This week, we are going to jump right into “Read My Lips”, another song produced by Chris Kimsey and the band, and of course written by Duran Duran as well. Let’s get to it!
I have to break this brief review down into two basic topics: music, and lyrics. Musically, I’m going to say it again – this is Duran Duran at their best. There’s no denying the power behind the heavy, metallic guitar. It is so different from anything Duran Duran did back in the day, and there’s a part of me that can hardly believe this is the same band who recorded “Rio”. Then again, this really is NOT the same band, is it? It is interesting to me how much more “forward” the guitar is in the mix, as though they really wanted to rely on the fact that this album features far more heavier guitar than any other DD album. The sound comes across as shallow, which is strange given how bold it is with guitar and bass. It was 1989, 1990 before the public got their hands on Liberty, and I have to wonder how much they were banking on the guitar selling the album to people who might not have embraced Duran Duran previously. I like that in addition to the heavy guitar, there’s no escaping the bass, either. This isn’t the Duran Duran I adored as an awkward tween in 1983, that is for sure.
Then there are the lyrics. Downright suggestive, if not just a little bit dirty, these aren’t lyrics we would have ever found on Seven and the Ragged Tiger, am I right? Duran Duran moved well past the sun kissed videos and posters we once knew, embracing a far more adult sound and attitude. But is it really convincing? I can’t help but feel like this song, if not the entire Liberty project, had more to do with shedding images and expectations from 1980-something, as the band struggled to find their new footing with brand new band members Sterling Campbell and Warren Cuccurullo. They wanted a new identity, and were far too self-aware to truly follow through. Simon characterized it as being too self-conscious, and I’m not sure I’d disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly love the music, if not the lyrics as well from this song. Even so, there’s something missing in “Read My Lips”, whether a brightness, a “light”, or even a little bit of heart.
Well, then. Read My Lips is one of those songs that you cannot escape from. It isn’t a song to put on as background music. Once it is playing, it is impossible to ignore. Even when listening to the entire Liberty album, this is a track that you pay attention to even though it fits with so many other tracks. The biggest reason for this is the unrelenting guitar. It is there throughout the entire song, never letting up, not even when you think it might, not even for the tiniest of pauses. Obviously, then, guitar fans would love it and many, many can admire Warren’s focus and feeling that he pushed throughout this song to showcase exactly what he was capable of. Of course, the bass is there, too, but clearly the focus was supposed to be on the guitars. Underneath all of that are some added effects, again leaving the listener to feel like there is no escape. You cannot help but to listen. You cannot ignore this song, nor this band.
The lyrics are not exactly the longest or the most poetic in Duran Duran’s catalog, that’s for sure. They are, in many ways, similar to the song. They are straight-forward and in your face. There is no denying what Simon is interested in. He is being coy or secretive here. In this way, I appreciate that the music and lyrics do seem to work together to create a coherent package. Likewise, Simon’s vocals add on to that feeling as well. He isn’t trying to be nice or soothing. Nope. That is not what he is about here and the vocals fit. That said, that isn’t the usual vibe I tend to go for or be attracted to. I like how the music, lyrics and vocals all work together and fit together but I like a little more subtle in my music. I like a little less in your face and a lot more thinking and feelings. This song feels to me to be all about the physical. Some people might love it. It is too much for me as far as guitars go and too little of what I look for in my music.