Tag Archives: Simon Le Bon

Surprising Fireworks and Sudden Silence

I’m a big fan of the deeper thinking questions that DDHQ occasionally throws out to fans for contemplation. Yesterday was no exception as they asked what was our fondest Duranlive memory.

Invariably when I see these questions, I end up stumped. Sometimes, the answer is as clear as day and I’ll post, but other times, like yesterday, I can’t think of a single memory that stands out above all others. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t because I don’t have great memories. Hardly. It’s because I have so many.

My time as a Duran Duran fan has been such a bright light in my life. I’m not talking about the time I’ve blogged, or even the time I’ve been a host at a party or a convention, though. I mean the times when I am simply a fan. I’m not half of Daily Duranie, not even L8BarMom. Just some…woman…standing in an audience, cheering for her favorite band. There’s no question, at least not in my head, that I’ve loved being a fan of this band. The music fuels my daydreams, motivates my words, and keeps me coming back for more. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Even so, I have no doubt that if it hadn’t been for my friendship with Amanda, I wouldn’t have gone to half as many shows as I have over the years. It is far too easy for me to say “I can’t”, and let it go at that. In fact, that’s what happened with the Vegas shows that were just cancelled. I didn’t even talk with her about them, I just said “I can’t”, and went about my day. While that might have made my life easier here at home at the time, it wouldn’t have made my heart quite as full.

Maybe not so surprisingly, I have thought quite a bit about the shows we’ve been to over the years, particularly lately. It’s so weird to me that so few of the memories seem any more “over the top” to me than others. One time that comes to mind – and I mean, it happened within a blink of an eye – was when I realized they were actually playing Secret Oktober in Brighton back in 2011. Context is important here, so let me describe it.

Amanda and I had already made one trip to the UK that year, and so we’d gotten ourselves to Brighton by sheer luck again in November of 2011. I say “luck” because we managed to get there despite a union walkout for public transportation, leaving my family, Amanda leaving her job, I don’t know how we made it work, but we did. I’d been begging for the band to play Secret Oktober at one of those shows…for months. Make no mistake, I knew the chances were about none, but I begged anyway. We’d gotten to Brighton in time, went to our crazy modern hotel, got ready and got ourselves to the show. There we stood in our spots, and all of the sudden this song starts and I’m not sure what it is until I KNEW what it was. If only to have a picture of my jaw hitting the ground that night at the precise moment I knew what they were playing…the rest of the song is an absolute blur to me, but that moment? Golden. Amanda and I hugged one another, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much pure love and joy in a single second.

There are a ton of precious memories like that, occupying space in my head. I’m lucky. The thing is, most of those memories are just of being in the audience. Sometimes I can’t even remember where I was standing at the time – front row, fourth row, tenth row or beyond – it doesn’t matter now. I couldn’t tell you what was on the set list at the time, or what I was wearing, or even where the concert was at the time. The only thing that seems to matter was that I was there, with Amanda, and we were having the time of our lives watching this band that we’ve grown up watching.

Sure, some small things stand out. Like the time Roger shook my hand, when Dom flicked a pick my way once, when he ran over to be sure and grab my hand, every single time we duck from Simon’s baptismal blast during during White Lines…and seeing Nick look down at us and laugh in response, and when John looks our way. Those moments, though, aren’t necessarily what my mind drifts towards first. Just being there, basking in the glory of still being a fan of this music. Marveling in my head that I can still go see my favorite band along with my best friend. How could I ever have gotten so lucky?

A lot of things have changed in the past couple of months. I’m really not sure when I’ll feel comfortable traveling again. Getting on a plane again does not excite me. Wearing a mask in order to go to a show isn’t going to happen for me. Donning one for an entire plane ride is my idea of hell. I’ll just drive, thanks. I’m so thankful I did all of the things I could in the years before this stupid pandemic, because who knows when I’ll do them again next?

Thinking about being in the audience of any Duranlive experience brings a smile to my face, and sometimes, even laughter. Today more than ever, I realize how lucky I’ve been. I don’t think I can say that enough these days.

-R

We Walk the Mile

I have really been enjoying the extra content lately. The bass tutorials, the instagram chats, lengthy interviews, and of course Duran Duran radio, have all been fantastic. I want to make sure to yell that out to the world, and to thank all those involved. All of it has helped to keep me entertained, engaged, and interested, and I’m positive I’m not the only one feeling that way.

This pandemic has kind of forced all of us to see things differently, and I’m not just talking about the issues at hand. Specifically, I mean life. Friendship. Family. Learning. The list goes on and on. We have all had to find our way. Some of us are better about it than others, and that’s not really a surprise. I’ve chatted with family via text and email, Zoomed with a couple of friends, and spent more time with my three kids at home than I have in years. My husband and I have grown closer, and we’ve learned to rely on one another. I’ve cooked more at home meals over the past eight weeks than I have in YEARS. (I can’t say I’m loving that, but I’ve grown used to it, albeit begrudgingly. I even prepared food yesterday for Mother’s Day!)

We’ve slowed down a little. I think my family spends a little more time talking, a little less time rushing about. As a household, we’ve agreed to become even more self-reliant, pushing forward with our plans to become more of a homestead where we grow our own food and start our own cidery. (Think winery but with hard cider and mead. Mead is essentially wine made from honey.) We’re seeing how the world is changing and trying to adapt so that we can be happy, fulfilled, along with exercising some control over our own destiny.

I don’t think we’re all that different from Duran Duran, or anybody else really. None of us asked for this set of circumstances to be dropped like a lead weight in the middle of our lives. It is doubtful anyone really knows how long this is likely to go on. I’ve sat in on a lot of webinars lately, both those inside and outside of the entertainment industry. Concerts aren’t coming back as soon as we might hope, and even if they do – it’s hard to guess how they’ll look. It appears that the band recognizes that too. I mean, how could they not? They’ve decided to wait on releasing the album until 2021, which isn’t a surprise. I can be sad, but I don’t blame them. In the meantime, they’re doing what we’re all hopefully trying to do: exploring alternatives!

Simon discovered that he doesn’t mind doing a recorded radio show, or podcast. Katy seems to like that too, which I think is great! Nick took time to do a lengthy interview that I can’t imagine he’d have done normally. I mean, two and a half hours is a long time! John seemed to really enjoy his bass tutorial last week, along with the chat he had with Dave from Chromeo. (A band that I am going to check out this week. I know, I know…I’m slow, but I’m trying!!) While Duran Duran might not be a band that performs to an empty audience, or films a song during zoom calls, editing and then sharing it with fans, they are finding ways to engage and share parts of themselves in ways that many of us have wanted for years.

Personally, I love what they’re doing. I don’t need another Twitter Q&A, circa 2012 to remind me that there are 50,000 other fans out there, each vying for their two and a half seconds of attention with <insert band member name here>. What I do appreciate though, is getting past that nonsense, and hearing real discussions about music, their experience, or whatever they’re willing to share about themselves and Duran Duran. I feel far more connected to them now than I have in, well, a very long time, and I haven’t even left my house. Maybe it’s just me, and I can accept that some might disagree, but I think the content they’ve been creating has been golden. I look forward to whatever comes next.

As I said weeks ago, it is going to be the bands who figure out how to continue engaging their fan bases in some way that make it through this crisis, particularly if the lack of live shows continues into 2021. It is the people who find some way to make lemonade from lemons that will thrive in the future. Sure, my life looks different in 2020, as I’m sure yours does, dear reader, but it isn’t all bad. While I have my bad days and I worry about things from time to time, as does everyone, I also see that the only way through this is to keep evolving and finding the good. I’m going to keep working on that.

-R

Duran Duran Radio!

Last Friday, Simon and Katy embarked upon a new adventure with their first installment of what I feel may become my newest favorite thing – Duran Duran Radio! It’s been a few days since it was posted, but I thought it might be time to cover it a bit for those who may not have had the opportunity to give it a listen yet.

There is much to love about Duran Duran radio, and not just it’s name. This particular episode is similar to a podcast because it was pre-recorded. I appreciated that I could hit “pause” (With my entire family here…I’m interrupted a lot), and then there was that moment when my stupid WiFi router decided to restart out of nowhere I love rural life, I really do, but the technology can *sometimes* be a problem.

I love the banter between Katy and Simon in between all of the songs. I also appreciate their song choices. “Horse with No Name” by America started off the show, which is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. I loved hearing that it was the very first album Simon ever went into a record store to purchase on his own. (Mine? Duran Duran’s debut album!!) Katy said it was a song she’d hear while camping and sitting by the campfire. I can remember riding in my parents car when I was very young – some sort of Pontiac if I remember right – and I have the distinct memory of hot vinyl seats, the window down, and that song on the radio!

While I wasn’t familiar with all of the music choices, I am 100% familiar with their third pick of the show – “The Man” by The Killers. I was thrilled to see it on the list, and listening to Simon explain how Erol Alkan changed the song from one that he (Simon) really didn’t “get” as he first heard the demo into one that become the biggest bonafide hit from Wonderful, Wonderful certainly made me even more excited to hear Duran Duran’s next album since Alkan is listed as one of the producers.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 45 minutes, and learned more about Simon during that time than I did while he sat on the “firing line” of Twitter answering questions. No, it’s not the same thing as sitting in a room with him chatting, but at the same time – I’m not sure I need that in order to feel like I’ve gotten to know more about him. Does that make sense? I like hearing his thoughts on music, or anything else really. It has nothing to do with Duran Duran, yet it’s everything. I just really enjoyed getting past the same topics and hearing about something else entirely for a change.

Wow, I probably don’t sound like a fan at all, and that’s really not it. Couldn’t be farther from reality. The way I’d explain it is simply that everyone has their own “thing”. Some fans insist on pictures every time they see them. Some really want Simon to give a shout out on Twitter or where ever. They just want him to say “hi”. Others need to know when they’re coming to tour (and maybe some people want all of that). For me, I’m at a point where I’ve been a fan for a very long time now, enough to where I know Simon doesn’t necessarily want to talk about the album, he gets asked the same basic questions every time he’s interviewed, and while I can’t think of anything specific to ask – I like talking about everything BUT Duran Duran. I like hearing about other music, and other topics in general from him. Fair enough?

The one constructive criticism I’ll make about the program is the inconsistency of the volume. The segue from “The Man” into another favorite of mine, “Sleeping Satellite” by Tasmin Archer was abrupt (“The Man” ends abruptly, which is just the way it is!), but the volume change is pretty drastic. I had to turn down my volume for “The Man” and then turn it right back up for “Sleeping Satellite”. It’s not a big deal, just something I noticed. A slightly bigger problem is the volume difference between Simon and Katy. I don’t know what can be done about that without some sort of mixing (and I’m not sure they want this to become that much of a production) but I would highly suggest that both of them get external microphones with pop filters. They don’t have to be expensive (even my youngest has one!), and they’ll cut out a lot of that background “shhh” noise that you hear. But Katy’s volume is especially problematic, at least for me. I could barely hear her at times, and I didn’t want to miss anything.

Overall, the first episode of Duran Duran Radio was very enjoyable. Even more so than I would have thought. It is very difficult for me to sit down long enough to listen to the radio without being interrupted 45,000 times right now, and yet for this – I’d make the time. At under an hour, it’s the perfect length, and the song choices were great!

Loved it!! Definitely check it out if you haven’t given it a listen yet. Looking forward to the next one!

-R

New Playlists and Music Or Not?

This week I took note that Simon has been developing a “STAYING IN” playlist and sharing it via Duran Duran’s social media. First of all, I appreciate that he (or any of the band members share what music they are listening to or would recommend). I think it is pretty cool that he keeps adding to it so it is not just a go check it out once and done sort of thing but works to keep people’s interest longer. I am also glad that there is something that the band is doing on social media just to keep them active and help give some distraction to their fans sheltering in place. Of course, it is not quite the same as some activity in which there is at least a sense of interaction but it is something.

Interestingly enough, though, I’m struggling to actually go over to Spotify and listen to the playlist. Why the heck is that? Do I not like Simon’s taste? Obviously, that is a silly question. How do I know if I don’t listen to all of the songs? Besides, I doubt that there is any person that I’m completely in alignment with when it comes to music. My goodness, Rhonda and I agree on a lot when it comes to Duran Duran’s music but we do verge at times. For example, outside of Duran, I’m way more into Depeche Mode or more electronic bands than she is. People and their tastes are just different. So, no, I’m not judging Simon’s list before I listen to it. Besides, I rather like hearing new music even if I don’t ever become a fan of the artist or song. My nieces, for example, routinely share music they are listening to so that is definitely not it.

Then, I got thinking. Why the heck would I have little interest in checking out new music, especially music recommended by Simon? That’s weird. That’s big time weird. This led me to think back to the music I have been listening to in the past month since I have been home. Then, it hits me. I have not been listening to a lot of music. What? That cannot be right, can it? No, I think that is true. My music has not been getting much action. Of course, I have to ponder why the heck that would be. It isn’t like I don’t have access or time. Goodness, I have lots more time. I can listen to music while I’m working much easier than I ever could when I’m in school. So what’s the deal? Has it been silent in my house? Generally, no, I don’t spend a lot of time with quiet as I always have the TV on in the background, even if I am not watching it.

So what is TV doing for me that music cannot? When it comes down to it, I’m used to having a lot of voices around me during the day. Schools are never quiet. Even when my students are taking a test, there are still students in the hall, phone calls that happen, students who need assistance. On days when the kids are not there, on teacher workdays, I struggle to get anything done. I need the noise to work, at this point. So is that what is going on with me choosing TV over music? Does it better replicate my usual work environment? I think that is part of it, for sure. I also think TV provides voices, people talking. As someone who has been alone for more than a month with at least another month and a half to go, voices help me feel less lonely. My cat is great, too, but his cat language is not sufficient to fill in some people gaps.

I wonder how long my need to hear other voices will last. Will it be something I seek out during this entire episode of isolation or will I be able to move past it so I can listen to more music? Obviously time will tell. I have to admit that I hope this “need” ends not just so that I can check out Simon’s playlist but I can enjoy music more myself, in general.

-A

‘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