Tag Archives: Rio

How Beautiful the Closing Down

Listening to Paper Gods, I am struck by how strongly the album ends. Has any Duran Duran album closed with a stronger trio of songs than Butterfly Girl, Only in Dreams, and The Universe Alone? Very few, when I actually sat down and thought about it. Why does it matter? Duran Duran album sequencing provides insight into how the band views their own material. Sure, Simon will say he can no more compare the songs to his children and avoid picking favorites, but the running order does not lie. A band is not going to bury their favorite song in the middle of an album.

Let’s look at Duran Duran album sequencing through the back catalog and see where Paper Gods stacks up. As usual, these rankings reflect my opinion and not those of Daily Duranie, Simon Willescroft, Rob Sheffield, Georgie Davies, or the man who stole a leopard (is he still in prison? Maybe he got out for good behavior?)

Tier One: My favorites

Duran Duran: Sound of Thunder/Friends of Mine/Tel Aviv

The gold standard.  Admittedly, these songs don’t just end the album, they represent nearly half of it since there were only 9 tracks to begin with. But I’m going to stick with my 3 song criteria to be consistent. Tel Aviv is my favorite “instrumental” in the band’s catalogue, even though it does have vocals. Friends of Mine and Sound of Thunder are classic Duran songs that have stood the test of time.

Paper Gods: Butterfly Girl/Only in Dreams/The Universe Alone

Yes, after going through the entire catalogue, I think we have the 2nd best ending to a Duran album. Butterfly Girl could be a single; it’s fast-paced, funky fun. If Notorious and Runway Runaway had a child, it would be Butterfly Girl. Then, we get the two funk ballads to close things out. (I don’t know what else to call them). I am a fan of the power ballads like What are the Chances, but I can only handle so many of those. I think Duran struck the right balance with Only in Dreams and The Universe Alone, building the synths and orchestral beginnings around the funky core of each song. It’s a really powerful way to end the album.

Medazzaland: Midnight Sun/So Long Suicide/Undergoing Treatment

Blasphemy, to rank this album’s ending so high! What can I say? I love all three songs. Undergoing Treatment has one of the more clever Duran lyrics and its funky acoustic vibe is a nice contrast to the mournful Midnight Sun (yes, the demo version is better, but the album cut is still great) and the driving rock ballad So Long Suicide.

AYNIN: Too Bad You’re So Beautiful/Runway Runaway/Before the Rain

Runway Runaway is still my favorite song off of AYNIN, five years later. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and subversive at the same time; an upbeat song evoking images of child leaving home, moving on to adulthood. And if Runway Runaway is #1 for me off AYNIN, than Too Bad You’re So Beautiful is a close second. Another bitingly clever lyric about dating while musically harkening back to Hold Back the Rain. Speaking of rain…Before the Rain really grew on me after hearing it live. All in all, an extremely strong ending sequence. (Note: I am not counting instrumentals in this analysis, thus the exclusion of “Return to Now,” which, truth be told, I am largely indifferent to.)

Tier Two: Very Strong

Rio: Last Chance on the Stairway/Save a Prayer/The Chauffeur

I am not a fan of The Chauffeur, but I recognize it’s a great and classic Duran song, and a fitting ending to Rio. Last Chance was my favorite song off the album growing up, and obviously Save a Prayer is classic. This would be top-tier (and probably is for most of you reading) but for my feelings about The Chauffeur.

Duran Duran (The Wedding Album): Shelter/To Whom it May Concern/Sin of the City

This is a strong way to end an album. I’ve always felt Shelter could have been a single, and I enjoy the guitar driven songs like Sin of the City and To Whom It May Concern. But…I’ve never particularly liked the lyrics to To Whom It May Concern (I get it, it’s about a lawyer they fired). I’ve always felt like that music was wasted with those lyrics…and similarly, I wish Sin of the City was shorter and all of the extraneous non-musical parts were stripped out. Again, I realize that it’s Duran Duran, they’re an art band, but sometimes those extra sounds work (e.g. fireworks in New Moon) and sometimes they don’t.

SATRT: Shadows on Your Side/Tiger Tiger/Seventh Stranger

The weak link here, for me, is Tiger Tiger. Otherwise, I might rank this as highly as the debut album’s ending sequence. The Seventh Stranger is one of my all time favorite Duran ballads (and would probably rank as my favorite album-closing song), and Shadows on Your Side might be my favorite song off the entire album. Tiger Tiger is fine, but I think its appeal for me is more one of sentiment (it takes me back to 1983! It’s the opening to As the Lights Go Down!) than of actual musical quality, as compared to the rest of the catalogue. That being said, I still put the ending sequence to SATRT in the upper half of Duran albums.

Best of the rest

Big Thing: Land/Flute Interlude/Edge of America/Lake Shore Driving

I don’t dislike any of these songs, but if I’m comparing them to the rest of the catalogue, they don’t hold up. I do think the ending works in context of the Big Thing album. Lake Shore Driving is as explosive an ending to a Duran album there is, as if all of the pent-up energy from the acoustic/mellow b-side of the album finally finds its release. Again, nothing bad here, but I’m not going to rank these songs, as a group, ahead of many of the other aforementioned album closing trios.

Liberty: Can You Deal With It/Venice Drowning/Downtown

These three songs are emblematic of the entire album. They are not necessarily bad (especially when you listen to John Taylor’s version of Can You Deal With It), but something went horribly wrong in production. They would probably sound good live. Venice Drowning’s lyrics are especially tough (I think it was the Rolling Stone review that called out this song and I was hard-pressed to disagree).

Pop Trash: Lady Xanax/The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever/Kiss Goodbye/Last Day on Earth

The problem here is that we have the closest Duran has ever come to a country song wedged between an excellent ballad and one of the best, most guitar-driven and edgiest songs the band has ever written. I’m just not a fan of The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever, the minute-long guitar solo at the end notwithstanding. I also think Kiss Goodbye/Last Day on Earth would have worked better as the album’s opening track, not the closer, with Lady Xanax closing out the proceedings.

RCM: She’s Too Much/Dirty Great Monster/Last Man Standing

The highlight here is She’s Too Much, one of the more underappreciated cuts off RCM. I don’t necessarily dislike the other two songs, but I don’t think they are especially memorable, either. I did think Last Man Standing was cool to see live, as each member left the stage as the song wound down to just the drums (similar to what U2 did when they would close a set with “40.”) If Cry Baby Cry were an actual album track and not an extra, then RCM would rank higher.

Astronaut: One of Those Days/Point of No Return/Still Breathing 

This will get me some hate mail, I’m sure. Let me be positive: I love One of Those Days, it’s one of my favorites on Astronaut. And if I’m in the right mood, I do enjoy Still Breathing, even though I’ve always interpreted it as Simon’s credo about the 90’s lineup. Which is difficult for me because I love that era of Duran, even though it had to end. Overall, Duran has set the bar very high with their ballads, and I don’t think the two that end Astronaut hold up well. Just an opinion…now, had some of the discarded tracks been used, we’d have a different story (e.g. “TV vs. Radio” has closing track written all over it and would have been an amazing way to end Astronaut).

Notorious: Meet El Presidente/Winter Marches On/Proposition 

Meet El Presidente is my least favorite song on the album, so for as much as I love Proposition, that’s hard to overcome. I am lukewarm on Winter Marches On, but it at least feels like an album-ending song.

Thank You: Thank You/Drive By/I Wanna Take You Higher Again 

I don’t even like including Thank You in these types of rankings, since they aren’t Duran Duran songs. Except for Drive By. See my comments above about The Chauffeur.

So what do you think of my rankings? Are they paper-thin? What did I get right? And more importantly, where did I go wrong?  (I know, I know: I must have a case of Chauffeurophobia…!)

-CK

Countdown to Paper Gods – Ten!!!

TEN DAYS (and I mean it this time!)

We are really and truly almost to the glorious end of this seemingly never-ending wait, people!!!  In ten days, we will all be clamoring around our respective CD players, computers, phones, car stereos, etc and listening to an entire album filled with brand new Duran Duran music. Can you believe it?!?

Personally, I am chomping at the bit to discuss the album, gain insights from others, contemplate lyrics and marvel at the band’s career. I’m looking forward to reading and hearing what everyone thinks of the new music, and naturally – I’m very excited about the upcoming shows and tour, too!

Until then, Amanda and I have daily delights for anxious fans to partake in order to pass the time, and today we suggest watching videos!!

Rather than posting every video the band has done here or assuming everybody has that kind of time, I suggest watching your favorites from within each era, so that’s what I have done here for your viewing enjoyment!
Note that these are not necessarily my favorite…but I chose them purely based on what I wanted to watch today!

Happy watching!!  Only ten more days to go!!

-R

Ways to survive until Paper Gods: 11 days and counting!

Eleven days to go!

Now that we’re down to mere days before Paper Gods drops and we celebrate, I can’t believe we’re finally here. (Just imagine how the band must feel!) There were moments during the past three years that I would secretly (or not so) share my worries with Amanda.  “Do you really think they’re ever going to finish this album?”  or “What if they never say anything and just fade away forever?”  While it seemed like the recording might never be completed, that was nothing compared to the virtual “radio silence” we were getting on social media. After a period of time when it seemed as though the band actually wanted to connect with fans, we were left with almost nothing.

Unfortunately, that seems to be an ongoing issue with no end in sight. Sad for those of us who enjoyed seeing them…but for the band, perhaps it’s a necessity for sanity. As someone who has occasionally seen the less-behaved side of fandom, I can understand even if I don’t always like it. The point being, we were starved on many fronts, and after feeling like we’ve been crawling through the Sahara desert for many, many, months….we’re near relief!

Amanda and I have been trying to celebrate these last several days by creating a sort of calendar of “tasks” for each day. If you’ve been following along, we suggested listening to a Duran album per day, starting with the first album, moving on to Rio yesterday, which would mean Seven and the Ragged Tiger today.  Perhaps you can listen while you complete today’s task – adding your own personal countdown clock to the release of Paper Gods to social media!  

This can be as simple as copying and pasting the little countdown post that the band has been doing on Facebook, doing something like I did for Daily Duranie (it’s in our left-hand side bar, and if you click it, you’ll be sent to the Duran Duran store to preorder your own copy of Paper Gods!), or even doing your own. The one I created for this site was done through a “plug-in” for WordPress (another word for app, really), and while I would love to make it all fancy with the Paper Gods coloring and design – I am no web designer. So, we’re sticking with the basics.

I encourage everyone to get in on the act – create your own countdown clock and post it! If you make one that you’d like to show off, feel free to post it to our Daily Duranie Facebook page (if you haven’t already liked our page – check out the link in the sidebar and LIKE us!) There are even apps right in Facebook that let you make one, or you can create your own online and have fun with it!  Let your Duran Duran flag fly!

Here are a couple of websites for countdown clocks:

time and date

Powr

web countdown

Or just run a search for “customizable countdown clock” like I did.

I’m off to go give a listen to Seven and the Ragged Tiger…

Eleven short days, my friends.  Eleven days!

-R

 

Happy Birthday John Taylor!!!

I never know quite where to start when I sit down to do a birthday blog!  After all, I usually have a lot to say and want to have the post be an extra special one.  This one feels even more that way.  Most importantly, it is a blog post dedicated to John Taylor.  While I know that I might not shout it from the rooftops that often or squee much over posted pictures, he is my absolute FAVORITE and has been since I was 8 years old.  Eight.  As a kid, I liked that he was “cute” and had great hair (who didn’t love the John Taylor of 1984 with the blonde bangs?!?).  Now, as an adult, I feel like I appreciate him in a much more in-depth way.  It isn’t that I don’t find him attractive or don’t like looking at picture of him.  That isn’t it as I totally do.  (Seriously?!?  Who doesn’t?!?  It is just a given, right?!)  No, it is more about how much I appreciate all that he has given and continues to give all of the rest of us.  Heck, this year for his birthday, he gave US all new Duran Duran music.  (In case you haven’t heard the song, Pressure Off, click here to hear it on YouTube.)  He has given the world so much that I always have a hard time capturing it all in a simple blog post.

First, he has given us plenty of music.  Most significantly for the authors of the blog and the readers of it, he has given us tremendous bass playing in Duran Duran.  Could you pick a favorite or ten?  An obvious example is the bass in Rio.  Here is a clip with the bass isolated from the rest:

Here is a clip of John talking about playing bass on Planet Earth in 1983:

Of course, John didn’t just play with Duran Duran, but he also played on the side projects of Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders.

Power Station–John with Bernard Edwards

Neurotic Outsiders–live clip of Planet Earth

As many also know, John made a lot of music on his own as well!

Immortal:

Beyond music, he has done quite a lot!  Clearly, he is a man of many talents!

Actor–

Author–

Activist–

Looking at the videos I have chosen to share here, I can understand why I am a fan and why everyone should be a fan.  Luckily for me, I have also had the opportunity to have a few decent moments with the man despite me still reacting like a school girl with her big crush. (If you need a reminder of my inability to deal around John Taylor, I recommend reading this blog here, which captured how badly I handled front row.  I’m all ready trying to get myself prepared for the front row experience at the Agua Caliente casino in October.  Pathetic.)

What were some of those moments, you ask?  Well, the first real interaction with John (if you can call it that since the interaction was so brief) was in the summer of 2005 when I saw John outside of his hotel in St. Louis.  My mission there was to ask for an autograph.  I approached him, asked politely and he agreed.  That’s it.  Simple.  Respectful but more than enough to keep me on a high for the next few years!  Then, in 2007, I got to speak briefly at the Red Carpet Massacre CD signing in Chicago.  I asked him about his socks.  Why?  If any of you were around in 2006, the people posting in the Church of the Bass God thread on DuranDuranMusic decided to send him socks for his birthday.  After he received them, he took pictures with some that he liked, including the pair I sent, which were James Bond socks as seen below:

Bond socks

The next big moment came in 2012 when he came to Chicago for a book reading and signing.  Not only was he super generous in signing a book for me and for my partner-in-crime, but he accepted a Daily Duranie wristband and put it on!

John Wristband

Of course, like everyone else who attended the signing, I was able to get a picture of him signing my book(s).  Yet, I wasn’t satisfied.  It is silly of me, I know, but I still really wanted a picture of me with John.  Finally, this past spring, when Duran Duran played at the David Lynch Foundation Show, I was able to get my picture.

John and Amanda

In keeping with the story of my life, he looks great and I’m out-of-focus and have my eyes closed.  Awesome.  I guess this just means that I’ll have to try and get a better one, right?  At least, this is what I tell myself.

At the end of the day, I still feel like the lucky one.  It isn’t because of those moments (although they were fabulous) or those pictures.  No, I still feel like the lucky one to have been around at the right time, right place in order to discover John Taylor and become his fan.  His birth, truly, was a gift to all of us.

On that note, I wish John Taylor the very happiest of birthdays!

-A

Her Name is Still Rio.

Who wants another remaster of Rio?  Anyone??  Buehler??

Recently, Duran Duran announced that the band was about to set sail with another remaster of everyone’s favorite album….Rio. As explained through the band’s Facebook page:

The only difference between this and the 2009 Special Edition (which is no longer available) is that this is in a digipak and not in booklet form. So it is a sort of repackage/reissue of that release.

That said, many in the community are wondering pretty loudly as to why this release is so necessary. The overwhelming majority of comments I’ve seen have had this sentiment, “With all due respect, how about stopping the reissues and finishing the new album?”

Fair enough. I suppose that upon first glance it does seem a little…well, overdone at this point. After all, it’s been wisely pointed out by more than one fan that Liberty, The Wedding Album, Thank You, Medazzaland and Pop Trash have yet to receive this kind of treatment. Is it really smart to reissue Rio again?

Originally Rio was owned/distributed/etc. by EMI – a label that is no longer in existence. The 2009 remastering was also done by EMI (with very little input from the band, as I seem to recall).  The remasters of Rio, along with the others done by EMI, did not continue to be printed after EMI was sold off.

So where did that portion of Duran’s catalog end up?  At Warner. For the first time in many years, the band has been reunited with their catalog, which is something John in particular has mentioned.  I don’t think it’s really much of a surprise to see that Rio is being reissued once again. The album continues to sell well for the band because it is the music that made them most popular, so why not reissue it under the Warner label?  Warner didn’t buy the catalog for it to sit somewhere and just collect dust, after all.

Also, Isn’t it the least bit interesting that this summer, Duran Duran will play festivals, introducing that music to people who, unlike the rest of us, might not have been around to hear it in the 80s? Even if they never play a single new song from the “yet-to-be-named-publicly” album that we call DD14 at any of these festivals, they will expose new audiences to songs like Rio and Save a Prayer…and those songs can be found where?? On a fantastic remastered digipack of Rio. This reminds me a little of the summer TV reruns, “If you’ve never seen it, it’s new to you!” ….”If you’ve never heard it, it’s new to you!”  Say what you will about reissues, if they’re trying to find a new audience, it’s not a bad way to go.

Furthermore, if you were a band from the 80s that is looking to reinvigorate your fan base and bring in some new lifeblood…why wouldn’t you play festivals known for attracting young people, and reissue your biggest selling album at the same time?  You play some festivals, get people interested and talking about you, make some sales on an older, yet still very viable release, and then release your brand new album…which is reportedly meant for a much wider audience than their current fan base.  (I’ve had people ask where I’m getting that – listen to the final 20th Anniversary Katy Kafe with Simon. They talk quite a bit about it, and yes, it really DOES make sense!) Those same people who bought your older music, thinking they’ve found a new band, will then hear new music and make those purchases. It happens all the time with plenty of bands, and it is a proven marketing method. Whether it will work as well for Duran Duran or not is yet to be seen, but I’m very curious to see if it will.

I know that there are many in the community that scoff at the idea of Duran Duran’s attempts to bring in new vitality to their long time fan base. I can understand why. We all were witness to what happened with some of their previous attempts, and I think to a certain degree, we’re selfish as all get out. We don’t necessarily want to share the band with new generations of fans. We’ve loved them since Day One, and dammit they’re OURS. Those are honest feelings, and I get it. I don’t know if the band or label really gets that, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily important that they do. Is it really healthy though to expect the band to cater solely to their long time fans and NOT grow their fan base? Is it really smart for them not to try? I don’t think so.

Selling music is a business. The band has to make money or else it’s really just a very expensive hobby. Duran Duran, while they say they’re not in it for the money, they are definitely accustomed to living a certain type of lifestyle that is beyond the reach of most. They want to see their music reach as many people as possible…and last I checked, the population of 40-somethings in the world isn’t necessarily growing. It isn’t as though we’re all going to bring a friend who has never heard Duran Duran to their next shows and suddenly convert them. No…it’s younger people coming up in the world that they’ve got to expand and reach to find. Like it or not, that’s the reality. If they want to sell their album beyond the 300,000 or so copies that they might be able to sell to their fan base in varying forms…they’d better come up with some music that has a snowball’s chance in hell of being played by people who aren’t already their fans. Again, like it or not, that’s the cold, stark truth.

While sure, I sit back and wonder aloud here on the blog about whether they’re going to alienate long time fans in the process, there is a huge part of me that wants to see them do well. Why wouldn’t I? I’m a FAN and I support this band. Isn’t that the point? I’d love to see the album take the world by storm, all the while knowing that I’ve been around to watch the entire plot unfold. I haven’t heard the album yet, I don’t really know what they’ve got up their sleeve(s), but I’m trying to keep an open mind. It really is what we should all be doing, and yes, it can sometimes be difficult.

I think that as long time fans, Duranies, die hards….whatever you’d like to call us, we have a habit of being overly cynical. I certainly fall into that ditch on occasion, without question! We think we’ve seen it all and we think we know the band’s career better than they might – because you know, we’re objective. <wink, wink> There are a good number of fans out there that believe the band has already reached the apex of what they can hope to achieve. I’ve witnessed the discussion, I’ve heard the chuckles when the idea of reaching beyond the fan base and finding a younger audience is mentioned, and I’ve read the comments of, “good luck with that. Hope you don’t end up losing your entire fan base in the process.” I’m ever-so cautiously thinking that maybe we shouldn’t all be quite so sure. This is a band that I wouldn’t necessarily count out, and wouldn’t it be AMAZING to see them take off like a rocket or hear them on the radio again? It’s not wrong to hope for that, or at least be open to the possibility. After all, I still love them, and I want to see them do well with music that they are really and truly proud of creating. Don’t you?

-R