Tag Archives: Seven and the Ragged Tiger

Question of the Day: Thursday, July 4, 2019

According to our voters, this should have been the track listing for Seven and the Ragged Tiger:

  • The Reflex
  • New Moon on Monday
  • (I’m Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement
  • I Take the Dice
  • Of Crime and Passion
  • Union of the Snake
  • Shadows on Your Side
  • The Seventh Stranger
  • Secret Oktober

Which song off of Notorious should have been a b-side and not included on the album?

Some New Romantic Looking For the TV Sound

I heard you making patterns rhyme

If you had to categorize Duran Duran in a word, what word would you pick?

Are they pop? Rock? New Wave? Synthpop? Electronic? New Romantic? I think Nick described the band as Modernist once or twice?? What would you say?

My head is stuck on something precious

Yesterday, there were a few tweets going back and forth between several fans about DD’s music. Classic Pop Magazine has a Synthpop issue out on newsstands now. Although Duran Duran aren’t really mentioned in the magazine much, one of the editors put Ordinary World in their top ten synthpop songs. I find that interesting, because I wouldn’t characterize Ordinary World that way at all.

That got me thinking, of course. If Ordinary World isn’t truly synthpop, then what? I don’t think I ever came up with a reasonable answer for that. I always struggle with calling them a pop band because in my head – they’re not. They’re not music you’d hear on Top 40 radio (although we certainly did once). They might have some pop songs in their catalog, but I really hate the idea of categorizing them just as pop. It seems so pedestrian, boring and kind of cringy. Clearly, they’re not rock either. I mean, yeah, they’ve got guitar, but they don’t rely on it. I’d say similar for Synthpop – in my head, a synthpop group relies on the synthesizer for the melody lines. Is that the case with DD? I’d argue no on that.

Does it help to take one album at a time? I’d say no. For example, I mean, what do you call their debut? New Romantic? The problem with that, of course, is that the moniker isn’t as much about the music as it is about the fashion of the time. The reason we think of Planet Earth as New Romantic (aside from the words being in the lyrics…thank you Duran Duran…) is because of the ruffled shirts, the over the top hair and make up, the pirate look. To use a similar idea to what was discussed yesterday on Twitter, bands who were classified as New Romantic had synthesizers, but not all bands who had synthesizers were New Romantic. (nor were they New Wave – thanks @GuyFansofDuran!)

My eyes so cloudy, I can’t see

I think that for me, one of the reasons I’ve always valued Duran Duran so highly is that they didn’t CARE about boxes marked “New Wave” or “New Romantic”, or even “Pop” or “Rock”. The one thing I loved most about the band was also the one thing that challenged me from album to album. I never knew what a finished, new album would sound like, and there was never any way to prepare. As an aside, I’ve learned to never, EVER review one of their songs publicly after only a few listens. I have to sit with the music for a while. Paper Gods took me a good solid two or three weeks before I finally had that light bulb “I GET IT!” moment. I still don’t know what I’d characterize Paper Gods as, musically, though. Does it matter?

For those of us who tend to value a sense of routine and normalcy, Duran Duran has sometimes been the very opposite.

They’ve created music they liked. In their purist, most raw moments as a band in the very beginning, I don’t think they were worried about marketing or labels. Sure, they wanted fame and fortune. They wanted to be the biggest band in the world. But I don’t know that they were overly concerned with the minutia in getting there.

Can you hear me now?

What do I mean by that? Well, what I’m NOT saying is that they were careless for detail. That isn’t it at all. I just don’t think that they consciously sat back and tried to figure out what music might sell best, or get radio time the easiest. There was a certain kind of bliss with industry ignorance in that respect. How self-aware was the band before they really “made it”? I believe it was simple enough for them to get out of their own way back then.

Writing and recording under those conditions had to have been easier in that aspect. I mean, once you know who you are, and what you’ve done in the past, I suspect that has the potential to set the bar incredibly high. When I compare Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger, I see the latter as evidence of being far too self-aware, despite my undying love for the work.

I’m not sure how Duran Duran gets past all of the mind games that come along with recording nowadays. The ghosts of albums past, the requirements of record labels to deliver at least one verifiable, marketable, top 40 hit coupled with the notions of playlists, streaming, and the idea of how much differently music is consumed these days than forty years earlier. On top of all that, deciding what kind of music they’re actually going to record, and fighting whatever label people want to put on them now? Pop? Rock? Electronic? EDM? Urban? Contemporary? Oh hell no. How can anybody be creative in that environment?

Is there anybody out there trying to get through?

If I were them, I’d want to throw my phone in the trash compactor, unplug from society, and forget the labels. It seems to me that it might be the only way to record an album with honest, pure, organic intentions.

Of course, if they did that, then they wouldn’t be able to read my incredibly humorous and intelligent fodder.

Hmm.

Throw your electronic devices away, gentlemen… and good luck!

-R

Happy Anniversary to SATRT and Notorious!

I love this time of year. It has finally cooled off in So Cal (hey, it’s under 80 degrees now!), the winds have died down for at least the moment, and December is right around the corner. All of that aside, the real reason I love this time of year is because for me – late November reminds me of one thing: DURAN DURAN.

I think anyone who has been an ardent fan of theirs over the years is aware that the band seems to have a special relationship with Autumn…one that seems to embrace releasing new music! I automatically associate albums like Seven and the Ragged Tiger with  the falling leaves, and even the color scheme of the album reminds me of November.  Just the other day I was listening to KROQ HD2 “Roq of the 80s” when “Union of the Snake” started. The beginning chords reminding me of sharing the small bathroom mirror in my childhood home with my younger sister, or sitting in the back of my mom’s green Mercury as we drove up north to my uncle’s house for Thanksgiving.

The Notorious album beckons similar memories for me. I remember hearing the “No, No…Notorious!” over the radio as my parents, sister and I took our annual apple-picking trip one year. As much as the music still feels current, I can’t deny the sense of nostalgia.

It isn’t exactly a shock that the two albums share a common anniversary date, which just happens to be today (although Google tells me that Notorious was released on the 18th. I give up trying to keep it all straight at this point!) I think the jolt of surprise for me comes from reading that Seven and the Ragged Tiger is celebrating #35, and #32 for Notorious.  How can that be possible?

Happy Duraniversary to Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Notorious!

-R

New Moon on Monday Video Geography

Well, hello there, Monday! I wish I could say I was happier to see you. Alas…

I know that there’s a birthday coming up later this week. Right now, I’ve got my own birthday boy with his own monster-sized birthday to celebrate. I also have entirely too much school paperwork, and teaching to do today. The Katy Kafe with Simon will need to wait until a bit later, unfortunately.

HOWEVER, I do have a treat to share. I don’t really know what it is about October, but I tend to associate New Moon on Monday with October, or just Autumn in general.  I listen to Seven and the Ragged Tiger quite often, right along with my Union of the Snake/Secret Oktober single. (naturally!!) I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the little town in France where the video for New Moon on Monday was filmed (I know a few of you out there have had the good fortune to explore Noyers). It is one place of many on my bucket list, and I’ve always been a bit curious about what it might really look like, aside from the “Hollywood magic” they use during filming.

Imagine my delight as I checked our messages this morning and noticed that our friend Jason had sent us a link to Revolutions Per Minute, a blog hosted by Hard Rock (as in Hard Rock Cafe).  Not only is the post topic New Moon on Monday, it was authored by Jason himself! Click on the heading below to open the link!

New Moon on Monday Video Geography

As Jason instructs, his article begins with the video, because “some of you (all of you?) may not have seen it in a few years.” Of course I watched the video. It’s easily been a week or two since my last viewing and I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten the expression on Roger’s face as he passes out his propaganda, or the way the band looks as they’re dancing at the end. Due diligence, you know??

From there, Jason takes the video apart, deconstructing the scenes and finding current day photos to show how each locale currently appears. I loved it, since it is the closest I’m likely to come to Noyers until I’m finished paying for college…and paying off the loans for college!  (Good times!!) For those of us with all the wanderlust in the world and no way to fund it, his post gives us the tiniest glimpse behind-the-scenes into a beloved, iconic Duran Duran video.

Video geography, indeed.

Take a look and enjoy!  Thanks for sharing it with us, Jason!!

-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

Classic Pop Special 40th Anniversary Edition: 7ATRT and All Excess

This marks the third blog that gives a little summary and my thoughts about the next set of articles in the Classic Pop Special Edition for Duran’s 40th Anniversary.  In the previous posts, I took a look at the articles, “Conquering Planet Earth,” “Rare Photos,” and “Rio”.  Today, I’ll cover “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” and “All Excess Areas”.  Mind you, this only takes me through the first 40 pages of the magazine that ends at page 129!

Seven and the Ragged Tiger:

First thing I notice about this article is how much shorter it is compared to the one on Rio.  Then again, the first album did not get this coverage at all.  There is not the focus on the songs and the videos like Rio had.  I guess that I can understand why.  Rio was/is far more popular and one could argue that Seven was not as important in the history of Duran.  Nonetheless, I’m anxious to see how this album is covered.

The article starts out with quite a bang.  The subheading reads, “…album saw them threatened with becoming victims of their success, in danger of being overexposed, they saved their reputations – and their money – by spending the year abroad.”  Victims of their own success?!  While I don’t necessarily disagree, I don’t think I have ever read it or heard it in that way.  I have often thought about how the band members might have felt then when fame was all encompassing from fans everywhere to an insane schedule in order to maintain the success.  The article gives a quote from Simon in which he explains about how the album was about “ambition”.

The first part of the article focuses on how the writing and recording was different than the previous albums.  There is a quote from Nick about how the songs “were built rather than written”.  This is literally the first time I heard that, which makes total sense to me.  I think you can hear that with all of the various layers on the songs on that album.  According to the article, EMI started getting nervous with Ian Little producing so they brought in Alex Sadkin who kindly decided to keep Ian on.  All of that was new to me, too.  It makes me want to know more, that’s for sure!   I wish that the articles included their references so that I could check out sources for myself.

 Excess All Areas:

The picture that accompanies this article tells me it is about the side projects of 1985 as the title did not give it away.  A classic Arcadia picture leads the reader in and the subheading leads me to think the focus is going to be how the two side projects show the two sides to Duran (arty and rock sides).  As the article begins, I finally understand the title about “excess” with the sentence, “…where every artistic whim in the studio was fully indulged.”  Ah.  I get it now.

Interestingly enough, the majority of the article focused more on Power Station rather than Arcadia which does not seem typical to me.  While I knew of the history listed in the article, the author added some ideas that were new to me, including bad blood with Robert Palmer.  The article claimed that he used Power Station to jump start his own career and that he believed that he created the Power Station sound.  Fascinating.  Again, I wish that I had a list of their sources.  I did appreciate that it mentioned the second Power Station album, which rarely gets talked about ever.

The section on Arcadia was generally predictable with the art influences and awesome guest stars.  I did think it was interesting that it mentioned about how it didn’t do as well, chart wise, as Power Station, especially considering that fans now generally prefer Arcadia.  The article does include a blurb on TV Mania but did not mention John’s solo work or Neurotic Outsiders.  Hmm…

I have to admit that this section of the magazine had a few eye-opening ideas.  As I mentioned a few times, I wish I knew their sources!  Anything surprise all of you?

-A

An Update on Ian’s project

I’ve debated whether or not to comment on something here publicly, because it could put Daily Duranie at odds with DDHQ, or it could put us in the direct line of fire from fans in the community, or most likely, both. Do I mention that the band is not promoting Ian Little’s book about Seven and the Ragged Tiger, or do I stop writing about it altogether and pretend it doesn’t exist?

Amanda and I are not promoted by the band.  We are not employed by Duran Duran, nor are we a part of their inner circle. Aside from having a link on the band’s website, and occasionally helping us out with special projects, we don’t really receive or expect anything from them.  Amanda and I don’t get passes to shows, go backstage or even have free tickets. Our names aren’t big enough to convince them that we matter beyond just being fans – we don’t host a radio show, we haven’t written books, and we’re not celebrities. Basically, we do not owe anyone, other than ourselves, anything. We are not sycophants, but we are fans of this band. We don’t write this blog because we want things, we write because we want to share our opinions and tell about our experiences in this fandom with people who want to read them. Whether that gives us any sort of credibility with anyone is honestly beyond my worry at this point. After nearly eight years of blogging, I’m sort of over worrying about who I’m going to offend or impress, I guess.

With that in mind, I noticed last week that DDHQ finally commented on Ian Little’s potential book project on Seven and the Ragged Tiger. In case you don’t know what that is, please check out the previous blog on the subject here.

To provide a bit of backstory, everyone who had signed up for information on the project should have gotten a note from Ian explaining that he’d heard from Wendy Laister (the band’s manager) saying that they would advise he not publish because it would likely be in competition with a few things the band has planned. Judging purely from what I saw online, I think the news that the band wouldn’t back Ian hit him hard. I don’t think he was expecting that news, and initially, he seemed defeated, saying that he was disappointed and couldn’t figure out why the band wouldn’t want to get onboard. After MANY replies from fans (Ian had also put the news out on Facebook) suggesting he go ahead with his plans, I think it gave Ian the motivation he needed.

It wasn’t long after that DDHQ put out a short tweet regarding the subject. I’m just going to copy/paste it here:

“A lot of people have been asking if Ian Little’s forthcoming book on the making of “Seven & the Ragged Tiger”is an official release and rather than responding individually we wanted to let you know it is not, and it is up to you whether you want to participate or not. Thanks^DDHQ”

A bit of clarification: it is always up to each of us whether or not we want to “participate”. That wording is awkward and quite frankly – odd. Secondly, this is not an “Us vs. Them” sort of situation. Many people have published books about the band, and only a fraction have been “official” releases. Most of us read them anyway, and we’ve all gone on to continue being fans of the band, leading productive lives. You won’t spontaneously combust if you read something the band hasn’t given their kiss of approval, and you won’t be a bad fan if you read somebody else’s point of view. Supporting the band does not mean drinking the Kool-Aid and never bothering to ask what’s in it!

On one hand, Ian wants to do this project, and I love the idea of reading about the making of Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Whether or not the band gives this project their approval is of little worry to me, personally. In a lot of ways, it seems like to have their approval means doing it their way, which may or may not actually hurt the validity of the project (to be blunt). They might decide what stories could be told, how they’re worded, and so forth.

On the other hand, I don’t know what the band could possibly have planned that would be in competition with this book. Even IF they have a similar story or anthology planned, it would seem to me that they’re forgetting that many (if not most) fans will buy anything they sell, assuming of course that the items are within financial reach for most fans. Selling a comprehensive limited edition, signed and sealed book about Duran Duran for $1000 or more means that decidedly few can and will buy. On the other hand, selling a comprehensive mass-market book that goes for $20.00 means that thousands of fans can and will buy a copy, and if some will be signed – many more copies will be purchased.

I’m not in the business. I don’t work in the music industry. I do wonder sometimes though, what goes on behind-the-scenes that encourages DDHQ to throw support one way and not another – and they have to know that their backing matters. I can’t help but notice that it isn’t what you ask, or how you ask, but instead how big of a celebrity you might be. Fans don’t seem to matter to DDHQ the way they do to the band themselves (and we DO matter to the band). It would seem like that’s wrong, but management is responsible for the business of Duran Duran. They have to protect the band’s interests, even if the decisions look backward to fans. It is hard (at least for me) not to throw a side-eye when I’ll see DDHQ respond directly to a celebrity when they say something about Duran Duran, but they don’t really seem to do the same for real fans. Yet, I get it. I do know how it is. Social media is all about who sees what. How many eyes  see a tweet to a fan versus a response to a big celebrity?  That’s not to say that DDHQ doesn’t try. They absolutely do. But sometimes, it just comes down to basic economics.

If you’re intrigued by Ian’s project, I’d encourage you to send an email to musiceel@gmail.com. He will respond and send you details. Getting on his mailing list is not a financial commitment, it is simply a way for him to gauge interest. Participating does not mean you will be committing a crime against DD.

-R