Tag Archives: Paper Gods

Repost: Paper Gods, The Book

Today, I’m taking a self-imposed break. I saw that DDHQ had asked fans for their favorite tour book, and remembered how much I loved the one for Paper Gods. As you can see below, it is far more than just your average picture book commemorating a tour!

Have a wonderful Monday and I’ll be back tomorrow!

-R

**************************************************************************

I needed a diversion from reality last night.

So, I cracked opened the Paper Gods book that my ever-fearless partner-in-crime-and-everything-Duran-Duran sent me for Christmas!

cover

When I opened this particular present, I was delighted because I’d heard it was well-worth the £20, and I hadn’t ordered it myself because I just wasn’t sure I needed it. I own a few of their tour books from the past, and while they’ve always been a sort of “Oh, that’s really nice to have”, I wasn’t positive about this one. All I could think of was that it was 120-pages of photos, and did I really need a book of photos in my collection? I wasn’t sure. I wanted to see more of it in person before making a decision and I didn’t know when or how that might happen. Sometimes, a book like this needs a little previewing, you know? (It’s too bad DDHQ doesn’t know a fan website that could do that kind of thing for them every once in a while…..) So when I opened the gift and marveled at how big the book really is…and then began thumbing through it, I realized just how much I needed a book like this in my collection!

And…it’s not really so much of a tour book, although there are certainly a plethora of pictures in there (even some of Dom, Anna, Jessie & Simon W!). I would describe this book as being sort of the Encyclopedia-of-Anything-You-Wanted-to-Know-About-Paper-Gods-But-Figured-You’d-Never-Be-Able-to-Ask.

First off, the book is big. It’s not your basic 30-page tour book that’s mostly pictures (although yes, there are plenty and I mean that).  At 120 large format pages (13.25″H x 9.5″W), it’s a bit of a monster…and I mean that in a fantastic way!

bookwidth

There’s actual writing in this one, and not just a welcome note from the band or anything like that. There are interviews, thoughts, feelings…lists of words or phrases I can’t quite figure out yet (but trust me I am enjoying the process of trying!), and I’m not even halfway through it yet! Each of the band members gives a full-length interview about the book (and believe me, these are not short answers to questions), and they also interviewed Nile, Ben Hudson and Josh Blair. They even talked creative with Nick and Alex Israel, the artist who did the front cover of the album!!  I AM IN HEAVEN AND I’M NOT COMING BACK!!

I love that they took the process of recording this album and thought to have a book made for people like me.  People who basically dreamt of being a fly on the wall during the entire painstaking process: everything from those first jamming sessions at Dom’s studio down to seeing their reactions to the art for the cover.  The book is really something very special, indeed.

If the interviews and writing doesn’t grab you, the photos certainly will. This book is art…and if you needed to have large format photos of each of the band members, here they are for you to gander at will. I really love how each of the band members has a black and white full-page headshot, along with what I can only describe is a sort of silver “giclée” shadowing overlay printed on a heavier, plastic-like sheet. Way cool. And if you like stickers – they’re included too!

stickers

As I said, I haven’t even read through it all yet. I had to stop myself at 11:15 last night because I needed to get some sleep, and even after I put it down I kept thinking about what I’d read. In many ways that Amanda and I will get into later as we dissect this book from cover to cover on the blog (oh yes – it’s happening), I think the book makes me see the album with a completely different set of eyes, and I’m curious if my ears will pick up anything different too.

My only problem with this book is simply that they really should have marketed it differently. It’s such a great piece of Duran-memorabilia, you’d think they would have gone to more trouble to alert the fan base to it, you know? Seems like they could have used a resource…such as this very website, thankyouverymuch…to get some enthusiastic words out to the fan base and beyond. Amanda and I have a certain knack for grabbing the attention of the fan base when it comes to things like this, and let’s face it..the book is also a freaking steal at £20. (That is $28.91 USD as of this morning)

Let’s just talk about that price for a second before I settle back into my chair and read a bit more: for less than $30.00 US, you can have a large format, coffee table-sized book on Duran Duran (It is paperback). Everything from what some  might describe as “lickable” photos (I certainly wouldn’t say that..,coughs…but hey… I may have heard the term used before somewhere…) to in-depth discussions of the music and process. For the more abstract-minded amongst us, there are poems and lyrics and lists to read and ponder, as well as the aforementioned photos, both posed and from live shows (from the last year). I can’t really get over the value on this one – it’s the best bang for your buck I’ve seen in quite a while.

Like nearly everyone reading, I own a lot of Duran Duran books. I’ll go one further and say I own a lot of books period, but particularly within the realm of fandom and music history of this particular band  – I own a lot. This is a book that any fan of Duran Duran should have in their collection, and I’m thrilled (and shocked!) that they’re not charging the $50 or $60 that the book is really worth, even as a paperback.

Run out and grab a copy while you can! As I said, in coming weeks Amanda and I plan to do several blogs about the interviews and other writing within the book, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is running off to order their own copy right now…so go get it!

Meanwhile, I’m going to settle back in my chair and read Nile’s thoughts on Paper Gods…

-R

The Union of the Snake

Telegram force and ready

When I don’t have real news to report, admittedly I fall back to historical dates. They tend to either jar my memory, or get my creative juices flowing. Or, it remains as dry as the Sahara, and I struggle a lot to get something written. You just never know!

Today though, there’s a lot to get my brain going. I really don’t know what it is about March 27th, but this seems to be a day for label deals. Perhaps that is because many of their albums (or so it seems) have been released during autumn, so give or take six months prior brings us to March? I really don’t know. I’m not an expert, but I do know that in 2009, Simon blogged on duranduran.com that the band had left Sony Records.

There’s a fine line drawing my senses together

Much has been written about that time. The band had recorded and self-produced Reportage. Sony wasn’t sold on it, and had given the band a list of names to choose from to produce their album. We all know that during that time, Andy had also left the band for the second time, and of course – Timbaland entered the picture for Red Carpet Massacre. I still believe to this day that Sony felt that anything Timbaland touched would turn to gold (or platinum), and when that didn’t happen – they were convinced it was the band that was the problem.

I still smile nearly every year when I think back on it. It was probably the best move imaginable for the band – regardless of whether the band left Sony or if Sony left them. I cheered when I read the news that day, and when I posted the update on a message board (DDF), a mysterious visitor commented that they could not be happier. This was of course, AFTER handing me my backside on a platter for nearly crucifying the album. I still chuckle about that. I can honestly say it was the only time I’ve ever really laughed at myself after being publicly flogged. Perhaps I deserved it…but maybe the person doing the flogging needed to understand that it’s OK to still be proud of something that the general public didn’t fully embrace at the time, too.

Give me strength at least give me a light

On the same date in 2015, Duran Duran announced that Warner Bros. Records (Part of Warner Music Group) signed a global “recording contract” for Paper Gods. Many fans argue whether or not the band is still signed by Warner Bros. I cannot confirm one way or another, as I do not know. However, Duran Duran is not included on their current artist roster. I just checked the website again today, but I don’t know how up to date that really is. Then again, they signed with Warner Bros. in 2015. Seems like they might update that roster every once in a while?

The truth is, they could have had any one of a number of different deals with Warner. Production deals are common, although unlikely since the album was already written and recorded when Warner Bros. signed them. A distribution deal is also possible, even globally. That means the label would have been responsible for getting the product out into the world, and maybe even marketing. Standard deals are another option, which are what most people think of when they hear of a label “signing” a band. A deal like that usually includes development, recording, pressing, distribution and marketing. Lastly, there is the 360 deal, which is common these days. This means the label has their hands in everything from touring to brand development and everything in between, and the band would lose a lot of control and autonomy. Each type of deal has it’s benefits and detractions (like money, or lack thereof!).

Or, it could be some clever wording from DDHQ and PR people so that fans don’t really know what type of deal it is – because it’s really none of our business anyway.

There’s a chance you could be right

Many people have commented that since John said Warner Bros. suggested the record store day offering of As The Lights Go Down on vinyl, that must mean they’re still with Warner Bros. Again, I’m not an expert, but that’s possible. Another possibility is that the band is still on good terms with Warner Bros, and asked them to press and distribute the album. PR “spin” would be that Warner came to the band with this bright idea because it makes it sound as though the band is in demand. Which isn’t wrong. We fans are kind of demanding, aren’t we? That sort of spin happens frequently! According to John, the entire catalog is under “one umbrella” these days, so I can see this scenario as a possibility.

There’s no reason that I can find at this point, to assume anything more or less drastic. Paper Gods did well for Duran Duran – it was the first top ten for them since 1993, and it would not be a surprise if the band stayed with Warner Bros. for future albums. It also wouldn’t shock me if they didn’t – but by all means feel free to enlighten me otherwise!

In any case, March 27th seems to be the day of deals for this band. Makes you kind of wonder what the next year or two could bring!

-R


From Here to 2009 and Back Again

Think back to 2014, my friends. Do you know what happened on this day?

Simon sent out a short update on #DD14 (which we now know to be Paper Gods), saying they were in the refinement stages – but he didn’t give out names or confirm/deny any other rumors circulating at that time.

It was as though we were gathered outside a studio, waiting for any signs of life from within. There was a gasp, and perhaps a small shriek of victory from the crowd as a tiny window in the door suddenly creaked open. We ran up to the door, essentially climbing over one another, and straining our necks to see whatever there was to see (which wasn’t much). A voice beckoned from beyond, although it was too dark to see much. The voice told us all that yes, they were still in the studio, and no – we could not come in yet. Go home, the voice suggested. Wait for further instructions there, and leave them in peace. The window slammed shut, the crowd sighed in collective disappointment and perhaps a bit of relief, and more silence ensued.

Can you believe that was already FIVE years ago?? I can remember being so nervous about what the end result would be. So many rumors had circulated about what the band had been working on, and in the end – Paper Gods was exactly as it should be. This time around, I’m not nearly as anxious. I think having time and space to work without comments from the Peanut Gallery (that’d be me!) might be helpful. After all, the band didn’t get this far in their career without knowing a thing or two.

So here we are once again, waiting to see what may come. I say, grab a comfy spot on the sofa, because it might be awhile! While we wait, let’s take a look at an oldie but a goody: Songbook, which aired on Sky Arts also on this date in 2009! Truth be told, this is one of my very favorite televised programs from the band, so I don’t have to be coerced much to sit down and watch it again.

I can’t help it – I do love watching these videos. They help boost my mood a bit (I’m suffering from a little bit of missing my two oldest kids today), and who doesn’t need a pick me up every once in a while – right?

Looking forward to the day when I can post news about studio updates, should we be so lucky as to hear of some! Until then, I’m going to start looking for some good older videos to share from good old YouTube. If you’ve got any you’re hoping to find or want to share – let me know!

-R

We Need You

I have been thinking a lot about the word, “need,” as opposed to want, wish, hope for, etc. I think about it in terms of my job. What do I really need as a teacher? What do I really need as a fan? What do I really need as a person? This sounds like an easy question but I have decided that it is far more complex than what it initially appears like.

Let’s take fandom. After all, everyone reading this can probably relate to that the most. As news snippets have come out about the writing and recording of the next Duran album, I find myself thinking back to the time in between All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods. I had such an amazing time with AYNIN that I felt a weird sense of desperation. I wrote about my anxiousness about what I thought the band should do in between albums. I probably wrote about playing more shows or releasing something, anything in between. Did I need the band to do that? I probably thought I did then but I’m not sure if that is really what I needed.

Did I suffer immensely between there was a big chunk of time in between All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods? Suffer? I don’t think so. Yes, I would have wanted something from the band to keep all of the awesome feelings continuing but I didn’t *need* it. My fandom remained as did many others’. I might have written about how I thought the band needed to do something to keep their fans loyal to the band, to keep fandom alive. Did some fans leave? Probably. Would some of them have left anyway? Maybe.

Interestingly enough, as I thought about how I thought I needed the band to do something to keep interest, I never once really considered what the band actually needed. Maybe they needed a break or time away from each other. Perhaps, they needed to spend time with friends and/or family. In thinking about this, I realize that my “needs” might be different from their “needs.” Could this happen in real life, too?

As I think about my job, I know that there are some aspects that I really do need to have in place. How do I know? Simple. I know that if I did not have these elements that I would be looking somewhere else. I’ll give an example. I need to be part of a team that I love. I have taught in buildings without being a part of a team. It was lonely and emotionally tough. Now, of course, some people out there might argue that this is still a want rather than a need. I guess it depends on how it is defined. Would I die without it? No. That said, I would leave without my teams. I need it for job satisfaction and my happiness on the job.

What about my needs in my life? I have been thinking hard to determine what I really need. Much like my job, I know that there are some parts of my life that I really require. What I need, though, in my life or my job might be just like the situation with Duran. What I need might be the opposite of what they need. How do I navigate this difference in need? I’m not sure. This I know. I cannot be mad or upset if other people or Duran (as the case might be) have different needs than I do. No one should be blamed for that. At the same token, I think it is totally fine if there are different needs. It doesn’t mean that they are wrong or that I’m wrong. So, if there is something I really need with my fandom or my job or my personal life, it is okay to seek out what I need while I need to be understanding that others might feel differently. It is a weird balance that I am trying to achieve. I know this much. It means cutting Duran and others in my life some slack and asking for others to cut me some slack. Maybe this is my weird attempt at a kinder, gentler version of myself. Perhaps, it is just showing that I’m trying to learn and to be more understanding while asking for the same from others.

-A

A Silhouette Begins the Show

So, show of hands….how many of our readers are at home because of snow/cold days?!? I hear that Chicago is going to be colder than the Antarctic this week. Amanda has been telling me about forecasts that have Madison’s wind chill at -50 (Fahrenheit) or more. That’s ridiculous!! I hope everyone stays warm!

I apologize for the lateness of the blog. I used to have this routine down – I’d be up by 7, blogging by 8. Nowadays, I’m dragging myself out of bed at 8:30 and I’m hard pressed to get the blog finished by noon my time. It’s not a great routine yet, but I’m working on it.

A fog is lifting

I came upon something today that reminded me about Reportage. It was a picture of what was obviously a fan-made cover for the album, and it was in turn on the cover a book titled Bootlegs. I’d never seen a cover of any kind for the album until today. That said, as far as I’m aware, no copies exist outside of the hands of the band. Naturally though, this photo got a few of us talking.

It would seem that very few fans have heard Reportage. Most everyone else continues to speak of it as though it is this hidden treasure. To find it is akin with finding the Golden Ticket. I think the expectations of the album have likely been inflated beyond maximum pressure. Those that have listened are usually quick to downplay, and not much of real substance is explained beyond a perfunctory, “Yeah, it wasn’t bad. You could probably find it if you wanted.”

Could I find it? Really? More importantly – do I really want to find it?

In the shadows

These are questions I was asking myself this morning, as I chatted back and forth with friends on Twitter. There are real collectors in the Duraniverse. They are people I very much admire because they work hard to find that obscure poster from 1981 or a specific promo copy of “Hallucinating Elvis”. I have a great deal of respect for people like that, and I tend to learn a lot when speaking with them too. There is a vast amount of expertise to be gained from the collectors amongst us! Me? Nah. I don’t spend a lot of time hunting for albums in old vinyl shops (although I do pop in and check the “D” section from time to time), I don’t hunt online for posters on eBay. I don’t have all of the tour books, pins, or even t-shirts. I do like knowing that I’ve heard all of the variations of music, though.

When it comes to unreleased music though, I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand, I love hearing how Duran Duran went from Point A to Point B. Hearing demos is one way of audibly experiencing that journey. I enjoy having that understanding, because when it comes down to it – I’m still a musician at heart, and I dearly love being able to hear the progression of a song from reasonable beginning to completion. On the other hand though, as I said this morning, if the band wanted me/us to hear it – I would think they’d just let us have it. So to get it from some other means seems, well, not right.

Lit by scandal

As my friend said in reply – I’m no goody-goody here. It doesn’t seem right or fair to the band to get hold of something that they weren’t ready to put out themselves. It is, of course, very different if John or Nick said “Hey, why don’t you take a listen?” But to just leak an album and broadcast its existence wouldn’t be right. As we know, that hasn’t happened with Reportage anyway. I mean, at least not that I’m aware. In some ways I still wonder if I’m among the last remaining DD fans that hasn’t heard it.

I suppose I haven’t really hunted much for Reportage. Several years ago I did try to sniff it out online, but came up empty. After that, I kind of let it go, only to be reminded of its existence every now and again. I’ll think of it for a few minutes, and then I’m off again. I would have figured it would have been leaked by now and be commonplace. It would seem that this is one of the better-kept “secrets” in our fandom, at least from my perspective!

So while I suppose I’m still curious about what it sounded like, I’m also more interested in what the band is working on now, post-Paper Gods. Hearing Reportage now would be like looking back, when really all I want to do is keep moving ahead.

-R


Studio-time Cometh: New Music Ahead!

Happy Monday, everybody!

I trust that everyone made it through Black Friday and has cruised smoothly into Cyber Monday. If you’re like me and thought braving Costco on the Sunday after Thanksgiving was a good idea, we probably need our heads examined.

Naturally, the big news for this week is that John mentioned a little something about heading back to London in order to have a meeting the minds in the studio. I have a couple of thoughts on this:

  1. YAY!!
  2. I wonder how long it will be before we start hearing rumors of collaborations? I almost prefer betting on when those might begin, as opposed to with whom!

Naturally I’m thrilled to hear the words “studio”, “writing” and even better, “recording” come out of any band members mouth.  It is kind of funny, because for the bulk of this year – I’ve been happy to wait. I figured they’d eventually get back to a studio. Writing music has to be a habit they just can’t quite quit. I’m definitely not complaining, but I figured it would take time. It needs to take time, too. Go back too early and there would be four very weary guys trying to write when maybe, they really didn’t want to fully commit yet. It wouldn’t bode well.

By the same token, I was not opposed to getting news of shows for 2019. Daily Duranie is as much a blog about the act of being a fan as it is about Duran Duran. For me, the shows in February couldn’t have been planned much better. I’m thrilled to have a few things to be looking forward to in the coming weeks and months. It takes the edge off of my first few weeks of December, that’s for sure!

Some people are thrilled to put Paper Gods in the rearview mirror. They’ve heard the album, done the tour many times, and are ready for something new. I thoroughly enjoyed Paper Gods, which in hindsight, surprises me. I loved All You Need is Now. That tour knocked me off of my feet. I have fantabulous memories of shows, friends, and fun. Going into Paper Gods, I just didn’t see how any of it could be topped, but somehow, someway, it was. For me personally, it isn’t that I’m ready to put it behind me, but instead I’m ready to experience whatever is going to come next with an open heart and mind.

That’s the crazy thing about music, and even life. Just when you think you’ve done as much as possible or have heard the best, something else comes along and proves otherwise. Our hearts and minds have to be open to change and ready to evolve – otherwise we might just miss out on something amazingly good!

For me, that is the challenge. Change is difficult. I’m learning that I don’t have to completely let go of the past. Instead, I need to be willing and open to whatever comes next. After all, whatever we experienced before is what shaped us for what is yet to come. We will still carry “Friends of Mine”, “Land”, “Nite Runner” and even “Planet Roaring” and “The Universe Alone” with us, but we need to be wiling to live, hear and take the next chapter to heart just as openly.

I’m ready. Are you?

-R

Classic Pop Special Edition: Paper Cuts and Extraordinary World

Ignoring the question of are there shows or aren’t they for now, I will  share my thoughts about the final two articles in Classic Pop’s Special Edition for Duran’s 40th Anniversary:  Paper Cuts and Extraordinary World.  Obviously, the first articles focused in on the Paper Gods album and Extraordinary World dealt with winning an award in 2016.  Of course, I will give my overall thoughts about the magazine as a whole at the end as well.

Paper Cuts:

This article starts out on an interesting, more somber note.  The author states that it took Duran a long time to craft the Paper Gods album but quickly points out that Duran won’t be making many more albums.  They quote John, “We’re not going to make many more albums.  We have to make the most of it when we do…”  Ouch.  While I’m not stupid and recognize that none of us are getting younger, I still don’t like thinking or imagining a time when Duran no longer exists as the band does now.  Emotionally, I cannot handle that thought.

The beginning of the article discussed how long the album took.  One quote that grabbed my attention came from Simon, “At this point, if we make anything that’s at all less than our previous records, it would signal the beginning of the end.”  Wow.  If I had read that quote before, I didn’t pay it enough attention.  I can see why he would say that or why they would feel that way.  At the time, I was so anxious for more Duran Duran that I just wanted the album done.  Now, I can recognize the need for quality.  It is hard to rush art.  John provided the counterargument indicating that he didn’t want to just tinker with the music for little to no reason.  That’s a fair point, too.  I’m sure it is a delicate balance.

While there is a lot of interesting information in this article, the part that drew my attention focused on the band’s history regarding female fans.  The author describes their music as unisex, appealing to both men and women.  Simon stated, “We had our noses absolutely rubbed in it that Duran was ‘music for girl’.  But there’s something in our music that speaks of compassion, which insecure teenagers do need.  I think our teenage audience picked up on that.  A lot of bands at the time excluded women, by trying to a lads’ band.”  Nick continued with, “We’re not frightened of our fragility and sensitivity, which a lot of rock artists are.”  I completely appreciate this about them.  Even as a kid I knew that I would be safe with Duran Duran.  They were not looking to use me or other women in the way that I felt from other bands.

There was some discussion about the back catalog, especially since Duran had signed with Warner.  The band indicated that they would like to release their old material “properly” while at the same time avoiding bad deals like having Hungry Like the Wolf used in all food commercials.  There was mention of Reportage, the album recorded with Andy but never released.  They seemed to think it would be possible if mixing was done and with Andy’s permission.  I bet fans would be excited about that!

Extraordinary World

This article originally came out in 2016 when Duran received the ASCAP Golden Note Award for songwriting at a London ceremony.  This particular award is given to artists who have achieved significant career milestones.  Some other winners include Elton John, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder and more.  That’s pretty cool!  I don’t remember hearing about this award before.

The author then gave credit to everything Duran has accomplished in their careers.  Interestingly enough, Nick commented about how these days there is little “mystique” to pop music as artists and albums seem to be on some sort of assembly line in order to get released quickly.  Needless to say, he is not a fan.  As much as I would love to have new Duran music all the time, I recognize that I value things more when I have to wait and anticipate them.  If I went to Duran concerts every day, I would probably cease to be excited about them and that would be super sad.

This article ended with a discussion about Duran playing festivals.  Simon’s argument was that festivals are the real test.  It is one thing to play to fans but to play at a festival, you have to be really good.  That’s fair from their perspective.  I can understand that.  From a fan’s perspective, I hate festivals.  Enough said.

Overall:

I really think that this magazine was well put together.  Clearly, there was a lot of attention to detail with little extras included frequently.  Visually, it is very Duran with a lot of images, cool graphics, logos and more.  In my opinion, it was well worth the money.  What did the rest of you think?

-A

Were you at the Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley in 2015?

On this date in 2015, Duran Duran played the Greek Theatre on the campus of UC Berkeley. I drove to this show with Amanda and our friend Heather. We left right after the concert ended at the Hollywood Bowl the night before, and stopped at a hotel (I use that term rather loosely here) along the way.

I don’t remember much about the trip that night.  I remember a few  texts and emails that Amanda read to me, while I focused on driving safely. My eyes got so tired that they hurt, which I hadn’t expected. I figured I’d ride the adrenaline high from the show, but it didn’t last long. I vaguely remember something about a giant bug in the bathtub of the aforementioned “hotel” that night. I let Heather and Amanda fight that one as I let myself fall into a deep sleep!

The next day, we got ourselves up and out the door so that we could get to our next hotel, and then finish the drive to Berkeley. We got there super early, and walked down to have dinner with friends before the concert. Months earlier during the pre-sale, we’d pulled front row seats. Our joy lasted for about five minutes, until someone mentioned that they would absolutely hate having front row seats at this venue. The person explained that the stage is very tall, and it would be difficult to see.

At the time, Amanda and I were quickly coming down off the high from winning the pre-sale “jackpot”. In one breath we were yelling, “Front row!  Finally!!” and in the next, “Wait, what??” Both of us tried to ignore the possibility that perhaps even when we “won”, we’d lost. I mean, who complains about front row?!? We decided that we were not going to be those people!  Even so, the little niggling worry in my head would not subside. As I climbed the steps to the venue, I just hoped it would work out.

Yes, the stage was very tall. I’d also say that the sides of the venue were fairly steep. The height of the stage was probably necessary for the shape of the venue. Front row wasn’t terrible though. There was plenty of room between our seats and the stage, and I had no trouble seeing the band that night, nor did they have trouble seeing us! I definitely didn’t hate having front row in Berkeley!

The most puzzling part of the evening came after the band had taken their final bows and had left the stage. We were making our way out of the venue and had stopped to say hello to a friend. A small skirmish involving two fans and one of the set lists that had been taped to the stage floor caught our attention. Two women were about to come to blows over an unsigned, untouched-by-any-band-member setlist. I watched, completely incredulous that someone was likely to get a black-eye purely because they didn’t want to give up a piece of paper.

Since then, I’ve noticed that one of the techs usually walks around with a stack of set lists after the show.  They throw them out to whomever wants one. I’ve also experienced the joy of someone choosing to crawl right over the top of Amanda and I while we were up against the stage. They climbed right up as though we were a step-ladder, taking no care to not hurt us in the process. All for a piece of paper. Those memories are pretty indicative of the fandom, in many ways.

After the show, we met friends for a quick drink (I had water!) before getting back on the road to our hotel for the night. The following day we had a massive drive ahead of us as we headed from Berkeley to the final stop for that road trip: Agua Caliente.

-R

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

Where Forever and Yesterday Collide

Where forever and yesterday collide…

I think those words, which I am borrowing from my friend @BoysMakeNoise, sum up the emotion of this day.

Today, we commemorate 9/11.  I had a friend lose a daughter that day, not a single Patriot’s Day goes by without my thinking about Lisa Frost or her family. I don’t take the date or the memory lightly, nor does anyone else I know, whether they are here in the LA area or in the east. My thoughts are with those who lost friends and family that day. We will never be the same, we will never forget, but we are learning how to go on.

September 11th has also become a day to remember something else in addition to the day our lives changed forever. We were given a cause to smile, if not quite celebrate. Paper Gods was released on this date in 2015.

My feelings about Paper Gods has almost certainly evolved over time. This single album is responsible for teaching me so much about myself, I am forever indebted. When I think back on where I sat three years ago, I assuredly see and feel personal growth. It wasn’t that I sat in a chair, hit “play” and felt an epiphany. If only.

No, when I first heard the entire album, I was aghast with some of the choices. I can’t say I fell in love immediately. In fact, I struggled. Rather than keeping quiet about it, I shared my tug-o-war. Probably not the smartest blogging decision I’ve ever made. People I deeply respect and very much care about had put their blood, sweat, tears into the making of the album, and yet I panned a major portion of it.

I still carry a fair amount of guilt about that. When I say I’ve learned from those mistakes, believe it. I sat with friends I admire and look up to, and did a lot of listening and soul-searching. I own my feelings about the album, but I wish that I had given myself more time to fully digest it all. Blogging for eight years has been a constant challenge and source of education for me, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m definitely not the same person I was in 2010, and I have this blog to thank for much of that growth and adaptation.

Paper Gods isn’t an easy album. It is deep and complex, possibly in reflection of the band’s career. I sense the struggle in writing and recording it, and even the moments of anxiety and despair mixed with joy and satisfaction. It took me an incredibly long time to find my own way with Paper Gods. Great music can be that way, and I didn’t account for any of that when I gave it a knee jerk review. The pressure to be first outweighed the concern for being right or fair, which ended up being altogether wrong – at least for me. I’ll never do it again, that is for sure.

People tease me occasionally about my review of “You Kill Me With Silence”, a song that took me months to come to terms with. I loved the verse, but it was the chorus that bothered me. I liked the painstakingly slow and torturous melodic structure, but the chorus felt so bright and almost happy, it made me mad. It took me months to realize that the music perfectly described an emotionally abusive relationship, just as did the words. When that light bulb finally turned on for me, I embraced the song on a deeply personal level.

I also grappled with “The Universe Alone”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the song. It is likely one of the most brilliant pieces of music the band has ever written. At the time though, I felt like the song was carrying me into a whirlpool, threatening to take me down into an emotional abyss I wanted no part. I may have taken the meaning of the song far too literally. If it was to be Duran’s end, I wasn’t going down quietly. Silly? Probably. I just wasn’t ready to even think about the end. But you know, in the three years since first hearing the song, I have a different understanding. For the band, each “last song on the album” is really kind of the end. It’s a new world on the other side, and this band never knows where they’re going next. Do any of us?  How will I feel when it really IS the end?  I’ll grieve and feel like there can’t possibly be a tomorrow, but the sun will defiantly come up again anyway. It always does, and we will all have to learn how to go on.

Then there’s “Danceophobia”. I have found reason to smile and even laugh with this one. Doesn’t it make good sense it was included on Paper Gods? On an album filled with seriously deep and complex feelings that appropriately seem to cover the entirety of their career up to this point, shouldn’t laughter and silliness be one of them?

I still have Paper Gods in my car, three years later. It is an album that I almost always play from start to finish, and I let myself listen and be carried by the current through all of the sentiments the music evokes. Lately, it has been exactly the therapy I’ve craved. The idea that it can sit side by side with their debut album, Rio, and even All You Need is Now and completely hold its own is worth celebrating.

On a lighter note, I think about all of the fun I had while the band toured this album. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude. Once again, the band was the backdrop for some of the best moments of my life. I can hardly wait to do it all again…and then some. I miss Amanda, Lori and Suzie terribly.  I can’t wait to watch Nick laugh at us, share knowing grins with Simon, maybe even scream for Dom. (Maybe??!) I look forward to seeing friends again and meeting new ones. The band might not be ready just yet, and we may have quite a while to go, but I’ll be ready when the time comes. Will you?

-R