Thirty years ago today, Notorious came out to play!

No No Notorious!

(I had to do it. If there was ever a moment…this was it.)

Today, my friends, is a momentous anniversary. The Notorious album turns thirty. THIRTY. 3-0. That’s YEARS.  (And still I say, “How can that be, I’m only twenty-five!”)

Let’s be blunt: this is getting ridiculous. In no way should Duran Duran’s albums be getting up there in years. This is in the same way that I should not be getting up there in years, I might add. It’s obscene at this point, and I think it is getting offensive.

Nonetheless, this is cause for celebration (and some vodka, well-overdue, I might add).  At the lack of waxing nostalgic, I remember when Notorious was released. I know I began asking for the album around the time of my birthday earlier in November, and of course I didn’t get it because it hadn’t been released (I seem to recall getting the 12″ single for my birthday but I can’t swear to the timing—along with my obvious lack of memory surrounding my age <wink,wink>—my inner timeline is pretty vague these days).  However, I remember hearing on the radio that the album had been released, and the timing was perfect for Christmas. I can remember sitting on the floor  Christmas morning and unwrapping a flat gift and then seeing John, Nick and Simon on the cover. I was thrilled, as I always was (and still am) when I received anything having to do with Duran Duran as a gift.

Notorious, however, was different. It wasn’t like Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Rio or their self-titled debut. Notorious had a horn section, and prominent backing vocals. At that point in my life, I’m not sure I could characterize the difference in sound with words – but I knew it was not new wave, or like anything I’d heard before.

Now, I know that Nick in particular is very fond of explaining that Duran Duran likes to reinvent themselves with each album. I would agree that for the most part, they’ve always done that rather successfully.  As an adult, I have grown to enjoy that about the band. But in the year 1986, I had just turned 16. I was hormonal, grappling with burgeoning adulthood – and had just gotten my driver’s license. I wanted the Duran Duran I knew, I suppose. I wanted familiarity.  As much as I was excited to have some new-found independence, I can distinctly remember cradling Duran Duran in my arms, wishing for a time that had already been lost.

It took me a long time to come to grips with Notorious. Mind you, I never disliked the album or anything like that, it just wasn’t a favorite. I would be far more apt to come flying in the house after a long day at school, throw open the door to my room, dump my backpack on my bed and bend down to grab Duran Duran or Rio and put it on my turntable than Notorious. For me, I suppose that album kind of symbolized how everything was changing during a time when I wasn’t quite ready.

In the thirty years since, I’ve learned to not only appreciate  Notorious, but understand the thinking behind it. I value the intricacy of the music, and naturally —I recognize Nile’s handiwork.  I think Notorious is an album that depicts the three remaining members maturing and solidifying what was to be Duran Duran in the decades to follow.  While I cannot lie, it is still not one of my first go-to albums, today as I listen while I’m blogging, I can’t imagine the catalog without it.



4 thoughts on “Thirty years ago today, Notorious came out to play!”

  1. We are apparently about the same age and I totally agree with you! There were (and are) a few tunes that I cannot imagine my life without but it does tend to stay in the background when I am picking out something to listen to. I do love its funkiness though(Thanks Niles)!

  2. The album was their re-invention.
    It peakes their inspiration and bravery to carry on, after losing two band members.
    Take my bow to Notorious.
    The 3 remaining guys won the hardest challenge with this album.

  3. I also turned 16 in November 1986, and felt about Notorious much the same as you did. You just explained it better than I could. “…a time that already had been lost”…how poignant! Brought a tear to my eye.

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