Tag Archives: Notorious

How do we really feel about Autumn Albums?

I think we can all agree it’s been pretty quiet recently. I can appreciate friends who post topics to get a conversation started, particularly when it comes to Duran Duran.  Personally, I love surveys and polls. They’re fun little “litmus” tests for the fan community, and they’re fun to look back on from year to year to see if there’s been any changes.

One of my Twitter friends, @BoysMakeNoise (you should follow him!) likes putting together surveys. This week, there was a survey on Autumn albums. Each of the albums that Duran Duran has released in Autumn months was given a star rating of 1 to 5, and then that information was compiled to find out what album was most liked.  He ran the same survey last year at about the same time, and now we’d have a comparison.

2017 Results  (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre  (2.95)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.73)

  4. Big Thing (3.78)

  5. Paper Gods (3.96)

  6. Notorious (4.00)

  1. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (4.07)

2018 Results (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre (2.99)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.63)

  4. Big Thing (3.74)

  5. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (3.86)

  6. Notorious (4.06)

  1. Paper Gods (4.28)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I like to extrapolate information from results like these.  There were 100 participants in the survey. The number isn’t enormous, but I think it is fairly representative. Chances are, the people who participated are not simply “fair-weather fans”. These are people who know the band’s catalog, and know it well-enough to debate the components.

Astonishingly, the real movement here was between Paper Gods and Seven and the Ragged Tiger – one of the “Holy Trinity” albums. (First album, Rio and SATRT). Rarely do I ever see any of the initial three knocked out of the top three of any survey ever taken. They tend to be considered Holy Grail, virtually untouchable. The rest of the results stayed within a reasonable range of last year’s survey results, but most did vary.  Medazzaland, pinpointed at an average rating of 3.06 stars each year, was the only album with stagnate results.

Nostalgia at Work

It is rare to see any of the first three albums removed from the top of any “favorites” list. There are a number of reasons for this. The album was released in 1983, there was a reasonably huge tour to support it, and it came out at the height of their popularity. This album marked the end of the initial “Fab Five” era, and for that reason alone, even post-1980’s fans hold it close to their hearts. The nostalgia for this album is enormous, and that alone keeps it afloat.

Over the years I’ve been participating in social media, I’ve been involved in more than one discussion about Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It is a difficult album for me, because I remember how much I adored it when it was released. The funny thing is that even in 1983, I don’t think I really “got” it. I can remember thinking how strange it sounded compared to anything else out at the time—and I liked it that way. Even today, I’m astounded by just how much is going on in every single song. There are no “empty spaces”.  There are layers upon layers of music and background effect. The question, is whether or not it was overdone, and that’s always up for debate.

I can see the first three albums in a definite progression. The first album was pretty raw and natural. In my opinion, that album remains the most uniquely untouched “Duran”. No egos, no fame, no fortune to muddy the picture. Rio, has far more finesse. A little more ego, but not too much. After all, they didn’t “hit” in the USA until much of Rio was remixed (Kershenbaum) and re-released here in the states. They were UK stars, but America was another challenge. Next was SATRT, and they pulled out all of the stops for this one. There’s a lot going on, and I don’t just mean musically. The band clearly had an ego by this time, and they felt like they had something to prove, with all the resources in the world to do it. I can hear the inner tug-of-war going on within the band, and if you listen closely – you can hear Simon tell you all about the struggles of fame, too.

The trouble is, at least in my opinion, as much as I loved this period of time – the album has its challenges. In hindsight, Seven and the Ragged Tiger is representative of the band’s excesses on nearly every level. Even so, I can’t quit it, and likely – neither can you.

What about Paper Gods?

In the other hand lies Paper Gods. Upon first glance, you might not even recognize that it’s the same band, particularly if you’re not a diehard fan. As I bow to my fellow nostalgia-nerds out there, I can’t help but say that Paper Gods is the better album. The quality of construction is there. It has all of the finesse of Rio, with the same quality of ingenuity that created Seven and the Ragged Tiger. On the same token, Paper Gods is not a one-listen album. In order to fully appreciate the music, it takes time. Once again, if you listen closely, you’ll even hear Simon tell you everything you need to know about their career. Paper Gods is truly a survey of their career, and a hallmark album. I believe these to be the reasons for the growth in the survey results for Autumn albums over last year.

In other words, it is not so much that Seven and the Ragged Tiger has lost a huge amount of favor with fans as it is that Paper Gods is becoming more beloved. I don’t think there will ever be a time when a significant number of fans won’t include SATRT in their top three or four list of favorite DD albums, much less Autumn album. The nostalgia for the time, paired with the album’s historic status (it was the last album with the original five until 2004) continue to keep it balanced on a narrow pedestal. Perhaps though, Paper Gods will occupy its own nearby pinnacle. Time will tell.

-R

Classic Pop Special Edition: Notorious and A Life Less Ordinary

This is the next installment of my (now) series on Classic Pop Magazine’s Special Edition for Duran Duran’s 40th Anniversary.  This weekend I will give some thoughts about the last album from the 1980s that the magazine covered, Notorious, as well as the summary of the 1990s with an article, “A Life Less Ordinary.”  I’m anxious to compare the review of Notorious to the ones on Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  I also wonder about how the 1990s will be discussed.  Will it just be about the Wedding Album or will there be discussion on Thank You and Medazzaland?  What about the Liberty album?  Read on, people.

Notorious:

Like Seven and the Ragged Tiger, this was a much shorter review in comparison to the one on Rio.  There is no extra sections on some specific songs or the videos.  The only extras within the article are the track listing and information on the players.

Like other articles within the magazine, I like that the author placed the album in context, which includes the band’s history but also the larger world of the music business and beyond.  In this case, there is an acknowledgment that Live Aid shifted the music business in a significant way.  Perhaps, more interesting is how the article described the departure of Andy Taylor.  According to what was written here, Andy, at one point, wanted to legally stop the band from using the name, Duran Duran.  That is a new insight to me.  A Simon quote indicated that all the meetings with lawyers hurt their creative process.  (I can imagine it would be.)  Of course, there is a positive spin, which is that the situation bonded the three of them.  (Again, that makes sense to me.  I have experienced similar things with colleagues when under attack, so to speak.)

The author then discusses Nile Rodgers’s role within the album and mentions the addition of Warren Cuccurullo and Steve Ferrone.  What is interesting is that they are referred to as members rather than hired musicians, which is less than precise.  The last part of the review mentions how the album had not done nearly as well as the previous ones, chart wise, and how this disappointed John Taylor, in particular.

A Life Less Ordinary:

This article starts out focusing on Liberty, the band’s first album of the 1990s.  In it, there is mention of the poor chart performance, indicating that this led to the decision not to tour and even canceled videos for First Impression and Liberty.  Yet, that is all that is said about that album as the author quickly moved on to the Wedding Album.  While I understand the decision, I always feel like Liberty is brushed over more than it should be.

Interestingly enough, the author did mention what Andy and Roger did during the 1990s.  I was not expecting that at all but I cheer that. Fans and readers who don’t know what they were up to probably appreciate the heck out of now knowing.  Likewise, John Taylor’s marriage to Amanda de Cadenet and birth of his daughter was mentioned.  (Note that there was no coverage of Simon and Nick’s marriages and children.  Hmmm….)

The article did discuss Thank You to some extent including which songs they chose to cover and how it did in the charts.  Sigh.  I have to admit that I wish more was discussed there.  I like the stories about which songs they chose and why.  How come an album that should have been done quickly wasn’t?  Why did it do so poorly in the charts?  I would like more information there and less basic facts.

That said, there was a lot about various moments within that time period.  For example, some topics included were the Power Station reunion, John’s struggle with addiction, the appearance of Roger in 1995, John’s solo album and more.  Similarly, Neurotic Outsiders was covered in this section.  This makes me wonder even more about why TV Mania was listed in the side projects article about the 1980s.  Why wasn’t that project in the 1990s or even beyond that?  Weird.

In many ways, the most interesting part of the summary of the 1990s was the discussion surrounding Pop Trash.  In that part, the author talked about how Simon was just unhappy and did not come to the studio much.  According to the article, Nick now accepts that they should have waited for Simon to “pull himself together” as he was missing John, still hurting from the death of Michael Hutchence and more.  I don’t know much about all that but it also claims that Simon and Warren’s friendship had “deteriorated.”

Like many of the previous articles, I did learn a few new tidbits about the band, which I appreciate.  In some cases, I wish that they had covered more of one thing over another but generally well-rounded and informed.

-A

Guest Blog: How I Discovered Duran Duran in 2018!

Truthfully, it isn’t every day that we run into a brand new fan, particularly those that discovered the band in 2018, just a few weeks ago! Today, we are thrilled to share a story that will sound very familiar to most Duranies – once again proving that there is absolutely ZERO age limits on being a fan! Enjoy – R

by Kathy Diaz

Duranies all have stories about how they discovered the band.  Most fans likely found the band back in their teenage years during the early 80’s, when the band began their career and during their golden days of glory. My story is quite different, especially because I didn’t grow up in the 1980’s. I was born in 1986, just months before Duran Duran released their fourth studio album, Notorious. By the time I was born, they already had a steady career, but I didn’t learn about them until much later. I missed their comeback in the charts with “The Wedding Album” in 1993, and even their reunion of their original lineup in 2003. I didn’t even take notice of them when they first released their latest album “Paper Gods” in 2015.  No, it wasn’t until 2018—yes, just this very year—that I found this band and became a fan. 

I always have been a fan of 80’s music, as I grew up listening to Michael Jackson and Madonna. I knew about the existence of a band called Duran Duran, but I never really paid much attention to them before.  Up until this year, the only song I could recognize by Duran Duran was “Ordinary World”.  I probably listened it on the radio when I was a child, but I didn’t know who sang it, or even the name of the song.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I was searching for new music for my Spotify playlists.  I stumbled upon a YouTube channel that makes lists of songs by the year. I was watched the playlist for “Top Songs of 1982” that I came across  “Hungry Like the Wolf”. I was immediately impressed.  The song, video, and  lead singer—whose name I later learned to be Simon Le Bon—all stuck with me.  A normal person would have looked for the song, downloaded it and that was the end of it.  Not me. I had to look up the video of “Hungry Like the Wolf” again.  After I finished watching it,  I knew I was completely hooked. It was like love at first sight. 

I spent the rest of the night watching some of their other music videos and I was in awe with “Save a Prayer”, “Rio”,  “Is There Something I Should Know”, and “Wild Boys”. I kept asking myself: “How I didn’t discover this band before?” “Where was I living, under a rock?!?” Apparently! After this discovery, I knew I would never be the same again.

During the following days, I indulged myself in a Duran Duran marathon from morning-to-night. I figured that since I was on vacation from work, I had the time to do it. I spent those days listening to their songs, watching their music videos, and looking for any information I could. I quickly learned the history of the band, the names and backgrounds of each member, and anything else I could find on the internet. Their songs give me a warm feeling. I could be feeling down, or stressed, but when I am listening to their songs, I feel happy, calm and joyful. It is rare for a band to have this effect on me.

I felt alone in this new obsession because I didn’t know anyone who were also a fan of this band, so I decided to search in Facebook for Duran Duran groups. I found two amazing groups full of Duranies who gave me a warm welcome to their inner circle, even though I was kind of an outsider since I had just become a fan only weeks ago and they all had been fans for almost four decades.

Then, some moments of frustration came. I found out they played in my country, Puerto Rico just 2 years ago. Before that, they played here other 3 times. I was so distracted by other things that I didn’t discover them in time to go to any of those shows. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and slap myself in the face for not paying attention before.  I am thankful that they are still together and making music,  but it also makes me a bit sad that I had to discover them in a dry period when there is no news on new albums or tour. I don’t know why I had to discover them now, was it fate or just coincidence?

All I know, is that this band is giving me joy and happiness with their music. That is something I thought only could happen when you were a teenager. I believed my years of “fangirling” for a band were over long ago. I didn’t ask for this, but Duran Duran just came into my life, changed it and I didn’t expect it at all. 

I still have a lot to catch up on, but I feel happy to be part of this fandom. I so look forward to what Duran Duran has in store for the future. Hopefully one day, not too far in the future, I will finally see them live for the first time. Until then, I will enjoy this new interest as much as I can, however possible.

Kathy Diaz is a newbie Duranie. She lives in Puerto Rico where she works as an Elementary School Teacher. She is also fan of Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and basically everything and anything that is British. You can follow her on Twitter: @KathyDi86 

To be a Fly on the Wall

Imagine yourself, invisible to those around you, sitting in a studio. Or a hotel room. Or someone’s home. You can see and hear everything around you, but they can’t see you.

Now, imagine that scenario on this date in 1986,  as John Taylor and got together in London to discuss “the next Duran Duran album”.  Keep in mind, this is after Roger and Andy had left the band. Simon, Nick, and John were left to figure out the next step for what was arguably (at the time) the biggest band in the world. Where to go from there?

I don’t think I would have envied their positioning. After all, the higher you climb, the farther the potential fall. At this point in 1986, I was 15 years old. The idea of Duran Duran ceasing to exist, or the idea of “new” people ever being in that band were unfathomable to me as a fan. I am quite certain I wasn’t alone. What to do when two of the original members (as the fans knew) left?  Bring in new people? Continue as a threesome? How would Duran Duran look and sound?  Would the fans still respond?

Important questions, to be sure, and I’m not as certain that the answers were all that clear. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to consider moving forward? Sure, there was probably quite a bit of ego and bravado at the time, given their previous success. I’m also certain that at least in part, they wanted to prove to Andy and Roger that they really could go on without them – and that is likely what motivated and drove them to keep going. Even so, I have to wonder what that first meeting to discuss the next album was like.

We could likely debate all day about the outcome. Notorious, the band’s fourth FULL album (Arena was released in 1984 but was not a full-length studio album), and was their answer to how they would move forward. I can remember hearing the album for first time, just after I turned 16, and saying that they didn’t sound the same. It was just different without Andy and Roger, and to be honest – at the time I wasn’t sure I liked it. Their sound had matured more than my musical tastes at the time, I think. Like many of their albums since, it took me a long time to come to terms and have an appreciation. That’s not a critique of the album, but rather my more-ridiculous musical interests of the time.

Even so, I have often wondered what it would have been like during that initial planning, and certainly not just for Notorious!

-R

Seven and the Ragged Tiger Goes Platinum! Do You Remember?

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?

-R

Question of the Day: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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?

My Own Way: Album Ranking

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!

Thank You

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.

Red Carpet Massacre

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.

Pop Trash

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.

Medazzaland

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.

Liberty

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.

The Wedding Album

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!

Astronaut

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.

Notorious

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.

Big Thing

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.

Paper Gods

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.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger

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.

Rio

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.

All You Need is Now

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.

Self-titled Debut

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.

-R