Tag Archives: Mark Ronson

May The Force Be with…Duran Duran?

Several years back, I found an article online that compared the first three Duran Duran albums to the original Star Wars trilogy. It was a brilliant comparison; unfortunately, I never bookmarked the article and have since been unable to track it down. (Note to readers: ping
me on Twitter (@ckshortell) if you happen to find it.)

I think a similar comparison could be made with some of Duran’s post-reunion albums and the newest Star Wars trilogy. Actually, there’s probably a longer comparison that could compare the entire Star Wars canon with all 14 Duran albums and side projects. But for now, let’s stick to a simple, but apt, comparison.


The Force Awakens/All You Need is Now

The latest Star Wars trilogy launched with 2015’s The Force Awakens. Ten years after the end of the financially successful but critically panned prequel trilogy, The Force Awakens, directed
by J.J. Abrams, was actually as much a “soft reboot” of the Star Wars franchise as it was a sequel trilogy. Hugely successful, the movie introduced new characters into the mythology while employing some heavy nostalgia. A bunch of plucky rebels must destroy a big bad planet killing machine! Or, in this instance, a star system killing machine! There were some changes, however. The hero was now a woman, played by the very charismatic Daisy Ridley; the bad guy, Kylo Ren, was still “in training” and not all powerful; and overall, the cast was much more diverse than the original.


Sound familiar?

Think back to nine years ago and All You Need is Now. That album came on the heels of 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre, itself a massacre of circumstance (after Andy’s departure and the shelving of Reportage) and collaboration (with very un-Duranie collaborators like Timbaland joining the team.) (For the record: I mostly like RCM. But for the purposes of this comparison, I’m going with how most of the fanbase reacted to it. Which was badly. Very badly.)

Where did Duran go? To Mark Ronson, as much the “hot” producer as J.J. Abrams was the “hot” director for the Star Wars franchise. And what did Ronson do? Basically “reboot” Duran by helping them craft an album closer to their original, early 80’s sound than anything they had done since. The video about the creation of “Girl Panic” is a microcosm of this approach. “Play the drums like ‘Girls on Film’, Ronson told Roger. And the guitar, asked Dom? “Like Andy played it…on Girls on Film.” And on and on.

But All You Need is Now was more than just a retread of the early material—it genuinely worked, with catchy hooks and classic Duran choruses that had been lacking from many of the previous albums. One review asked, “Where have all these songs been hiding all these years?” Yes, there were clear nods to Rio. But the album also paid homage to other Duran eras. “Safe” channeled the funk from Notorious. The industrial sounding keyboard synth on the title track,
coupled with Dom’s guitars, brought to mind the more rock-oriented 90’s Duran sound, while the chorus was vintage Duran.

Like The Force Awakens, All You Need is Now did add some diversity to the mix. Simon shared the vocals more on AYNIN than on any previous album, with guest appearances by Kelis and Ana Matronic, as well as broadcaster Nina Hossain providing spoken word codas to two songs.

Overall, All You Need is Now succeeded for the same reasons that The Force Awakens did: it created something new, yet familiar, with a broad appeal to both core and new fans alike.

Paper Gods/The Last Jedi

There was a great deal of anticipation following the huge success of The Force Awakens. Specifically, the next movie was set to feature the return of Luke Skywalker, the hero of the original Star Wars trilogy. Mark Hamill reprised the role and was in the closing seconds of The Force Awakens, teasing fans and making the two-year gap between movies seem interminable. The Last Jedi also featured a different director—Rian Johnson—who took over the reins from
J.J. Abrams.

Unlike The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi proved to be a very divisive movie within the Star Wars fanbase. Luke Skywalker’s portrayal as a bitter, older Jedi who intentionally cut himself off from the Force came as a shock to fans, who wanted to see their childhood hero wield his lightsaber and confidently bring the First Order (the bad guys in the movie) to their knees. It didn’t help matters that Mark Hamill was quoted as questioning the script.

The b-plot of the movie—the flight of the Resistance from the First Order—also ends in disaster for our heroes, which didn’t sit well with fans, who thought that much of that plotline was pointless. And, spoiler alert: most of the Resistance dies. In fact, there are so few remaining rebels that they are all able to fit on the Millennium Falcon at the film’s conclusion.

The movie also seemed to gut the new trilogy of any sense of mystery by resolving (or simply negating) far too many plot points than a middle act typically would. Who, exactly, was Supreme Leader Snoke? Apparently, it didn’t matter as he was cut in two by Kylo Ren. Who were Rey’s parents? They were “nobodies” – a major subversion of the “Luke, I am your father” revelation from The Empire Strikes Back.

Meanwhile, on planet earth, Duran Duran followed up the fan friendly All You Need is Now with Paper Gods, an album seemingly as divisive among the fan base as the loathed Red Carpet Massacre. Again, I will freely acknowledge my bias: While I don’t love every single track on Paper Gods, on balance, I think it’s an amazing album, possibly their best since The Wedding Album. As usual, my opinion is likely in the minority among the Duran fan base.

Like The Last Jedi, Paper Gods subverts expectations. The title track is like nothing we’ve really heard from Duran before—it’s an epic opener, a cross between “New Religion” and “The Valley” in sheer scope. And therein lies the problem for some—why would you ever want to channel “The Valley” in any way, shape, or form? (For the record: I love “The Valley”. So I’m fine with it.)

“Last Night in the City” follows, and once again, we’ve shed the 80’s formula from AYNIN. Synths dominate; guitar is largely absent. The band seemed more concerned with a sound that would find chart success in 2015 vs. 1983.

Paper Gods, ultimately, feels like a bunch of different albums lumped onto one playlist. There’s the modern, dance oriented, sequel to Red Carpet Massacre that can be heard on tracks like, “Last Night In the City,” “Danceophobia,” “Face for Today,” and “Change the Skyline.” Then there are darker, more experimental cuts like the title track and “You Kill Me With Silence.” There’s more funk on this album than anything since Notorious, as found on “Butterfly Girl”, “Pressure Off,” “Only in Dreams,” and even “The Universe Alone.” And then there are songs that refuse to fit in any box: the dreamy “What Are the Chances,” in the classic tradition of Duran ballads; the 70’s sounding “Sunset Garage,” which sounds like nothing heard before on any previous Duran album. Even “Face for Today”—which I lumped in with the “modern dance” set of tracks—features as classic a Duran chorus as you will ever hear, that could hav been ripped from 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger sessions.

Paper Gods, like The Last Jedi, dared to be different; it dared to cover new (and old) ground. And both caused their respective fan bases some consternation, as they seemingly failed to live up to the expectations set by the preceding work.

DD15 / Rise of Skywalker

Which brings us to the present. Expectations are high across both the Duran and Star Wars fandoms. In a little over a month, the new Star Wars trilogy concludes with the highly anticipated Rise of Skywalker. The trailer has offered some tantalizing clues, but overall, the plot continues to be shrouded in mystery.

Likewise, the next Duran Duran album is slated for release…possibly in the spring of next year? We all know not to give too much credence to when the band claims its new album will be out. But everything seems lined up for a new album and tour to (finally!) commemorate the 40th anniversary of the band. We’ve gotten a few details on it—Simon claimed recently that it’s an album that will “make you dance” like “Rio”—but we’ve heard similar claims about previous albums that didn’t necessarily turn out true.

What is true is that both the next Star Wars movie and Duran Duran album are highly anticipated by their fans, and many are hoping for change of direction. Will fans be happy with the finished product? Or after so many hears, is it an impossible task that we’ve set up these artists to accomplish?

Stay tuned…and May the (Duran) Force Be With You

The Sun Always Shines On TV

Living a boy’s adventure tale

Any Mark Ronson fans out there? Well, YouTube hears your pleas, and they have answered with news of a Mark Ronson documentary, to be aired (for free!) on YouTube on October 12. Mark (ha!) your calendars and set aside a couple of hours for viewing! Extra special for DD fans, Simon Le Bon was interviewed for the documentary along with a plethora of other celebrities and music artists, such as Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, and Miley Cyrus. Other friends and family are also featured including Boy George, Charlotte Ronson, Josh Home, Lykke Li, and even Sean Lennon, among many others.

Perhaps worthy of note to some, I see that this film was made as a Livewire/Eagle Rock Films production, which is the same production company that did A Diamond in the Mind. Here’s the trailer below!

Now, I wouldn’t be me…or Daily Duranie for that matter…if I didn’t note that despite my watching the trailer twice, I didn’t see or hear Simon. (forgive me if I’m wrong!) He might have been in there and I missed it, but I don’t think so. There were a lot of different voices in the audio overlay, but you’d think I’d be able to pick Simon out, right?? I also didn’t see footage of Mark with the band, which on one hand didn’t surprise me, but on the other – I couldn’t help but be the tiniest bit sad. Yeah, I’m picky and want it all. Am I not a Duran Duran fan?? <insert wink here!>

There was, however, one quick flash of Mark with the platinum blonde hair he sported during the production of All You Need is Now, so I’m obviously hoping for a bit more during the film. I guess we’ll see, because I’ve got it on my calendar for viewing this weekend! Regardless, I think it will be very insightful, inspiring, and worthy of a watch or two!

I Dream Myself Alive

I have one piece of non-Duran news to share. A-ha is coming to the US for just two shows in 2020, on September 25 and 26! Both shows happen to be at the Wiltern theatre in Los Angeles, and they will be playing their album, Hunting High And Low in its entirety. The shows go on sale Friday at 10am.

This is worthy news because I know that there must be many DD fans who, like me, fell in love with A-ha at the very first moment they heard “Take on Me”, or saw the iconic video (which remains one of my most favorite). As I understand it, next year will be their 40th anniversary as well, and they’re celebrating by playing their breakthrough album live and even coming to the states to do it! It is one of my very favorite albums of the 80s, and I’ve never seen A-ha live.

It’s funny because today on Feedback, the music talk show that fellow Duran Duran fan Lori Majewski co-hosts alongside Nik Carter on SiriusXM channel 106, the subject of albums you’d most want to hear played live came up. Hunting High and Low is on that list for me, along with several others, of course!

Train of Thought

As a quick aside – Feedback is a great show. If you haven’t heard it, I strongly recommend it! I can appreciate the different points of view, and Lori does a great job of keeping Nik’s ego in check (as she well should!). It is tough being a female in that world, which is a subject that is near and dear to what Amanda and I have been researching and working on for the past few months. It is alarming to hear that even in 2019, women seem to be far and few in between when it comes to discussions on music. I would swear that the only people that listen or call in seem to be male. Yes, I actually do think that’s a bad thing, for a multitude of reasons (another blog, another day). I listen every day, but I’m on the west coast. Calling in doesn’t work for me, as I hear the show about three hours after the fact. That said, I’m an avid tweeter, even though I’m tweeting after they’ve already gone off the air and I’m listening to a replay! Hoping some of my Duranie friends remember to let them know they’re listening.

Back to A-ha…

Love is Reason

The news of their 2020 tour is also worthy of mention because of the timing. What I mean is that these shows go on sale this Friday – October 11th. They’ll likely sell out completely given that they’re the only US dates and the Wiltern isn’t a huge venue. Yet, the shows are nearly an entire year away. I can remember when we used to buy shows that were just weeks away, and then it grew to be where we’d have to pony up for tickets three months out. Even then, I never minded. Lately, I’ve seen pre-sales announced closer to six months out from show dates, and now? This is nearly 12 months away. An entire year.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think it is bonkers to plan that far in advance. Essentially we’re giving our money to someone else who can essentially earn interest for nearly twelve months before we even see the concert. While there may not be much I can do to stop this ball from continuing to roll downhill, I can say that it makes me think twice before buying tickets. In the case of my very frugal and pragmatic husband, it stops him dead in his tracks, including this time. There’s no good sense of giving someone your money to sit on for that length of time, and in his head – if that’s what it takes to go to shows, then he guesses it’s time to stop giving money to big acts like this and just go to see local bands who haven’t quite made it yet.

Here I stand

Will I die if I don’t see A-ha before they end their career (could have sworn they announced their retirement once….)? No, probably not. I’d love to see them, but I’ve made peace with knowing that much of what I want isn’t what I necessarily need. A-ha is in the “wish” column, rather than the “must” column, right next to Duran Duran. All of that said, these bands, promoters and/or venues could make it a little easier if they didn’t demand our money so far out in advance. Twelve months seems ridiculous, don’t you think? Maybe I’m just old.

Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!

-R

Giorgio Moroder in the Studio!

I’m officially excited.

Granted, I was late in listening, but I took some time to check out Dean Delray’s podcast “Let There Be Talk” this morning.

While I would LOVE to make a general commentary about the podcast in general, I’m going to save that for a later, yet-to-be-determined date. Instead, let’s talk about the final two minutes of the podcast. More specifically, there was news that Giorgio Moroder is coming into the studio to work with Duran Duran for a portion of the next album.

I can’t even begin to explain how thrilled I was to hear this bullet point regarding the new album! Just hearing John speak his name in reference to being in the studio with him nearly blew my mind. I thought for sure this was going to be “just one of those things” that doesn’t end up happening.

So, who is Giorgio Moroder? Known as one of the founders of disco, Moroder is not only a producer, but a songwriter, performer and DJ. While he’s perhaps best known for his work in the disco and electronic dance music genre, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole his career in that way. He has worked with everyone from Donna Summer to Daft Punk, scored films such as Scarface, and written specific tracks like “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun. His career is comprehensive. As I said earlier on Twitter, with all of the seriousness in the world, “Mark Ronson cut his teeth on Moroder’s albums.”

Let’s look at a few songs over the course of his career, just to get a taste!

Disco

First up is Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. If you can’t hear what is to later become new wave music in the first 30 seconds, you should stop the video, go back, and listen again. You’ll hear Nick Rhodes whispering to you.

Okay, maybe not really Nick Rhodes, but the influence is right there…makes my hair stand up on end, and I don’t mean like an astronaut, either.

The 80s

Next is “Call Me” by Blondie. Released in 1980, it was the main song from “American Gigolo”, co-written by Blondie and Giorgio Moroder.

Moroder’s influence touches even the great David Bowie, as evidenced by “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”, 1981. This is just the audio track, but worth the listen for sure.

My daughter would have my head if I didn’t include “Flashdance”. Giorgio is credited as the music writer for the iconic song, lyrics and performance by Irene Cara.

Did you know he wrote “Danger Zone”? I didn’t!

My youngest (a huge Freddie Mercury/Queen fan) would be thrilled to know I’m using one of her favorites in today’s blog because it was co-written by Giorgio Moroder in 1984. While the song is probably on the other side of “different”…it’s also the reason I like it.

The 90s

Moroder has worked with everyone, including Elton John, producing “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” on the 1993 Duets album. Still true to the original written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, it’s amped up for 1993, courtesy of Moroder and Ru Paul, who sings with Elton. The video is cute, too.

And beyond

I know I’ve shown you a lot from earlier in his career, so how about a few more recent offerings? In 2013, he collaborated with Daft Punk, performing a spoken-word monologue “Giorgio by Moroder”, for their album Random Access Memories. I ADORE this piece. The music is perfect, and to hear Giorgio speak of his own history – it’s superb.

In 2015, Giorgio released his own album, Deja Vu, collaborating (such a buzzword of the 2000’s, don’t you think?) with a variety of artists such as Sia, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Charli XCX and others. Here’s the title track with Sia. I chose this one because he’s in the video. Maybe you’ll recognize him.

That is quite a bit of video watching and listening for one day! Maybe not “just a few”, but well worth the time. As you’re listening, the signature “Moroder” sound is there throughout, but each song stands up on its own. Giorgio has evolved over the years without losing the qualities that make his music unique. Duran Duran has done the same, evolving, without reinventing the wheel. It’s exciting to know that these two juggernauts—Duran Duran and Giorgio Moroder—will finally share studio space. I can’t wait to hear the results!

-R

September 2019 Katy Kafe with Roger

There are days, and then there are days. Today is the latter. I’ve spent my morning neck deep in the throes of webhosting madness, and now I am rewarded with a new Katy Kafe!

Roger was still in LA for one more day before traveling home, and found time for a chat with Katy to fill us all in on the DD happenings over the summer.

Mini-Tour

They just finished the mini tour and KAABOO Festival in Del Mar (just north of San Diego). Roger said he loves touring the west, making note of our constant sunny days and the positive energy he felt from all of the audiences. He and Katy also made note of the audience in Tahoe, saying that they were surprised by the amount of people who came out to see the show, saying that it felt more like a festival. They moved Wild Boys to the encore that night and ended up doing four songs for what he thinks may have been the first time.

Roger commented that he was happy to get “Anyone Out There” back out, along with “Astronaut”, and mentioned how lucky they were to do the NASA gig, too. He ended by saying how it “gets to a point in life where you’re really happy to still be in the room”, referring to the hundreds of other bands out there who were just as talented, but for some reason didn’t go the distance.

Above Ground

While in LA, Roger found time to attend a charity show benefitting Above Ground, an organization committed to working with musicians with varying types of mental illness including depression. The show featured many artists, including Billy Idol, whom Roger met that night for the second time.

The first meeting took place many years ago after Billy and his band Generation X played at Barbarella’s in Birmingham. Roger told a story about how he’d gone to see them play (they were his favorite band at the time), and they were booed offstage! During that time in Birmingham, punk was still very much on the scene, and Generation X had begun to slide a bit more mainstream – which did not go over with the crowd. Roger met Billy and had him sign his Generation X album, which remains the only album Roger has ever gotten signed.

When Roger met Billy in Los Angeles, he shared the memory of the show at Barbarella’s, and Billy remembered. I loved the anecdote, simply because it is endearing to hear of my own biggest idol meeting his idol. The only difference is that I’m still shy enough to where if I ran into Roger, I’m not sure what I’d say!

Album update

I know everyone chomps at the bit to hear news of what may be on the horizon. I’m happy to say that Roger was pretty forthcoming! He didn’t even need much prodding, and said that they are pretty well advanced on the album, citing Erol Alkan’s influence as producer, “He has given us a good boot up the backside!” Katy asked if there would be other producers on the album, and Roger said they worked a little with Mark (Ronson), and that there has been talk of Giorgio Moroder…but the bulk of the album would be completed with Erol Alkan.

The greatest news is that they’re hoping to have the album out by SPRING…which is amazing. Roger said that they had really only gotten back into the swing of things this past year, which means they’ve worked at a pretty decent speed.

Katy spoke of how it has been five years in between Paper Gods and this one (assuming it is released in 2020). I took pause at that. Has it really been that long?? I suppose so. I know that Amanda and I have tried to talk about just about anything but the album they’re working on – figuring that it will happen when the band is ready. Meanwhile, I guess we’ve all been busy!

Paper Gods was released in 2015, but as Roger explained – they toured the album extensively for a couple of years. So while it will be five years in between albums, it doesn’t seem like it has been that long to me. I would also say that having the band break up that time with the occasional run of shows has also helped!

The touring question

That brought the discussion around to why they haven’t toured in many of the places fans wanted. **Please note the disclaimer here. Do not shoot the messenger. **

If the band was able to tour so much with Paper Gods, why is it they focused on so few regions of the world?

Roger was very clear, explaining that “in America in particular, people do not forget [them] and show the love.” They are able to fill arenas, no matter how long the span of time has been from show to show. Katy continued, saying that she feels bad because she receives emails from fans wondering why the band doesn’t go other places. She says they don’t understand that while “they, and their friends…and even their friends friends will go see them, that just isn’t enough to fill an arena.”

In order to make touring in many places of the world economically viable, they don’t just need to fill an arena once, either. They need to be able to fill more than one, multiple times. Otherwise, the cost to ship and rent equipment along with transportation, housing, food, etc etc means that essentially, the band would be paying to tour, which wouldn’t work for long.

Vegas Residency Revisited

Katy asked Roger if they’d do a Vegas Residency. In my head, they’ve just done one – having played the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan six times over the past 18 months or so. That seems like enough, doesn’t it? Roger paused, and said that it would have to be something very cool, mentioning the show, Love, the Michael Jackson show, Cirque du Soleil and even Elton John. He mused over how it would be to stay in Vegas for any length of time, suggesting that it is not the same as LA or New York, and he doesn’t know if he’d like that. Katy suggested living in LA and then commuting to Vegas for weekends. While I don’t think a residency is really on their radar, it didn’t sound to me as though Roger was ready to write off the possibility, either. We’ll see!

New dates??

Katy suggested that maybe there might be new dates prior to the release of the album, saying that maybe the East Coast would get some love this time – although they did do the NASA show in Florida. So, my East Coast people – don’t be surprised if the band suddenly pops dates and pre-sales on you before the holidays!! That’s your warning….

Until next time…

-R

Just An Hour To Go

Now the day is over

I think it has taken me a full 36 hours or so to completely reign in my thoughts on the show at the Kennedy Space Center. I don’t think Katy was wrong when she said the set and show would be “out of this world”. The band added “Anyone Out There”, “Astronaut” and even “Walking on the Moon” by The Police to an already fantastic set list that included a lengthy intro to “The Universe Alone”. If the ethereal, delicate beauty of drones hovering overhead didn’t send chills down your spine, then surely combining the choir and orchestra to Duran Duran’s already near-perfect sound gave you goosebumps and made your hair stand up on end. At least they did for me, and I was at home watching a pixelated stream with far-less-than-adequate audio!

That evening began with a series of clicking links that didn’t work for me. I didn’t even think I’d be able to see video, but then Studio Drift streamed their drone performance. Granted, they only showed their pertinent portion of the evening, and after that I was desperate. I’d tune in to one stream only to find it wasn’t working properly, then try another. There might be sound, but no video…or vice-versa. Where could I see more? Thankfully, social media never disappoints! Duranies in the know were pointing everyone else in the proper directions. I was sent a link to another kind soul who decided to live stream the entire gig. I was thrilled, even with her apology that there might only be sound because the view from where she was standing wasn’t that great (her words). I couldn’t have cared less, I was overjoyed to be able to even see a tiny bit of the show – and I had no trouble hearing what the band was playing, even if the quality wasn’t perfect. That certainly didn’t stop me from tweeting in awe over what was happening in Florida.

I tried to phone last night

For me, that was the best part of the evening – even from home. Of course the show was stunning! I loved seeing the overall view of the rockets, the stage, and the crowd, combined with the music I know and love. Simon really made the show special by talking about the astronauts and the space program. The ambience was just about perfect from my seat. What topped it all off, was that even here at home as I sat by myself in a barstool at my kitchen island, I wasn’t alone. My friends and I tweeted back and forth. Amanda and I texted. There was laughter, and yes – even giggly joy. You can’t really beat that! I mean, if I can be here at home, about 5,000 miles from the gig itself, and still feel like I’m amongst friends in the audience, that’s what it’s all about.

I’m still a little stunned, or in awe…or something like that. I’m not one to sit down and watch video after video clip from a show. I have friends who have sent me videos from concerts I’ve attended over the years (and a lot I have not), and while I might watch a clip or two, I don’t spend a lot of time doing it. normally. Since the KSC show on Wednesday, I’ve SCOURED the internet, looking for any and all videos I can find, particularly of The Universe Alone – a song that I have had a love/I’m-really-afraid sort of relationship with since it came out. That changed on Wednesday.

Here’s a link to some amazing footage. I can’t stop watching it. I might need help.

You didn’t answer

I will never again listen to “The Universe Alone” without thinking of those gorgeous drones in the sky. It was like watching the stars, or a sea of fireflies, dancing in the heavens. I loved it, and hearing Simon’s voice – perfect and clear – singing the verses to “The Universe Alone” nearly brought tears to my eyes right along with all the chills I’ve come to appreciate in response to an outstanding performance. I know there’s some outstanding, multi-camera video footage out there, and I know I’m not alone when I cheer loudly in hopes of a video of the full performance to be released!

Seeing the show that night made me all the more excited for what is to come – and I don’t just mean the September shows.

(Although, I would like to reiterate the formal request I made on Twitter that Duran Duran put “Anyone Out There” in the setlist for the September shows and beyond. Pleasethankyougoodbye).

It makes ya kind of wonder when we might hear new music from the band, doesn’t it?

Look out of the window maybe you can call by my name

It does me too….which is why I nearly fell out of my chair when I read a recent article published on Playlist, a magazine website from Mexico. The short piece is in Spanish, which remains the one language I read pretty well outside of English (speaking it is another story. Conjugating verbs on the fly is not one of my gifts…) But even so, I thought I was misreading things, so I sent it through good old google translate. Turns out, I wasn’t.

According to the article, the band already has a song in mind as a lead single. Lead what?!? Here’s the translation for those who want the short “executive” version of the full article: “So far, there is a song that is the main one to be the first single. It’s so different from anything you’ve heard from us before, or really from anyone else. There is a dancing element. The construction, the melodic content, the lyrics, some of the sounds … are very different for us”

I’ll give you a minute to absorb that. Meanwhile, here’s the link, read it yourself:

http://www.playlistmag.mx/2019/07/duran-duran-anuncia-nuevo-album-con.html?m=1

My face in the mirror shows a break in time

Anybody else have the feeling that this band has been working on the album more than they’ve kind of let on??? I honestly thought they must still be at the stage where they’re just jamming in the studio every few weeks, hoping for something to gel.

(ok, I was going to write “months” in that sentence, but that seemed too negative. Typing “weeks” seemed more optimistic and hopeful!)

This kind of talk regarding singles makes me wonder if I’m just going to wake up one morning and the band is going to be like “Surprise, we’ve released our new album and we’re going on tour starting tomorrow!! Pre-sales started at midnight and you’re already too LATE!!”

New album – ok.

Tour – that’s fine….I guess? I mean, it just seems a bit rushed!

Presales starting without notice….while I’m sleeping?? That’s stuff right out of my nightmares. Some might say that this is the obvious next step for a band who likes to give less than 48 hours notice for presales.

A crack in the ocean, which does not align

I also have to wonder if this story about singles is even true. Not that I think Nick told a big fat fib, but that perhaps the magazine misquoted him. I mean, it’s the only place I’ve seen anything mentioned about actually having songs written! Can it really be?

If it’s true, then I’m still thinking about the description. I’m not surprised it sounds nothing like anything they’ve done before. After all – this is not a band that likes to revisit. It’s all new, all the time. I’m still shocked that they think they’ve already got the lead single. I say “already” because in my head – this album process just started! I can’t seem to wrap my brain around anything else.

I think back to pre-Paper Gods. For me, those days were torture, and I wasn’t in the band or even on their team. I was just a bystander. A blogging bystander. Every month felt like another year. (I’m exaggerating here because I have a flair for the dramatic, you see…) I wanted them to hurry, hurry, hurry, and then get back on the road so we could have more fun! This time, I’ve been pretty damn patient, I must say. I was busy. There were boxes being packed, and unpacked. I moved. I raised chickens, built a chicken coop, and apparently became a bit of a farmer. What???

I sound like I’ve retired, which I have not.

I’ve caught your dreaming

There were shows, which honestly – kept me going even during some really dark days. I couldn’t tell you how long the band has actually been working on this album because – news flash – I don’t even know! Interesting. Well-played, Nicholas… and of course the rest of you. You got me this time. I did see comments on Twitter in reaction to another interview posted somewhere, and apparently Nick said they’re shooting for late spring of 2020 for new music to be released. To be completely honest, I discounted that information.

On one hand, it *was* Nick who was giving a target release timeframe. If it had been Roger…I’d have laughed quietly and said, “add on another 12-18 months on that!” Sorry Roger…I kid, I kid!!! In all seriousness though, I read the tweets about it and thought, “Yeah, we’ll see. Late spring of next year? Yeah…..I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Not that I don’t trust this band. I do. I believe they will eventually release new music. I just suspect I’ve got all kinds of time to wait and be patient, maybe build an animal paddock, and begin raising goats and sheep along with my chickens.

I really do sound like I’m a farmer.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-R

March 2019 Katy Kafe with Simon

Hi everyone! Happy Tuesday! Just before going to bed last night, I went through the Daily Duranie inbox. It isn’t often that we get extremely pointed reminders from anonymous people, but last night, we did. To be fair, I was happy to have the reminder! I FORGOT THE KAFE! Oops!

Yesterday was crazy, involving now 4-week old chickens figuring out how to fly up and over their 3.5-foot high fencing. Essentially, they were then having free reign of the room where they are currently located. They’re not old enough to be outside of their brooder (think baby crib for chickens!) just yet. I’ll bet none of you can imagine my reaction when opening the door to find a REAL Late Bar party going on amongst the chickies.

My life. I have to laugh. Why would I expect anything less than “baby” chicks escaping??

Anyway, I’m back on my game, the chicks are safely in their appropriate brooder, and I’ve listened to the Kafe! Below are the just the highlights! If you want to listen to the entire Kafe (and you should!) we at Daily Duranie highly recommend getting your own DuranDuranMusic.com membership!

Simon is sick with a cold right now – mentioning that he is bringing a Virus to the Kafe. As am I (Bringing Virus, that is.)

At some point, he starts singing some crazy little tune I don’t think I’ve heard before. That’s only after going after his cat – who is trying to get into a room that is off limits.

Sounds like my house on any given day! First it was dogs and cats, now it’s poultry. I don’t know people…maybe I should start singing crazy obscurities too. Moving on.

Studio time with Mark

Thrilled that Katy asked about the band being in the studio with Mark back at the end of February! After the Vegas shows, and just after Mark won an Oscar, they met in a Los Angeles studio. They did some writing with not only Mark Ronson, but also Lykke Li and Graham Coxon.

It was the first meeting of Graham and Mark, as the band introduced them that day. According to Simon, they did a lot of work – and now it is about seeing how much of it they will actually use. It did not sound as though Mark is acting as the only producer, or even as a producer at all, but rather more of a collaborative writer. although Simon did not go into a ton of detail. As Simon explained, while it sounded great, it is very difficult to discuss the songs because so much changes over the process of writing, recording, etc.

It would be a good reminder here that thousands of hours can go into recording for an album, and only a small percentage may get used. Having your heart set on Mark, or anyone for that matter, being the producer or working with the band on what ends up as the finished product is setting yourself up for certain disappointment. Keeping an open mind is prudent!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So, anyone hear that Simon and John have the distinct honor of inducting Roxy Music into the Hall of Fame? The ceremony, which is to take place March 29th at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, should be interesting this year. Roxy Music, Janet Jackson, The Cure, and even Def Leppard (not to play favorites but those are the few I remember off the top of my head) are being inducted this year. I’m looking forward to watching the ceremony at some point.

Simon says he is flattered and very honored to be inducting Roxy Music, as they are crucial to Duran Duran. He feels as though it is a huge responsibility to make sure they are given the credit that is due. He and John will deliver a speech (usually these are incredibly impassioned, and honestly – they are what make the ceremony special, in my opinion). Simon says that John is mostly working on it because he is a massive fan. He has never been to an induction ceremony before, so I’m curious to hear what he thinks of it all after he’s gone.

February Mini Tour

Loved hearing Simon talk about the mini-tour. He commented that the show in Miami was just “okay”. They hadn’t played a 90-minute show in about 18 months (since Japan). I know we had discussions about the length of their set several times during the mini-tour. There were critics who mentioned it as well – to which I responded in a blog right here. Listen, I’m a fan – I would love a four hour long set complete with an intermission! However, this band is made up of humans, not machines. I don’t know how people like Elton John or Paul McCartney do a 3 hour show every night. Maybe they rehearsed for months beforehand, conditioning themselves?

I just know that when Simon feels like he’s got to comment on a Kafe that it has been forever since they played a 90-minute show that maybe, just MAYBE, we need to cut them a little slack. He said that Miami wasn’t that great – I believe he used the word, “okay”, but that they got tighter in Cayman and by the time they hit NOLA they were feeling good and the show felt smooth.

I can understand that, too. Duran Duran doesn’t rehearse a ton. Now, we can certainly have a discussion about whether or not that should be happening more regularly; however, the bottom line is that this isn’t a band that rehearses for months or weeks on end before a tour begins. As they perform shows, they play tighter, and smoother. That’s the way this band rolls!

The set

As we know, they added in a few extras to the set this time around. Seventh Stranger, New Religion, Tempted, and even Friends of Mine. For long-time fans such as myself – this was a dream come true. Simon commented that they like to change things up. “We have quite a huge catalog to choose from, and it would be a real waste to stick to the same 18-20 songs.”

Yes, yes it would.

What I found particularly interesting here though was that Simon said they tried to make Seventh Stranger sound more modern. This was after saying that if they’d written that song today, they would have done it very differently. I don’t know if he felt the song was incredibly dated as is written – but let’s be fair to ourselves a bit here. It was released in 1983, and one can assume it was written at least several months (if not a year or more) prior. Simon followed up by saying they performed it by using the musical technology available today as opposed to the way it was in 1980-something.

A word or two for Simon

Nick tried to get Simon to lip-sync to the video on the screen, and I got the feeling that Simon wasn’t sure if that worked out right. Let me clear that air for him by speaking to Simon directly here. IT WAS FANTASTIC. I can imagine performing it that way, and trying to stay conscious of what was happening on screen might have felt weird, but the full effect of seeing you at 20-something on the larger screen and then right in front of me singing in person blew me away. I’m not a very emotional person (I cry in private thankyouverymuch), but that performance took everything out of me. It was an incredible five minutes that I will never forget. I am not the only one, either. The audience was filled with people sobbing just like me.

That doesn’t happen without a lot of magic, my friend. And that’s what that song and performance(s) were like. Magical. Don’t downplay it, and take my word for it. I can be incredibly hard on this band, but those performances contained some of the moments my heart was craving most. I feel lucky to have been there.

And if that weren’t enough….they announced they’d be playing at Tinderbox in Denmark this year, and Katy says “there may be more this summer”. Stay tuned….

Record Store Day 2019

It is exciting to hear that As the Lights Go Down will be available on pink and blue vinyl as Duran Duran’s RSD offering this year. Humorously though, Simon says he doesn’t remember even recording it. Not a single thing.

I’m sure there’s a joke in here about drugs in the 80s and 90s, or age….but I’m gonna just let it slide for now. (after all, I can remember the words to every Duran Duran song, but can’t remember where I put the TV remote. It was in the cupboard this morning. So….)

He does say though that when he gets his copy, he’ll “give it a go”.

Well, alright then. Just maybe then I will, too.

Simon will be back during the summer, and I can hardly wait to hear what obscurity he’ll sing.

As for me, I’m off to check on some very loud squawking I hear. I can only imagine what I’ll find this time.

-R

John on Jonesy’s JukeBox

Did you know that John Taylor was recently on Jonesy’s Jukebox? This, of course, is the radio show hosted by former Sex Pistols’ guitarist, Steve Jones. If you know your Duran history, you also are familiar with the fact that Steve and John played in Neurotic Outsiders together in the 1990s, one of John’s side projects. Every time I listen or watch the two of them interact, their friendship and affection for each other is obvious. This most recent video is a good example.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t comment on a few parts of the video. First, I love how excited John clearly is to go to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in order to induct Roxy Music with Simon at the end of the month. The love he has for that band is obvious and I so appreciate the fact that John, even with all of his fame and legions of fans, is still a fan himself.

Then, I love that Steve Jones is trying to raise money for St. Jude’s for children with cancer. As John stated, it is a “no brainer” and a great cause. My mother is a breast cancer survivor so this is a cause that definitely speaks to me.

If all this wasn’t enough, John did give a brief update on the studio work the band has been doing. He spoke about Mark Ronson. The idea of Mark being in the studio with the band is one that excites quite a few Duranies. John did not specify his exact role and how much he will be doing with the band. I, for one, am happy that he is there and I will take however much he actually does. I refuse to get my hopes up too much as I am well-aware that Mark is highly in demand and that lots can change between now and a finished product. That said, the idea still makes me smile.

On that note, what did the rest of you think? Did you enjoy John’s appearance? What caught your attention?

-A

Don’t You Worry

‘Fore you know it

Happy Thursday everyone! We’ve almost made it through the week! Just last Thursday at this time, I was waiting for my ticket counter to open so that I could get my boarding pass for Vegas. Time flies and all that…

This week has flown by at such a rate that I have to keep reminding myself what day it is! I kind of like it that way. I’m busy, and as it turns out….so is Duran Duran.

Just believing

Yesterday was apparently a very productive day for our guys as they met with Mark Ronson(you know who this is)…and Lykke Li (she is someone John has mentioned several times – check her out!)..AND Graham Coxon (Blur)…in a studio. DDHQ tweeted a photo or two using the #DD15 hashtag, and Mark Ronson mentioned it as well.

What could it all mean???

Many Duranies are ready to throw parties, assuming this must mean Mark is producing the next album. Others are retweeting the photos citing that DDHQ *said* it was for the next album, so that must be the case. It is written in stone now, because DDHQ tweeted it.

I know a similar saying that goes a little like this, “I read it on the internet, so it MUST be true.

Trusting instinct

I’m not saying DDHQ is telling fibs, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that they’re doing their job. PR is a thing. Keeping Duran Duran in the news, being talked about, having photos shared, etc….is important. However, we don’t even know if any of this is going to be an actual album. The band hasn’t even committed to labeling what they’re working on beyond saying they’re working on new music. I don’t think that’s a horrible thing, either.

I like the idea of the creativity happening organically rather than them thinking, “Ok, we have to hurry up and write this album. Let’s do it. Now!” I would imagine it might feel a lot less daunting and, in some way, less restrictive, to say they’re working on new music than it is for them to say they’re working on creating a new album….to release in 2020 in culmination for their 40th anniversary. Get it?

If that doesn’t sit well with you, I’ll give an anecdote. Several years back, Amanda and I wrote a manuscript. We submitted it to a publisher who showed interest and wanted us to rewrite it and frame it a different way. We had a deadline, and so Amanda and I went to work. While the writing wasn’t horribly difficult, much of it felt like writing an extended college essay rather than this organic, holistic creation. In the end, the publisher didn’t take the book. That was a huge blow. I wish we’d have just worked the way we always did – letting the manuscript take US on a journey rather than the other way around. I would imagine that in the most basic of ways, creating an album is the same.

Lots of time left

While sure, DDHQ is using the #DD15 hashtag, that doesn’t really mean a single thing in this moment other than keeping all of these ongoing news bytes grouped together. Yes, they’re speaking with people. Yes, they’ve been in a studio in London, and they’ve met with Mark Ronson. They’ve also worked with Errol Alkan and plan to go back into their studio in London in a few weeks. This is a process. Aside from having hope to have new music in 2020, there are no lines in the sand, no plans set in stone.

Once upon a time, I would speculate. I’d make assumptions based on the news I would hear. And then there was that time that they met with Mark Ronson and we all though for sure they were going to have him produce their next album…but he didn’t. He worked a little bit on one or two songs. Next was that time that they had someone with the initials B.F. work on a song, and then due to obligations to his own label contract, he couldn’t appear…so someone else did.

Should we be excited by what we hear or see from DDHQ about studio happenings? Absolutely. If nothing else, be curious! That’s the point. Check out Blur if you don’t know them. Listen to Lykke Li if you’ve never given her a chance! By all means, download Wonderful, Wonderful by The Killers and listen to “The Man” on repeat because that was produced by Errol Alkan. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that what they’re doing right now, or yesterday, or even tomorrow, is going to have anything to do with whatever music eventually ends up in your ears. Keep an open mind rather than expect based on assumption.

Left to move up

I used to be one of those people who wanted to know the news and be the one to break it before anyone else. No matter how quickly I’d hear of something, someone else knew it first, and I’d get disheartened very quickly. It would boggle my mind how people found out about things so fast. Other times, I’d hear something that I’d feel very confident was truth, only to find out later that the band had changed their minds. There was always someone who knew first, and had better info. Nowadays, I don’t care too much about being first.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like talking to people who know what is going on with the band and hearing about their progress, but I don’t need to be the one to share it. I know what I know, and really – that counts for nothing at the end of it all. This is a process, and much of what we’re learning right now will indeed change by the time music is released.

Once again, I find myself saying “Trust the Process”…along with “sit back and enjoy the ride.” This is going to be good!

-R


Classic Pop Special Edition: The Mark of Greatness and Swimming Against…

Today marks the second to last blog about the Classic Pop magazine special edition for Duran Duran’s 40th Anniversary.  In this blog, I’ll cover two articles:  The Mark of Greatness and Swimming Against the Tide.  The first one focuses on the 2010s including the band’s work with Mark Ronson while the second one is all about Stephen Duffy, the guy who could have been lead singer.

The Mark of Greatness:

Right away, this article made me think.  The author describes how All You Need Is Now made a lot of fans happy in 2011 bu that Paper Gods helped to “turn the heads of those youngsters.”  Interesting.  How do they know that?  What evidence will be shared, I wondered.  Of course, I love Paper Gods but…I am not sure that I see a lot of kids or younger adults into it.

The article describes the making of AYNIN with the band meeting with Mark ahead of time to discuss the vision for the project.  This got me wondering.  Is that not the case of the rest of the albums?  I have always heard/read about how the band goes into the studio and jams until something rises to the surface.  That system seems the opposite of having a vision.  Which is better?  I, for one, loved how AYNIN turned out so maybe planning is?

According to the article, that vision went so far with All You Need Is Now that Ronson had created rules that were stuck to the walls of the studio in order for the band to follow them.  I had never heard that before but I have to admit that the image makes me smile.  No matter how experienced, people need reminders.  Mark claimed that he was a “mouthpiece for 10 million Duran Duran fans.”  He definitely was for me, which I will always be grateful!

Of course, the rest of the album discussion surrounding AYNIN included a song by song description with all of the various contributions from Kelis to Nina Hossain and more.  I will tell you this much.  Reading about All You Need Is Now definitely made me want to put that album on and listen to it.  I remembered how amazing an album it really is (at least in my opinion!).

The article does touch on promotional activities including the band’s appearance for One Night Only in the UK to Unstaged, a concert film produced by David Lynch.  It does mention about how the tour stopped in the summer of 2011 due to Simon’s vocal loss but then matter-of-factly states that the tour resumed in November (I think actually was October) like it was no big deal.  Maybe, in hindsight, it seems like no big deal but it was huge to those of us who lived through that time.  I know that I was not the only one worried that Simon had lost his voice for good and that Duran would be done.

From there, the article goes into the making of Paper Gods.  That said, the vast majority of this piece surrounded AYNIN.  Is Paper Gods too soon?  Historians might say so but music journalists?  Not sure on that one.  Likewise, I’m not sure that the article proved that millennials really bought into Paper Gods.  Some did, for sure.  Many?  I don’t know.

Swimming Against the Tide…:

This article did what I expected it to do.  It gave a little background about Stephen Duffy then dived into information about the Devils before describing some of his various projects over the years.  I, for one, haven’t listened to a lot of his work.  How about the rest of you? Have you listened to his stuff?  What do you think of it?

In the article, he makes reference to the 40th anniversary.  I wonder if he and other former members would be included.  Now, Stephen Duffy is not very controversial but what about the ones that are?  Then, I wonder about how they would be included or should be.  It will be interesting to watch.

-A

Classic Pop Special Edition: Five Decades and Boys on Film

This week’s edition of covering the Classic Pop magazine’s Special Edition for Duran’s 40th anniversary features two articles:  Five Decades of Duran Duran and Boys on Film.  The first article focuses on an interview with John Taylor and the second talks about the band’s videos.  Two articles I’m very excited to read and to write about!

Five Decades of Duran Duran:

This article appears to be a repeat from a 2012 interview with John Taylor that coincided with the release of his autobiography.  Despite the fact that it is not new, I’m still excited to read it and see how John interpreted Duran’s career.

This article is broken up into decades starting with the 1970s.  This part included how the band formed and their influences.  Frankly, this history lesson was one that I feel like I have read a bunch of times.  That said, while I feel like I know the history of Duran and could tell it in my sleep, I always appreciate it as it is important to know it.  One part that is interesting is how the article includes a little timeline with some big moments.  In the case of the 1970s and early 1980s, it had the forming of the band, signing with EMI and releasing the first single, Planet Earth.  The history teacher in me approves.

The part on the 1980s was exactly what I thought it would be.  It covered each of the albums from the debut self-titled album, Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Notorious and Big Thing.  On top of that, the side projects of Arcadia and Power Station, and the departure of Roger and Andy were covered.  Their Live Aid performance was also mentioned.  Much like the part about the forming of the band, I didn’t learn anything new.  That said, the timeline focused on the release of the first album, the Girls on Film video, the departure of Roger and Andy, the Notorious single and the Big Thing release.  I think some of those choices were interesting.  For example, I don’t know that I would have picked Big Thing to cover in that timeline.

The 1990s consisted of just a few short paragraphs, which included information on Ordinary World’s success, the poor performance of the album of covers, Thank You, and John’s decision to leave the band.  I’m fascinated that this section was so short.  Clearly, the author did not feel like the 1990s was worth much time and focus.  It isn’t that I disagree but I am surprised by that.  The timeline included the rise of grunge (weird), Ordinary World’s release, Thank You’s release, John’s departure and the parting from EMI.  This timeline almost completely matched the paragraphs about the same time period.

The 2000s part was definitely the most interesting to me.  It went over the reunion, Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need Is Now.  Out of all of that, I zeroed in on the transition from Red Carpet Massacre to AYNIN.  In the article, John is quoted as saying, “We’d disconnected with the vibe” with RCM but that it helped to create the perfect timing for Mark Ronson.  John continued by claiming that the band did not have a lot of trust with each other during Astronaut and weren’t always open-minded.  He stated, “All You Need Is Now is a total Duran Duran album, much more so than Astronaut.  But we didn’t have Mark then.  We needed a producer…who totally understood the Duran Duran DNA.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Boys on Film:

This focus of the article, Boys on Film, is exactly what you think it would be, which is about the band’s videos.  The feature gave credit to their video directors, including Russell Mucahy and Godley and Creme.  Like much of Duran’s history, it starts out discussing the video of Planet Earth to Girls on Film to the Sri Lankan videos especially Hungry Like the Wolf.

What is interesting to me is the discussion surrounding Girls on Film.  While we know why the band had a video like this and how it was received, I hadn’t read much criticism of the video from the band before.  In this article, Godley feels like the band wanted it more arty with style and fashion.  Similarly Simon feels like the video overshadowed the song’s message about the mistreatment of fashion models.

I also appreciated the discussion of the Rio video.  While the article talked about the suits and image of the yacht, the fact that the author included this quote from Nick makes me happy, “For me, the thing that stands out in the Rio video…is the humour in it…”  He continues to say, “A lot of the videos I liked best really had great humour in them.”  I totally agree!

The article wraps up with a discussion of the Wild Boys video with only inserts about A View to a Kill and Girl Panic.  Obviously, the author did not think the rest of the videos mattered that much.  Uh.  I don’t think I agree with that decision.  If I had written the article, I might pick a few different videos as examples of the types of videos Duran has done.  On that note, next week I’ll cover “The Mark of Greatness” about Mark Ronson and the 2010s as well as an article about Stephen Duffy.  Should be interesting!

-A