Monday, March 26, 2012

Duran Duran part 1 - My real birth into the world

I must be feeling bloggy tonight! But in the process of clearing my DVR (to make more room to save every episode of Once Upon A Time), one show that I've been meaning to put in my Duran Duran file is the Behind The Music Remastered. I have a huge file on my computer of Duran Duran that I've been adding to since my very first computer, so, as you can imagine, it's a pretty big file!

Now, I know I've said a million times that Take That are my favorite band and Darren Hayes is my favorite singer, but what I don't say very much is that Duran Duran is my heart. Simon LeBon was my first "real love" (or as real as idolized love can get) and Duran Duran were my childhood, my teenage years, my youth, and my adulthood. They are still so high on a pedestal for me and can never be knocked off (even though upon occasion I may not notice the pedestal for a while).

But watching the Remastered show and seeing the "public" view of Duran Duran's popularity, it reminds me of how my view of Duran Duran was so very different. When you think of Duran, depending on your age, you probably think of Hungry Like The Wolf (my least favorite song of theirs BTW) or The Reflex or Rio or A View To A Kill. Or, if you are a bit younger, you think of Ordinary World or Come Undone.

For me, my first view of Duran was early fall 1981 when MTV started. Back in those days, living in bum-fudge Arkansas, MTV was like nothing anyone had ever seen before, and for someone like me, who felt completely out of her element and didn't fit in at all, I now had access to music that appealed to me and I didn't feel so out of place anymore because I now had something of my own! It was amazing and beautiful and life-altering and I watched it as much as I was allowed!! Now, for those of us who are old enough to remember the video for Duran's Planet Earth, there are no words to describe what that was like for an 11 year-old girl in Arkansas in 1981! It was still borderline late 70's here, rock was still the prevalent genre or country or hippie folk (and Cartman and I share common views on hippies, and BTW, 70's rock and country are still the prevalent genres here, in 1988 they wanted our prom song to be Free Bird...seriously...I didn't go to prom that year), but music, in general, although I did listen to it, didn't even get close to affecting my soul (which is what good music, or at least music that is good for you, should do). Sure, even now I still have my Shaun Cassidy records and I even remember my very first cassette was Working Class Dog by Rick Springfield earlier in '81, but it was just something you listened to, and I hate to keep using the word, but not something that "affected" you, at least not until Duran changed me.

Duran, at the time, were part of what was called, "The New Romantic" movement, along with Spandau Ballet and several other bands. Looking back at it now, it was all very Darcy-esque, men in ruffled shirts and cravats and leather trousers and yes, there was makeup involved, but it just enhanced the whole effect! The point was, it was theatrical and beautiful and they were beautiful, but best of all, they were British! The Anglophilia had begun! Now, I bet you think I'm gonna post the video for Planet Earth, but like I stated earlier, this is about my view of Duran and although Planet Earth might have been my first glimpse and started the ball rolling, it's not my favorite earliest video of them, that award goes to Careless Memories and it's still my absolute favorite of theirs to hear live, but I'm gonna post the official video for it just to show what I saw in 1981.

Yeah, I know, now it's a bit corny (OK, so a lot corny, but I still love it and it still makes my heart flutter!

As their popularity grew and the record company got their claws in and realized Duran had sex appeal, they decided to "upgrade" their looks to appeal (there is that word again) to more of a mass audience (i.e. us money-spending Americans). Nowhere is this more evident than my next vid post...Lonely In Your Nightmare (which just happens to be my favorite song from the Rio album, not all the popular ones you might know...for the record, Last Chance On The Stairway is my second favorite). Half of this video is shot in the New Romantic look while the other half after the "make-overs" and if you thought I was in love with them they were official pin-up boys and hotter than hell (well, at least for 1982!).

After the success of the Rio album, came their third, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, which was the height of their 80's popularity. Now, record-wise, SATRT is probably my least favorite because it's WAY overproduced, but, the videos at that point were top of the line. Duran Duran were THE video band. At this point in my life, I would use my lunch money to buy Smash Hits and Tiger Beat magazines like crazy. I had a Duran Duran scrapbook (which I still have to this day as well as all my other memorabilia) and I couldn't get enough of the world that was Duran. I used to write to a record store in NYC and send them checks and they would send me 12" versions of Duran singles because our local record store couldn't get them. It was 83-85, my Asperger's and OCD were coming into full swing at this point (but, of course, no one knew or understood either, I was just a bit "crazy"), so you can only imagine my state of mind at this point. But of all the videos to come out of S&TRT, only one was my favorite, and that was New Moon On's the reason why I took French in high school (and college). There are more versions of this video than there are Kardasians! But my favorite is the movie version just because you get to see Simon act (although he totally sucks at it, which is funny since he was a drama student before the band). Considering the fact that it's over 15 minutes, the only way I could find it on YouTube was in two parts, so here you go:

Part 1:

Part 2:

After SATRT came Arena, the live album, which also had Wild Boys on it and I remember the first time I heard Wild Boys on the radio I cried because "it wasn't Duran Duran", at least not the Duran I knew and loved, but it eventually grew on me. Then came A View To A Kill and at that point, still no real fourth album, but Duran Duran were on top of the world. John and Andy decided to do a side project, one you may remember called The Power Station, with the now deceased Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer. Not to be outdone, Simon and Nick also decided to do the same and dragged Roger along, although I'm not sure Roger cared too much for it, but their project was called Arcadia. Now, in Simon LeBon looks history...his Arcadia days are my absolute favorite! This will always be "my" Simon. Sure, Arcadia didn't have one-tenth the success of The Power Station, but the music was much more Duranish (or at least the way I thought Duran should be).

And yes, that is Sting singing background.

I'm also posting another Arcadia video just because it's frickin amazing and I've always loved it!

After this phase, Duran Duran got back together, minus Roger and Andy and came out with the Notorious album. It was funkier (in part because it was produced by Nile Rodgers) and quite the departure for the Duran Duran fan of the day...most jumped ship at that point. Fun fact, the video for Notorious launched the career of Christy Turlington (and it was choreographed by a young Paula Abdul fyi). Notorious wasn't my favorite album either, but I didn't jump ship simply because my three favorites were left and damn they looked hot (even if John's drug use is starting to become apparent at this point)! Now, I didn't pick a produced video for this bunch because I didn't like them from this gen and the only song from this album that really "spoke" to me was Vertigo. Besides, the Working For The Skin Trade tour is one of my favorite Duran concerts to this day, so this clip is appropriate:

After Notorious came Big Thing. Wow, what a change Big Thing was! John was practically emaciated from the drug use at this point, Simon was going through a weird biker phase and his ugliest look ever, but the music was good even if the record was warmly received. I've learned over the years to appreciate Big Thing more and more, but the only video worth showing is Do You Believe In Shame. Back in the day, I hated this song, but I understand it now, so it's changed for me:

Next up came their first Greatest Hits album called appropriately Greatest. Nortorious and Big Thing didn't do well, but they weren't flops. Liberty, in a word, flopped. The funny thing about this is, Liberty is probably my most favorite Duran album and I think the "true" Duranies know that Liberty had some true pure Duran gems on it (even if it was just too under-produced, a side effect of SATRT being over-produced perhaps). It was also the album that officially replaced Andy with Warren Cuccurullo (who, even though he was a member of Duran longer than Andy, I NEVER accepted...he didn't belong) and Roger with Sterling Campbell, who only lasted through the Liberty album. Decade did turn out one new song (well, two if you count the B-side), but in all actuality, it wasn't a new song at all, but an amalgam of Duran songs melded into one called Burning The Ground. See if you can hear the individual songs in the mix (like the video clips aren't clues, but still)!

Sorry I have to give you the commercialized VEVO version, but it was the only one I could find:

Now, back to Liberty. There is one song in particular on Liberty called Serious. It my "my" song. It is the song, if you hear me playing it over and over and over again, step away from me, I'm not in a good place. It's my healing drug, my medicine, my salvation. I've never grown sick of it and I never will (and trust me, when I've been in a bad way, I have played it for days, over and over and over again, on constant repeat...drives my co-workers insane). Serious is, in my opinion, the best Duran Duran song ever. Period. End of story. It's also my absolute favorite video of all Duran time. It may be simple and cheesy, but it's Simon at his finest and it's him and John just having fun! I can also even ignore Warren successfully! It's also their biggest flop. Go figure. But here is the masterpiece that is my salvation:

Liberty was during my college years, not a good time for me personally (which is probably why Serious speaks to me so deeply). I'm gonna stop this post here and go to part 2 simply because at this point in Duran history, things changed for them, and me, forever.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Wow - love this review of the band keebs, especially how it affected you at different times through your life. On to part 2.