Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Mad World - Chapter 2


Continuing on with my version of the book Mad World by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein, Chapter 2 deals with my all-time favorite band and the loves of my life (or so I thought at age 11), Duran Duran.

THEIR CHOICE: GIRLS ON FILM


Seriously? In the entire Duran Duran back catalog, they picked Girls On Film as their most influential song? Granted, it may have been their most controversial video, but, on the Duran scale, it doesn't even rank. Most people would say that Hungry Like The Wolf is what put them on the map. I would also disagree with that. When you've listened to the same music for 30+ years, there is always that one song, one of the popular ones that always gets played at the shows, or on the radio, or even on music television (on the rare occasion when they actually play videos, usually on some 80's retro show), that grates on your ever-loving last nerve. HLTW is my nerve grater (although, during a live show, I'm singing and dancing along with everyone else). But I'm still gonna post a video of it (all be it a recent live version so I don't have to peruse through that damned original video):


I probably should go with Planet Earth as my most influential Duran song since it was the first one I ever heard, but I'm not. Their first album (the home of Planet Earth) was actually released twice. Once before their second album Rio (naturally) and again after Rio with the added song, Is There Something I Should Know. But, I think, for this example, I'm going to go with the Manchester Square Demo video of Planet Earth because it's more in the light of the first Duran Duran album. It's not a "cleaned up" version of the song and the video is a true representation of my early saturation of new wave music:


But, as far as my choice goes, I'm gonna lean more toward the video aspect of Duran's music rather than the song aspect (since they have always been video oriented) and go with this song from the Rio album:

MY CHOICE: LONELY IN YOUR NIGHTMARE


You are probably thinking, "I've never even heard that song, let alone seen the video!". Yeah, well, I said I was a diehard Duranie, so of course I'm gonna know songs you probably have never heard of. I choose this one because the video was filmed in two parts, one part New Romantic era Duran, all frilly shirts and bleach-haired pretty boys and one part the most popular era of Duran, the leather-wearing, super-hot guys best known for their coifs than their musical talent. It was still filmed in that "typical" Duran setting, on an exotic island with scantily-clad beautiful models dancing around, but the change from one part to the other is quite drastic as they progressed from the Rio album toward Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It also singlehandedly represents how Duran Duran is constantly reinventing itself, yet still manages to be the light of my musical life!

This chapter should also probably get a second choice, simply because they were named twice! As I got older (well, more into puberty and my obsession got out of control), Duran Duran released a "live" video for the song, The Reflex. Any diehard Duranie will tell you that the concert that The Reflex video came from has influenced us our entire lives. If you go to any Duran Duran concert, the way Simon sung certain songs or things he shouted during the Arena concert still get chanted by the crowd to this very day. Only the truest Duranie would know that Arena is a cleaned up version of a concert that was first aired on Cinemax called "As The Lights Go Down" (and yes, I have this recorded from way back when, thank god for that gigantic backyard satellite dish my step-dad just HAD to have). The Reflex (which we now know is a song about Simon's peen...kind of changes the song for ya, doesn't it?), is a typical 80's video, with headbands, wristbands, jelly bracelets, mullets, and the whole lot, but it also has the distinction of being the first typical 80's video. It used to drive me nuts that every other band started imitating Duran after this video came out, so:

MY SECOND CHOICE: THE REFLEX


After The Reflex, Duran got big, really big and so did their egos and excesses (in typical 80's fashion). Arena, the live album, only had one new song on it, Wild Boys. The first time I heard Wild Boys, I cried like a baby. I can remember every single thing about that moment as well...I was laying on my bed, looking at my stereo, wailing like a banshee. I even called my best friend (at the time) and kept dialing for hours until she got home to cry to her (yeah, she thought I was completely nuts and we didn't stay friends much longer after that). I couldn't believe that they could do that to me! I thought the song was HORRIBLE (although I don't think that now). The video was even worse (or so I thought...I quite like it now). When the press hit that Simon almost drowned while filming the video, I about lost the plot completely! It was also the most expensive video ever filmed at the time.


Duran would only release one more single after The Arena album, the James Bond theme A View To A Kill (which, for many many years, was the only Bond song to hit #1). Their performance of it at Live Aid (which was horrible, unrehearsed and painful to watch) was the last time they would play together as a five piece band. They tried to splinter off, Andy and John went to Power Station, which had some pretty huge hits, and Simon and Nick (with a little help from Roger) went on to form Arcadia (which is where my loyalties laid since Simon was my guy. Those two bands couldn't have been different, but they weren't enough of a diversion to keep the band together when they came back for their next album, Notorious. Roger would leave first...he was just tired of it all (but there were always rumors that he had a nervous breakdown). Andy would leave next (which didn't bother me so much because I hated him...but be careful what you wish for because we ended up with Warren Cuccurullo for a good chunk of Duran's existence). But just to show the difference between the two bands, lets do a clip from each:

SIDE PROJECT #1 - THE POWER STATION - SOME LIKE IT HOT (because it shows off John's incredible bass talent as well as his artistic, he was, after all, a former art school pupil like myself):


SIDE PROJECT #2 - ARCADIA - THE FLAME (you probably don't know this one, but it's one of my favorite Simon videos and it's just fun, plus, it was more in the vein of Duran):


John also did a solo song (and album eventually) for the movie 9 1/2 Weeks (the movie that put Kim Basinger and Mickey Roarke on the map):


And Andy did his own solo album as well and a theme song for another movie (no need to show it, it sucked).

Once the remaining three did manage to get back together, Notorious was a completely different entity from anything they had done before. Yes, there was still the scantily clad supermodels (in this case, a very young Christy Turlington makes her debut in the video for Notorious). Warren came in during these years, but didn't get made an official band member until two albums later with Liberty. Liberty was Duran's worst commercial success and everyone said it was the end of Duran Duran. But my all-time favorite Duran Duran song (even to this day) came from Liberty. It's the one song that can instantly change my mood and you can always tell when I'm pissed because I play it on a constant loop. It used to drive my co-worker nuts because I could play it all day long, over and over again (and often did). So, it's no surprise that it gets my vote for:

ALL TIME FAVORITE DURAN SONG: SERIOUS


Duran released a single that mixed their greatest hits all into one song (and it's pretty darn cool and a bitch to find):


But Duran didn't give up on moving forward and the mid 90's saw their rebirth of popularity and a whole new generation of Duranies were born with The Wedding Album and the song Ordinary World. My boys were back in a big way and my music was cool again! I would be remiss not to play a video from this album as well, but I'm not gonna choose Ordinary World. None of the Above fit more with my outsider lifestyle and became my mantra for a long time:


Their tribute album, Thank You, had some hits and misses, but it still was good overall (and White Lines is still one of the best live songs they play). I do have to backtrack a little bit. When Duran do Girls On Film now, it's usually the longer "night version" and its when they introduce the band. That has become tied for my favorite live song simply because we all get to chant, "PLAY THAT FUCKIN BASS JOHN" over and over again with Simon! But I digress.

Back to where I was, after Thank You, the unthinkable happened. "Creative Differences" (code for John's drug problem had gotten way out of hand) caused yet another original member to leave. My heart was broken and I blamed Warren for many years (can you tell I hated him?). Duran would continue to release albums, two more in fact (although the early Medazzaland demos did include some John stuff, including one of him singing). Now here is where I have to interject. I LOVE John Taylor, but the dude can't sing. But once he split from Duran, he went solo for quite a few albums (which I own, of course, whether I like them or not, the code of the Duranie, faithful forever), got clean, got divorced, and remarried (to Gela Taylor, aka Juicy Couture), formed another supergroup, Neurotic Outsiders with members of The Clash and Guns and Roses (John went a bit hard for a while). There are songs of his I love, if you can get past his actual voice (there is a reason why Simon loops his own voice as harmony instead of using much of John's, let's just leave it at that). Hey Day is a great song because it's pretty much a docu-song about John and Nick (with name changes, of course), but my all time favorite is A Song For Europe with Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode (there is only an audio version of it since they never filmed a video, but here it is):


Even Simon has done a solo song here and there. Simon IS Duran for me, so anything he does has that Duran vibe to it. Even Arcadia had a definite Duran vibe. Here's the best example of his solo stuff, I really love this song, Nobody Knows:


Backtracking again, I do have to mention the video for Out Of My Mind from Medazzaland. That was a throwback to the Arcadia age of song sound and videos, and it's also one of my top five, so I feel it should be mentioned:


Then, the most amazing thing ever happened...Warren left (thank GOD!) and a simple phone call got all five guys back again! I was never so happy to see Andy Taylor in my entire life!! And the best part, the album was better than I could have ever imagined (after a several year wait). They were finally getting critical as well as other musician praise. They were on every awards show getting lifetime achievement awards and the like. Every Duranies dream!! But Andy started showing his tail feathers again and left after Astronaut.

Their next album wasn't bad, but was a bit of a stab in the back for us diehards. They used Timbaland and Justin Timberlake as producers, so the album had a very modern sound, but not a "Duran" sound. There were some good songs, but the beat was just wrong.

I really didn't mean this to be a history of Duran, but it appears that's what it ended up being. They have released tons of videos throughout the years, all of which have special meaning to me for one reason or the other. So, I guess we'll end with their newest album (all be it a couple of years old now...Duran put out a new album about every 3-5 years on average) and one of their last videos (Simon, please ditch the beard...it looks terrible!). But the good thing about this song is it's an obvious throwback to the New Romantic Duran and a definite nod to us loyal and faithful followers of, what I consider, the greatest band on earth!

ONE OF THE LATEST SONGS: ALL YOU NEED IS NOW


Since I have practically put most of my favorite Duran videos/songs in this post, why not finish up with an album by album best of list (and I'm only going with recorded albums, not greatest hits or live albums since I could be at this all day). I could give you YouTube links, but I think I've bombarded you enough, so feel free to look them up yourselves if your interested (although I figure you probably aren't).

1 - Duran Duran (album), Careless Memories (favorite song and FABULOUS live), Is There Something I Should Know (best video)
2 - Rio (album), Last Chance On The Stairway (favorite song), Lonely In Your Nightmare (best video)
3 - Seven And The Ragged Tiger (album), The Seventh Stranger (favorite song), New Moon On Monday (best video - especially the long movie version), Secret Oktober (best B-side)
4 - Notorious (album), Hold Me (best song), Skin Trade (best video)
5 - Big Thing (album), Land (best song), Do You Believe In Shame (best video)
6 - Liberty (album), Serious (best song EVER), Serious (best video as well)
7 - Duran Duran (aka The Wedding Album), None Of The Above (best song), Too Much Information (best video)
8 - Thank You (album), Perfect Day (best song and video), White Lines (best live song)
9 - Medazzaland (album), Midnight Sun (best song), Out of My Mind (best video)
10- Pop Trash (my least favorite Duran album - too much Warren), the only decent song is a B-side, Un Autre Que Moi (french version of the song Someone Else Not Me, Simon singing French...need I say more).
11- Astronaut (album), What Happens Tomorrow (best song), Reach Up For The Sunrise (best video - there are six versions of this one, one featuring each band member and one with them all, of course the Simon version is my favorite)
12- Red Carpet Massacre (album), Skin Divers (best song, it's one that gets in your head and doesn't let go), Falling Down (best video and a throwback to Girls On Film)
13- All You Need Is Now (album), Leave A Light On (best song), All You Need Is Now (best video)

And that's it for Chapter 2. I did warn you it would be long, but you should know from my War and Peace length Disney posts, that when I'm obsessed about something, it gets my full attention (and I think it should get yours as well...welcome to the wonderful world of Aspergers!).

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