Yesterday’s winner: Mediterranea
Which song better represents the All You Need Is Now Tour: Notorious or Ordinary World?
Yesterday’s winner: Mediterranea
Which song better represents the All You Need Is Now Tour: Notorious or Ordinary World?
The last winner: New Religion
Which song better represents the Paper Gods Tour: Notorious or Only in Dreams?
Admittedly, Notorious makes a pretty obvious target for this category. It came at a time of huge change for Duran, after all. They had taken a break at the top of their game as a five-piece, and come back as a threesome. Without the beat of Roger’s drums, and Andy’s rock guitar riffs, it has to have been the greatest change in their sound, right? You could claim that the remaining trios ‘discovery’ and use of a very American sound was the biggest departure they have made from their more Euro-centric dance roots.
On the other hand, there’s a strong case to be made that without Chic, there would never have been a Duran as we know them in the first place. Without the inspiration that they found in the funk and rhythm of Chic’s catalog, a quintessential part of the Duran sound, from the beginning, that deep drum and bass heartbeat, goes missing.
You can hear “My Own Way” in “Notorious”, and “A Matter of Feeling” in “Mediterranea”. “Winter Marches On” and “My Antarctica” draw from the same well. Just to start. And introducing strong backing vocals may have felt new for Notorious, but it certainly isn’t a practice they have abandoned.
With Nile Rogers coming on to produce the entire album, instead of the previous one-offs of remixes and singles, Notorious wasn’t an aberration, so much a fulfillment of a musical promise. And it’s one that the band has returned to again and again throughout their career. – Laura Skarka
“Duran have often been applauded for ‘not making the same album twice’ but we couldn’t have done so had we tried.” – John Taylor
If we take John at his word, there is no core group of albums with “the Duran Duran sound” from which to make a sidestep. I would disagree to a certain extent as the band has often shown a desire to bridge the sonic and ideological space between punk, glam and disco. It took the departures of Andy and Roger Taylor to finally bring this to fruition and Notorious remains the perfect blend of the various influences John and Nick built Duran Duran around.
Ground-zero for punk and disco was New York City in the 1970s but the scenes were on different paths until Blondie merged the Parallel Lines with songs such as “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another”. If there exists a template for the Duran Duran sound, this album seems as likely as any to be the best example of red-hot guitars and shimmering dance rhythms. With Notorious, Duran Duran finally had the musicians in the studio capable of taking that vision to a new level.
Much has been written about Nile Rodgers, and deservedly so, as his guidance and guitar work allowed them to capture the funk and soul of Chic in its purest sense but it is drummer Steve Ferrone (Average White Band) that drives the album. With his creative playing, John Taylor’s bass lines pop like never before and Rhodes’ synth work brings a moody elegance to the vibe. I’m reaching the word-limit on Dilate My Mind so I leave you with this graphic! – Jason Lent
What, exactly, is the “Duran” sound? To answer this week’s “Dilate My Mind” challenge, one first has to answer that question. Is it the darker debut album, in which you can still find remnants of the band’s punk influence? Or maybe the more radio-friendly SATRT? Is it the lush beauty of “Save a Prayer,” or the in-your-face harshness of “The Wild Boys”? Can it be the latent funk found in “New Religion”? Funk that was brought to the fore by Nile Rodgers in the remixed version of “The Reflex,” Duran’s most successful single on the holy trinity of its first three albums?
The argument that Notorious represented the greatest departure from the “true” Duran sound relies on the false premises that Duran’s “sound” from ’78-’86 was homogeneous, and that somehow funk was absent from it. Neither is true.
Of course, another argument is that there have been far greater deviations elsewhere in the catalogue. Liberty would seem to represent a greater departure than anything that came before; so too, one could argue that Medazzaland and some (not all, but some) of Red Carpet Massacre.
No matter how you view it, though, Notorious is a logical extension of the funk that was always in Duran’s DNA and launched them to their greatest success with “The Reflex.” You’d have to be buried in the sand to think otherwise! – C.K. Shortell
I don’t think Notorious can be considered the biggest sidestep from the Duran Duran sound in the band’s history… because their music is so wide-ranging that I’m not really sure that there IS a ‘Duran Duran sound’!
Even if we put it into context by going back to 1986 (i.e. ignoring everything that came afterwards) and suggest that the album was a major sidestep due to Roger and Andy not playing on the record, I can’t agree that it differs in sound from its predecessors more than 7ATRT and Rio did from the first album. The difference between the melancholy almost-post-punk of the first album and the colourful electropop of Rio is particularly notable.
If we do take the whole history into account… well, then, there are other albums that could be considered more prominent sidesteps than Notorious. Liberty featured some (glorious, IMO) leaps into a slightly harder rock sound, which had been forgotten about by the time of The Wedding Album. Red Carpet Massacre had a contemporary hip-hop vibe that hasn’t ever been repeated.
Besides, while there is an undeniably unique funk sound to many tracks on Notorious, it still features songs that don’t share that sound – ‘A Matter Of Feeling’ and ‘Winter Marches On’ could have fitted into any of the ‘80s albums (except, perhaps, for the bounce-a-minute Rio).
Most importantly, though, I think Notorious is a very important and iconic part of the band’s history, and as such it’s also a huge contributor to their overall ‘sound’… if there is such a thing! – Dee Cooke
a dialogue between the ego and the alter-ego
As a music writer who recently lost his primary publishing outlet, the kind offer from Daily Duranie to be their intern and write once a week really softened the disappointment. Over the last few weeks, I have dove back into every corner of my Duran Duran memories and music to establish a mental base of operations for future writing. I’ve listened to every album again and watched some DVDs that I had missed. In the end, I realized one thing about myself. I am a divided self. At least, I am with Duran Duran albums.
When I think about Duran Duran albums, there is a friction between my critical mind (which reviews an album or two each week) and my nostalgic heart. If you asked either piece of me to rank the albums, the lists would look quite different. So, I had to make a list. It’s a guy thing. We like making lists and arranging our taste in some sort of hierarchy that proves how smart we are. We are aware of this issue and we are working on it.
The Best Duran Duran Albums
1. (1.) Rio
Rio is never a debate. From the artwork to the videos to every single song, the album captured a moment in popular culture and convinced us the our lives could be a James Bond film in some way. The bass lines are the stuff of legend and the band never again found such a perfect balance between Andy’s aggressive guitars and Nick’s carefully arranged melodies. Every band has “that” album where they are in the zone but sometimes you get tired of it. Not with Rio.
(What he said.)
2. (2.) Duran Duran
A formidable debut album. From the Buzzcocks’ 1977 Spiral Scratch EP to this sounds like an eternity but it was only four years from punk to post-punk to Duran Duran. The musical maturity is already there in the arrangements and the band still sounds young and hungry. If this and Rio were all they ever released, Duran Duran would be revered like Joy Division.
(OK, not Joy Division. But this debut rocks harder than people remember. The later addition of “Is There Something I Should Know?” in 1983 actually disrupts the album with Alex Sadkin’s production sounding too bright and colorful amongst the Colin Thurston tracks. Rarely talked about by critics, this is one of the strongest debuts of the decade.)
3. (5.) Big Thing
Experimental with purpose and the proper dose of Warren on guitar has aged this album extremely well. “All She Wants Is” still sounds pristine with a low-end that can shake the room. From moody ballads to driving dance tracks, Duran Duran colorfully (those outfits…) flaunt the ease with which they juggle pop and art.
(Your neon colored eyes were at this show in 1989 and the band was fading in popularity. This album’s lukewarm success further pushed the band asunder of popular culture so how grand could it all be? Well, it is pretty grand but “Drug (It’s Just A State of Mind)” sounds completely out of place and is a total duff. If only there was an incredible B-side that should have replaced it. Hmm.)
4. (14.) Arena
The opening drums of “Is There Something I Should Know”. Is anybody hungry? Switch-it off. Was I chasing after rainbows? So many lines ignite the memory of listening to and watching this concert. Hearing “Seventh Stranger” on the last tour with the footage from 1984 playing above the stage was truly special.
(How many live albums are really not that “live”? Probably most. How many of those also “live albums” include a studio recording mid-set? “Wild Boys” drops out of the sky into the middle of a concert and nobody thinks this is weird? When you can actually hear John’s bass, the songs sound better but the original version of Arena sounds like it was mixed in a soup can.)
5. (7.) Seven & the Ragged Tiger
As a kid, the build-up to the video premier of “Union Of the Snake” felt as exciting as watching the Space Shuttle launch. Lizard people in a desert. An underground society of freaks. The song and video ushered in the band’s most saturated time in popular culture. Soon after, “The Reflex” brought Duran their first US #1. As good as the singles are, the desolate “Seventh Stranger” remains the masterpiece here.
(Nile Rodgers saved this album by fixing “The Reflex”. There are three songs in the middle of the album that I have always confused. As I try to hear them in my head, “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement” is the one I like best and the one that isn’t about dice is the one I like least (at a loss for what it is called right now and I listened to this cassette every day for a year when it came out). This album is inconsistent and the band sounds stressed that the fans might catch on.)
6. (4.) Notorious
I wasn’t ready for it when it arrived but this and Big Thing really stand-out in the band’s career. The band really fought themselves out of a corner with Notorious and established themselves as musicians, not teenage heart throbs. The musical talent was always there but the band sounds more focused and precise.
(Notorious was when Duran Duran stopped trying to be James Bond and took a deeper interest in the relationships of our beloved 007. “Skin Trade” is as sexy as Duran has ever been. Even with Andy gone, the guitars are still keeping Mr. Rhodes’ more pretentious proclivities in balance yielding a mature and confident Duran Duran. Song for song, there is a consistent quality to the album where every song serves a purpose.)
7. (3.) All You Need Is Now
Without a doubt, my favorite Duran album post-80s. Mark Ronson keeps it simple by focusing on what works best. They might not be hits in a commercial sense but fans of a band know when a song is a “hit”. The title track and “Girl Panic!” were top-shelf singles in any decade. An unfair criticism but the fact that we don’t listen to albums on repeat day after day anymore probably makes this slightly under-appreciated by me.
(Slightly under-appreciated?! Song for song, this belongs in their top three. The artwork, the analogue synths, the stellar guitar work of Dom Brown, and an arsenal of hooks makes this an unforgettable Duran Duran album. What is harder than following up a massive debut album with an even bigger one that conquers the world? Recording an album two decades later that holds its own with the first two.)
8. (6.) Medazzaland
Mid-period Duran Duran without a Taylor was a little uncertain but Medazzaland remains an experimental delight. The video for “Electric Barbarella” might stir debate but the song sounds futuristic and kitsch. They even erupt like Tesla on the chorus of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. A few anonymous tracks drift-by but the album never loses its grip on you.
(Not releasing it in the UK was a tragedy. The UK audience would have appreciated the cold electronics. While not exactly Bowie’s Low, the band’s experiment pays off with a strong collection of songs. Warren colors between the lines when he needs to and enhances Nick’s digital landscapes. Best experienced as a whole, Medazzaland sounds like a place we should visit.)
9. (11.) Red Carpet Massacre
The follow-up to Reportage (apparently), suffers from a case of uncertainty but there are some genuinely killer dance tracks on here. Hearing “Tempted” live sent me back to this album and I found more than I remembered. Simon’s voice on “Box full o’ Honey” sounds exquisite, for one. “Dirty Great Monster” sounds like a lost Cheap Trick gem and “Last Man Standing” is the sort of album track that can carry an album beyond the singles.
(Parting ways with Andy should have ignited a spark of swagger from the band but they sound content to the let the high-priced producers do the driving. Timberlake really brings little to the party besides being popular at the time. He is a once-in-a-generation talent but the collaboration was stale. Chasing a more “authentic” club sound only reminds us how important Roger Taylor on real drums is to the Duran Duran formula.)
10. (8.) Liberty
Unfairly maligned for some misteps like “Hothead”, there is some really great material on Liberty. Every critic said the lead single was a terrible choice but I actually dig “Violence”. The second side of the album definitely loses some focus but the first half proves worthy of frequent listens and “My Antartica” is nothing short of beautiful.
(The modern-pop of “Serious” and the fierce “First Impression” showcase a band considering future paths. At the time, it was easy to call this indecision but I think it was borne from curiosity the more I listen to the album. The myth that Wedding Album “saved” the band implies that Liberty was a catastrophe. Nothing is further from the truth.)
11. (12.) Wedding Album
The first time I heard “Ordinary World”, I was crossing the railroad tracks near Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL. I remember it that vividly. Duran Duran was back! Three classic singles and some interesting filler made for a respectable but overrated album.
(No matter how successful “Ordinary World” was to the band, it still doesn’t sound like a classic Duran Duran song. While the liquid grace of “Come Undone” and the attitude of “Too Much Information” were dynamite, the rest of the album is far less coherent than Liberty.)
12. (9.) Astronaut
Andy Taylor’s guitar tone has a unique frequency that just soothes my soul. His style is a breath of fresh air after Warren’s antics on the fretboard (and in the bedroom). Even if there was only the reunion tour, it was worth it but the band took the time to deliver new material that often reminds you of their best work while not quite getting there.
(I would have liked to see them hit the studio after a reunion tour while the juices were flowing but “What Happens Tomorrow” and “Nice” will always make my Duran playlist. Rest of it is somewhat forgettable but I enjoy it when I listen to it.)
13. (10.) Paper Gods
Living in Vegas, you build up an instant distain for anything that smells like EDM. So, “Last Night In the City” will always be an album killer for me. The ballads lack the necessary hooks and the best songs from this period were relegated to b-side status. Paper Gods took too long to record and there were too many cooks in the kitchen.
(Not nearly as bad as I think. “Sunset Garage” could almost slip into a Motown playlist while “Danceophobia” is a legendary band having a laugh. The bold title song shows confidence at the front of the album and the band sounds ready to keep the party going for at least another decade.)
14. (13.) Thank You
(The critics were savages when this came out but the production is quite good. “Perfect Day” is full of grace and “White Lines” captures the paranoia of the original. Still, it could have been much better than it is. )
15. (15.) Pop Trash
This was mostly trash.
Yesterday’s winner: Self-Titled Debut
Which album would you prefer to see/hear live in entirety?
In 2010, Pitchfork contributor Tom Ewing helped define the concept of imperial phases as it applies to popular music. Coined by Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, also a music critic, it’s the sort of term that obsessive music fans and writers grasp immediately. Ewing laid out certain parameters for what constitutes a band’s imperial phase while also noting that empires eventually crumble: “it holds a mix of world-conquering swagger and inevitable obsolescence.” On October 20, 1986, Duran Duran released the single “Notorious” and rose up from the rubble of an empire in tatters.
Without discrediting their success in the UK, the entire concept of an imperial phase implies an empire that stretches beyond borders. For Duran Duran, that meant conquering the United States and the world. I would make the case that the band’s imperial phase began in March 1983 when “Hungry Like the Wolf” peaked at #3 in the U.S. and came to a close with “A View To A Kill” becoming the band’s second #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of 1985.
For those twenty-eight months, Duran Duran possessed the three traits required of a band’s imperial phase as laid out by Ewing. The band’s sense of command was impeccable. The original idea of a band that blended Chic and Sex Pistols had become a reality. The New Romantic scene was left behind and the band was creating a singular style all their own where over-driven guitars and textured synths could dance in harmony. Secondly, they had permission – the world was listening and the hysteria was deafening. Finally, the band’s imperial phase set the tone for the rest of their career. Within the sounds of Rio and Seven & the Ragged Tiger are the seeds of everything that would come after.
It was the unpolished performance at Live Aid in July of 1985 that put all the internal issues of the band in front of the world and they were overshadowed by everyone from Howard Jones to U2 that magical day. The fragmentation into two camps: rock (The Powerstation) and art-pop (Arcadia) were both successful but the band’s imperial phase was grinding to a halt. The loss of Roger and Andy should have been death blows to the Duran Duran empire. Can you imagine The Beatles moving on if Ringo and George Harrison had left? It was time to burn out or fade away. Thanks to a little help from a friend in Nile Rodgers, Duran Duran emphatically chose to do neither.
The release of “Notorious” thirty-three years ago this month ushered in the band’s post-imperial phase. As Tennant once said, “what’s interesting is what you do after” and Duran Duran lived up to that immediately with a funky single that introduced us to a leaner, more mature band. While the single performed admirably, the album stalled outside the Top 10 in both the UK and America even though it remains one of the deepest albums they have ever released. From start to finish, there isn’t a song on there that makes you wonder if maybe they could have found something better for the album.
The follow-up singles to “Notorious” are two of my favorite Duran Duran singles, especially “Skin Trade”. The fact that it barely nibbled the Top 40 remains one of the biggest mysteries in their career. The video, the bass line, the vocal, everything came together on “Skin Trade” but most people had already made the decision to either move on to new bands and styles as the decade wound down. It’s a shame. Things were starting to get really interesting….
the lasting first impression is what you’re looking for – “First Impression”
The excitement of unwrapping a new cassette, CD, or vinyl record, and settling into a new listening experience retains its sense of excitement no matter how old we get. There is something magical about hearing new music from a favorite band and, often, the first three songs of the album are a strong indication of where you are headed together. The trio of songs that open U2’s The Joshua Tree and Prince’s 1999 are astoundingly good and a huge reason both are considered classic albums. Does Duran Duran have a trio on the same level? Maybe not but it made for a fun Duran Dissection project.
Duran Duran (1981)
The camera shutter of “Girls On Film” is certainly prophetic given Duran’s success in front of it on MTV and countless teen magazines. Then you get “Planet Earth”, a song that encapsulates a moment in time when all the various styles of the 1970s were coalescing into a new sound that would change the world. While “Anyone Out There” might have made it back into recent set lists because of the NASA show, it would be hard to find someone unhappy about it. Not necessarily single-worthy, “Anyone Out There” remains one of the strongest album tracks the band would ever record.
Verdict: A- (I decided to use letter grades since Amanda is a teacher and we need more heroes like her on the front lines of education)
From the dark clubs of the New Romantic movement to the world stage, the more colorful sound of “Rio” is pop perfection and succinctly captures the spirit of the 1980s. The trio gets a little shaky, however, with the album version of “My Own Way”. No matter how much I love this album, there is always a voice in the back of my head telling Roger to speed it up on this song. I much prefer the Carnival remix and the night version to the original album version but maybe that’s just me. I also prefer the longer version of “Lonely In Your Nightmare” on the remixed US version of the album. The mood and atmosphere are allowed more time to capture your imagination.
Seven & the Ragged Tiger (1983)
Nile Rodgers gets the A for his remix of “The Reflex” because the original is pretty flat overall. Given the anticipation for this record, it is a disappointing start. “New Moon On Monday” feels more fully realized but then the album loses momentum again with “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement”. While not a horrible song, it isn’t essential to the album. One of the weakest opening runs of any Duran Duran album, it might have frightened casual fans away from the magic that awaits on side two.
A statement of purpose, the title song ring in a new era of Duran Duran that feels a little chippy (at least towards a flaky bandit). Then, “American Science” sways like a palm tree in the dark. Full of sophistication, the new Duran Duran were growing up faster than some fans; including me. The sexy “Skin Trade” should have faired better as a single and rounds out a thrilling opening suite of songs. The overall mood of the album comes through on these songs and all hold their own individually.
Big Thing (1988)
I sense that the title track is a love it or hate it moment in the band’s history. In 1988, I was definitely a little hair metal kid so the punch of it instantly appealed to me. Then, the band delivers two of their finest singles. I’ll argue all day that “I Don’t Want Your Love” and “All She Wants Is” are stronger singles than “The Reflex” and “New Moon On Monday”. OK, maybe I’m stretching it, but this album was criminally ignored by the industry.
I just waxed nostalgic over Liberty here so I’ll keep this brief. The first two songs are solid introductions to a slightly uncertain time for Duran Duran. That uncertainty turns into a hot mess on “Hothead”. I’ll leave it at that.
Duran Duran (1993)
Please, please let me know. Are we officially calling this The Wedding Album now? Despite the slight hypocrisy of the lyrics in “Too Much Information”, the song practically explodes from the speakers after the timid Liberty. Where would Duran have ended up had “Ordinary World” not turned the tide on their commercial free fall? I’d rather not think too hard about that. Unfortunately, “Love Voodoo” hints at some of the uneven music that follows on The Wedding Album.
Experimental, bold, fresh. There are so many words to describe the mysterious Medazzaland album. The opening three songs are all of the above-mentioned adjectives and more. The album loses its luster the deeper you go but the opening trio lays to rest any concerns about Duran Duran bouncing back strong from the critical mess that was Thank You. It is hard to resist “Electric Barbarella” as a single. The percolating synths and guitars work well together. Its classic Duran Duran even if the video’s stab at humor fails to overcome the sexist premise.
Pop Trash (2000)
A new century of Duran Duran began with “Someone Else Not Me”, a fine song but a difficult album opener. Bordering on 60s psychedelic folk-pop, the song challenged us to open our minds to what Duran Duran could sound like. The opening guitar and drums of “Lava Lamp” could pass for a Matchbox 20 song before Nick and Simon arrive while the swirling “Playing With Uranium” manages a decent chorus. I find that I enjoy Pop Trash in a single listen so any three song run from this album leaves me indifferent.
And then they were back. “(Reach Up For the) Sunrise” has a chorus worthy of a stadium. It is contemporary but without sacrificing the values of early Duran Duran. “Want You More!” is the sort of synth-pop gold that the band used to dispense with ease. LeBon’s voice sounds particularly strong on “What Happens Tomorrow”, a mid-tempo rocker the band seems determined to put on every album since the success of “Ordinary World”. This time, it works out beautifully.
Red Carpet Massacre (2007)
Opener “The Valley” suffers from confusing production. This song should be a distant cousin to The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” but it ends up trying to be something urban and hip. The title song and “Nite-Runner” are better examples of what the band was aiming for. It might have driven Andy to Ibiza and left me dreaming of what Reportage will someday sound like but this project has grown on me.
All You Need Is Now (2010)
Such an incredible album, the band hasn’t kept any of the songs in the set list since the tour ended supporting it. I’m not bitter. Yet. The title song is the best Duran Duran single since “All She Wants Is” and introduces an album that holds its own with the band’s best work during their imperial phase. “Blame the Machines” and “Being Followed” get the adrenaline racing with the perfect balance of synths and guitars. This is Duran playing to their strengths in every respect.
Paper Gods (2015)
One of the most instantly intriguing opening tracks the band has ever done. When the instruments come in, you can hear a little of M’s “Pop Muzik” buried in the DNA of the track. It’s an instantly likable blend of the band’s pop aspirations and art-school fixations. Of all the band’s albums, this one suffers the most from the sequencing. “Last Night In the City” is the sound of a screeching car crashing into a wall with some EDM blasting through the stereo. It feels out of place after the moody opener. “You Kill Me With Silence” feels like the appropriate follow-up to “Paper Gods” and doesn’t create such a disjointed listen. I could write an entire Daily Duranie piece on restructuring Paper Gods. Maybe, I will.
The song from the Notorious era that should have been a b-side (and was): We Need You
Which song should have been a b-side (and not included on the album)?
According to our voters, this should have been the track listing for Seven and the Ragged Tiger:
Which song off of Notorious should have been a b-side and not included on the album?
Welcome to a brand new week, Duranies. As I sat here pondering what to write about today, (and let me just be honest: I was not prepared in the least for today, and if I had it my way, I’d have called the day off altogether!) I saw that DDHQ had asked social media what they felt was Duran Duran’s funkiest song.
I thought the answer was pretty simple. Of course it’s “Notorious”. After all, Simon pretty much proclaims it at every show when he asks if anyone is ready to dance, and if so what should they play…and then he’ll say something like “Whatever it is, it has to be FUNKY!”…and then they break into “Notorious”. I didn’t have to think hard about it, and started to type when I decided to take a quick scroll through the other answers being offered on Twitter.
Turns out, “Notorious” wasn’t even the most popular answer (at the time), and the answers ran the gamut from “Nite Runner” to “Skin Trade”. All of that had me thinking whether or not I still wanted to go with “Notorious” as my answer. Sure, it was the easiest for me to come up with, but is it really the funkiest? I think that might depend on your definition of funk.
I decided that if I was going to write about funk, I’d better have a decent, formal definition. I pulled the following up from Google:
Funk (noun): A style of popular dance music of US black origin, based on elements of blues and soul and having a strong rhythm that typically accentuates the first beat in the bar.
The definition is a little vague, but the idea is there. The music is danceable. It has a foot firmly in the jazz rule book, but the rhythm and blues current is undeniable and very forward in the music. (meaning it is what your ears notice first. You can’t really miss it.) Even more interesting than noticing just how many Duran songs fit into that box, is realizing that the one element found on every Duran Duran album in some way, shape, or form, is funk!
Even on their debut album, you can hear funk in the bass and in the drums. It is there, even when the other song elements aren’t in that same vein. That effect – the melding of electronic with funk, rhythm & blues and even disco – is likely what made their music so special to many of us, from day one.
While many fans (including myself) have engaged in discussion over the ever-changing musical fabric with each album, the one element that remains the same is indeed that sense of funk. So often I find myself talking with folks about whether or not I can hear the guitar, or the bass, or even synthesizers, when in fact what I think we should really be discussing is whether or not we still hear that “Duran Duran Funk”.
If we hear it, is it weak or strong? Overpowering? Just the right amount? If it seems absent, how does that make us feel? Do we think something is missing? It is definitely worth a trip down the rabbit hole into the back catalog to see just how important funk is to the Duran Duran musical “brand” and to individual listeners, or fans.
Obviously, this concept isn’t new. It wasn’t as though I woke up today with the magic formula for a perfect Duran Duran song. Rather, the idea of just how many songs in their catalog have funk as their elemental backbone gave me something to consider over coffee this morning.
I don’t know if it is really the “funkiest” song in their catalog – but “American Science” has a slow, hypnotic, soul, with plenty of funk to it that I’ve always loved. While the tempo isn’t fast and it certainly isn’t “Notorious”, it has all the elements that make it a song worth many listens.