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Duran Duran
Albums

  • Duran Duran,
  • Rio,
  • Seven And The Ragged
  • Tiger,
  • Notorious,
  • Big Thing,
  • Liberty,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Duran Duran

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    Duran Duran 7 ( 1981 )
    Girls On Film / Planet Earth / Anyone Out Here / Careless Memories / Is There Something I Should Know / Night Boat / Sound Of Thunder / Friends Of Mine / Tel Aviv / To The Shore

    Dewran Dewran or Doorun Doorun? How do you pronounce it? I've heard both in my time although i'm fairly sure the former is the correct way. Anyhow, for the existence of Duran Duran and similar early eighties groups, I blame David Bowie and Roxy Music. In the hip clubs during the late 70s when experimental albums such as 'Low' and 'Heroes' had dented Bowie's commercial stock, his artistic reputation was higher than ever. Entire other artists careers sprouted out of a single Bowie album or image. Roxy Music and their sense of pop mixed with Bowie and his 'out-there' nature to produce groups just like Duran Duran. They made an instant impact with their first two singles as well, 'Girls On Film' and 'Planet Earth'. I'm old enough to remember both from when they first came out. Neither song is as sleek or persuasive as the singles they'd produce shortly afterwards, but both are solid slices of new-wave pop. Both songs are also an early indication of those plastic drum rolls and bass lines that sound like an elastic band being flicked about, rather than actually fill out the bass within the overall spectrum of sound.

    The third song on the album you'd think would have a tough job being the song that follows the two hit singles. Lucky for us and Duran Duran then that it's terrific, 'Anyone Out There' is Duran Duran exactly as anybody old enough would remember their earlier material. Synths here and there, the little plastic rhythm section and Simon Le Bon with his keening vocals. It works, it's got a tune, which is something Duran Duran were quick to build upon in future years. Pop tunes were their forte. Side two of the album arrived before Duran Duran realised that pop was their forte. We've one song which is entirely instrumental and a couple of other moody tunes containing instrumental intros and/or sections. Almost as if Duran Duran were attempting to compose their own version of Bowie's low, only instead of the freezing windswept atmosphere of 'Low', their version sounds like it's beamed in from a beach-hut in Brazil. So, after a strong first half the album loses it's way a little? Well, yes. This more experimental 2nd half is still endearing in its own strange way, but by no means something you'll dig out again and again unless you're doing so for purely nostalgic reasons. Anyroad, with the decent songs contained on the album overall, a '7' seems roughly fair to this set of ears, at least.

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    Readers Comments

    Christan christancat2000@yahoo.com
    I think that were miss informed about the naming of the band. I thought that you were older? The name came from the movie "Barbarella" in the "60's. Dr. Duran Duran captured his victem (Jane Fonda) and put her into his new machine that gave her multiple orgasms. Print that before you trash them again.


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    Rio( 1982 )
    Rio / My Own Way / Lonely In Your Nightmare / Hungry Like The Wolf / Hold Back The Rain / New Religion / Last Chance On The Stairway / Save A Prayer / The Chauffeur

    Within a year, Duran Duran had gone from pretty boy new-romantics, not taken at all seriously by the UK music press, to number three in the US singles charts. The biggest pop band in Britain, huge in Japan, Australia and wherever else you care to mention. Record labels put money behind the bands they thought had the tunes. There was a huge amount of money put into Duran Duran following healthy sales of their debut LP in England. So, they lessen the experimental side, such as it was, and focus on the commercial pop ditties. What is 'Lonely In Your Nightmare' after all, but a more sophisticated, commercial re-write of 'Anyone Out There'? Still, where this album really gains its fame status is with the singles, of course. 'Rio', with the video with the boat, 'Save A Prayer' with the rather crappy video of Simon Le Bon walking across a beach somewhere, and the video for 'Hungry Like A Wolf'? They spent a lot of money on it, but I can't actually remember it. MTV lapped up Duran Duran. The band were lucky, good timing you see. Yet, had an amount of talent as well. All three singles just mentioned are wonderful pop songs, particularly the ballad, 'Save A Prayer'. If you want to sit down and try to dissect the lyrics you might not get very far in your induction into the Einstein fan-club, yet that's rather missing the point. Pop music, at its best, has always been about fantasy. Duran Duran, suspension of disbelief and all, provided ( and still provide ) great fantasy.

    The 'filler' album tracks then, that's what everyone wants to know about really, isn't it? Well, 'My Own Way' contains all the same synth sounds as 'Rio', 'Lonely In Your Nightmare' and 'Hungry Like The Wolf'. Very similar drum patters, too. 'Rio' not the most varied album in the world then? Well, no, it's not. You've got a clutch of songs following 'Hungry Like The Wolf' that all, truth be told, sound like potential 1982 pop singles. We probably want a little more depth from an album, but nevermind. Best of these three songs is 'Last Chance On The Stairway', a slick piece of new romantic pop music almost as good as 'Duran Duran's Greatest Hits', which is likely all most people have ever heard. So, is there even a reason anybody needs to delve any deeper than a Duran Duran hits album? Well, yes, actually. Surprisingly. Closing track 'The Chauffeur' was so good, a decade or so later, the immortal 'Trigger Happy TV' used it in their show. 'The Chauffeur' is a very atmospheric, mid-tempo, rather unsual synth led pop song with intriguing lyrical imagery. It's very good. 'Rio'? It's pretty good, certainly a very slick album that will reward a listener who is already happy and bathed in sunshine. A listener bathed in darkness will smile at the pop songs wryly, whilst deeply appreciating 'The Chauffeur'. How do you eat yours?

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    Readers Comments

    Christan christancat2000@yahoo.com
    I've been in love with their videos, talent, looks, and, mostly, Simon's lyrics. I was only 11 yrs. old when I found them in 1982. I love You kitty pic too. :)


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    Seven And The Ragged Tiger( 1983 )
    The Reflex / New Moon On Monday / Cracks In The Pavement / I Take The Dice / Of Crime And Passion / Union Of The Snake / Shadows On Your Side / Tiger Tiger / The Seventh Stranger

    Simon Le Bon's lyrical tales of escapism are all over 'Seven And The Ragged Tiger'. Occasionally, a line will jump out at you. Further investigation negates such good lines, because you gain the feeling there's nothing actually of any deep importance going on. Yet, good pop lyrics always were largely about romance, fantasy and escapism. Le Bon generally does that type of lyric well. Musically, the band sound slightly, well, ragged I suppose. The music sounds polished well enough, nothing glaringly obvious jumps out at you as being wrong, but that's the entire point. The band sound altogether less distinctive across a good half of this albums tunes. The chemistry in the studio was slightly askew, indeed, this was the last full studio LP the original lineup would make during the groups initial run. 'The Reflex', 'Union Of The Snake' and 'New Moon On Monday' were the singles from this set, generally upto par although not quite as good songs as the likes of 'Rio' or 'Girls On Film'. 'The Reflex' LP version is longer and less hooky than the single version. It drags on, providing hints of that much despised 80s phenomenom, the 12" remix. 'Union Of The Snake' has always been a favourite Duran Duran tune in our house, it's simply wonderfully arranged pop music, that's all. That's all it needs to be. The tune and arrangement are strong enough to escape the heavy swathes of 80s production trickery this LP generally suffers from. Finally, 'New Moon On Monday' is very catchy, although gets old, fast. Perhaps it's the slightly whiny quality the Le Bon vocal has here, perhaps it's the fact that despite sounding superb instrumentally, there's not all that much in the way of a good tune. Who knows? Taken together, though, these three singles were all a success, to the pop music lover listening to the Radio 1 roadshow, all seemed well in Duran Duran world. Smash Hits still loved them even if the 'serious' critics were starting to get a little sniffy with the band, by now.

    From the good to the bad. 'Tiger Tiger' is an instrumental throwback to the groups first LP in one sense. In another way, it's quite different. This has none of the attempted gloomy atmosphere, although is quite picturesque. The kind of music you might hear on a daytime documentary about the rain forrest. Naturally enough, I suppose. If 'Rio' was the sound and style of the beach, 'Seven And The Ragged Tiger' attempts to take us on some kind of journey around bakingly hot jungles. The album tracks presented to us on 'Seven And The Ragged Tiger' are not quite as strong as the Rio 'filler', although certainly neither are the filler tracks here especially weak, 'Tiger Tiger' possibly excepted. The star of the show for me has to goto the title song, a slow, weary thing. A very addictive tune containing spaces. It's a tune that seeps into your soul only on repeated listening. It's very nearly on a par with the superb 'The Chauffeur' from 'Rio'. All in all then, 'Seven And The Ragged Tiger' is an album that sounds exactly like the product it was. An album rush-released by a band slightly fraying at the edges due to the amazing success they'd suddenly had. It's an album that's certainly not as good as 'Rio', although it's not a million miles worse. If 'Rio' is really an 8 and a quarter out of ten, 'Seven And The Ragged Tiger' is possibly a 7 and three quarters out of ten. It's a shame this particular Duran Duran line-up started to fall-apart. Arcadia and Power Station were to come, 'Arena' a Duran Duran live LP, then finally in 1986 a new Duran Duran LP. By then it was a very different band we were listening to.

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    Notorious 6 ( 1986 )
    Notorious / American Science / Skin Trade / Matter Of Feeling / Hold Me / Vertigo: Do The Demolition / So Misled / Meet El Presidente / Winter Marches On / Proposition

    Huge sales in the US, a life changing tour. Two band members end up leaving in amidst the pressure. Your steady, respected drummer, the glue inbetween the inter band tensions. Your lead guitar player as well. Ooops. Contractually, Andy Taylor ends up on four songs. He tried to stop the other guys using the name Duran Duran, the relationships between the band members, hardly good. John Taylor suggested a little funk, having seen Power Station far outsell the other guys side project, Arcadia. So it was that together with producer Nile Rodgers, Duran Duran recorded 'Notorious' in a much changed music scene. Duran Duran could no longer count on the teen audience, particularly in their homeland. In the US, they remained a top draw, and 'Notiorious' did far better in the US than the UK. The lead track and first single did very well, top ten in both the US and UK. A piece of funky pop music with a strong vocal hook. The 2nd single, 'Skin Trade' barely sold at all, yet surely ranks as amongst Duran Duran's finest tunes. They'd grown up, so had their music. Nick Rhodes was now a leading creative player and it's his melodies we hear. Simon Le Bon puts in a vocal that ranks amongst his finest, the lyrics, much picked upon, work as well as anybody could reasonably expect them to, if being very fair. 'Meet El Presidente' was a prospective hit, yet never took off with the public. The public seemed to want the innocence, fun and sunshine of yore. The ( very ) expensive videos. Times had changed and so had Duran Duran. It's a decent enough song, but nowhere near commercial enough to be a hit. It has a groove, Simon does his best with the vocals, but it ignores all the golden rules of a pop song hit single. Duran Duran were in a funny, transitional phase. Neat intro, recognisable hook, distinctive ending, golden chorus. 'Meet El Presidente' has none of these things. It's not a bad piece of album filler, yet as a single, you wouldn't have bet your money on it doing anything. Indeed, it didn't do anything. Not only had Duran Duran lost creative input with the loss of two band members, but they'd lost their sense of what worked.

    The band produce some very uncharacteristic, almost ambient pieces here and there. They also have the likes of 'American Science', semi funk tunes that would neither please the funk fans or the pop Duran Duran fans of yore. Duran Duran were not a funk band. Let's face it, Simon Le Bon will never sing like a black soul singer, and neither should we expect him to. 'Notorious' is an album that's seemingly in the right, progressive direction, given they hadn't released an album in three years. The sound had changed, but on the other hand, a lot of the hooks had gone, seemingly with the loss of Andy Taylor, and the band were in a state of both confusion and decline. 'Notorious' isn't a patch on the previous albums, although the first two singles were very good indeed. What can you do? The band had a determination to survive anyway, and survive they did.

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    Big Thing 5 ( 1988 )
    I Don't Want Your Love / Big Thing / All She Wants Is / Too Late Marlene / Drug / Do You Believe In Shame / Palomino / Interlude One / Land / Flute Interlude / The Edge Of America / Lake Shore Driving

    Warren Cucurullo is perhaps most famous in hip circles for playing on several Frank Zappa albums. He'd soon become a full-time member of Duran Duran, but his presence can be felt here too. 'All She Wants Is' has a twisty, complicated guitar solo on the outro, buried in the mix. The opening 'Big Thing', which I hope had bugger all to do with Curcurullo sounds like N-Sync. Since when did Duran Duran sound like N-Sync? Elsewhere, big rock sounds, then modern electronic synths combine to produce awful rubbish on the majority of the utempo tracks ( two singles excepted ) whilst the ballads mostly survive. Well, the ballads seem to suit the voice of Le Bon quite a bit more, anyway. The two hit singles are both fine, by the way. This electro/rock mix may remind some of INXS, but nevermind that for now. Cucurullo again gets a bit-part, yet his solo does enliven the tune. Ballads ok? 'Too Late Marlene' at least has a certain air befitting a then ageing new-wave group. 'Drug' tries to repeat the tricks of the singles and of the title song and fails miserably. N-Sync would love it, but I certainly don't. It's messy and the 'Rio' style brass instruments seem like a desperate move. Duran Duran didn't have the same place in the music scene as their globe-striding glory days circa 82/83, that's fair to say. That the album sounds horrifically dated, especially on the dance tunes goes without saying. When the band stop trying as hard, funnily enough, things quickly get much better.

    'Do You Believe In Shame' is a ballad that sticks to the Duran basics. Not much guitar to be heards, the synths are mellow and nice and believe it or not, so is the Le Bon vocal. It's an interesting lyrical piece as well on an album generally short of good lyrics. Well, 'All She Wants Is' has about five words in total, doesn't it??!!? 'Land' is perhaps the best ballad here, although parts of it do sound unhappily like 'Enya', at least the boys are trying. After a ballad filled second half, the final tune sees Cucurullo let rip once more. The songs a dog, but at least the guitar is entertaining enough. In summary, then? Disappointing.

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    Liberty 7 ( 1990 )
    Violence Of Summer / Liberty / Hothead / Serious / All Along The Water / My Antarctica / First Impression / Read My Lips / Can You Deal With It / Venice Drowning / Downtown

    Ambient synth funk from Nick Rhodes. Hard, complex guitar work from Warren Cuccurullo. Pop vocals as ever and struggling with anything else Simon Le Bon. John Taylor's rolling bass lines and some guy called Sterling Campbell on drums. Duran Duran were a five piece once more. Songs written whilst touring, Duran Duran felt confident then instantly deflated once 'Liberty' became one of their poorest selling releases ever. It had turned 1990, music was changing too, yet Duran Duran's attempts at changing alienated long-term fans and failed to win over new converts. To newcommers, the band sounded dated, to long-term fans, the introduction of dancey elements or funk rock came across clumsily. Released after a well performing hits set 'Decade', 'Liberty' sounded like the work of a different band that had produced all those hits. Radio didn't have a lot to latch onto. There's some terrific things on the album though and production wise it doesn't sound cluttered which was the fate that befell 'Big Thing'. Still, where were we? 'Violence Of Summer' seems a suitable place to start. A smattering of house piano before the familiar Duran synths roll in, yet the song fails to have a strong enough hook to have been a big hit and it takes too long to reach the chorus. The lyrics are also somewhat odd, if entertaining. Yes, 'Violence Of Summer' was an odd choice of lead single. Either 'Serious' or 'My Antartica' would have been better. 'Serious' sounds all the world like a great summer pop song with serious, adult intentions. A sensible maturation of the early Duran sound. 'My Antarctica' contains more subtle house styled keyboard sounds, although soberly played and one of Simon Le Bons finest ever pop-ballad performances.

    On the rock front? 'First Impression' actually manages to impress, which is quite something. This is in large part to Warren's twisting guitar work. Come to think of it, 'First Impression' would have made a better first single than 'Violence Of Summer' also. 'Hothead', if you were beginning to think this album sounds pretty good, is horrid and sounds like a 'Big Thing' outtake. Although Le Bon doesn't do anything hideous and rap, he sounds likes he secretly wanted to. The five minute long title track sounds like it belonged on 'Notorious' and seems somewhat dated as a result, very 80s. 'Venice Drowning' contains brilliant Warren guitar work that's almost been completely buried in the final mix. The resulting five minute song needed something extra and loses it's way over five minutes. It doesn't register. 'All Along The Water' is a relatively successful funky workout of a song and you see, 'Liberty' is clearly something of a mixed bag of an LP. It has enough quality present within however to be ranked as their finest for some years at the time.

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    this page last updated 03/03/07


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