Tag Archives: Moby

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

Wednesday Covers – Rio!

We’re back looking at some cover versions of Duran songs, and on a whim I decided to see what might be out there for Rio.  If you haven’t had the chance to check out what Moby chose to do with Rio – you can find a blog on that here.

Additionally, I searched on YouTube and found a few to share.  Curiously, many of the covers I found out there were acoustic – and many isolated that incredible bass line that fans know and love.

Barenaked Ladies – Rio

So I couldn’t help but include this one because BNL is well…BNL. You either get them or you don’t, but you can’t deny that they can sing and harmonize.  Unfortunately this is another band that has split over the years, but I still love their old stuff…

Rogue Wave – Rio

I never quite know what I’m going to find on YouTube…and this is one of those kinds of covers.  This one is slower and more subdued than the original, but the spirit of the song is still there, and it reminds me very much of being on a boat…which is appropriate given the song and the video I’ve linked for this takes place on a boat!!

The Resistance – Rio

This one claims to be the rocking version.  I have to say that if they’re gonna claim something like that, they’re gonna need to rock a little harder than Duran Duran does when they play it live, and I’m not hearing that here…but a valiant effort nonetheless.  I’d have liked seeing what else they could do with it, but I sense this is one of those songs you don’t dare change too much.  Unless you’re Moby.  🙂

Rio – the heavy metal version

Ok, so I cheated.  One of the versions I found online was uploaded by  someone named Dam Breetai, and when I read that it’s the heavy metal version, I had to hear it.  I mean, what could they POSSIBLY have done to the song?  Turns out, it’s a remix (of sorts) of the original. A little turned up guitar (I actually think it’s an entirely new track), but Simon is still there to remind one where this song came from.  I don’t know how great this really is, but I had to include it just for kicks.

Mauri & Betto – Rio (Acoustic)

There are a ton of acoustic versions out there…and this is just one that I found.  I must give props for harmonization.

Eric Plancton – Rio

This version is the edgiest rock version I found.  It’s hard rock, and I have to say that musically – I like it. Vocals, in my opinion aren’t really that great, but he does do this whisper of “I’ll tell you something, I know what you’re thinking” before he launches into the chorus that is kind of cool. Instead of the typical saxophone solo we’re used to hearing, this one has heavy guitar and an even heavier short drum fill that makes it his own.

Check out the covers and let us know what you think. There are pages and pages of Rio cover versions on YouTube and I only chose a few… but if you’ve got one that we absolutely have to hear or post, send it or comment below with the link!

-R

 

 

Covers, Covers, we got your covers!!

Second “real” blog post in two days.  You’d think I was gearing back up for an album or something…

I think most Duranies are aware of the Making Patterns Rhyme tribute album that Manimal records is producing, and if you’re not familiar with the yet-to-be-released full album, surely you’ve heard Moby’s Rio and Belief’s Sound of Thunder.   If not – go check them out, the links are there for your convenience!

Yesterday, John Taylor asked DDHQ to ask about your favorite Duran Duran cover song.  I almost tweeted back that I was going to sit down with some popcorn and drinks, and let the games begin.  I knew that I’d be reading a litany of “You can’t do Duran Duran better than Duran Duran”, but I was curious to see what other answers might come up.

Personally, I haven’t paid a ton of attention to covers over the years. I knew they were out there – but I didn’t really care. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t really feel the need to hear them, either. I was so busy just enjoying Duran Duran that I didn’t think I needed to pay attention. I knew Reel Big Fish had done Hungry Like the Wolf, and I remember Hole’s version on The Chauffeur…and I can’t really forget the medley of DD songs that Rockapella performed  (I have it on my iPad somewhere…), but I didn’t take the time to really search or listen beyond that.  Somehow, I suspect I’m not alone.

So, when John Taylor asked about our favorite covers yesterday, I really thought about the question, and more importantly, why he might be asking. There were definitely an overwhelming number of  those “it’s nothing if it’s not Duran Duran” type-replies, and I suspect that John knew he’d see that. So, why ask?  I’m sure he was curious what we have heard. After all, not every single Duran Duran cover has been promoted by the band. (and from the research I’ve done in the past couple of days, I can understand why…) I think asking that sort of question gives him a reasonable gauge of what we’ve exposed ourselves to hearing.  I also think he wanted to somehow indicate that while he appreciates loyalty to the band and all – he fully expects that we might occasionally hear, and enjoy a cover of their music…and that it’s OK.  Additionally, just talking about covers gets fans thinking about covers, and maybe, just maybe…it gets us listening and exposing our ears to what is out there.

My own response, and theory to what is going on here with the complete dismay, dislike, and venom (I could go on…) for the covers of Rio and Sound of Thunder (not as much so for the LUXXURY version of Girls on Film…) is that quite simply: I don’t think fans are used to hearing them much.  We haven’t taken the time to expose ourselves. It takes time to accept that it’s OK that it’s not Simon singing the vocals, John on bass, Nick…Roger…etc, and the only way you grow to accept it is to force yourself to keep listening.  Eventually you realize that no, the world does NOT come to an end because someone covered a Duran Duran song. Even better, you start recognizing that yes, there are people out there who have a tremendous gift and can continue to be creative with what is already an amazing song. Then the pendulum starts to swing to the point where you want to see just how far someone can go with the original song.  How far can it be taken before it’s not really Rio, or Hungry Like the Wolf or The Chauffeur?  Where are the boundaries?? Sure, this might not be the case for everyone, but I really kind of think it’s the case for many.  I know because I was there, and I’m betting I’m not alone. This was definitely me several years back.  I though I was being the good little fan by saying nothing was as good as the original.  I missed out on some really great music in the process.

I made the comment yesterday that part of the problem is that I don’t think fans have been exposed to many covers and that someone…maybe even a fan blog (because I’m a smart ass that way) should start posting some and getting people to listen.  I’ll say this much: after you hear some really bad covers, you start listening to the covers that might be way out there but still very creative much, much differently.  I can almost promise that.

So each week I’m going to take Wednesdays (since this is what day this is) and post some covers and a short little review of them.  It’s going to be YOUR job, as good readers, to listen and post whatever you think.  You are probably going to hate most of them at first. I get that. I’ll keep reminding you that they’re not as terrible (most of the time) as you think, and that no – Simon will not hate you for listening to them.  That I can pretty much promise.  Eventually you might just find something you like, and by that time, hopefully this damn #DD14 album will be READY TO PLAY!!!  (that was for you, John Taylor and Co….)  What I’m going to try to do is pick a song and then find a few covers of that song to post.  I might not ever find them all – in which case if you know of one to share, please do. Send a link, email us…and we’ll post it!

The question is where to begin. So this week let’s try Ordinary World. There are a TON of covers of this song, so I picked my favorites. If you have others that you want me to hear, send ’em!! Link is in the title:artist name. Short review is below each.

Ordinary World: Aurora

So this cover is different. The melody is definitely secondary to the rhythm track – in an attempt to make it danceable, and it has a much more atmospheric, spacey sound in parts. It’s also sped way, way up from the original.  That said, it’s completely recognizable…and the lead singer is apparently Robert Pattinson’s (of Twilight fame) older sister.  She has a beautiful voice.  Funny how I never thought much about females taking on Duran’s tunes before…but as you’re going to see over the next several weeks, MANY of the most beautiful covers out there are done by females!

Ordinary World: Gregorian

Very interesting, this Gregorian. (really…I’ve studied real Gregorian chant, and it’s not quite to that point) The music is somewhat subdued, and of course the voices are meant to stand out on their own.  For me, this doesn’t really quite do it…but you know, it IS beautiful in it’s own right. I just keep thinking it feels a bit too much like karaoke.

Ordinary World: Joy Williams

This is my favorite cover of this song (that I’ve found so far).  Haunting, emotional…it’s as though all of the sorrow that could be found in this song is packed into her vocals. No guitar, just piano…and it’s stunning in every single way.

Ordinary World: Red

Love the strings on this one and the additional synth sounds make it interesting and their own. The song is executed in much of the same style as Duran Duran, but it’s definitely their own spin on it musically with a little more of a rock anthem type of sound to it.

Ordinary World: Ainjel Emme

Another female artist.  This time, it’s just guitar and vocals.  Her vocals are stunning, and the guitar is acoustic – very pretty.  My only constructive criticism is that she does very little to make the song her own, and I’d like to hear what she could do to take the song to a different place.

Ordinary World: Rust

Wow. This is a much harder rock version. They kept the melody, the guitar solo…probably kept most of the synth that we know…and added a whole new element. Truthfully out of the covers I chose to include, this is probably the farthest from the original – but it’s interesting.  The hard rock gives the song a great gritty texture to it for those moments where I’m really just majorly pissed off AND sad at the same time!

That’s six different versions of Ordinary World. I know there are a ton more out there that I didn’t even include (I could be here for days…listening and writing away….), but it’s a start. Take a listen. Get your ears used to hearing other people performing Duran’s music. It won’t kill you. In fact, I think it broadens the horizons a bit.

-R

 

 

 

 

DD Tribute Album (Making Patterns Rhyme) Taster – Rio (Moby)

I have been sitting back and waiting patiently for the first single from Making Patterns Rhyme to emerge, and today we received a taster of Moby’s cover of “Rio”. It’s not the entire song, but it’s a minute and a half of something that is incredibly different from what fans know to be Rio, and for that, I need to applaud Moby.

Personally, I think the first clue that this cover was not going to be a rehash of “Rio” came from the fact that this is a COVER album. When I first heard of this tribute being created, I knew this would go one of two ways: either the songs would sound very similar to the originals  and fans would hate them…or they’d sound very different from the originals, and fans would hate them.  Why?

Well, that’s really the easy question to answer. The fans of which I am speaking (and they’re not difficult to find – just look at Duran Duran’s Facebook page today and find the post of Moby’s Rio cover.  Check out the comments. They’re scathing.) are diehard fans. To them, Rio is the Holy Grail. I knew this was going to be a hard sell for many a Duran fan out there, and while I can understand why – I think you have to go into each song (and no, you absolutely might not like them all, and that’s OK!) with a pretty clear head and heart. Listen to each song on it’s own merits – not those of Duran Duran. It isn’t easy to listen to a song that you have adored for thirty years be completely redone into something that isn’t automatically recognizable, and I understand how fans feel in that regard. The knee jerk reaction is to automatically say you can’t stand it, shut it off, and then listen to the original as some sort of “cleanse”. I’ve had those moments myself. Not necessarily for this particular cover…but for others, absolutely.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t want to hear Moby be Duran Duran, because that’s just some sort of twisted karaoke. I want to hear Moby’s interpretation of Rio.

Moby’s version is nothing like the original, except in spirit, and I’m honestly a little surprised that fans can’t at least hear that. I would say that one need not look further for artistic inspiration than to the graphic design for the cover. (Beautifully created by none other than Patty Palazzo – and I mean it from the heart when I say it’s brilliant. That one image is exactly how I hear the song.) When I listen to the song, rather than the song actually reminding me of the way Duran Duran recorded the song, it reminds me of the ocean itself. I like that the cover is softer, dreamy…lazy like a summer day. Do I love it as much as the original? I have to be honest – for me it’s a completely different song altogether. It’s not really something I can compare. I can say though that I have played it more than once, and with each listen I like it more. I would have been very disappointed if it had sounded like the original, because that just isn’t the point of a cover at all.  (This reminds me of the discussion I saw among Tears for Fears fans when Lorde did a cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”.  Fans were ready to start burning effigies of her because she dared to try something new and made the song dark and haunting.)

I suspect that the intention with this tribute album was to have the artists completely reinterpret the originals, and I’m betting that Manimal Records doesn’t really care what the diehard Duranies really think of the finished product(s), nor should they. We’re not necessarily the audience they’re going after, and that’s OK. The trouble for fans is that it’s really not 1983 or 1984, and times have changed. If Moby came out with Rio, Karaoke style – who’d play it today? No one. So this is his 2014 interpretation. You don’t have to love it, hell…you don’t even have to like it, but you should at least respect the space from which it’s been done.

I did go through and read the comments on Facebook. As I said before, they’re scathing, and I have to wonder what people may have thought they were going to hear. I think some were aghast that someone would dare to cover a Duran Duran song to begin with, and plenty of others said that while they’re fans of Moby – they think this is terrible.

Wanna hear it for yourself?  Here ya go…the full version!

-R