|We’ve got a debut album from that magical year of 1981 this morning. Yet another RC entry from across the pond, this one was largely ignored in the US until the band released their 2nd effort.
Duran Duran – Duran Duran
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Duran+Duran+Duran+Duran/68886333
One year ago today: Some of us listened to Of Montreal’s Hissing Fauna are you the destroyer, I waited a few days and then it actually seemed better.
Fun Facts: Duran Duran were among the first bands to have their videos shot with a professional movie camera on 35 mm film, rather than on videotape with cheaper video cameras, making them look superior to many of the quickly and inexpensively shot videos which had been MTV staples until then. MTV provided Duran Duran with access to American radio markets that were unfriendly to British music, New Wave music, or “anything with synthesisers”.
|Preconceived Notions: I have a weakness for much of 80’s pop which I can really only attribute to youthful nostalgia. In 1981 the year this record dropped – I was 4 years old, so I can’t claim to have actually remembered Duran Duran’s 1st album when it was new, however – just a few years later as I was taping the radio with my 1st Sony they no doubt would pop up here and there. Ah from Falco and Baltimora to the Outfield and Til Tuesday…what tapes those were. Years later when I tried to fill a hardrive full of similar concoctions it subsequently revolted, crashed and wiped out nearly a thousand of the 80’s finest tunes. I can’t really say I blame it. Most of 80’s music to me represents nostalgia 1st and music 2nd…sure there are some truly interesting pieces, but at the end of the day most of it was gimmicky schlock. Still even as I pushed aside radio for thrash metal in the mid 80’s, I never got too cool that I didn’t enjoy that immensely cheesy “orchestra hit” preset synth lick at the beginning of Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart”…or those cinematic keys that open Whitesnake’s “Here I go Again”. Afterall, who can resist a bright poppy synth? Well…most times I can’t-thanks 80’s. Let’s check out Duran Duran.
After Listening: I’m glad I wrote a lot on my love for 80’s pop (to further clarify most of it pre 1988 – 1988-1990 might have some of the worst music ever recorded), because there isn’t a lot to say about this particular record. Though on the surface they may have strived for some depth lyrically, and even in some instances such as Tel Aviv arrangement wise – this record sort of boils down to a very average output, where the tone of the band sort of overrides any individuality of song. It’s bland and represents very clearly a learning album for the group. Comparing it to Rio-it’s successor demonstrates the comparative lack of energy and songwriting focus on this album.
Overall: 3.49 Breaking anything out of this album-when to me it all lies so clearly in the middle is not an exercise I want to undertake. There are some good things here, you can already hear the prominent bass that will morph into hits like “Rio” for them, popping out here and there….and there are some driving rhythms under synth work that showcase the band’s (at the time) developing talent. But this is a record you don’t need to really listen to more than once. You can respect that there’s nothing truly terrible here, and that it set the stage for better things….but it’s not likely you’re going to get too far past Girls on Film, without some type of malaise setting in…..and that’s the 1st track.
|Duran Duran – Duran Duran
Preconceptions: I didn’t like this album when it came out, mostly because it was “girl’s music”. Also, it sucked.
After Listening: Not a lot of memorable tracks on this one.
Tubular: Girls On Film, Tel Aviv, Careless Memories
Overall: Ah, 1981… We tend to forget how 70s the early eighties were, and you can hear the thudding 4-on-the-floor stain of disco clearly on the second track of Duran Duran, but 1981 was the year we started building the 1980s. Reagan was sworn in, Thatcher kicked her bollocks-punching of the working class into overdrive, MS Dos was released, the Pope got shot, Raiders was in the theatres, and I was attending Our Lady of Victory middle school in beautiful West Haven, CT.
In 1981, I was putting aside childish things, like Pink Floyd and Kansas, and picking up the Clash and old Kinks albums. I was exploring some New Wave bands like Adam & the Ants, the Police, and The Vapors but still hadn’t bought into the hexagonal electronic drum kit. When Duran Duran was released, even their filthy Girls on Film video couldn’t make me a fan. On this effort, Duran Duran hasn’t quite gelled into the 80s money-volcano they’d become the next year when Rio dropped. Soon, Duran Duran would own MTV and the world, and I would be off to high school and buying weed from guys who actually dressed like this.
I didn’t care for Rio when it came out either, but that was before I discovered alcohol and irony.
Extra Credit: Rio – Duran Duran http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Rio/69897315
|Duran Duran – Duran Duran
I remember them from the eighties. It’s not a band that I listened to thoroughly as I was pretty young in the eighties and my listening habits were typically dictated by my parents who unironically loved Carole King, James Taylor, and for some reason Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals. My brother wasn’t much older but I don’t think we both started having musical authority until the late eighties. At that point, my parents realized that since they had us at an older age, they needed to prevent themselves from being the parents of “those weird kids”. TOO LATE! But my dad dug Weird Al enough to let us watch MTV in case there was an interstitial with him in it, so I got to see the Duran Duran songs that had been brought to life in flowing fabric, teased hair, and (for some reason) boats.
Least favorite track/tracks:
Overall (1-5 stars): 2.5
|Duran Duran – Duran Duran: 4 stars
Precon: These guys never did much for me, though I don’t actively dislike them. Well, maybe I did for a time in the 90’s when MTV was cramming them down our throats with annoying songs like Come Undone, and I just saw them as relics from the past that I couldn’t care less about. I’m hoping for some better stuff on their debut effort.
Favorite Track: Careless Memories. Strong chorus.
Oh yeah, Girls on Film. I didn’t think I’d know anything from this album.
One thing I’d like to point out before we’re done is that it’s not only deflating but also confusing to learn that there aren’t two guys named Duran in the band. In a sane world, the first line of their bio would read, “Formed in 1978 by brothers Nigel and Edgar Duran.” To make matters worse, Simon Le Bon is probably the douchiest sounding name of all time. So it’s like “Ok, no one in your band is named Duran. I don’t understand, but ok, not the end of the world. What’s your singer’s name?” “Simon Le Bon.” “Well now you can go to hell.” We’ll never know just what they were thinking.
Magic the Gathering Card: Increasing Confusion
|Duran Duran-Duran Duran
Preconceived Notions: These guys are super dreamy, although Simon Le Bon has too much Mike Love-esque overconfidence for my taste. If I’m putting anyone’s poster on my wall, it’s John Taylor’s. I do recognize “Girls On Film” from the playlist, but all of the other songs seem new to me, unless there are some that I know the songs but had no idea that’s what they were called. I’m pretty into 80s pop, so there’s probably no way I’m really averse to anything on this. Also, Glee just did a cover of Rio/Hungry Like The Wolf that made me super happy two weeks ago, so I’m probably giving Duran Duran the Darren Criss benefit. This was released when, as my Grandma used to say, I was “in Germany peddling peanuts”. I never knew what that meant, I never asked, it was just one of her phrases, and I have no idea how I could have been peddling anything before I was born.
After Listening: Well it was certainly synthed up and properly 80s, but there wasn’t a lot that really caught my ear. There wasn’t anything that really turned me off either. It kind of just hit a plateau and stayed there. They try to be slightly more than just a generic pop band and I appreciate the effort on Tel Aviv, but it does feel a lot like school kids in a basement. However, never count out the appeal of image in music, and let’s face it these guys had it. What I do like is that this feels more like the album style we were originally looking for. 9 tracks, a pretty solid A & B side, and a cohesive sound throughout. Sure they weren’t reinventing pop music, but there’s some solid bass work, fun synths, a good sense of atmosphere on the last track, a couple of solid dance hits, and good vocals.
Favorite: Careless Memories