Yesterday’s winner and favorite lyric from the Seventh Stranger: “Echos growing in the heart of twilight”
Which song has BETTER LYRICS: Notorious or American Science?
Yesterday’s winner and favorite lyric from the Seventh Stranger: “Echos growing in the heart of twilight”
Which song has BETTER LYRICS: Notorious or American Science?
Yesterday’s winner: Wild Boys
Which video do you like better: A View to a Kill or Notorious?
On this date in 1984, Seven and the Ragged Tiger went platinum.
First of all, do you remember when Duran Duran albums used to go platinum? Better yet – do you remember when ANY of your favorite artists had platinum records? This of course, is not a statement about the band—it’s about the music industry in general. In other words, it isn’t the quality of the albums that has gone down, it is sales in general. Very few artists have albums that go platinum these days. I’ll take ten minutes in the Billboard Top Ten any day and be happy.
So, I’m going to think back to a happier time in 1984, when I still listened to radio, and Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world. Of course, that is slightly offset by the fact that on this date in 1984, I was a frizzy haired, awkward thirteen year old. I was in eighth grade, I believe (if my math is correct!), and I made a pilgrimage to my local record store nearly every week with my friend Marsha so that we could each buy magazines. She was so cool that she actually subscribed to Billboard, but I had to buy it off the rack when I had extra money. If I remember right, Billboard magazine was pretty expensive, so a lot of times I’d just thumb threw her copy and settle for magazines like Teen Beat or Bop!
I do remember the week Seven and the Ragged Tiger went platinum though, because we were in her mom’s van, and Marsha thrust her Billboard under my nose, telling me to read about Duran Duran’s platinum record.
It is funny how, in hindsight, I can remember how blasé I was about the entire thing. It didn’t occur to me that platinum records were so hard to get. After all, back then Duran Duran made it look easy. For instance, Seven and the Ragged Tiger went double platinum. I don’t think I gave a thought that they might ever stop getting platinum records, either. (and for the record, after Seven and the Ragged Tiger – there were only two more (US) platinum records for the band: Notorious, and Duran Duran (The Wedding Album). Talk about taking the band’s career for granted!
In 1984, Duran Duran was everywhere. I couldn’t go to the grocery store or the record store without seeing them on the covers of magazines, or having huge posters of them greeting me. It wasn’t just a treat to hear them on the radio—they were in near constant rotation. The Sing Blue Silver tour was in high gear, and in just under a month it hit the Los Angeles Forum. (not that I attended, and yes, that fact still stings) Duranmania was in full swing, and I was caught up in the wave, like nearly everyone else. I never gave a single thought to it all ending. I don’t know if I thought it would go on forever, or if I was just so caught up in the moments of adolescence that it never occurred to me that I’d grow up.
Oddly though, I don’t crave the idea of being thirteen again. Sure, writing the blog gives me a chance to be nostalgic from time to time, but I’d never go back. Would you?
Do you remember Seven and the Ragged Tiger going platinum in 1984?
Yesterday’s winner: Rio
Which album do you like better: Seven and the Ragged Tiger or Notorious?
Yesterday’s winner and favorite song Duran covered: (Come Up and See Me) Make Me Smile
Based on a suggestion from a friend, this next set of questions will compare Duran’s Notorious to Arcadia’s So Red the Rose, two albums released just a year apart.
Which song do you like better: Notorious or Election Day?
Welcome to Monday. It is my first day back after a nearly a week of festivities, and so I’m going to start slow…by doing my own ranking of albums.
In full disclosure, I read diffuser.fm’s take on Duran’s career, as well as Amanda’s, prior to making my own choices. Both gave me a little more to think about, but neither swayed my decisions. I know we’ve done this before, but as Amanda mentioned, I haven’t even considered it since Paper Gods came out. Why not revisit?
My own countdown is devised so that I mention the album and the reasons for where it sits. Some albums may have a paragraph, others might have a sentence or two. I left Arena off of my list completely as it only has one studio song on it and if I were to rank live albums I would do them all.
I’ve learned that I cannot hem and haw around while I am ranking things or picking favorites. I feel a little like I’m mowing down the field of Duran Duran albums as I go through the process, quickly deciding what should go where and why – but I go with my first instinct, my gut, and don’t look back. I do fine as I begin, but somewhere around #8 I start worrying, but remind myself to go with my gut. I look back over the list as I’m finishing and realize that for now – today even – it’s how I feel. Tomorrow? Who knows. That’s kind of how it’s always been for me as a fan.
Perhaps it’s really gotten to the point that I identify so closely with their career – each album marking a particular point in my own life – that it’s difficult to be objective anymore. I don’t know, but I tried. I’m sure I’m not the first fan to be stumped by ranking albums or picking favorite songs. In fact, I know I’m not!
I just never felt they hit their stride here. While some songs, such as Perfect Day or Lay Lady Lay are so silky smooth you can’t help but enjoy them, others, such as 911 is a Joke, make no sense at all. Then there’s White Lines, which is great live, but on the album it tends to fall flat. I can’t fault the band too much for trying something few other bands of their calibre have done, but it just does not rank high on my list of favorites.
Anyone who knows me probably saw this coming, and I’m sorry for being predictable. I don’t think this album can or should be swept under the proverbial carpet and forgotten – because it is how we got here, to this place we all currently occupy. I can certainly see and hear the parallels between this album and Paper Gods. I’m glad they tried out some of the things they learned from RCM over again to get them right.
I would characterize Pop Trash as the fast food of Duran Duran’s career. Perhaps fitting? While the album is nowhere near “bad”, I never felt that there was a lot for me to sink my teeth into and devour. It lacks the depth of some of their other work, which is why it ended up in this place on my list.
Ah, Medazzaland. If there were any album that had changed for me over the years since it’s release – it would be this one. I just didn’t get it when it first came out. In fact, I listened to the album in full one time before shelving it for many years. Lately though, I’ve listened to it, and I’m finally starting to get it. No, I’m still not a fan of the title track (sorry Nick), or Silva Halo, but I do really like Big Bang Generation, Who Do You Think You Are, and Midnight Sun. There’s a lot hiding amongst the shadows on this album, and I think it’s worth a revisit.
How can I rank this above Pop Trash or Medazzaland? 2am drives from Hollywood, that’s how. Our personal experiences shape our listening choices, and for me – that’s why Liberty works. It kept me awake many times during college and beyond, so I’m going with it.
I have to admit that I agree with Amanda – while there are two songs on this album that are iconic for Duran Duran, the album as a whole isn’t nearly as impressive as others (which I recognize is tough to do when you’re Duran Duran and have had so many successes). So it’s not that I think the album is bad – it’s that the band has too many great ones!
Oh yes I did rank this one about The Wedding Album. Please see the line about personal experiences. For me, this album is all about the Fab Five. I can’t ignore it, I can’t get past that, and it was a dream come true for me. Yes, it’s pop. Sure, there are songs on it that I didn’t love and I still take it personally that they didn’t include Beautiful Colors, Salt in the Rainbow and Virus on it. Even so, I’ll take it.
I am pretty sure that at one point or another, I ranked this lower on my list. Again, I didn’t get it. But just a week ago, I pulled the album out and gave it a good listen. What is most remarkable to me about Notorious, is that it came after Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Those albums were hugely successful. Then they had two band members leave, and rather than sticking with what they knew, they took the opportunity to blaze new territory. It was like deciding to take a giant left turn out of nowhere. As a child, I had little respect for that sort of thing. In fact, I don’t think I really understood. Even as an adult I sometimes get caught up in what I think DD should be or should sound like – but I’m working on it.
Another album I didn’t really get until adulthood. The first half is as dance music as I’d expect from DD, and the latter is the culmination of some of their finest songwriting moments. The emotion that comes across threw the B side of this album is astounding, and in my opinion, it is the best DD album that no one has really heard.
Here’s the thing about Paper Gods for me – I like it. I don’t know that I love it, although I’ve tried. It ticks a lot of the boxes for plenty of people, but it is also an album that I really needed to come to terms with. I didn’t fall in instant love, but I would say I’ve grown to respect each song and the work that went into making the album overall. I can’t fault an album that hit top ten, if only for a brief, shining moment.
This goes bad to personal experiences for me. This album is my seventh grade wrapped in vinyl. Awkward, sometimes overdone, but still well-loved. Sure, it might not be their best songwriting, but I love it all the same, and that’s why it is near the top of my list. All I have to do is hear the opening notes to Union of the Snake and I’m back on the lawn with my friends at recess, gawking at the latest edition of Tiger Beat. For me, those memories are priceless, and that is what makes music so powerful.
I know what you all are thinking. Yes, I really did put Rio third. The trouble is, it could easily be second. Or first. The final three on my list here are probably interchangeable, if not completely tied. I cannot think about Duran Duran without thinking about Rio. If there were ever a reason why Hungry Like the Wolf is played at every single DD show – it is because of Rio. Try as we might, we simply cannot separate Rio (the album) from the band, in the same way that we cannot separate HLTW from them either. I get it. I may not always like it, but I get it. And I respect it.
It pains me that the band left this song, and many songs from this album, off of their set list this past year. For me personally, this album is easily as iconic as Rio. It describes the band, and their relationship with their audience, to a T. To think that Duran Duran wrote this album during their third decade together simply blows me away. It is an album that never got it’s justice, and it is still one of my very favorite.
I really don’t think it is all that surprising that one of my favorite albums is the one that started it all for them, and for me. I love the rawness, the lack of expectation, and the realness of the music. There is no ego here, no trying to outdo what has already been done. It is simply music from a band ready to take it’s place in the world. This is an album from Duran Duran before they were DURAN DURAN, and it is the most real we’ve ever gotten from them. that is why it remains number one for me.
My choices weren’t all that surprising, but the exercise was fun. I don’t anticipate others to agree with me – in fact, you shouldn’t. We all have had our own journey, and that is what makes it all fun. I’m no music expert, and I only have my own taste to rely on, so by all means make your own list and have fun with it.
No No Notorious!
(I had to do it. If there was ever a moment…this was it.)
Today, my friends, is a momentous anniversary. The Notorious album turns thirty. THIRTY. 3-0. That’s YEARS. (And still I say, “How can that be, I’m only twenty-five!”)
Let’s be blunt: this is getting ridiculous. In no way should Duran Duran’s albums be getting up there in years. This is in the same way that I should not be getting up there in years, I might add. It’s obscene at this point, and I think it is getting offensive.
Nonetheless, this is cause for celebration (and some vodka, well-overdue, I might add). At the lack of waxing nostalgic, I remember when Notorious was released. I know I began asking for the album around the time of my birthday earlier in November, and of course I didn’t get it because it hadn’t been released (I seem to recall getting the 12″ single for my birthday but I can’t swear to the timing—along with my obvious lack of memory surrounding my age <wink,wink>—my inner timeline is pretty vague these days). However, I remember hearing on the radio that the album had been released, and the timing was perfect for Christmas. I can remember sitting on the floor Christmas morning and unwrapping a flat gift and then seeing John, Nick and Simon on the cover. I was thrilled, as I always was (and still am) when I received anything having to do with Duran Duran as a gift.
Notorious, however, was different. It wasn’t like Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Rio or their self-titled debut. Notorious had a horn section, and prominent backing vocals. At that point in my life, I’m not sure I could characterize the difference in sound with words – but I knew it was not new wave, or like anything I’d heard before.
Now, I know that Nick in particular is very fond of explaining that Duran Duran likes to reinvent themselves with each album. I would agree that for the most part, they’ve always done that rather successfully. As an adult, I have grown to enjoy that about the band. But in the year 1986, I had just turned 16. I was hormonal, grappling with burgeoning adulthood – and had just gotten my driver’s license. I wanted the Duran Duran I knew, I suppose. I wanted familiarity. As much as I was excited to have some new-found independence, I can distinctly remember cradling Duran Duran in my arms, wishing for a time that had already been lost.
It took me a long time to come to grips with Notorious. Mind you, I never disliked the album or anything like that, it just wasn’t a favorite. I would be far more apt to come flying in the house after a long day at school, throw open the door to my room, dump my backpack on my bed and bend down to grab Duran Duran or Rio and put it on my turntable than Notorious. For me, I suppose that album kind of symbolized how everything was changing during a time when I wasn’t quite ready.
In the thirty years since, I’ve learned to not only appreciate Notorious, but understand the thinking behind it. I value the intricacy of the music, and naturally —I recognize Nile’s handiwork. I think Notorious is an album that depicts the three remaining members maturing and solidifying what was to be Duran Duran in the decades to follow. While I cannot lie, it is still not one of my first go-to albums, today as I listen while I’m blogging, I can’t imagine the catalog without it.
Yesterday I blogged about Duran’s Big Thing album as it has recently had an anniversary. I wanted to take note of when it was made, what singles and videos it had and more. Today, though, I want to take it personal. What was my relationship with this album and where is it today?
Before I dive into Big Thing, I wanted to provide a little context, a little backstory. I had moved with my family in late 1985 from the Chicago suburbs to a small town in Illinois. A lot of aspects of my life felt wrong then, including my Duran Duran fandom. I missed my best friend and a fellow Duran fan. In my new town, no one knew who Duran Duran was and they certainly didn’t care. I tried desperately to hang onto my fandom but it was tough. Heck, I even attempted to persuade new acquaintances that they should love Duran like I did. Thus, I loyally purchased Notorious as soon as it came out, but a lot changed in the two years that followed.
In between the Notorious and Big Thing releases, MTV arrived in my new home town. My new friends and I were glued to the channel. We couldn’t get enough, despite our growing annoyance with Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody that played on continuous loop. One day, I happened to catch a world premiere video. Of course, the big event was the brand new video for I Don’t Want Your Love. My reaction? It felt instantly like Duran. While the video wasn’t as cool or as exciting as some of their previous ones in exotic locations with story lines, I still liked it. I even recorded the premiere on my VCR. Yet, it didn’t catch my attention for long.
By 1988, I was on an island surrounded by people who were not into Duran Duran in any way, shape or form. My classmates played a lot of hair metal bands. While I never got into that, my love for Duran had waned. I couldn’t share it with anyone. My video watching became a lonely, solitary activity, which was no fun. I soon realized that it almost made me sad to watch this new Duran video as it reminded me of better, more fun times. I hoped that MTV would feature Duran like they once did, in order to convince my peers that Duran was the band to love. Unfortunately, while the video was played a lot, it wasn’t enough. My new friends weren’t open to the band.
My fandom began to sink as I didn’t even buy the album for a long time. By the time All She Wants Is was released, the band was out of sight, out of mind, for the most part. When I heard about the band touring, I didn’t even look at the dates or try to go. After all, we now lived about an hour and a half from the closest concert venue and I knew that I would have no one to go with. Emotionally, it became easier to dismiss the tour as something I wasn’t interested in rather than really think about how cool it would be.
Of course, at some point, I did buy the album. In fact, I bought it used as one of those used cd/book/dvd stores. Now, of course, I know each and every song, but I wouldn’t say that I ever really bonded with it, not like I have with other albums. This has nothing to do with the music. It has more to do with the context of when the album came out and where I was in my life at the time.
That said, there are clearly some quality music on it. For example, The Edge of America is one of my favorite Duran tracks of all time. The song captures a lot of what I see and feel from some of my students, a helplessness and anger directed at a country who has done harm too often in its history. Speaking of history, I’m not sure that this album was a highlight in Duran’s catalog, not because of the music, but because like in my own life, this time period represented more of Duran’s slide away from being the biggest band in the world (commercially and fame wise). The tour, for example, was a massive one but had some moments that many fans look at now and question like the decision to feature dancing during All She Wants Is.
In many ways, Big Thing represents a period of real change and adjustment, I think, for both the band’s career and for me personally. It may not represent the biggest commercial or critical success for the band, but it represents many qualities that I love about Duran. They were not afraid to try a new direction or be influenced by the musical world at the time. Their persistence remained despite all who wanted to shut the door on them. The album was necessary for them to make the albums of the future. Similarly, I continued to battle and had to push through to find a new me in my new town.
Perhaps, by placing Big Thing in Duran’s history as well as mine own, my appreciation for it will only grow.
Yesterday’s choice: Last Night in the City
Which song would you rather have LEFT OFF the setlist: What Are the Chances or Notorious?
Yesterday’s winner: Wild Boys
Which song would you rather be LEFT OFF the setlist: A View to a Kill or Notorious?