taken the time to expose ourselves. It takes time to accept that it’s OK that it’s not Simon singing the vocals, John on bass, Nick…Roger…etc, and the only way you grow to accept it is to force yourself to keep listening. Eventually you realize that no, the world does NOT come to an end because someone covered a Duran Duran song. Even better, you start recognizing that yes, there are people out there who have a tremendous gift and can continue to be creative with what is already an amazing song. Then the pendulum starts to swing to the point where you want to see just how far someone can go with the original song. How far can it be taken before it’s not really Rio, or Hungry Like the Wolf or The Chauffeur? Where are the boundaries?? Sure, this might not be the case for everyone, but I really kind of think it’s the case for many. I know because I was there, and I’m betting I’m not alone. This was definitely me several years back. I though I was being the good little fan by saying nothing was as good as the original. I missed out on some really great music in the process.
I made the comment yesterday that part of the problem is that I don’t think fans have been exposed to many covers and that someone…maybe even a fan blog (because I’m a smart ass that way) should start posting some and getting people to listen. I’ll say this much: after you hear some really bad covers, you start listening to the covers that might be way out there but still very creative much, much differently. I can almost promise that.
So each week I’m going to take Wednesdays (since this is what day this is) and post some covers and a short little review of them. It’s going to be YOUR job, as good readers, to listen and post whatever you think. You are probably going to hate most of them at first. I get that. I’ll keep reminding you that they’re not as terrible (most of the time) as you think, and that no – Simon will not hate you for listening to them. That I can pretty much promise. Eventually you might just find something you like, and by that time, hopefully this damn #DD14 album will be READY TO PLAY!!! (that was for you, John Taylor and Co….) What I’m going to try to do is pick a song and then find a few covers of that song to post. I might not ever find them all – in which case if you know of one to share, please do. Send a link, email us…and we’ll post it!
The question is where to begin. So this week let’s try Ordinary World. There are a TON of covers of this song, so I picked my favorites. If you have others that you want me to hear, send ’em!! Link is in the title:artist name. Short review is below each.
So this cover is different. The melody is definitely secondary to the rhythm track – in an attempt to make it danceable, and it has a much more atmospheric, spacey sound in parts. It’s also sped way, way up from the original. That said, it’s completely recognizable…and the lead singer is apparently Robert Pattinson’s (of Twilight fame) older sister. She has a beautiful voice. Funny how I never thought much about females taking on Duran’s tunes before…but as you’re going to see over the next several weeks, MANY of the most beautiful covers out there are done by females!
Very interesting, this Gregorian. (really…I’ve studied real Gregorian chant, and it’s not quite to that point) The music is somewhat subdued, and of course the voices are meant to stand out on their own. For me, this doesn’t really quite do it…but you know, it IS beautiful in it’s own right. I just keep thinking it feels a bit too much like karaoke.
This is my favorite cover of this song (that I’ve found so far). Haunting, emotional…it’s as though all of the sorrow that could be found in this song is packed into her vocals. No guitar, just piano…and it’s stunning in every single way.
Love the strings on this one and the additional synth sounds make it interesting and their own. The song is executed in much of the same style as Duran Duran, but it’s definitely their own spin on it musically with a little more of a rock anthem type of sound to it.
Another female artist. This time, it’s just guitar and vocals. Her vocals are stunning, and the guitar is acoustic – very pretty. My only constructive criticism is that she does very little to make the song her own, and I’d like to hear what she could do to take the song to a different place.
Wow. This is a much harder rock version. They kept the melody, the guitar solo…probably kept most of the synth that we know…and added a whole new element. Truthfully out of the covers I chose to include, this is probably the farthest from the original – but it’s interesting. The hard rock gives the song a great gritty texture to it for those moments where I’m really just majorly pissed off AND sad at the same time!
That’s six different versions of Ordinary World. I know there are a ton more out there that I didn’t even include (I could be here for days…listening and writing away….), but it’s a start. Take a listen. Get your ears used to hearing other people performing Duran’s music. It won’t kill you. In fact, I think it broadens the horizons a bit.