Rock GPA: Duran Duran [part 7]

Duran Duran stepped out with confidence for their 2010 album

Duran Duran stepped out with confidence for their 2010 album “All You Need Is Now”

Yeah, yeah. It’s old news, but if you can believe it, I finally got around to hearing this “new” Duran Duran album that came out five years ago. While everyone and their billy goat were bleating the praises of the Mark Ronson helmed “All You Need Is Now” I stayed my hand. Due to a case of the dreaded format paralysis. There was the 9-track iTunes download, to be followed by the physical CD with a further five tracks, and the inevitably fussy “retailer exclusives/foreign editions” which trickled another four racks into their respective captive markets. Homey don’t play dat. All I ask is that there can be multiple configurations, sure, but make sure there is one configuration to contain all of the music. If it costs twice as much, so be it. Rack space is at a premium in the record cell, and I don’t want multiple CDs clogging up the space.

This does not even take into account the $infully expen$ive 5xLP Vinyl Factory boxed $et which at £250 [$384.08 in October 12, 2015 dollars!] which I will not deign to link to out of spite. Suffice to say that there are still unsold copies of the scant pressing of 500 languishing in the Vinyl Factory storage facility to this day. Good luck with that, fellas.

I have Mr. Ware to thank for this dramatic turn of events. as he sent me the “Best Buy Edition” of this album and the glisteningly new album “Paper Gods” which is actually [gasp!] current, it its “Target Edition” as birthday presents for yours truly last month. I guess corporations now have naming right for albums. It’s come to that. So with five years worth of new Duran Duran in house, I thought it would be prudent to append the infamous Duran Duran Rock G.P.A. to take the graph into 2015 with reviews of these last two albums. This is a first for PPM, but probably not the last time that this may occur.

duran duran - allyouneedisnowUSCD+DVDADuran Duran – All You Need Is Now | 2011 – 4

Word got out that hot producer/artist Mark Ronson [Amy Winehouse] wanted to produce Duran Duran and get them back into fighting shape after the commercial debacle and roundly rejected “Red Carpet Massacre” album of 2007 [which, for the record, I actually loved]. The band were quickly ejected from Epic Records and Ronson stated that his aim was to get the “album that should have come after ‘Rio'” down on wax. Brother, that was a loaded statement if I had ever heard one. I was of the opinion that the group went pear-shaped [for the first of several times] at exactly that point, but could he hit that target without resorting to the dreaded self-pastiche?

The first track and freebie iTunes single was a pretty successful transition from the RCM ethos back to the band’s comfort zone with angular, quirky verses rubbing shoulder pads with a patented Duran Duran sing-along chorus. In that I liked both approaches, this was a somewhat safe but, certainly agreeable song. It corrected the “Taylor-free zone” traits that meant that the band’s capable rhythm section were m.i.a. on “Red Carpet Massacre” but were back in force here. How would the rest of the album fare?

Next: …Assuming the mantle

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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10 Responses to Rock GPA: Duran Duran [part 7]

  1. johnnydark says:

    You say pastiche like it’s a bad thing….

    …and yet I think of the last Visage album which was pastiche in a good way – not quite the same, but really very much of the same cloth as their earliest works.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      johnnydark – Pastiche can be a creative straitjacket in the wrong hands. True, there is well done pastiche [much of OMD’s recent work] and at a certain point pastiche can be a useful way out of an artistic cul-de-ac. The last Visage album might have been relegated to the short stack of “successful pastiche” were it not for the highly emotional nature of the music, which was like nothing in the band’s past catalog. In the past, Visage was just hot electronic dance rock music embedded with vague, impersonal sentiments. The new work definitely spoke of Steve’s rough journey, while still being hot electronic dance rock that sounded like it had been recorded in 1979 [which didn’t hurt]. The vulnerability he showed on it was utterly new to the group and a huge emotional progression forward.

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      • Echorich says:

        I have to say that pastiche is a formidable area for any artist, with self-pastiche usually being the most cruel.
        AYNIN benefited from Mark Ronson’s fanboy attitude toward the project. I feel like he was quite aware that the record could have sounded like middle aged men attempting to sing about careless memories and girls on film like it was something they just came up with. That he didn’t allow the project to go there was a great benefit to the band and fans.
        Monk you hit the on just what makes Heart + Knives special. It is Visage coming back with a real understanding of what they (Steve mainly) had been through to get to that point. Emotion is the most important element in the sound of Visage in 2013. It’s what makes my favorite song on the album Lost In Static such a tour de force. It feels like Steve is singing to his mirror image and that reflection is deep down in the lyrics.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – There’s a lot of self-compassion in that album. Particularly in “Lost In Static.” At first, I was just enjoying the sound of the album, but after playing it enough, it’s the emotional tenor that resonates the strongest with me.

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  2. Tim says:

    I used to just live for a new Duran Duran album and haven’t listened to anything off of any release of theirs for a long time, longer than the Monk’s vow of DD silence. After Big Thing for me DD developed a sort of law of diminishing returns, each album was more and more awful until they went from core to roadkill. Some of the material from Big Thing going forward is alright but there just isn’t enough there to ever make me excited about them again. Maybe your cadre of commentators could come up with a Duran Duran album/tracklist of the best that they’ve done since 1990, doesn’t have to have been a single, b-sides, mixes, etc welcome. What in the collective opinion here makes them worthy of a second chance?

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    • Echorich says:

      Tim – All You Need Is Now is worthy of a listen. It certainly revived my faith in D2. But Paper Gods finds them stretched thin in the ideas department again. I like this idea of creating an album out of the wasteland post Big Thing though…maybe limit the number of tracks to 12.

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      • Tim says:

        The only tracks that I have heard post Big Thing that caught my ears were Come Undone, Ordinary Word and My Antarctica, so there’s the slow jams for our 12 tracker.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – Funny you should mention DD “slow jams.” What I call “lighter-waving ballads,” [or to be clinical, medium tempo ballads] usually with scorn. In DD’s case, they are unusually potent songs, for the most part. I think they have some sort of mystical facility that allows them to traffic in this normally noxious format without shame or embarrassment. Possibly because nothing would shame or embarrass this band. I have been entertaining the notion of compiling a CD of just songs of this ilk to see if it could hold together.

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