Tag Archives: Simon Le Bon

‘Cos Now We’re Online

The internet has definitely been getting a work out these days as more and more people are sheltering in place and working from home. I, personally, have had a number of online meetings this week related to the spring campaign season. (Virtually organizing is weird, by the way.) My family has also met a couple of times online through Skype and Zoom just to chat and to play games. I, for one, am grateful for all of this along with emails, text messages, tweets and more. As someone who is staying at home by herself, I like both feeling a little less alone and knowing that people are doing okay. This is why I was pretty excited yesterday when I saw the following on Duran’s social media:


Hi Everyone, 

We have made the decision to take a temporary break from the studio in order to keep everyone safe and sound. While we are ‘self-isolating’, however, we still want to be in touch with you all in some way. So, for thirty minutes each week, we’re going to take turns striking up conversations and taking questions via the Duran Duran Twitter feed. For us, we feel it’s important during this crazy time to stay connected, so we can share our thoughts and feelings. Community has never felt like such a scarce commodity! 

Our love goes out to all of our fans around the world, particularly in areas that have been badly hit by the virus. We have never seen anything like this in our lifetimes, and we are feeling much of the same uncertainty and fear that we’re sure you are. 

We hope that through keeping connected we can all feel strong and supported. 

Stay tuned for details on our first meet up, which will take place tomorrow, Friday afternoon, UK time. Until then… stay healthy.
– Simon, Roger, John & Nick x

As I read it, I felt relief knowing that they are fine. I have forced my family to check in on a daily basis so that I know that they are okay. Likewise, I have a number of friends who are checking in on a daily basis. Then, of course, I totally understand the decision to stop working in the studio to ensure that everyone stays safe. As much as I am anxious for new music, no one should put themselves or their loved ones at risk. On top of that, I cannot imagine that they would have been as productive or creative as possible. I know that I’m struggling to get things done and I know that my mom has been having a hard time with her creativity despite having more time on her hands. Now, Duran did not just decide to stop working in the studio, but made a decision to stay connected via the band’s twitter. When reading this, I responded that I thought it was appreciated and thoughtful. I, too, have found connections essential and am hopeful that we all appreciate each other more once we get through this.

Today was the first twitter session as Simon stepped up to field questions and comments. As typical, I opted not to jump in but watched. Tweets came fast and furious and definitely felt like the most Duran action that I have seen in awhile. (In fairness, I don’t tweet a lot about Duran so I could just be missing a bunch but still…) It reminded me that there are still lots of Duranies around. Now, in normal times, I would watch the questions and comments and analyze the fan community. I would take notice about how many talked about themselves or focused on touring in one place or another. Initially, I found myself falling back into that usual mode. After all, it is what I am used to and what I am comfortable with. Yet, I thought about Rhonda’s blog yesterday and the truly unique situation we are all in. I tried to pull back and just appreciate that everyone is living life the only way that they can right now. Maybe they are focusing on upcoming shows or possible shows because they need to feel normal or feel like things can be normal again. Some are looking to talk about the situation or to feel not alone. I can get all of those feelings and more.

So, for now, I’m going to focus on the fact that the guys are fine. I appreciate that the internet is around to help keep those connections. Today is about valuing the little things, at least for me.

-A

Year End Katy Kafe 2019 with Simon

I cannot keep up! I thought I might have a chance to catch up with the Katy Kafes but…alas…before I had a chance to finish the four that popped up in December, another one was released with John. Today, I will finish the 2019 ones and will get to John’s January Kafe when I get a chance. Then, hopefully, I’ll be caught up. *Crossing fingers* As always, if you want to hear the entire Kafe with Simon from December, I recommend going over to DuranDuranMusic and listening for yourself as I’ll just share parts that I reacted to.

Before Simon dove into the topics, he shared that he was enjoying quite a bit of egg nog and that he was surprised by the UK election results. Same here, Simon! Then again, I feel like I live in a dystopian world so maybe I shouldn’t be.

Event of the Year:

Simon picked his 60th birthday bash! I’m not surprised. Didn’t John list that as well? He pointed out that this was all about him as opposed to the NASA anniversary show, which he said was all about Nick! Oh my.

Favorite Movie:

Simon like others really enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It even made him cry at the end! Wow. Despite many of the Duran guys liking it, I’m still not sure that it will end up on my list of movies that I must watch.

Favorite TV Show:

Interestingly enough, Simon chose Chernobyl. I wish that he had gone into why he really liked but he did not. Instead, he listed a bunch of other shows that he liked. I could not keep up. He also made note that he hated the ending of Game of Thrones. (Since I never watched the show, I’ll take his word for it.)

Favorite Book:

Simon is reading Milkman at the moment. (I’m not familiar with that one. Anyone?) He also likes Stopping Places about gypsies that Simon describes as “beautifully written.” It gives a little history and opens your mind about how it is for that group of people. He likes books that make him think and put him on a road to being a better person. Good for him!

Favorite Music:

Simon acknowledges that they have been in the studio a lot. He, personally, is listening to a lot of Amy Winehouse and her jazzy style. He wonders if he can bring a little of that quality into Duran. Hmm…

Best Thing I Saw:

The best thing was seeing Manchester get beaten the week before! Apparently, Simon has agreed to take Katy’s son to a football match. That’s sweet!

Favorite Duran Moment:

The favorite for Simon was playing at the NASA anniversary with the drones, the choir, the setting, etc. They also played some nice little festivals and had a splendid little September tour. (I enjoyed the shows I went to!)

What Simon is Looking Forward in 2020:

Isle of Wight Festival! Looking forward to a new Duran album? Absolutely! He says that they are quite close to being finished. When does he think it is going to come out? 2020. Funny enough, Katy and Simon made a bet over lunch about it. It appears that Katy is very much familiar with Durantime. Aren’t we all?! Well then…

On that note, I have to admit that Simon’s Kafe was pretty crazy in that there were a lot of tangents that happened from podcasts to Christmas Carols to lots more. One thing that I don’t know that anyone can disagree with is that Simon is always entertaining and this one was no exception!

-A

Hothead – The Daily Duranie Review

Here we are. We have indeed arrived at the time to review Hothead. Produced by Chris Kimsey, featuring spoken word by none other than Simon Le Bon, there isn’t much written about Hothead. The song does not seem to be a fan favorite, so let’s get to the bottom of it!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

The first thing I notice is the guitar, which quite frankly for a Duran Duran song, isn’t always the norm. Not buried too deeply in the mix, not an esoteric enigma, vaguely floating up in the stratosphere – for this track, the guitar helps ground the track like a root in the soil. The synthesizer takes on it’s old role, creating atmosphere and answering the guitar in the chorus.

The thing is, the music is kind of catchy. I like the slight grit to the guitar posed against the silky texture of keyboards. The semi-haunted house feeling of the descending synthesizer chords during each verse help to create interest, and it lends a bit more meaning to the point of the song. I picture wandering down into the proverbial rabbit hole, or falling into a pit while in a forest! This is the first DD album, to my knowledge, where the band samples from newscasts and television, incorporating those bytes into the background of the sound. I like that they did that, because those samplings give the song context. It isn’t difficult as a listener to understand the time frame in question, or why the song was written. Given that triumph, I don’t hear much bass though, which is strange – I think it’s in there, but during this period of time I think bass was more “felt” than heard. The band seemed to have backed off from the more complicated bass lines of Rio days and before. The drums are solid, no with no-nonsense, which probably is appropriate given the texture and point of the song.

Vocals

So, this is where things start to go sideways. The very first voice I recognize is that of Former President George Bush (the first one). That can’t be a good omen, can it? You hear news report snippets, which are sampled and as I said before – give context to time and setting of the song, and then Simon begins. Not quite spoken word, not quite singing…but then he does sing the chorus, doesn’t he? That’s followed by a stop gap, more than a little cringy, yet oddly appropriate, “hothead” sung in high-soprano by backing vocalists. I can’t decide if the cringe is meant due to the meaning of the song, or if that’s just *my* take on it. Before I can decide for sure while writing, I hear Simon’s rap section.

This may not be a popular opinion, but the words “Simon” and “rap” really don’t belong in the same sentence. It is very difficult to get past the sing-song aspect and take it seriously. Some artists rap well, and some just don’t. It’s my (possibly unpopular) opinion that Simon does not.

Lyrics

I’ll admit something right here and now: I’ve never read the lyrics to this song before. Lyrically, the song is strong, and arguably, more “political” than Paper Gods. The words were timely then, timely now, well-written, and (still) have a great message. They’re not dated, and they’re definitely not vague. He wasn’t wrong that governments use media and propaganda to change the mind of the public, and that whatever they say today might totally change tomorrow depending upon whatever view they wish to spread at the time. There is absolutely a message warning us to wary of those with the loudest microphones. I can’t argue with any of that. It isn’t the words that are the biggest problem.

Overall

While I can’t say it is a favorite song, there are a couple of things I liked. The guitar line is great, and I love the call and answer with synthesizer. I do give credit for innovation. The sampling of the news bytes was something that we may take for granted in 2020, but in 1990 was still fairly new. Overall, the music is pretty good. The lyrics themselves are solid, although I know they’re not the poetic ramblings that fans enjoyed in earlier albums. The real problem, at least for me, are the vocals and their delivery. I’m not opposed to rap or spoken word – but the sing-song delivery that seems to accompany the way Simon raps does the song an enormous amount of injustice. It cheapens the message and makes it out to be far more of a game or joke than I think was intended. I feel like the song started off to be a great idea, but during recording, it went ass-over-teakettle.

Cocktail Rating

two cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This song definitely starts out in a non-typical Duran way with extremely obvious guitars. While I cannot say that I’m the biggest guitar fan, I think the jarring nature of the intro guitars is fitting with the theme of the song. You cannot talk about politics like this with a pretty synthesize sound, for example. Speaking of synthesizer, I really like the keyboards that pop up more when the guitars are pausing. The drums are solid with nothing too crazy going on. I don’t hear a lot of bass, though, which is a bummer. One thing that I notice about the musicality of this song is how the instrumentation is strong until the vocals and soundbytes begin then it almost feels as if the music takes a backseat.

Vocals

I’m not even sure where to start about the vocals. I guess I will start with the soundbytes of news headlines. I don’t mind them. In fact, part of me finds it fascinating what they chose and makes me wonder why those. To me, they fit with the theme of the song. Then, there is Simon’s vocals. At first, they aren’t terrible. I don’t mind them. Then, the first chorus happens. What the heck is that all about? Why the shouting like of “hothead”?! Why have a female vocal singing “hothead” for far too long? What is the point?! I don’t get it. Then, Simon’s vocals take a noticeable change for the final verse. It is more spoken word but not really. I don’t get that either. The vocals just make the song feel disjointed, lacking cohesion. It feels like they couldn’t decide exactly what they were going for so they did a bunch of stuff. It doesn’t work.

Lyrics

I have to admit that I find these lyrics pretty interesting but then again I spend a lot of my life involved in the political sphere. One thing that I find most interesting is how the overall message about media, politics, propaganda, etc and so forth is not dated at all. These issues are still relevant. In fact, they might be more relevant now in 2020 than in 1990 especially with the rise of social media, fake accounts, interference from other countries, etc. I look at other lyrics that might fit in the same category and feel like some of them feel more dated than this. The biggest example is Too Much Information. It definitely feels like the focus is on the Gulf War of the 1990s. Again, I give a little shoutout to the soundbytes as I found them to be interesting, too.

Overall

This song is definitely not a fan favorite and I totally get why. While there are elements that are interesting like the lyrics and much of the instrumentation, the vocals really detract from the rest especially since they are so front and center during the majority of the song. I do appreciate the fact that the band decided to do something political in nature but because of the vocals, specifically, I think it turned a lot of listeners off. They did not get the message or did not or could not think about what the lyrics might mean. That said, I do give credit for even mixing things up, musically, by having the guitar start it out and in such a dramatic way. I have to just wonder that if they had tweaked things a bit if the final result would have been significantly better.

Cocktail Rating

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two cocktails!

Liberty – The Daily Duranie Review

Here we are, fresh into a new year, and we’re getting back on a reasonable schedule with our review series, we promise! Today, we’re going to check out the second track off of the Liberty album, which coincidentally is titled “Liberty”.

There isn’t a lot of background on the song that is readily available. The same could be said for the album, produced by Chris Kimsey, as a whole. It was the first DD album that the band didn’t schedule a tour behind, and it seems that the whole project lost a lot of steam upon its release. John has openly admitted his struggles with drug addiction during this period, stating that he does not remember much about the making of Liberty. This was also the first album that Warren Cuccurullo was made an official band member, along with Sterling Campbell (he left in 1991). Both were also given songwriting credits.

Simon has been quoted saying that he felt like the band had lost it’s concentration during the writing and recording, as though the band just stopped paying attention. This period of the band’s history, in hindsight, seems somewhat chaotic and scattered. Perhaps that feeling contributes to the lack of love fans tend to have for this album.

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

The beginning of the song still sends chills down my spine (this is good), and I think the opening synthesizer chords going into the keyboards sounds great. This is a band that has learned a lot from the days of Notorious, taking away the great jazz, horns, and syncopated rhythms from that album. There is a great down and dirty rhythm going on, just bubbling under the surface.

The bass is easily as good, if not better, than anything else John has done – I especially appreciate it on this song because while it isn’t quite as forward in the mix as on past albums, it can be felt. The drums, while pretty basic, are good and clean, although they feel fairly autonomous to my ears – it isn’t like when John and Roger play together, but by the time of Liberty it had been five years and two albums since Roger played with the band. Even so, I can recognize the difference.

What I don’t hear much of, is the guitar. It is there, but it’s not out front. You can’t miss the guitar solo at the bridge, although it isn’t meant to be an “in your face” solo. It’s far more about creating an aesthetic, which seems to be pretty thematic for the band during this period.

Vocals

As soon as I heard Simon’s voice come in with the lyrics, I felt that pang of missing the band. I guess that’s something. Throughout the song though, I go from really enjoying Simon’s voice – it starts out like honey dripping down the side of a glass, to wishing he didn’t rely on falsetto. I’m a fan of his lower range, I guess – but the midrange is the Simon we know and love.

Lyrics

The feelings seem the same as in other songs – unrequited love, breakups, wanting what one can’t immediately have, and that sort of thing. I have no doubt that there’s a deeper message to be read here if one is so inclined. In some ways, I wonder if the love note isn’t more about the band members they’ve lost along the way. At this point in the band’s career, I would imagine the notebook filled with Simon’s poetry had been used up. The words are a lot less vague or symbolic, but the feelings still work.

Overall

As it turns out, there’s a reason why I never became a music critic. When we do these reviews, I listen to the songs we’re writing about over and over. The first time, I listen to the full song. The second, I try to focus on the music. The third, it’s for the vocals and the lyrics (I pull up the lyrics and read them along with the song). Then I tend to listen to the full song one more time, and finally – I write the review while listening to the song over and over in the background until I’m done. If it’s a song like “Hothead”, which will be our next review, listening over and over is an incentive to HURRY THE F***K up.

So, when I say that there’s a reason I didn’t become a music critic, it is because I’m too biased. I didn’t even know I *had* feelings about Liberty until I turned it on the first time. Hearing the keyboards and then Simon’s voice made me remember how much I miss them. I miss seeing this band and smiling up at them as they play. That feeling stuck with me the whole way through the review. How can I give the song a fair rating with that going on?!? I digress…

Liberty isn’t a bad song. There was the potential for something great here, and it is still lurking in the depths of the song. I wish they’d fleshed it out a bit more. The groove is good. I appreciate the jazz and syncopation. I think that instrumentally, Nick carries it and everyone else shows up as an “also appearing”. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I did have a moment when I thought about the Duran of the past – of the 80’s – and how things had changed. If I were an unbiased, unfeeling journalist, I don’t think I would have even considered that. I’d have listened to the music and let it stand on it’s own. With DD though, I can’t do it, though I try. Simon’s voice, when it is deep and passionate, does something to me. When it’s falsetto, high and thin, well, it *also* does something to me. I’ll be kind and leave it at that!

Cocktail Rating

Three cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

Musically, there is a lot here that reminds me of old school Duran. While the keyboards get the focus in the very, very beginning, soon there is a nice mixture going between the instruments. I especially like how the bass really forms the backbone with the keyboards periodically chiming in to get noticed. It isn’t like the instruments are fighting for dominance like we once heard in early Duran but more like complimenting each other. Interestingly enough, though, is that I don’t notice a lot of guitar until the song is more than half over. I’m not sure that it is super effective, though. I think the purpose was to act as a sort of bridge but, to me, I find it distracting. I think the song was fine without that.

Vocals

The vocals feel like a mixed bag to me. On one hand, I love Simon’s vocals in the beginning as they are deep and draw the listener in. I also love the layering of lines like “If you want to stay with me” which creates a depth of sorts. Yet, the song does not always stay there. At times, Simon moves to a pretty high range, which confuses me. I don’t really understand why that was needed. Was it to create a certain feeling? To make the listener think that the main character’s mood or feelings change as he tries to deal with the changes with his relationship? I’m not sure but I think it detracts from the quality of the rest of the vocals.

Lyrics

I remember the first time I listened to this album and this song, in particular. I was struck by how much Simon’s lyrics had changed from those early 80s lyrics. Back then, I struggled to understand exactly what the heck the lyrics could be talking about. It always felt like some sort of mystery or puzzle. (Union of the Snake, anyone?) With this song, though, it seems so straight-forward. To me, it always read as a song about a relationship on the verge of ending with lines like, “Thank you for fine times.” Of course, the person is willing to keep the relationship going but has put the ball in the other person’s court, so to speak, with lyrics like, “If you wanna stay with me, At your liberty.” Could it be about something else? Could it be that I’m supposed to look deeper? Maybe but nothing has ever hit me about it except for exactly what I said earlier about the obvious story. Interestingly enough, I thought that I would hate lyrics like this when I just read/heard them but I didn’t. I found the change acceptable even though I liked the way it was before.

Overall

Looking at each of the sections of the review, I notice a theme. Liberty features some good elements but also some parts that take away some of the awesomeness. It feels like there is inconsistency there. I have to wonder about some of the choices that were made in the studio. Why decide to be so obvious in the lyrics? Why include the guitar where it did? Why have Simon sing so high, vocally? If they worked more on this song, would those pieces be adjusted? Maybe they needed to work less on it. I don’t know. Now, this isn’t to say that the song isn’t enjoyable. I really do like the song and it easily gets in my head when I hear it. It just isn’t a song that my appreciation grows for it once I listen more carefully.

Cocktail Rating

Three cocktails!

October 2019 Katy Kafe with Simon

We all know this is Simon’s birthday month in the Kafe, and he came ready to visit – complete with a cocktail recommendation!

Cocktail of the month – Pisco Sour

Simon wasn’t sure if we’d been given this one yet (we have not) as a recommendation, but the recipe is easy!

Three parts Pisco,

Two parts sour (Simon likes his sour with lemon/lime)

One part simple syrup (to make this you put equal parts sugar and water into a pan, heat and dissolve the sugar)

One egg white

Blend (egg white will become frothy), add a dash of Angostura Bitters and serve in a coupe glass (this is an old-fashioned, wide mouthed champagne glass).

If you’d care for something non-alcoholic, Simon recommends sparkling water with lime!

Tall Ships Youth Trust

As I wrote yesterday, Simon took part in the Round UK event. Essentially each group stays on the ship for six days. When they come aboard, these kids are very shy and quiet. They don’t speak to one another at first, but like any good team building event – by the end, they’re working together to do everything from trimming sails to cleaning. It is a great charity, and Simon believes that everyone should have the opportunity to be at sea.

West Coast Shows

By now, the September shows feel like they were many months back. (although it’s only October!) Simon said that they were great, but that the Tahoe show was “red hot” for the band, and that they played a great set at KAABOO. Agreeing with Roger, Simon said that he really doesn’t want to go more than three months without doing a show (According to Katy, Roger had said six months). It is easier for the band to keep up that way. However, fans shouldn’t believe it is because WE prefer it that way. No, Simon was very clear that the main reasons for the ongoing, intermittent shows is that it is better for the band. Regardless of the minutia, we can all agree that more shows is a win-win for everyone.

Studio time

As I type, it is quite possible that Giorgio Moroder is in the studio with the band. While Simon said that yes, he has some ideas for music in mind – he planned to head in with an open mind, and was looking forward to finally working with the famed writer/producer. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall???

As for more scoops on the album though, Simon remained very quiet. It has hit the part of the process when Simon tends to sound put-off when the subject comes up. You can hear it in the tone of his voice, and he even pretends not to quite hear Katy when she asks him if he had any bets on when the album would come out. Eventually he says “In 2020 there will be ‘some-THING’”, rather flatly. He has songs he likes, but that he doesn’t know about a single…and that’s about all Katy got out of him today on that subject!

Halloween

Katy finishes out the Kafe on the topic of Halloween, asking Simon if it’s a big deal there in the UK. He says that it’s a big deal for some people all over the world. He has been known to dress up when his children were younger to scare the kids away (why do I have no trouble believing this?!?), and that they do carve Jack o’ Lanterns there, but that Nick is a huge fan of Halloween. (No! You don’t say??!)

Simon thanked everyone for the gifts and notes he’s received, saying that he appreciates the support for Duran Duran because there would be no band without it.

That’s all for this month’s Katy Kafe!

-R

You Can Put Me Straight

It’s a Tuesday sort of catch-up on the blog today. There have been a few newsy items that have gotten my attention lately, so I decided to gather them together and bring them to you in one blog. Let’s hope I don’t leave anything out!

Found at the intersection of Incubus and JT

So, I don’t know about anyone else, but any time a band happens to mention their love for a member of Duran Duran (or the entire band for that matter), it catches my eye!

Incubus released “Into the Summer” last week, a tune that they’ve apparently bounced around for four or five years now, but finally gelled. Most notably for Duran Duran fans, their bassist Ben Kenney calls the song his “ode to John Taylor”. He describes “Into the Summer” as being very 80s retro and fun. That was enough for me to decide to give the single a fair listen.

One doesn’t have to wait long to hear the similarities – the bass line is definitely John Taylor circa Rio, and refreshingly, the whole song has that sort of joy and fun vibe I connect with Sunrise, Rio and many others. There’s a sort of 80’s power vibe feel that intersects with Rio, and somewhat surprisingly to me, it works. And yeah, I’d almost think John was playing. Even more surprising, I like the tune enough to buy it. Who knew I’d ever own an Incubus song??

You can find “Into the Summer” on Spotify, Apple iTunes, or even a snippet can be heard here at Billboard.com.

Simon sails away

Most any Duranie knows of Simon’s fondness for sailing, but did you know that he recently took to the seas along with a group of inner-city teenagers as part of his ambassadorship with Tall Ships Youth Trust? The youth onboard were responsible for all duties onboard, from cleaning to steering and everything in between. The journey was the final leg of a Round UK Challenge, funded through crowdsourcing by the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

The opportunity empowers the youth, giving them the chance to see that they too have control over their lives. The Tall Ships Youth Trust is a wonderful charity, and it is especially fantastic that Simon is able and willing to give his time.

Andy’s solo show SOLD OUT!

Andy Taylor’s first solo headlining gig in 30 years on November 27 at the London 100 Club has sold out! The capacity of the club is incredibly small at 350, which mean any of you holding tickets to the gig is incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be there! I know many people, including myself, who are envious of your good fortune. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

As an aside, I can’t help but notice the poster design for the show. It appears to be….a wolf??? Check it out below:

If it’s really a wolf, then of course it is. I mean, why not? (Actually, I can think of ten thousand reasons why, but that’s just me) If it isn’t a wolf, then forgive me, my eyesight is obviously failing.

Moving on…

DB3 gig

What’s DB3, you say? It’s Dom’s band featuring Phil Spalding on bass and Ian Thomas on drums. They were starting to play shows a year or so ago, and then canceled a couple of dates, but it seems they’re ready to get back out and start playing live again. They will be appearing at The Rec Room in Horsham (West Sussex) on November 30th. (To be honest, it may as well be happening on the moon for all I know about the UK…but I’m just here to relay the news!) Tix are available on the website for the The Rec Room for £8.33. If you happen to find yourself with a ticket, please consider writing up a little something to share with your friends at The Daily Duranie – we’d love to host your review!

That’s all for now! Jason will be back tomorrow with another fantastic post – enjoy and I’ll catch you Thursday!

-R

Built on Hope

Now I can see the big idea

Just when you think you’ve seen enough popularity contests for a while, another pops up!

Last week, while ruminating on the nomination list for the RRHOF, there was a poll for the greatest album of 1982. This very serious, scientifically accurate poll by @RickMayer_Vinyl, pitted 1000 albums from that year against one another, bracket style. Each bracket was whittled down to the final four, which consisted of Rio, Signals (Rush), Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden), and Never Surrender (Triumph).

At first, Rio was losing, and badly at that. But we Duranies got out the vote, and eventually came out on top at 44% to Rush’s Signals at 36%. To those who are unaware, Rush has a fantastically strong fan community, not unlike our own. They are connected, they have get togethers all over the country, and they do fan conventions that in turn, inspire me to do more. To beat such very dedicated fans was not a small feat, and really – in this situation, that’s what it is about. Whether you’re a Rush fan or not, I think it is prudent to acknowledge that polls like that aren’t really about the quality of the music, but the strength of numbers in voting. Signals is a fantastic album, and I wouldn’t have been too upset had it won. These polls amount to a popularity contest, but then – many things do.

The feeling that I’m moving on

However, participating in things like that, while fun from time to time, also reminds me of where this fan community, as well as the band, sits in the world of music. There was certainly some good natured shade thrown between fans. Most of it, as I said, was good natured ribbing. No harm, no foul. However, there’s always someone who feels it necessary to take it a bit farther. It is a shame that in 2019, that we need to still be reminded that a good portion of the world – the “rock” portion of the music-listening world, mind you – believes that only girls ever listened to Duran Duran. Unfortunately, this thinking still prevails amongst a certain segment, and does little more than remind me how much of an uphill battle we have when even fellow music fans cannot give credit where it is due without a backhanded comment This doesn’t come down to critics and music journalists gathered in a room, determined to snub bands like Duran Duran. I wish it did.

You walk the line

This morning, yet another popularity contest of sorts reared it’s head on Twitter, although this one had already been decided. Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 best singers of all time, and the results are between tweeted. If you haven’t seen it yet, you most likely will see it being retweeted at some point. There is a full article about it here at Rolling Stone, too. It is worth reading if you can manage the time because it goes into full detail about each person and their ranking on the list. Otherwise, here’s the full list:

I don’t know why they bleeped out Joe Cocker’s last name, but whatever. In some ways, it plays to the childish sort of dumbassery that goes into creating a list like this to begin with. Content is content, I suppose.

I waited long enough

My problem isn’t so much with the list, although any list that contains Bono and not Simon Le Bon is just stupid, although I wonder why this needed to be done to begin with. Do we really need to rank singers?? Isn’t it all just opinion anyway? While I am fairly certain that someone out there has devised some sort of scientific method to break down what is most pleasing about voices combined with how influential each voice has been over time – my argument is simply that none of it matters, unless you happen to agree that Axl Rose (64) deserves to be on this list, while Chris Cornell (or Simon Le Bon for that matter), does not.

I’ve had so many people respond directly and indirectly to me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just doesn’t matter. I’d say the same about the Oscars, the Grammy’s, even the Tony’s. None of it matters, yet for some reason, a lot of people pay attention – even if it’s just in passing. For example, I know more than a few people who make a point to go out and see the movies nominated for Oscars each year. Nick and Katy dedicate a full Katy Kafe to talking about the nominees! Yet, I couldn’t care less. I rarely watch the show in full, and I almost never see all of the nominees each year. I don’t have time, and I don’t make it a priority. Yet I sit and watch the Hall of Fame induction every year as soon as it airs, and I know I’m not the only one. If I were, there would be no show each year.

Happy to watch it fade

It doesn’t matter that Duran Duran hasn’t been nominated, and it doesn’t matter that Simon hasn’t been included on this list. After all, Rolling Stone magazine was started by none other than Jann Wenner, who in fact was the head of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until this past August! I still think Simon is far and away a better singer than Axl Rose, Bruce Springsteen (36), or Bono (32). Sadly, I wasn’t consulted, so Patty Labelle is at 95, and Stevie Nicks is at 98, while Kurt Cobain is at 45.

Suffice to say, it is all a popularity contest. The list doesn’t need to exist at all, but somehow – it does. Is that the real problem though? I’m not sure. There are some very widely and tightly held beliefs about what sorts of bands and people are most worthy – and THAT, my friends, is the problem. It isn’t about whether or not the list matters. Too many people pay attention, and too many eyes see the list and allow it in as an influence for that argument to hold water. Until we are able to speak plainly and truthfully about what this constant snub means in context, it will continue – whether you think it matters or not.

-R

Happy 22, Medazzaland!

Medazzaland is 22, today. For some reason, that number doesn’t bother me nearly as much as hearing, for instance, that Astronaut is 15…or that I’m about to turn 49 in a few weeks. Let’s just not talk about any of that, though.

They’ll say we’ll get over it

As I waxed nostalgic earlier to a friend, I can remember when Duran Duran appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell show in 1997. They were promoting Medazzaland, and I was folding laundry while my oldest was bouncing away in her little chair. I can remember hoping she’d stay quiet long enough for me to listen to the interview and see them perform!

I hadn’t bought Medazzaland yet. In fact, I don’t think I even knew they had an album coming out until I watched the show that day, which, when I think back on it – is pretty alarming. It also explains my headspace at the time. I was definitely in the full throes of postpartum depression. Motherhood was proving to be a far bigger challenge than just diapers, laundry and bottles.

Why do we still face the music?

Seeing Simon, Nick and Warren that day made me smile for what might have been the first time in months, but I also felt pretty wistful. Admittedly, they didn’t feel like the Duran Duran I’d known. It was kind of like running into people at your high school reunion. Everyone wears these name tags with their maiden names on them, along with senior pictures to remind everyone of what they once looked like – but you don’t really recognize them. You don’t KNOW them anymore. That’s kind of how I felt with Duran Duran back then. I mean, by the time Medazzaland was released in 1997, Rio had already been out for fifteen years. So yes, I guess I did struggle with that a little bit.

I’d never heard “Electric Barbarella” until that day on the show, and I can remember thinking that the tune was catchy, so I decided that I’d go get the CD when I had a chance. As different as they were, there were still hints of sounds I recognized. (No, it wasn’t all about Simon)

Not long after the Rosie appearance, I bought the CD. I can remember running into the music store and buying it while my husband and Heather happily waited in the car. It was a shock to hear Medazzaland for the first time, as my husband scanned through the songs – only hearing the first 30 seconds or so of each before moving on. I just didn’t know this band anymore, and I think that was a real shock to my system. I’m not writing this as a topic of argument, I’m just explaining how it felt to me at the time, in 1997. Things change.

Now and then you’ll get the strangest notion

There are a good many people out there who claim to love Medazzaland now, 22 years after it’s initial release, but I can remember talking to many of those same people online in the year 2002-2003 or so. There were not nearly as many well-wishers then. Music has a tendency to grow on your ears and your heart, I suppose. I’m still not sure that I love the album as much as I love others, but I recognize its importance in the overall catalog.

Medazzaland kind of allowed Nick, Simon and even Warren to spread their wings and experiment with their sound as a trio for the first time. John was gone. Andy and Roger had been gone for quite a while by then. This trio was the new Duran Duran (or Duranduran if you prefer), and they were making a-go of it. In a lot of ways, this was a brand-new band. I would imagine that it was on this album that Warren really grew more comfortable because he’d already had the success of Ordinary World and Come Undone, and John wasn’t around to side with Simon. So he and Nick grew closer, worked together far more extensively, and the music evolved as result.

Wild ambition can you really blame us

This is why they took the cover of Rio and “redesigned” it. It wasn’t just happenstance they chose that image to graffiti for the cover. They were making a statement that this was a new era. This was not the band who created Rio, this was new. They wanted to be known for who they were at that moment, not for the Fab Five, Rio, or Sing Blue Silver. There is no clearer proof than on the album closer, “Undergoing Treatment”. Read the lyrics. In fact, read them all. The story is right there, laid out in the words, and playing in the music. The problem, of course, is that you can try to outrun it….but you can’t hide from your past. It tends to follow.

Like it, love it, or something else entirely, Medazzaland was a tidal change for Duran Duran. Creatively, they pushed the envelope and broke out of boxes that critics and, yes, even fans, had insisted they stay in. Funny thing about time, too. It softens the hard edges, makes the black and white seem a bit less so. I listen to the album today, and much of it feels and sounds very much like the band I know. Call it wisdom, call it old age, even. Pop Trash, Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, All You Need is Now and Paper Gods all came later, and on each album there are the remnants and evolutions of sounds from Medazzaland. That’s success in my book.

Can you give a little more?

The defiance the band found in Medazzaland is still present in their music today. It gives their sound this fiery edge that I’ll hear every once in a while, which I appreciate. The difference, at least one that I hear, is along with that defiance, there is also pride. Shouldn’t they be, though? After all, they’ve been in this business for forty years. They’ve undergone enough personnel changes to have created four or even five different bands. They’ve come full circle, and then some.

Happy anniversary, Medazzaland!

-R

The Sun Always Shines On TV

Living a boy’s adventure tale

Any Mark Ronson fans out there? Well, YouTube hears your pleas, and they have answered with news of a Mark Ronson documentary, to be aired (for free!) on YouTube on October 12. Mark (ha!) your calendars and set aside a couple of hours for viewing! Extra special for DD fans, Simon Le Bon was interviewed for the documentary along with a plethora of other celebrities and music artists, such as Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, and Miley Cyrus. Other friends and family are also featured including Boy George, Charlotte Ronson, Josh Home, Lykke Li, and even Sean Lennon, among many others.

Perhaps worthy of note to some, I see that this film was made as a Livewire/Eagle Rock Films production, which is the same production company that did A Diamond in the Mind. Here’s the trailer below!

Now, I wouldn’t be me…or Daily Duranie for that matter…if I didn’t note that despite my watching the trailer twice, I didn’t see or hear Simon. (forgive me if I’m wrong!) He might have been in there and I missed it, but I don’t think so. There were a lot of different voices in the audio overlay, but you’d think I’d be able to pick Simon out, right?? I also didn’t see footage of Mark with the band, which on one hand didn’t surprise me, but on the other – I couldn’t help but be the tiniest bit sad. Yeah, I’m picky and want it all. Am I not a Duran Duran fan?? <insert wink here!>

There was, however, one quick flash of Mark with the platinum blonde hair he sported during the production of All You Need is Now, so I’m obviously hoping for a bit more during the film. I guess we’ll see, because I’ve got it on my calendar for viewing this weekend! Regardless, I think it will be very insightful, inspiring, and worthy of a watch or two!

I Dream Myself Alive

I have one piece of non-Duran news to share. A-ha is coming to the US for just two shows in 2020, on September 25 and 26! Both shows happen to be at the Wiltern theatre in Los Angeles, and they will be playing their album, Hunting High And Low in its entirety. The shows go on sale Friday at 10am.

This is worthy news because I know that there must be many DD fans who, like me, fell in love with A-ha at the very first moment they heard “Take on Me”, or saw the iconic video (which remains one of my most favorite). As I understand it, next year will be their 40th anniversary as well, and they’re celebrating by playing their breakthrough album live and even coming to the states to do it! It is one of my very favorite albums of the 80s, and I’ve never seen A-ha live.

It’s funny because today on Feedback, the music talk show that fellow Duran Duran fan Lori Majewski co-hosts alongside Nik Carter on SiriusXM channel 106, the subject of albums you’d most want to hear played live came up. Hunting High and Low is on that list for me, along with several others, of course!

Train of Thought

As a quick aside – Feedback is a great show. If you haven’t heard it, I strongly recommend it! I can appreciate the different points of view, and Lori does a great job of keeping Nik’s ego in check (as she well should!). It is tough being a female in that world, which is a subject that is near and dear to what Amanda and I have been researching and working on for the past few months. It is alarming to hear that even in 2019, women seem to be far and few in between when it comes to discussions on music. I would swear that the only people that listen or call in seem to be male. Yes, I actually do think that’s a bad thing, for a multitude of reasons (another blog, another day). I listen every day, but I’m on the west coast. Calling in doesn’t work for me, as I hear the show about three hours after the fact. That said, I’m an avid tweeter, even though I’m tweeting after they’ve already gone off the air and I’m listening to a replay! Hoping some of my Duranie friends remember to let them know they’re listening.

Back to A-ha…

Love is Reason

The news of their 2020 tour is also worthy of mention because of the timing. What I mean is that these shows go on sale this Friday – October 11th. They’ll likely sell out completely given that they’re the only US dates and the Wiltern isn’t a huge venue. Yet, the shows are nearly an entire year away. I can remember when we used to buy shows that were just weeks away, and then it grew to be where we’d have to pony up for tickets three months out. Even then, I never minded. Lately, I’ve seen pre-sales announced closer to six months out from show dates, and now? This is nearly 12 months away. An entire year.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think it is bonkers to plan that far in advance. Essentially we’re giving our money to someone else who can essentially earn interest for nearly twelve months before we even see the concert. While there may not be much I can do to stop this ball from continuing to roll downhill, I can say that it makes me think twice before buying tickets. In the case of my very frugal and pragmatic husband, it stops him dead in his tracks, including this time. There’s no good sense of giving someone your money to sit on for that length of time, and in his head – if that’s what it takes to go to shows, then he guesses it’s time to stop giving money to big acts like this and just go to see local bands who haven’t quite made it yet.

Here I stand

Will I die if I don’t see A-ha before they end their career (could have sworn they announced their retirement once….)? No, probably not. I’d love to see them, but I’ve made peace with knowing that much of what I want isn’t what I necessarily need. A-ha is in the “wish” column, rather than the “must” column, right next to Duran Duran. All of that said, these bands, promoters and/or venues could make it a little easier if they didn’t demand our money so far out in advance. Twelve months seems ridiculous, don’t you think? Maybe I’m just old.

Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!

-R

John Taylor on Let There Be Talk Podcast

I’m late, I’m late…I know… My tardy excuse today is that I was listening to the “Let There Be Talk” podcast with Dean Delray as he interviewed John Taylor. Yesterday, I scanned through it, picking up on bits and pieces, but today I forced myself to sit down and listen to the entire thing (at over an hour and a half – it’s a monster).

If you haven’t listened, or feel like you need a fairly comprehensive (but elementary) education on Duran Duran’s history, this may be the podcast for you. Likewise, if you are more of an auditory learner, give it a good listen. Make sure to have beverages and other sustenance available because it is hella-long. Here’s the link: Let There Be Talk featuring John Taylor.

Hard rock, The Viper Room, and plenty of gushing

Here’s the real deal: Dean Delray is very obviously someone who comes from more of a rock background, and by “rock”, I mean hard rock. Van Halen. Black Sabbath (whom he mentioned during the first MINUTE John was on the podcast), Guns ’n’ Roses… you get the idea. He has a voice that sounds like he smoked for 40 years and hung out at the Viper Room as a regular for at least 10, but who really knows.

He is what I would call a man’s man (more on that in a bit), and although he does a fair job of gushing (and yes, I do mean gushing) over Duran Duran and John Taylor (not that they don’t deserve it)…I would venture to guess the guy has spent next to no time ever really listening to their albums, or reading about their history. He knows the highlights, which to be fair is more than I can say about MANY of the people who have interviewed the band over the years. The problem is that Dean was going to attempt to chat with John for 90 minutes. Where does one go, conversationally, when you only know a smidgeon of what they’ve done??? That said…let’s just get on with the highlights before I get into more trouble.

I appreciated that the conversation opens with a discussion of the post-punk era. That lasted for approximately 15 precious seconds, when the conversation takes a strange turn. Delray brings up Black Sabbath – which caused my eyes to nearly roll back into my head. Is there really any other band that sums up the antithesis of what Duran Duran really IS at their core, than Black Sabbath? Obviously Delray was reaching for something to connect with John because Sabbath is also from the Midlands. I get it, but I don’t like where he was trying to go.

If you had to name one band that was DD’s polar opposite…

And hey, were John and Nick ever fans of Black Sabbath? I nearly spat coffee at my screen as John commented that no, he was never really into Sabbath, but he and Nick went to a show where they were playing, and knew to get out while they could. Again I ask, is there really any other band that is quite the polar opposite of Duran Duran? Probably not. I mean, Duran Duran is light, love, joy. Black Sabbath (and yes I actually *do* know their music well, thankyouverymuch) is more darkness, anger, and some control issues mixed in for good measure.

Rest assured, the train was brought back onto the right track as they continued to discuss where Duran Duran fit into this post-punk movement. John discussed how he switched from guitar to bass, and why he aspired to the sounds from black American bands like Chic. He talked about the funky power trio being at their core and how those rhythm sounds (as well as the bass) spoke to him. John also said that time really belonged to rhythm sections, as opposed to punk which belonged to guitar.

Delray then mentioned that in the 80s, Duran Duran were everywhere. DJ’s would play them, then follow with Van Halen and Prince. The common thread was that the 80s were a dance scene – bands wanted to be able to crossover and create songs that could be danced to, like “Jump” from Van Halen.

Dance, dance, dance

Funny, I just had this same conversation with my youngest as she prepares to go to her very first school dance on Friday. She’s only in 6th grade (she’s 11), and the dance is being billed as a dance/social with a carnival theme. Rather than just music and kids dancing – nowadays parents try to add in other activities. I talked about how at my middle school dances, girls (primarily, but not always) formed circles on the dance floor while we danced to the popular music of the day. She asked me what was popular then, and with profound joy (seriously, way too much joy, I think…) I pointed at our car stereo, which was tuned to SiriusXM 1stWave. “Anything they play on this channel is what Mom would dance to, including Duran Duran.” As we talked further, we agreed that kids don’t seem to have a lot of bands to dance to. It’s EDM, or like where we live – country. It’s not the same now. They have to play carnival games instead, I guess.

“What we lacked in know-how, we made up for in cajones.” – John, on “Let There Be Talk”

Simon, before…and after

They spend some time chatting about life before Simon. (Seems like that could be a fitting title for an autobiography) John gave a rudimentary timeline of the singers who held the mic before Simon came gliding in with his suave attitude, pink leopard pants, and book of lyrics. Sometimes, I wonder if the book of lyrics wasn’t more of a driving force behind Simon’s induction into Duran Duran than anyone wants to say….hmm…(thank goodness he’s still there though, am I right??) He mentionedTin-Tin Duffy and his band the Lilac Time, then talked a little more about Andy Wickett, and explained the course of events that brought him into Duran Duran. He said that Andy was a phenomenal singer, but that it just didn’t work out for him as a front man.

Simon joined the group by listening to what became Sound of Thunder a couple of times, flipping though that now infamous book of lyrics, and settling upon words that fit the music. The uniqueness of Duran Duran maintains that basic approach to this day, but back then it was John, Nick, Roger and Andy who wrote the music. Simon wrote the lyrics. All five members were equal.

Doesn’t it suck to be a boyband?

Just the topic is enough to set me off. Dean Delray doesn’t realize the minefield he stepped into as he asks the next question.

“There was a time when of course you become the teen idols. You’re fucking everywhere…Teen BeatTiger BeatDream Magazine (is that even a thing?)….any kinds of those. But at the same time it was really helping you, it was cursing you maybe in a legitimate music world. People thinking they’re just a boy band, even back then because we have boy bands all the way to now. Uh…did you feel that way, like ‘fuck this is great but it sucks at the same time’?”

John kind of pauses, which I appreciated…and I’m going to assume that he needed to collect his thoughts before answering. I know I needed to collect my jaw as it hit the ground while I was listening. He then says “uhhhh….I don’t remember thinking it sucks.”

For me, that was all that was needed. However, for the people in the back, or for those who, like Delray, believe it was a double-edged sword…John continues to explain that he didn’t mind being the pinup and in fact points out that his fans had his poster pinned up in their room to Gela (this made me chuckle) whenever possible. Amusing. If I were his wife, I’d probably put up with that exactly one time before throttling him. (typed with a grin)

“Life is foreplay for when the lights go down.” – JT


Videos

Like most who interview Duran Duran, Dean Delray doesn’t really get the videos. He knows they’re works of art “They’re 35mm films, dude, not videos!”, but he also thinks they cost millions. “Planet Earth cost about $10,000 US”, John corrects.

John gives Dean the quick rundown on why Duran Duran relied on videos, explaining that Rio was charting in Australia, about as far away as one could get from the UK, and yet they couldn’t affordably travel there to play, so their managers suggested they make videos. He described going into the studio to make Planet Earth and meeting Russel Mulcahey, and then talking about how it wasn’t until the mid-80s that videos became a multi-million dollar business. It remained pretty clear that Delray just didn’t get it as he finished the conversation on videos by saying “That thing you did on the yacht was great!” He expanded by talking about how they looked rich, living the good life and trails off just as John says that they were really “just goofballs” on the video.

Exactly. Sure, it took place on a yacht, but the moral of that video is that you can put the goofballs in nice clothes, allow them to drink champagne, and let them sail on a yacht…but they’re still going to fall all over themselves in front of a girl and throw the guitarist overboard!

They speak briefly of Sing Blue Silver, and it is just about at this point when I begin to wonder if John knew he was going to be teaching Duran Duran 101 before doing the podcast. His reward for providing that knowledge is Delray’s reply “That thing is so great!”

Oh come on….you know you’re thinking the same thing I am. Did he really know what Sing Blue Silver was?

Power Station and an evolving Duran Duran

So here’s the thing, John gives a full narrative on how Power Station came to be. The two main highlights here are:

Had Robert Palmer agreed to tour with Power Station, John feels (in hindsight, mind you), that they would have continued on, but they wouldn’t have been as important as Duran Duran.

John has so much respect for Nile, it is truly inspiring. They talk about Nile and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chic has been nominated eleven times. ELEVEN…and even then, only Nile has been honored with an award of excellence as a guitarist. John says he (Rodgers) wears that (the knowledge) very well, that if it were him, he’d be bitter.

As many probably recognize, it was during this period that Duran Duran really evolved from a five piece to a three piece band. Dean asks about the money and the fame. Rather than succumb to discussing what had been lost along the way, John turns it around.

“A run like that, sooner or later, has to end. The momentum of what you’ve done carries you. Objectivity of your work, it has it’s place.” He continues by saying, “Treat audiences and your band mates with respect, and you can have a career.”

Delray asked about Neurotic Outsiders, a project that – out of everything – he seemed the most familiar with. He cites the Viper Room and knows the people in the band. John explains that it was a good space for him to work through the burnout he’d had (for him, it was the second time he experienced burnout with Duran Duran), and to work on staying sober and being a decent parent. This was a way for him to still have fun, by playing a residency on Monday’s at the Viper Room.

New album and closing thoughts

They closed with a bit of news on the coming album – which I shared yesterday. I also took special note of a date that John mentioned while talking about Simon’s history with the band. As they chatted about the band’s beginnings, John commented that on July 1, 2020 – it will be the 40th anniversary for the current lineup. I know this has always been a sticking point for fans, many of whom claim that the band has somehow “missed” their own anniversary in 2018.

I’m the last person to tell Duran Duran what date should be celebrated, or how they should do so. My job is to applaud it. In the case of the date though, it would appear that they want to celebrate the time when Simon was in fact part of the band. This makes sense. After all, the Duran Duran we all tend to think of actually involves Simon! So, stop with the “they forgot to celebrate their anniversary” nonsense. They didn’t. Sure, they celebrated the inception of the band back when they did the 78-03 tour. That’s called “marketing”. It’s a thing, and it isn’t an affront to anyone. It also isn’t “confusing”….it was about selling tickets and hyping up their reunion as the original five. They came up with a slick way to make it all seem a lot less contrived than saying “Hey, we need to hit the road to see if anyone will even buy tickets to come see us.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

This band isn’t one for looking back – listen to any interview over the years, and they’ll tell you that themselves. We fans have made far more out of this 40th anniversary than anyone else likely intended, including the band and management. The sights are set incredibly high, and the expectations are out of this world. No matter what the band does at this point, it may not be enough to pacify. This is unfortunate. Listen to the podcast. The one thing John says that is key for Duranies in resetting their expectations, is that the band talked a lot about what to do (if anything) about the 40th anniversary. The one thing they agreed upon, was that the best way to celebrate their career next year was with new music.

Sounds great to me, John!

Wow, after that post, I need a break! Good thing today is my “Friday” for blogging! Happy Weekend, everyone!

-R