Tag Archives: Reportage

Reportage: The Fabled, Fanciful Golden Ticket

Yesterday I wrote about a rumor involving a new Duran Duran album. Apparently, if we are all to believe the rumor, the band has been working tirelessly – fingers to their bones – to record an album entirely on their own in their “spare time”.  I put myself out there and said that based purely on my own past experience as a Duran Duran fan, I really doubted this to be true. That opinion still holds this morning (and I appreciate that I wasn’t burnt at the stake yesterday for saying so).

A few Duranies asserted, probably with a fair amount of wishful thinking thrown in for good measure, that perhaps this could be Reportage.  I have some thoughts on that.

First of all, the existence of Reportage has turned into this fabled, prized, collection of work that has taken on the enigma of being The Golden Ticket.  I myself have spoken to a fan or two that somehow has either heard the album, or that claim to have a copy. One person said, “anyone who is anyone in the fan community has heard it. The music is floating around.”  Well, I haven’t heard it. Not a single note. That means I’m not anyone, I guess. Not really a surprise there, either. I love it when people tell me they’ve heard it, because they have this air about them. You know what I mean.  The whole “Yes, I know I’m on the inside and you’re just a lowly REGULAR fan.” Even if they don’t mean to sound that way….they absolutely do.  And they secretly love it, because they have The Golden Ticket, while you and I do not.

Let’s face it, had I ever heard it – I’m sure I’d come off that way too. But I haven’t. At this point, I’m really starting to wonder why anyone cares. Do any of us really know how many songs and material, have never made it onto an album over the course of their career?  Reportage is probably just a group of 9-12 more songs that never quite made it. Sure, some of you are probably saying, “Yeah, but these might be outstanding!” Yes. That’s true. But Duran Duran probably has quite the archive of songs that had the potential to be outstanding. After all, this is the group that wrote “Rio”, and “Paper Gods”, and/or “Danceophobia”.

Ok, “Danceophobia” aside… (sorry “Danceophobia” fans. I just can’t.)

The point is, while I know Reportage has become this Holy Grail type of thing for the fan community, it is possible we might be putting way too much stock into something that we know next to nothing about.  Sure, we were teased about it for way too long to have never heard it ourselves. Yes, we know Sony turned it down. I have heard there were legal issues. But do those things all add up to it being the golden album to end all golden albums?  I’m just not so sure. And if one more person tells me that they’ve heard it with that knowing look on their face…

Well, I’m just gonna need a vodka tonic in order to deal. And it’s only 10:30 am my time. Oh, and yeah, I’m still nearly 100% sure that they’re not going to be releasing any album next month, Reportage or otherwise. Until someone from DDHQ says otherwise, and I’ve been properly revived from falling on the floor in a dead faint, I’m sticking with it.

But hey, if anyone wants me to hear Reportage, by all means my inbox is open and ready.

-R

 

 

 

Notorious & Wild Boys by Steve Malins

Do you like to read books about Duran Duran?  It is probably not shocking that I do and always have.  Looking back at my childhood, I remember reading and rereading and rereading paperbacks about Duran, such as Bop Magazine’s 700+ facts.  These days, the books and magazines surrounding the band are a little more sophisticated.  Obviously, fans who like to read have been lucky enough to enjoy both Andy and John’s autobiographies in recent years.  On top of that, in 2005, an unauthorized biography called Notorious by Steve Malins was published.

As I’m sure you are not surprised, I read that book as soon as I purchased it and have even read it more than once since then.  Rhonda and I have had a few conversations about the book.  In general, I think the book is stronger in the beginning, about the band members’ childhoods and the early days of the band.  As the book moved closer to current day, the sources were clearly all secondary sources, meaning that the information came from published articles, etc. as opposed to any real life individual.  This, of course, is common with unauthorized biographies.  The band did not share or get interviewed for the project.  I would say that in many cases the information in the book is common knowledge for many Duranies.

That said, when I saw that there was an updated version out, I had to pick it up.  The updated version, called Wild Boys, contains an additional chapter, surrounding both the Red Carpet Massacre era and the All You Need Is Now cycle.  What did I hope to learn from this additional chapter?  I won’t lie.  I hoped to gain some insight about Andy’s departure as well as behind the scenes for Red Carpet Massacre as I suspect that there is a lot more that went on that fans have been in the dark about.  What did I find out?

Andy’s Departure:

Interestingly enough, the book dedicated about two paragraphs to Andy’s departure.  Literally, it mentioned that the album, Reportage (the one Duran wrote and recorded after Astronaut but shelved), was stalled by “legal issues with Taylor”.  I’m not sure what the source of that was.  The author describes reports about the album that claim that the album was “edgy and contemporary”  (Malins 283).

Then, in the next paragraph, Andy’s departure was summarized by describing the official press release on the band’s website as well as how Andy described it in his book.  According to this book, the band claimed that there was ‘an unworkable gulf’ and Andy suggested that there was tension between him and management.  Clearly, I was hoping for a lot more as I knew both of those statements already.  I read the official announcement when it was posted in 2006 and read Andy’s book as quickly as it came out as well.  Now, I realize that an unauthorized biography will not have as much insight as an authorized one where the author is getting the scoop from the celebrity him/herself.  That said, I am surprised that there was not even any speculation on the author’s part on how this major personnel change would affect the band.  Instead, there was no analysis, just those statements.

Despite the lack of analysis on Andy, the author does mention Dom Brown a number of times.  The first time was right after talking about Andy’s departure.  Here the author says, “Duran Duran soldiered on by installing Dom Brown, who had toured with them before, as their new guitarist.  He has remained with them ever since, playing an increasingly valuable role”  (Malins 283).  Later in the chapter, Dom’s contribution is described during the writing and recording for All You Need Is Now, stating how he co-write most of the songs on that album.  What I found fascinating by this is that if I didn’t know better, I would read this chapter and assume that Dom is a permanent band member.  Yet, that is not the case.  He is in some weird limbo between a touring guitarist and a band member.  Malins does not explain that at all.  Likewise, there is no explanation of when and why Dom toured with the band before RCM.

Red Carpet Massacre:

As for the album created following Andy’s departure, Malins chose to focus on an article/interview from The Quietus that came out, not during the RCM cycle but afterwards during AYNIN.  According to that interview, Nick stated how they knew that RCM would be a risk with the fans.  Simon followed by stating that the fans left “no doubt” about how they felt about the album (Malins 293).  Again, though, outside of the quotes from the band, there is little explanation about why the fans might not like RCM.  On top of that, as someone in the fandom at the time, those brief statements don’t really explain what was really going on with the fans at that time.  It is and was far more complicated than that as many fans actually liked it, creating a wide division within the fan base.

All You Need Is Now:

The focus of the All You Need Is Now discussion surrounded Mark Ronson’s vision for the album and the Girl Panic video.  On one hand, I always appreciate reading and hearing about how Mark is a fan and pushed the band to really try to embrace their true selves and to occupy their rightful place in the music industry.  On the other hand, I am not really sure why there was so much focus on the Girl Panic video.  While I get that they used models who were pretending to be the band, I still found the discussion about it superficial.  Why did they use models?  I don’t know.  Why did they show fame in the way they did with luxury hotel living, fans surrounding them, bottles of champagne, etc?  I don’t know.

This, of course, is the argument I make about the entire project.  I want more of an in-depth, behind the scenes sort of analysis.  Perhaps, my frustration is unfounded.  I already know a lot about the band so I didn’t learn anything.  Others reading this book might learn a lot.  For them, maybe, the book serves the perfect function.  It does give a rough outline about the band’s history from formation through All You Need Is Now.

Has anyone else read this book?  What did you think about it?

-A

Malins, Steve.  Notorious.  London:  Andre Deutsch, 2005.

Malins, Steve.  Wild Boys.  London:  Andre Deutsch, 2013.

Duran Duran Demos: Trust the Process

As a Duran Duran fan, what is your dream day?  A dream day for me would end at a Duran show with good friends followed by an all-night party.  The rest of the day, though, I would love one thing.  I would love to be able to explore the Duran Duran vault where all songs, videos, pictures are kept.  Is there such a thing?  I’m not sure, but there really should be.

What would I be looking for in this magical vault or archive?  Simple.  I want to see and hear all of the material that I haven’t had the good fortune to watch/hear.  I can think of numerous examples.  Anyone remember a little documentary about the 2005 tour called Drama Americana that was never released?  I would love to see it.  There even was a trailer for it:

Of course, I’m sure that there is plenty of music that they created that we were never able to hear.  The most obvious example is Reportage, the album created after Astronaut that was shelved after Andy left and with the change in direction leading to Red Carpet Massacre.  If that wasn’t enough, I would love to hear demos of released songs.  One of the best features of those re-released box sets of the early albums was not only getting official remixes but often hearing demos, showing how much some songs changed.  The best example of this is Tel Aviv:

In thinking about all of the unreleased Duran material that exists, I wonder how they feel about those songs or versions that ended up on the cutting room floor.  Do they think they made the right choices with what they chose to be released or do they regret some of them?  Beautiful Colours is a demo that many Duranies have and desperately wish that it was included on Astronaut.  If you haven’t heard it, listen to it below and let us know if you agree that it should have been on the album:

Then, I wonder about the process they go through.  I think many of us have heard interviews in which they state that writing and recording usually begins with them “jamming” in a room together.  When they come up with something interesting, they try to form the song around what they discovered or something like that.  Every time I hear about this process I always think about how organic and natural it sounds.  I get the sense from this that they don’t try to force a certain sound or a specific type of song.

That said, I suspect that there are many steps, though, between grasping onto something cool and being ready to go on an album.  What I want to know more about is how they deal with questions about how they should proceed.  Say, for instance, they have something like a song that they had been working hard on but they know or someone else points out that there is something missing to the song.  How do they add or subtract or change to fill in the song, to make better, to make it ready to send out to the world?  What about those songs that they truly change like Tel Aviv?  Clearly based on the fact that some songs were never released, how and when do they decide to scrap a song?  Then, do they ever feel that they wasted their time?

I can imagine that it must be frustrated to work a song that ends up not going anywhere.  If that is the case, I wonder how they feel about albums that they created that never made it out of the recording studio.  Do they ever wish then to pick up those projects and finish them?  I know that many of the fans would really like them to see certain projects and songs through.  If they chose to just fix songs that were mostly done, maybe, the next album could be released sooner rather than later??

Overall, I find myself really wondering what their creative process really is.  As someone who is also working on a creative project, I bet that I could learn from them.

-A