Tag Archives: Midge Ure

John Taylor – Year End Katy Kafe

It’s Monday, and there’s another year-end Katy Kafe up at DDM, this time with the ever-delightful John Taylor! Don’t worry if you haven’t listened because we’ve got the highlights.

John Taylor on “Do They Know It’s Christmas”

As done with Roger, Katy opens the Kafe by asking about Band Aid. John talks about how the song is a testament to Bob Geldof’s entrepreneurial spirit and Midge Ure’s musical talent.  He describes the experience as being “rare” with sublimated egos. The song itself? John Taylor calls it a “good pop song that hasn’t gone away”, going so far as to say it was the best pop song of the era.  Can’t totally agree, given that Rio et. al was also of that time…but you know, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” holds its own.  John also comments that Peter Blake‘s sleeve artwork is some of his favorite.

John Taylor – Favorite Album of 2014

John Taylor was less-than-thrilled with the albums this year, and begins by saying he doesn’t really know if there was one that was his favorite, although he does mention Mark Ronson’s song “Uptown Funk“, feat. Bruno Mars as being the song of the year. Eventually though, John mentions a particular compilation of Elvis Presley songs as being music that has come to be important to him.  Up until this past year, John liked the early Sun Records recordings that Elvis had done, but on this particular CD – “From Nashville to Memphis 1969”, in particular a song called “This is My Story”, struck John. So there you have it, music fans.  Want to know what has inspired John this year? Get hold of some Elvis and go listen!

John Taylor on Movies…or Television…of 2014

Katy asks about movies this year, and John says he didn’t see many movies, sticking mostly to television. He mentions “Nashville” in particular, claiming to once again be addicted to the show. He says it is the best TV series (ever) about music and likens the songwriting process seen on the show to real life. He also mentions other shows such as “The Knick”, “Orange is the New Black”, “The Fall”…and generally just likes TV!!

John Taylor on Concerts of 2014

Once again, John prefaces by saying he didn’t go to many concerts this year…which is why it didn’t shock me when he mentioned Miley Cyrus. We’ll skip talking about her and move right on to Eminem and Fleetwood Mac, which were apparently very good live. He mentions their longevity and how there’s a sense of camaraderie on stage with them that Katy also sees with Duran Duran (agreed!!).  On the other hand, John mentions how back when he saw The Police on tour, they never even used to look at one another – but that they were always that way, as an audience member you could always sense the tension there and it was one thing (of many) that made them interesting.

John Taylor on his Favorite Book of 2014

John didn’t read many books this year, either. (What did he do all year – you’d think he was stuck in this studio this year or something!)  He does mention The Glitter Planby his wife Gela and her business partner and best friend Pam Skaist-Levy and proclaims this to be the book of 2014.

John Taylor on his Best Event of 2014

In the summer, John went to see The Winter’s Tale and loved it so much he returned to the studio to insist that everyone else go see it. Nick and Simon went and apparently loved it as much as John.

John Taylor also talked about working with Nile Rodgers. For John, Nile really helped to elevate his playing. Nile would play guitar and rather than instruct John as to what to do – John would simply play along, being inspired by Nile. He is the “total musician”, and John is still feeling how playing with Nile changed him.  He would love to play songs they wrote with Nile on a stage.

John Taylor on Looking Ahead to 2015

He is looking forward to getting the album out, although it appears we’ve still got quite a wait ahead.  John says that the album may be out “In June”, but with some serious hesitation, adding that “It’s possible…”  He says they have a lot of work ahead of them to do in order to make that goal, which is nearly the same exact thing he said last year at this time. He said they finished “on a high” this year by getting the first stage of mixes done with Spike Stent and now he just looks forward to Christmas in the UK with friends and family, smelling pine trees and wrapping paper.

Onward and upward!

-R

Do They Know It’s Christmas – Memories

Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid

I know I’ve already done a date in history for today, but also on this date in 1984, Duran Duran, and particularly Simon LeBon, was featured in Bob Geldof’s and Midge Ure’s project “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, by Band Aid.

On a day where it’s pretty difficult to get into the holiday spirit…I think it’s uplifting to see that yes, we really can make a difference. Music matters. One single song, one single Duran Duran song (yes, I felt it was theirs) made a difference. I remember being 14 (goodness gracious) and feeling a sense of pride hearing that song on the radio. The band participated in something that mattered, something that was going to make a difference. Buying a single piece of music helped make the world better…all very lofty ideas for a kid. Never mind that Simon thought he was doing a solo with Sting or that he was pretty annoyed to realize he was going to be sharing the microphone with many, because I didn’t know any of that in 1984. I believed it was all for the greater good. Helping the world…hell, saving the world.

Nowadays, it’s impossible to miss what’s going on around us. I am sure most have read the headlines this morning, watched the videos, and were probably shocked by the photos coming from Ferguson.  It even has it’s own set of hashtags on Twitter, for crying out loud. It blows my mind, in some respects, that we’re still dealing with the same sorts of problems now that we were back in the sixties. Nothing seems to change fast enough, and yet everything seems to move way too quickly in this world. Well, back in 1984 I really did believe we were changing things, making a difference, doing good for the world with a single song. Call it naivety, innocence…maybe even a little ignorance, but I believed. I bought into the ideals. Hook, line, sinker.

For me, “Do They Know it’s Christmas” was the Christmas song to own. One single Duran Duran song turned Autumn into the holiday season for me, and what’s really funny is that it still happens to this very day. At some point just before Thanksgiving I will turn on the radio to our local “Holiday Music Station” (KOST 103.5) just to try and feel a little more in the spirit – and “Do They Know It’s Christmas” will come on, in all of it’s glory, and I’ll smile. I’ll forget the trials of being an adult, and something in me clicks. I’ll start thinking about how I felt sitting in the backseat of my parents old green longer-than-a-city-block Mercury as the song would start and we’d more than likely be out looking at Christmas lights, as we always did more than once during the holiday season. Sure, I was a kid and didn’t really know much about the world around me at the time – but I believed there was more good than bad.

Somehow, I think we all still need a bit of that today.

-R

 

 

Book Club: Mad World (Animotion, Band-Aid and Afterword)

This is our final book club for the book, Mad World.  We will finish by discussing the last three chapters on Animotion, Band-Aid and the Afterword by Moby.  Perhaps, we will also include a little bit of what we learned along the way.  I hope you throughly enjoyed the book and the book club as much as we did!  Jump in and join us!

Animotion:

Amanda:

Truly, this was an unbelievable chapter and story to read.  As I read it,  I almost thought that I should be keeping a chart about who did what, when, why, etc.  There were so many statements and moves made that affected Animotion that it was hard to keep track.  Clearly, VERY clearly, the band members, themselves, did not have control over their band.  Much like the lyrics to the song, there is a desperation underlying all of the agreements and moves made by the individual members.  They seemed to want to succeed so badly and the little taste that they had made them want more.  This desire was so strong that they made some questionable decisions.  Unfortunately, those decisions didn’t seem to put them in a better spot in the long run.

Before I dive into the chaos that was the Animotion story, I have to acknowledge what I knew before hand.  I knew that Michael Des Barres co-wrote this song and that it did very, very well for him.  In fact, before Power Station, this seemed to be his big claim to fame.  I never once thought about the actual band who performed the song.  I was just happy that Michael experienced such success and I guess I assumed that the band must have as well.  How naive am I?!  The band’s story shows or reminds that one should never ever assume when it comes to the music business.

Right away into Animotion’s story, I know that this wasn’t going to go well when the song, “Obsession,” sounded nothing like the rest of the album and didn’t match the sound they were going for.  It seems to me that it never ends well when ONE song or ONE album goes against the rest of an artist’s catalog.  When the band heard the song, one member loved it and thought it was the direction they should be going and the other wasn’t so sure.  Perhaps, part of the problem was that the band wasn’t really on the same page to begin with and weren’t comfortable with each other.  Yet, of course,  reservations were pushed aside as the song moved up the charts.

After that, behind-the-scenes became complete chaos.  There was the producer trying to run the show and get in between band members.  Then, the record label pushed new songs at them and when the next one didn’t do as well, the label backed off support.  A new A&R man comes in filled with hate over everything they had done before.  Likewise, new managers determined that key members needed to go and be replaced by Cynthia Rhodes.   It seems to me that member, Astrid Plane, summed it up best on page 307 about what it was like to be them then, “You were nothing.  You were an item that was going to be on a shelf to be sold, and if they felt like you weren’t sales-worthy, then [they’d] toss you in the trash.”  I am left just shaking my head at how horrible and upsetting their story really was.  I wouldn’t want any other band or artist to experience something like this, but I suspect their story really isn’t all that unique.

Rhonda:

Unlike Amanda, I was pretty naive about who wrote “Obsession”.  Of course I know the song – it’s difficult to claim yourself as New Wave fan without acknowledging the song (purely as an aside, my younger sister continues to sing this song to me at the oddest moments, whenever the timing makes sense…to remind me of my Duran Duran fandom. Thanks, Robin.), but I really never thought about who wrote it.  I guess you could even say that I didn’t care, because I really didn’t.  I just knew the song to be one of those overplayed-to-death songs from the radio.  I don’t know that I ever really think about that kind of thing as a music consumer. (except when it comes to Duran Duran and their various guitar players over the years) I was shocked when I read this chapter though. If there was ever any question about how the industry REALLY works – how incredibly unfair it can really be, or how it will chew you up, spit you out and then come back later for more – this is the chapter to read.  

Animotion was never one of my favorite bands from this era, and I wholly admit that this particular song had everything to do with that. I suppress a bit of a chuckle when I find that this song wasn’t even their typical sound. It sounds nothing like their music at all, actually. That’s a real problem for this band – because if you’ve got an audience wanting to hear more like “Obsession”, and you’re used to writing something much more similar to say, early Police or Fleetwood Mac, that audience is never going to follow you.  Instead, you’ve got a band here who literally floated to the top of the charts on a song that they didn’t write – therefore making nearly NO money on the song (even to this day, it’s the writer of the song – Michael Des Barres – who continues to see handsome royalty checks on this one), and there’s not any way to bring those fans of this song to their back catalog.  It is really THAT different.  I read stories all the time about bands who are/were famous and yet haven’t a penny to their name(s), and mostly I want to scoff and laugh because really – is that possible?  The answer is yes. Yes it is.  If you can’t/didn’t write your own music, I’m not entirely sure that you want to “just” be the performer, and especially not after reading this chapter. 

I’d like to share a quote from Bill Wadhams, followed by a quote from Michael Des Barres.  It’s easy to see that they are two sides of the same coin – two products of the machine.  

Wadhams says, “I go on YouTube and see Michaels Des Barres performing at SXSW, and he prefaces ‘Obsession’ by saying, ‘This is a song that I wrote that made me a bloody fortune.’ The year that ‘Obsession’ [was a hit for Animotion], each member of the band made about $50,000; the next year, just about nothing.  Whether it’s fair or not, it doesn’t matter because I don’t know that Michael Des Barres ever sang a song that was an international hit. I wonder whether he would trade having been the singer of the hit song for the money, if he would’ve been able to walk out on stage, sing ‘Obsession’, and have people go, ‘That’s the voice, that’s the hit that we love.’ (308)

Des Barres says, “It’s put my kid through college, [supported] two wives, and more besides. One song enters the lexicon of American consciousness, and it will take care of you for the rest of your life.”  (308)

Astrid Plane, singer for Animotion, finishes the chapter by adding, “We are still in debt to the record company to this day.” (308) 

Band-Aid:

Amanda:

Lori Majewski’s introduction in this chapter instantly brought me back to my elementary school lunch hour.  Why?  Simple.  I, too, experienced endless debates between Band-Aid and USA for Africa. While her debates might have been about which had bigger stars, mine focused on who was first.  No matter how many times and how many ways I tried to explain that Band-Aid was first, that they had started it, my classmates didn’t believe me.  This was obviously long before the internet so I couldn’t prove it to them but I so wanted to.  In reality, below the surface of the debate, it was more about which was better:  New Wave or Motown?  Duran Duran or Michael Jackson?  You see, unlike so many in 1984, I lived in an area where it wasn’t cool to be a Duran Duran fan.  Michael Jackson was the one and only king there.  Even now, I have to admit to loving the comments Nick Rhodes made in this chapter about the differences between Band-Aid and USA for Africa.  He seemed to be spot on, to me!

While I knew the story behind the song and how quickly it was put together, reading Midge Ure tell about it makes it all the more real.  They truly put the song together so quickly from writing to recording to getting it airplay.  He tells how easily it could have been horrible and that “it wasn’t that bad”.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I can’t imagine a holiday season going by without listening to the song and hearing it played somewhere.  It lives on.

Of course, the real story of Band-Aid isn’t so much the song itself or the bands involved, but what was pointed out in the introduction.  It marked the end of the party.  The first half of the 1980s, the New Wave era, ended with this song  and what followed with Live Aid and other charity events.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I wish the New Wave era, musically, continued forever as I loved it so.  Yet, I know that, sometimes, it is good for something to be shorter lived.  It wasn’t around long enough to get completely run down and sucky.  I still have mixed emotion about the worldly awareness that followed.  While I’m a political person, I have never chosen music that is overtly political.  I like artists to be smart, thinking and feeling people but not preachy.  Did Band-Aid change people and the industry to become preachy?  Maybe.  It is hard to say but things definitely did change after that.

Rhonda:

The holiday season just isn’t so without this song.  Like Amanda, I wish the New Wave age had gone on longer – I didn’t graduate from high school until 1988 and it could have easily continued that long without complaint from me. I will never forget hearing the song for the first time, or the glee I get each and every time I hear it on the radio during the season.  This single song sums up much of my entire music experience during my formative years.  To this day I smile every time I hear Simon sing his lines, and while I know the song is for charity and it’s purpose was to galvanize the community into support for Africa – to me it’s about so much more. It’s a musical era. It’s my history. It’s the capstone of New Wave, and it was a song ever created for a charity (sometimes I wonder just how much of that message gets lost amongst the noise).  

I don’t know if I like what happened following the release of this record so much.  For me, music changed after that. I won’t even mention the US answer to this song, suffice to say that there have been many attempts to copy what this song tried to do. There is something really kind about “Do They Know it’s Christmas”, and I think that feeling was completely lost after that with “other” attempts. It became production and big industry business. Maybe that’s why I’ve always stuck to British bands….

After that record though, music started having some sort of a conscious, and bands tended to forget that the purpose was to entertain, not preach.   And of course, New Wave as I knew it really ended.  But at the time, when this record came out – I had no idea. I listened to it nearly non-stop during that 1984 holiday season. Ignorance was bliss, and trust me – I was indeed full of bliss that holiday. 

Afterword:

Amanda:

Moby does a good job in expressing how New Wave was different–international, gentle, escapist.  I felt all those same things.  I felt that way living in the Chicago suburbs and later even more so when I moved to small town, Illinois.  I longed for anything that wasn’t small town American focused, jean wearing, beer guzzling, hard rock that was all the rage by the time I found myself transported to what seemed like another planet.  I still miss it but there was a desperation then in my youth that led me to reject anything and everything popular for a good number of years.

This book brought me back to my childhood and the music I loved so much.  It reminded me why I fell in love with it and truly what was so good about it.  I loved the imagination and the creativity that everyone seemed to bring.  There was uniqueness in every artist despite having common influences.  As the kid, the music seemed carefree and fun.  Of course, the book also shed light on the stories behind  the music and many of those stories revealed the good, the bad and the ugly.  I learned how quickly some songs were written.  I also learned how easily band members can grow apart even when they were the best of friends.  The music industry might have been kinder then, in general, but still was a thorn in people’s sides too often.  Yet, despite everything that happened to each of these bands, their music remains.  Like Moby, I’m definitely thankful.  I’m also ready for the sequel!

Rhonda:

I don’t think I grew up in a particularly small town, but even so, New Wave was my escape from reality. I was a typical junior high school band nerd. My friends were either band members, or they were also nerds. We didn’t know how to dress, make-up was still a mystery, and awkwardness was probably my FIRST name at the time. The popular girls at my school loved to pick on me, and music was how I escaped the ridicule. I think to some extent, it still is.  Back then I’d come home from school, and the first thing I’d do was turn on the TV in search of music video, or I’d run to my bedroom, flop on my bed and hit my stereo. I didn’t want to hear or see pop – I wanted bands like Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, INXS, Depeche Mode or nearly any other band mentioned in this book. (coincidence? Probably not!) I didn’t have an allowance, and money wasn’t “free-flowing” in my parents house, so I can remember waiting for KROQ to play certain songs so that I could tape them from radio.  The audio quality would be terrible (back then I literally had to take my tape recorder and face it towards one of my radio speakers to make it work, and I nearly cried with joy the day my parents finally bought me a “boom box”…good Lord…) I always loved the boys who were less football, more introspective, and if they played in a band – all the better.  So when I read Moby’s afterword, I find myself nodding in agreement. His story really isn’t much different from my own.  New Wave WAS my adolescence and it did make life bearable. I don’t know what I would have done without it. 

Like Amanda, I’m ready for the sequel. This book was everything I’d hoped, and much, much more.  If you haven’t grabbed your copy yet, I urge you to give it a try. I loved this book so much it’s earmarked and red-lined, with notes in the margins and sadly, a few pages have even come out of the binding at this point. I daresay it’s been well-consumed.

-A & R

Book Club: Mad World (Tears For Fears, OMD and Ultravox)

Happy Monday, everyone!  We hope that everyone enjoyed their weekend and had a chance to read the next three chapters in Mad World, in order to join in on our discussion!  This week, we are reading and talking about Tears for Fears, OMD and Ultravox!

Tears for Fears

Amanda:

Whenever I read these chapters, I find myself wanting to comment on about 10-15 things and then having to pick a few.  This chapter, though, was worse than normal.  My list is even longer.  Do I discuss the origin of the name?  How the recording industry was clearly different than it is today?  The fans they appealed to?  Something else?  The two things that really stood out for me over all else are their relationship and some of the decisions that they made in their career.

As someone who is half of a duo (a writing, researching and event planning duo, in our case), I found their relationship to be fascinating.  I thought it was interesting that in the UK, everyone assumed that Curt was the frontman and Roland was the studio guy. Yet, that shifted once “Shout” was released and became popular in the States.  Then, everyone, at least in America, assumed that they were co-frontmen.  I assumed that.  I guess I never looked into the band members to find out what the real story was.  Yet, I found it interesting that they didn’t really say which way it REALLY was.  Were they equals?  Was one more significant in  one setting or another?

Clearly, their relationship was a significant one.  Roland points out that he had to end that relationship before he was able to have kids.  I can get that.  A band like theirs required significant time, energy and commitment in order to be successful so I’m sure that it did take up a lot of their emotional lives.  Yet, Curt also points out that it was the balance between them that formed the sound.  I think balance is significant in any band or committee or duo.

The other aspect of this chapter that really caught my attention was how they questioned decisions they made in their careers.  Some examples include touring as long as they did in between albums and changing their sound so dramatically between albums.  I get this.  I question my decisions at work, all the time, too.  I would do it even more, if I had a career that had very obvious measures of success like being in a band.  I wonder if the real issue isn’t that they made the wrong choices but that they second guess those decisions.

Rhonda:

In the interest of full disclosure, Tears for Fears are easily one of my most favorite bands of all-time, New Wave or not. So I’m biased. Extremely biased. The difference between TFF and DD for me (aside from the fact that I tend to like bands that I can shorten to an abbreviation, apparently) is that with Duran Duran, I loved their music AND wanted to marry Roger Taylor. With TFF, I was all-business. I loved their music. It completely consumed me and I, it.  To this day, when someone asks me what my favorite album of all-time might be, I have a difficult time choosing between The Hurting and Songs from the Big Chair. I know, I know – what happened to Duran Duran?  I love every single part of Duran Duran – even those RCM moments, because it’s part of their narrative, which in turn feels like my own after all this time…but when it comes down to just the music and how it touches my heart and mind, I have to give it to TFF.  (The trouble is, for me it really isn’t ever just about the music. I need it all.)

So, even as that sort of fan, I had no idea what their name was really about. I just knew that my father continually messed it up until the day he stopped speaking, calling it Tear of Fear or Fears of Tear…he just couldn’t get it, and I didn’t really know what it meant at all, so to read that it’s about Arthur Janov’s primal therapy made all sorts of sense to me and connected the dots even further.  You’d think I had a really tough early childhood and that’s why this music hits me so strongly – and you’d be right.

I love Mad World and all of the incarnations and evolutions it’s had since it’s release. It’s a song that, upon my very first listen, burnt itself straight to my core, and yes – that line “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I ever had” strikes the right chord within. I had no idea that it went right to Janov’s primal scream theory, as Roland Orzabal describes in the chapter. Another tidbit I learned was that Janov’s theories go along with the tabula rasa theory – “that we’re born, then life etches our character through experiences, both good and bad. So that’s what Curt and I believed at the time. We both felt that the child was sacred, especially the child that was suffering, hence the curled-up little child on the front of The Hurting.” (247)  I know that they’ve both changed their opinions on that since having children themselves – but having gone through a very traumatic few years beginning at the age of about 4 myself, I’ve often wondered how I might have turned out without that period in my life…besides,I really can’t fault a theory or two that had to do with their songwriting on The Hurting.  If it wasn’t therapeutic for Smith and Orzabal – it was for me.  

It’s very clear, when you read the references to Everybody Wants to Rule the World, that Curt Smith doesn’t have a lot of use for A&R people. (A career path I’m thankful I did not choose…) I definitely see his point. Arguing over a song’s length by five seconds seems pointless. Oddly, this song was my dad’s favorite – which is why I mention him here.  He insisted that it be played to “see him out” the day of his memorial.  He would play this song every.single.time. we traveled in his beloved motor home. I highly doubt he knew or even cared what the song was about (I am almost positive he didn’t know a single word, only the melody), but it was his jam.  God love him.  🙂  I still can’t really listen to the entire song, but you know he’s probably still nodding his head and rocking to it the way only a dad can somewhere. 

It nearly broke my heart when Curt left Roland and Tears for Fears behind, and I often wondered if I’d see the day that they would perform again. Thankfully, not only did I get to see them, but I called my dad at the appropriate moment in the show and had him listen to his favorite. It’s a fond, fond memory for me. I can certainly understand the reasons why Curt left, though. I think being in a band like this can really be all-consuming and it seems as though you can completely lose yourself within.  Even so, Curt said it best, “…it’s the balance of the two of us that brings out the sound that is Tears for Fears.”  Exactly.  

If you follow Curt Smith on Twitter – you find that he doesn’t pull any punches. He believes what he believes, and he doesn’t put up with any BS from fans. He also doesn’t really give a crap what fans might think of his beliefs – and while I don’t always agree, I have to give him credit. He stands with conviction. This has come up several times, once recently when Lorde did a cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. Her version is haunting, almost scarily angry compared to the original. I liked it because it was so different. People came at him from all sides, commenting on how horrible it was, how Lorde destroyed it, and so forth. (sound familiar, Duran Duran fans??) His response was very similar to what he says here in the book. “I hear people saying, ‘Music’s not what it used to be,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah it is. Don’t you remember back then?’ The majority of the stuff we listened to sucked. What you take with you is the really good stuff.”

I’m glad I’ve taken Tears for Fears with me for the ride.

 OMD

Amanda:

As I read this chapter on OMD, I’m completely reminded of youth and adolescent arrogance.  Clearly, the members of OMD had definite ideas about their “art project”, including what were acceptable ideas to write about or not to write about.  Even when they describe the shift that took place from writing very unconventional songs to conventional songs, there is this underlining current of judgement against the more commercial, more American songs versus the less commercial, more European ones.  This rigid thinking reminds me of myself as an adolescent along with so many of my teenage students.

Now, all of that said, I don’t know that they were wrong to think this way.  Clearly, they didn’t want to be like everyone else.  They didn’t want to conform to what was common.  Obviously, they felt like outsiders.  Then, they experienced success.  How lucky were they that they were able to meet Tony Wilson who went on to start Factory Records?  Then, to have John Peel play their single, which led to be a long term album deal.  Their beliefs, whether led by adolescent arrogance or not, were reinforced, for sure.  Beyond that, many would say that those more unconventional songs are the better songs.

On a completely different note, one thing that caught my attention in this chapter was the mention of how they were considered “alternative” in the US before “If You Leave” hit and what that term meant.  Alternative meant that a band, an artist would be off the radar.  That same band/artist could be selling a lot of albums.  When I discovered alternative, I thought I had found home.  I didn’t want to be one of the masses at that point.  I wanted to embrace the different, the unusual, the creative.  That said, I still don’t understand why one band ended up mainstream and why another ended up alternative.

Rhonda: 

When I think of OMD, the first songs to come to mind are “Tesla Girl” and “Locomotion”, which means I came in during the Junk Culture album. However, immediately following my “find” of that album…I discovered “Enola Gay” and “Red Frame White Light”, and that was before the movie Pretty in Pink came along for me. I almost never think of “If You Leave” (probably because it was overplayed to the point of ruin).  It’s a great song, don’t get me wrong – but I was one of those kids that (aside from Duran Duran because damn it, I found them first!) hated following the crowd. Everyone loved “If You Leave”, so that’s where I took a sharp U-turn.  

Even so, one simply didn’t grow up in the 80s without hearing the song. 5 million times. I love that they created something so quickly, and obviously so easily. (and now I know why no one is dancing to the right beat at the end of the movie – something that has bothered me FOR YEARS.  No, I wasn’t a romantic back then I guess!)

I always loved their name – it sounded so cool, until my mother gasped and said “Do you know what that name really MEANS, Rhonda Lynn.” (she used this voice a lot back in the 80s. I particularly remember it being used when we viewed Girls on Film one night, together as a family right after I got the videotape after it had been on backorder for three months.  Great night. Good times.”)  I didn’t care what it MEANT. I just knew it sounded really cool and sophisticated. Isn’t that the way it is with kids?!? 

I could go on about their history and what they’re doing now…but there’s one passage in this chapter that I found intriguing that I’ll share here. “…Because some of our contemporaries, their management tell them they need to release a new record because they need a name for their new tour, they can’t just play the hits again. I’ll mention no names, but there are a lot of bands who make records who shouldn’t be allowed to – they don’t have anything left to say, they’re just addicted to the lifestyle and they can’t stop.” (265)

I really don’t know for sure about whom Andy McCluskey is referring. My feeling about this is that who is to say when enough is enough?  Just because one person may not feel a band hasn’t anything left to say doesn’t mean that the band feels that way as well.  I’m sure what he says is true and that it happens a lot. I’m just happy that I’m a fan who doesn’t really know that side of it. The bands I know and love most have plenty left in them with nothing to prove: they’ve already succeeded and they could live off of their earnings without a problem…but they keep going, and that should be applauded and supported, not judged. 

Ultravox

Amanda:

What to hear something sad?  My first memory of this song wasn’t the song at all but the video.  Why?  I had to see it.  After all, it was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who, of course, is famous for directing all those Duran videos.  Anyway, I’m thankful that it did push me to seek out the song.

As I read about the idea behind the song with how a boy meets a girl and there a wonderful feeling, but as soon as they leave, the feeling goes away.  This completely reminds me of the movie, “Before Sunrise,” in which the two characters meet, hang out in the city of Vienna (of all places), and fall in love.  Will that love remain after they separate?  We don’t know, at least, until the sequel.

Despite, or in addition to, the movie reminders, I love two other things about the making of this song.  I love that all members contributed equally.  There is always something special when that happens.  I also love that the crowd showed how awesome the song was when they played it live.  It is hard to deny fan feelings, which proved that the record label was wrong about what kind of edit it needed.

Finally, like Rhonda below, I totally concurred with the statements made about how music was everything in the 1980s.  The description of the person saving money to buy an album, showing off that album and then playing it over and over.  I think it is safe to say that I could completely relate.  I am sad that my nieces and other kids of this generation won’t experience the same thing.

Rhonda: 

Vienna is one of the most gorgeous songs I’ve ever listened and I still don’t understand why it never quite made it to #1. Yes, this was the year John Lennon was shot…so there’s that. This is why I can’t be in music…I’d lose my mind over things like that. Vienna is stunningly beautiful and romantic in a way that not even Duran Duran could do at the time. (sorry guys) That piano. Those vocals. Besides, Midge Ure. 

This is one time that the label got it right. They could have easily destroyed this song by editing it down to the three-minute single, but after arguing about it for six months, they put it out as is and it worked. Sure, it didn’t hit number one, but as Midge Ure mentions, it sat at #2 for five weeks and outsold both John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” and Joe Dolce’s “Shaddup You Face” (Midge Ure thinks that the song only sold in England, but no…we heard it plenty here too).  Ultravox wins!

Midge Ure says something that sums up my entire childhood in the 80s,”[The eighties] was a very different planet. It was a planet where people cared about music. Music was a be-all and end-all to young people. It was our lifeblood. You waited for the next album you were into, you saved up your pennies and you waved it around proudly when you bought, and you played it to death.”   This is so true. I still miss those times, because music still very much matters to me.  It’s become a bit of a throw-away society now, with each day bringing in the new and throwing out the old with the trash. Nothing matters for very long, which is sad, really.  

Join us next week as we tear apart INXS, Thompson Twins and Simple Minds!

-A & R