Yesterday’s winner and favorite lyric of Ordinary World: “Still I can’t escape the ghost of you.”
Which song has BETTER LYRICS: Medazzaland or Big Bang Generation?
Yesterday’s winner and favorite lyric of Ordinary World: “Still I can’t escape the ghost of you.”
Which song has BETTER LYRICS: Medazzaland or Big Bang Generation?
It is hard for me to imagine that Medazzaland has been a part of my life for twenty years. Coincidentally, twenty years ago last month, my husband and I moved back to California after living in Illinois for two and a half years.
We made the move not long after we were married in 1995, due to a job offer for my husband. When Walt’s company decided to sell his division, we moved back to California, now as a family of three. We’d been back here and living out of boxes for a few weeks when Medazzaland was released, and I came out of my moving and motherhood fog just long enough to drive to Wherehouse Music to get a copy. I remember unwrapping the CD and putting it in the car stereo. Walt wanted to scan through each song rather than hearing them play, which made the experience less-than-optimal for me, but I was so shocked after the first couple of songs, I didn’t know what to think.
I suppose I didn’t know what to expect going in. I knew it would be different, as they all are from one another, and I hadn’t been keeping up with the band in the same way I might now, so I was probably even more shocked. I probably was hoping for something that sounded closer to any one of the first three albums, which I admit severely undercuts the creativity of this band, but at the time, I didn’t think about any of that. I just knew what I expected to hear when I said “Duran Duran”.
I was looking for anything that made me feel like the old me. I was a new mom, dealing with a baby and postpartum depression, living with my in laws while we waited for our house to sell in Illinois so that we could buy one here. So just imagine someone trying to get a firm grip on some semblance or reminder of who they were – maybe hoping for a bit of Rio and instead – you’ve got Nick speaking the words to “Medazzaland”.
It was a bit of a shock, to say the least.
Sure, I took a deep breath when I heard “Big Bang Generation”. It’s still one of my favorites off of the album, and I won’t lie – those bright, stacked harmonies and melodious chords were exactly what I thought should be on the album. “Electric Barbarella” felt along the same lines. I started feeling better about the album, and then “Silva Halo” happened. The tempo alone made me uncomfortable. I didn’t declare it as genius, I’ll tell you that. I looked at Walt, he looked at me, and I was speechless. I felt completely left behind. I didn’t understand how the same band who wrote (yes) “Hungry Like the Wolf”, could write something like “Silva Halo” and believe it was good enough to put on an album. (How’s that for some Monday morning truth??)
That’s just the point though, isn’t it? This was not the same band. The band we have right now isn’t the same band who wrote Rio, either. It wasn’t as though they had Roger, Andy or even much of John in the studio writing and recording Medazzaland. This was a Duran Duran of (mainly) two original members, along with Warren – who may be a fabulously innovative guitar player in his own right, but he is also incredibly different from the original member. Of course they are going to create very different music, although I didn’t acknowledge that at the time. My problem was that I didn’t like a lot of it, which blew me away.
Yep, I could pretend that I was one of those enlightened fans who just “got” everything they did. I could say that I loved the way the band reinvented itself, and how they embraced innovation and experimental music. I’d certainly sound cooler if I did. But I didn’t. I listened to Medazzaland in its entirety exactly ONE time before I packed it away, never to get it out again until the reunion
No, that didn’t make me a good fan. Just the opposite, really, and I have to own that. I assumed that because I didn’t like that album on the first listen, that I had somehow grown out of being a Duran Duran fan. That was a hard, sad lesson for me. I saw my fandom, although I didn’t have a name for it at the time, as the one lifeline I really had back to a time before my life became a whirlwind of baby clothes, bottles and diapers. Once that was gone, I wasn’t really sure what I had left. I’d love to say I had other stuff going on for me at the time, but I really didn’t. I had a baby, a husband, and a life I really didn’t recognize. It was a very weird time. While it really had nothing to do with Duran Duran, in some ways now looking back, I can see that my initial reaction to that album had everything to do with me and what I was going through on my own. It’s kind of amazing to consider just how much life experiences shape our listening.
I don’t think I gave that album a fair shot until recently. I can’t pinpoint the year, exactly – but it was after I started writing this blog. I finally pulled out the original CD and played it again. It wasn’t nearly as strange-sounding as I remembered. I suppose I hear it with very different ears now. There’s still a fair amount of discomfort with songs like “Silva Halo”, “Buried in the Sand”, and even “Undergoing Treatment”. I hear a lot of sadness and pain in Simon’s singing. I also hear the ingenuity and experimentation loved by Nick and Warren. As Simon said, it was a difficult time for the band. It is clear, as I listen to the album again, that while the three may have been in the same physical space while recording – the disconnection is evident. Nathan Stack surmised that Medazzaland “…is about humans trying to understand and connect with one another — sometimes tenuously succeeding, other times failing.” (www.duranduran.com Medazzaland October 2017) His words read prophetic, if not for being twenty years post release.
In hindsight, I can say that it oddly represents a very difficult time in my life, too. I felt so disconnected to the world, you’d think that this album would have been my lifeline, and yet it just wasn’t. Simon says the album is like “Marmite”, you either love it or hate it. I just don’t think I was ready to hear the stories that this album was trying to share at the time.
I think that might be the silver lining. The music doesn’t cease to exist after a couple of decades. The songs are still there, ready to sing their tale and share their messages whenever we are ready to hear them with fresh ears.
On another note, I’ve really been back in California twenty years now…and more importantly…my daughter is about to turn 21 in a few months??
I apologize for the lack of blog yesterday. Yesterday was pretty crazy as I had to drive my niece to the airport for her to fly home for her fall break. What I expected to take five or six hours ended up being more like nine due to bad storms, slow driving and her delayed flight. By the time I got home, I was beat and the last thing I wanted to do was to do a crappy blog post.
The plan for today was to discuss my top 10 joyful fandom moments, but that is when I assumed that I would be able to blog about Medazzaland yesterday. No worries, I figured. It just means that I have an additional week to create my list as do all of you.
Yesterday, Duran Duran and their fandom celebrated the 20th anniversary of Medazzaland, the band’s ninth studio album. Initially, I was not sure how to focus this blog as I could focus on recent discussions surrounding the album or my relationship to the album. Then, I figured I would do a little bit of everything!
This blog has done much for me (and Rhonda). While it has provided me with the opportunity to write about Duran and being a Duran fan, it has helped me see the fan community in a different way as I can see patterns that I couldn’t before. When this album comes up in any sort of conversation within the fan community, I see two very opposite reactions. On one side of the fan community is the set of people is who don’t own the album and aren’t terribly excited by what they heard. Those fans tend to prefer and focus on the early 80s and that original Duran sound. Some might think the only real Duran is the one with Fab Five. The level of experimentation and artistry doesn’t intrigue them. On the other side are the fans who really love the album. That camp tends to believe that serious music fans would love this album.
There is a subtle undercurrent that exists in both camps. The anti-Medazzaland fans, it sometimes seems to me, feel that the real Duran is that early 80s sound. On the other end, the lovers of Medazzaland seem to present the idea that those who don’t love the album aren’t serious music fans. Both sides can bother me. On one hand, the classic Duran fans should give it a try. They might find out that there is a lot of great tracks on the album. On the other hand, people can be serious music and Duran fans and just not love everything about the album.
If you have not had the chance to go over to the band’s official website to read the review about the press release you should. Go here now. Not only is Nathan’s review of the album beautifully written but it provides lots of great reasons to give the album another try or another listen.
Of course, after Nathan’s review is an interview of sorts with the band discussing their thoughts about the album. Again, I recommend reading that. One line in that interview that has drawn the most attention is Simon’s statement that the song, “Who Do You Think You Are” was written about his relationship with Warren. Some fans have criticized Simon, stating that if he felt so negatively about Warren he should not have continued to work with him for another 3 years. I don’t necessarily think that is fair. First of all, I have to work with people I don’t like. It happens. Second, maybe Simon thought that it was best for the band to continue to work together even if he wasn’t particularly happy with all members. Overall, I am just not sure that we can judge based on this one sentence. We really have no idea what was done or said behind the scenes. I cannot judge. That said, I will acknowledge that I’m not a big fan of Warren. Maybe, I would feel differently if I was.
I am definitely not in the Duran camp that says the only real Duran is that of Simon, John, Nick, Andy and Roger. I think the band has created a lot of amazing music after 1984. There are a number of tracks on this album that I really like, including Out of my Mind and Big Bang Generation. Additionally, there are other songs that I admire in terms of musical quality even if I don’t turn them on very often, including Midnight Sun and So Long Suicide. Yet, as a whole, this album never captured my attention. I don’t love it. Now, in fairness, I think there are two big reasons for this. First, this is the first album without John. He left during this album and I’m a big John fan. I miss his presence on the album. Second, it has a lot to do with where I was in my life when the album came out. In the fall of 1997, I was in the process of moving to Madison. That doesn’t sound like a big deal but I moved about 8 hours away from my parents to a city where I knew no one and didn’t have a job. It was pretty scary and lonely.
Simon said, “This was one of the most difficult albums for me, and the band wasn’t in a great place, nor was I,” in that interview. I feel the exact same way when I look back to that time period. In my opinion, it matters when an album comes into your life in terms of your ability to bond with it. Perhaps, now, I should give it another try. What about the rest of you? What are your thoughts about Medazzaland?
In 2017, websites are commonplace. Most of us are on the web and surf our way through hundreds of sites each day, even if we’re not thinking about it. It would be unthinkable to run a company and not have a web presence. Sites act as advertising, storefronts, social gathering spots, newspapers, informational brochures, and even corner speakers. Duran Duran has operated their website for years now. Amanda and I have come to rely on it for a variety of purposes. We are typically able to find what we need, and it’s always up and running.
There was a period of time back in the late 90s when this wasn’t exactly the case. First, I’ll set the scene: it’s 1999. Medazzaland had been released in 1997, the band was touring and playing smaller clubs on the Let It Flow tour. Pop Trash wasn’t released until 2000. Earlier in August, Duran Duran had signed a 3-album deal with Hollywood Records. John Taylor was no longer with the band, instead playing dates in small clubs like the Viper Room in Hollywood, California with Terroristen. Sugartown was being released and John had been doing the typical press tour junket to promote the film. During the 90s, there were times when the band were even self-managed, as Wendy Laister and Magus Entertainment did not come aboard until 2001. Before anyone asks, yes – Katy Krassner was working with the band by this time. I don’t know if she was directly involved with their website in the same sense as she is now. Very different days.
Months might go by without a single update made to the band’s site, even if there was a new album coming out, or upcoming tour dates—news items that would have definitely been of interest to fans, and might even help the band if they were announced. It became something of a side joke to long time fans, and not a “ha ha” funny joke, but one of those snide comments you might make to one another in jest. During this specific period, possibly while the band was self-managed, between labels (until August when they signed with Hollywood Records), it had been several months since the website had been touched at all. Security for the site was lax, to say the least. Picture the place as a ghost town with a message board of fans continually writing posts asking why the site wasn’t being updated, and you might have a fairly accurate scene. Despite the outcry from some fans even asking if they could help out and update the site themselves, there seemed to be some sort of gaping hole between the band and fans, until one fateful day in September of 1999 when one fan—Redsexy on dd.com—hacked the website herself and updated it.
Had it not been for her, I’m not sure how long it might have been before the website would have been updated. Self-managing isn’t an easy thing. Just imagine – on top of writing the music, you’re managing everything else. Promotion, image, contracts, touring, people who work for you, all of the large and small details. All of it.
Today’s websites aren’t so horrible. If you use something like WordPress (as I do), it’s fairly simple – but there is still a lot I don’t know how to do, and there’s not much time for me to learn. Imagine Simon, Nick, or Warren trying to wrangle a website back in the 90s, without the ease of WordPress or other site management companies, much less having the time to sit down and update the news or tour dates! Impossible.
So on this date in 1999, Redsexy took matters into her own hands, and we thank her for it. I’m not sure how the band felt, but I admired your spirit.
On this date in 1997, Duran Duran began filming a video for a little song called “Out of My Mind”. They had traveled to Prague, and were filming at a castle (Krumlov Castle)…as one does, or at least did! Right?
Here’s a little more “truth” to add to the story. This is the ONE video from Duran Duran that I genuinely do not know very well. I didn’t even know it existed until a good many years after it was filmed. Out of My Mind is off of Medazzaland, an album that came out just as I was learning how to be a mom. I had no time to pay attention back then, and it wasn’t until much later that I really spent time listening to and appreciating Medazzaland.
I will go so far as to say that I didn’t even realize that Out of My Mind had been a single, or included on the soundtrack for The Saint until far later, much less know the video. (I will accept my award for “biggest loser fan” at any time now) My only reason for sharing this extra info here is simply to show that all of us have our times when Duran Duran just isn’t the highest priority. At this point in 1997, I was struggling just to keep my head above water. I had a newborn, I didn’t know what I was doing, and to be blunt – I felt like I was losing MY mind. So, there you have it!
So, before posting I watched the video again. I think part of the reason I feel so unfamiliar with the video is because, in short – the video is downright creepy in parts. Simon wears facial prosthetics so that he appears to age, Nick is, well…Nick…(that means delightfully wicked), and Warren is Warren…although there’s one part where someone bites his ear and then animated blood appears to drip. So that’s fun. In my opinion, the video works very well with the mood of the song, but it is a song (and a video) that I have to be in just the right mood to appreciate.
Check it out again and see what you think!
It is getting to the time of year that I enjoy. Typically, January is a quiet month for Duran Duran. They’re coming off of a holiday break, perhaps they’re busy, but they aren’t necessarily doing a ton of public performances and press. So, the dates in history can be somewhat…well…unexciting. Yes, I said it.
However, today is January 30th. On this date in DD history, there are several items of interest, but the one I’ve chosen to highlight is their appearance and performance of Electric Barbarella on the UK Lottery show—particularly because I happen to have found video to share.
Yes, I know I should remain serious about the music, but this wouldn’t be Daily Duranie if I didn’t point out Simons fabulous demonstration of his “Hallucinating Elvis” moves. That alone is worth the time to watch!
1999….was it really that long ago? In some ways, yes. The lineup alone has changed twice since then (Warren left at the reunion, Andy left after Astronaut). In other ways, they’re still the same guys…and Simon’s dancing has not exactly improved. (It’s getting close to March and I have to get in a fair amount of teasing between now and the time they arrive, otherwise it just wouldn’t seem right!)
Back to business, I don’t know that I’d actually watched this before. Sometimes, I will stumble upon something that I either haven’t seen, or didn’t pay attention to the first time (!!!), which is an important piece of what makes writing Daily Duranie fun for me. I see and learn new things constantly. That’s one thing about Duran Duran, as prolific as they have been during their career – there is always something new to find, absorb, and learn. I love that! Hopefully, our readers enjoy what we post as much as we enjoy writing it all.
Yesterday’s winner: Medazzaland
Which album do you like better: Astronaut or Red Carpet Massacre?
Yesterday’s winner: The Wedding Album
Which album do you like better: Medazzaland or Pop Trash?
Welcome to Monday. It is my first day back after a nearly a week of festivities, and so I’m going to start slow…by doing my own ranking of albums.
In full disclosure, I read diffuser.fm’s take on Duran’s career, as well as Amanda’s, prior to making my own choices. Both gave me a little more to think about, but neither swayed my decisions. I know we’ve done this before, but as Amanda mentioned, I haven’t even considered it since Paper Gods came out. Why not revisit?
My own countdown is devised so that I mention the album and the reasons for where it sits. Some albums may have a paragraph, others might have a sentence or two. I left Arena off of my list completely as it only has one studio song on it and if I were to rank live albums I would do them all.
I’ve learned that I cannot hem and haw around while I am ranking things or picking favorites. I feel a little like I’m mowing down the field of Duran Duran albums as I go through the process, quickly deciding what should go where and why – but I go with my first instinct, my gut, and don’t look back. I do fine as I begin, but somewhere around #8 I start worrying, but remind myself to go with my gut. I look back over the list as I’m finishing and realize that for now – today even – it’s how I feel. Tomorrow? Who knows. That’s kind of how it’s always been for me as a fan.
Perhaps it’s really gotten to the point that I identify so closely with their career – each album marking a particular point in my own life – that it’s difficult to be objective anymore. I don’t know, but I tried. I’m sure I’m not the first fan to be stumped by ranking albums or picking favorite songs. In fact, I know I’m not!
I just never felt they hit their stride here. While some songs, such as Perfect Day or Lay Lady Lay are so silky smooth you can’t help but enjoy them, others, such as 911 is a Joke, make no sense at all. Then there’s White Lines, which is great live, but on the album it tends to fall flat. I can’t fault the band too much for trying something few other bands of their calibre have done, but it just does not rank high on my list of favorites.
Anyone who knows me probably saw this coming, and I’m sorry for being predictable. I don’t think this album can or should be swept under the proverbial carpet and forgotten – because it is how we got here, to this place we all currently occupy. I can certainly see and hear the parallels between this album and Paper Gods. I’m glad they tried out some of the things they learned from RCM over again to get them right.
I would characterize Pop Trash as the fast food of Duran Duran’s career. Perhaps fitting? While the album is nowhere near “bad”, I never felt that there was a lot for me to sink my teeth into and devour. It lacks the depth of some of their other work, which is why it ended up in this place on my list.
Ah, Medazzaland. If there were any album that had changed for me over the years since it’s release – it would be this one. I just didn’t get it when it first came out. In fact, I listened to the album in full one time before shelving it for many years. Lately though, I’ve listened to it, and I’m finally starting to get it. No, I’m still not a fan of the title track (sorry Nick), or Silva Halo, but I do really like Big Bang Generation, Who Do You Think You Are, and Midnight Sun. There’s a lot hiding amongst the shadows on this album, and I think it’s worth a revisit.
How can I rank this above Pop Trash or Medazzaland? 2am drives from Hollywood, that’s how. Our personal experiences shape our listening choices, and for me – that’s why Liberty works. It kept me awake many times during college and beyond, so I’m going with it.
I have to admit that I agree with Amanda – while there are two songs on this album that are iconic for Duran Duran, the album as a whole isn’t nearly as impressive as others (which I recognize is tough to do when you’re Duran Duran and have had so many successes). So it’s not that I think the album is bad – it’s that the band has too many great ones!
Oh yes I did rank this one about The Wedding Album. Please see the line about personal experiences. For me, this album is all about the Fab Five. I can’t ignore it, I can’t get past that, and it was a dream come true for me. Yes, it’s pop. Sure, there are songs on it that I didn’t love and I still take it personally that they didn’t include Beautiful Colors, Salt in the Rainbow and Virus on it. Even so, I’ll take it.
I am pretty sure that at one point or another, I ranked this lower on my list. Again, I didn’t get it. But just a week ago, I pulled the album out and gave it a good listen. What is most remarkable to me about Notorious, is that it came after Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Those albums were hugely successful. Then they had two band members leave, and rather than sticking with what they knew, they took the opportunity to blaze new territory. It was like deciding to take a giant left turn out of nowhere. As a child, I had little respect for that sort of thing. In fact, I don’t think I really understood. Even as an adult I sometimes get caught up in what I think DD should be or should sound like – but I’m working on it.
Another album I didn’t really get until adulthood. The first half is as dance music as I’d expect from DD, and the latter is the culmination of some of their finest songwriting moments. The emotion that comes across threw the B side of this album is astounding, and in my opinion, it is the best DD album that no one has really heard.
Here’s the thing about Paper Gods for me – I like it. I don’t know that I love it, although I’ve tried. It ticks a lot of the boxes for plenty of people, but it is also an album that I really needed to come to terms with. I didn’t fall in instant love, but I would say I’ve grown to respect each song and the work that went into making the album overall. I can’t fault an album that hit top ten, if only for a brief, shining moment.
This goes bad to personal experiences for me. This album is my seventh grade wrapped in vinyl. Awkward, sometimes overdone, but still well-loved. Sure, it might not be their best songwriting, but I love it all the same, and that’s why it is near the top of my list. All I have to do is hear the opening notes to Union of the Snake and I’m back on the lawn with my friends at recess, gawking at the latest edition of Tiger Beat. For me, those memories are priceless, and that is what makes music so powerful.
I know what you all are thinking. Yes, I really did put Rio third. The trouble is, it could easily be second. Or first. The final three on my list here are probably interchangeable, if not completely tied. I cannot think about Duran Duran without thinking about Rio. If there were ever a reason why Hungry Like the Wolf is played at every single DD show – it is because of Rio. Try as we might, we simply cannot separate Rio (the album) from the band, in the same way that we cannot separate HLTW from them either. I get it. I may not always like it, but I get it. And I respect it.
It pains me that the band left this song, and many songs from this album, off of their set list this past year. For me personally, this album is easily as iconic as Rio. It describes the band, and their relationship with their audience, to a T. To think that Duran Duran wrote this album during their third decade together simply blows me away. It is an album that never got it’s justice, and it is still one of my very favorite.
I really don’t think it is all that surprising that one of my favorite albums is the one that started it all for them, and for me. I love the rawness, the lack of expectation, and the realness of the music. There is no ego here, no trying to outdo what has already been done. It is simply music from a band ready to take it’s place in the world. This is an album from Duran Duran before they were DURAN DURAN, and it is the most real we’ve ever gotten from them. that is why it remains number one for me.
My choices weren’t all that surprising, but the exercise was fun. I don’t anticipate others to agree with me – in fact, you shouldn’t. We all have had our own journey, and that is what makes it all fun. I’m no music expert, and I only have my own taste to rely on, so by all means make your own list and have fun with it.
I have to apologize for the lateness of today’s blog. I have been completely swamped with trying to complete a lot of grading while writing new curriculum. I hoped to get to this earlier today but…well, you can see how well my plans are going. Anyway, last weekend, I took time to evaluate the first of the three albums that Duran Duran has released in the month of October. That album, of course, was Big Thing and that blog you can read here. Today, I’ll give some facts and statistics about Medazzaland released in 1997. In later blogs, I’ll look at Astronaut and the albums released in November.
Released October 14, 1997 in North America, Japan, Brazil and Argentina but never released physically in Europe.
Produced by TVMania and Syn Pro Tokyo. (It appears to me then as it was mostly produced by the band.)
There were 12 tracks on the album.
Peak Chart Position:
As I’m sure you all know, the band at this time was just Simon, Nick and Warren. A fact that you might not know, though, is that Warren played bass on the tracks that John did not. Anyway, others filled in to complete the album including:
They did complete two videos from this album, for both singles:
Out of My Mind:
EPK (Electronic Press Kit:
The Ultra Chrome, Latex and Steel Tour began in November of 1997 in the Northeast United States. They traveled throughout the US and Canada. At the end of that tour, they did a tribute show and a special show to launch SKY Digital TV in the UK. In December 1998, they did the Latest and Greatest Tour in the UK before returning to the US in the fall of 1999. The end of 1999 saw a mini-tour, Overnight Sensation, in Ireland, the UK, the US, and Chile. Here are a couple of clips to show off those tours:
Beyond all of these facts, many Duranies have strong feelings about this album. For many, it represents when John Taylor left the band or when some really stopped paying attention. For others, it equaled heavy involvement as the band seemed more accessible. Many loved the experimental music while others have yet to buy a copy or listen to it all the way through. Next weekend, I’ll share my thoughts on the album. Until then, I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences about the Medazzaland album and era.