Deepcut Thinkpiece: The Duran Duran Album…For People Who HATE Duran Duran [part 1]

The sort of album I’ve been thinking about compiling for years…

My fandom for Duran Duran predates their stratospheric rise that began in 1982-3 [at least in America]. They were a band working in their field [Post-Punk danserok] like plenty of others I was listening to in the ’81-’82 window. They were not the finest of their ilk, nor were they an embarrassment. They were workmanlike, with occasional stabs at something more. It was a shock to my system when they managed to blow up all over the world, even including America, where bands I would like to hear never got the time of day from the backward US mediascape.

After that, the band would always be judged through the lens of their fame and media reputation. When contemplating Duran Duran, the approaching listener would have to hack their way through a miasma of slick videos, groupies, rabid screaming fans, more cocaine than you can imagine, questionable fame behaviors, and a plethora of supermodels. All of this to the detriment of their music. Ostensibly the reason why they existed in the first place.

My wife casts a jaundiced eye towards the Birmingham band and if I had not encountered them in their brief pre-fame phase, I can’t say I would not be right there with her. As it is, I have a lot of mental eye-rolling I do as a fan, while their output over the years has varied widely in quality; almost randomly. But when they hit their marks and produce a great song, then I have to cut them some slack; at least artistically. I could not help but think that their reputation ultimately works against them with some real beautiful work hidden in the margins of their canon that deserved better treatment. With that in mind, I thought that one could compile a discs worth of subtle moments that might not be the first thing to come to mind when the name “Duran Duran” was dropped, but whose merits were completely obscured by the band’s obnoxious gadabout playboy image.

Next: …From The Beginning

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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25 Responses to Deepcut Thinkpiece: The Duran Duran Album…For People Who HATE Duran Duran [part 1]

  1. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr Monk, this should be interesting. Will definitely check out the tracks once you get to them.
    I’m in the middle of track by track discussion of all their songs, from their first album. We are actually up to Pop Trash right now. For the record, i lost interest in them after ‘seven and the ragged tiger’. But I have been listening to all the tracks from the other albums too. There is the occasional single or song I like in there, but post 80’s, they are few and far between.
    later
    -1

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – I lost interest in them WITH “7 = The ragged Tiger.’ Then re-upped on “Notorious.” Then lost interest on “Liberty.” Then regained it on “The Wedding Album.” And so forth and so on down the line. You should be happy with “All You Need Is Now.” It’s the only album after their second that plays willingly to their strengths.

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      • Echorich says:

        Have to agree with you Monk on All You Need Is Now. In the world of pre-meditated comebacks, DD chose right to have Mark Ronson involved in the project. Where, say, Human League went with I Monster and a “current” dance sound for much of the album, Ronson took his childhood love of DD and followed the Roxy Music Meets Kraftwerk at a Chic concert vibe that the band was going for on their first two albums.

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  2. jsd says:

    First album: very good. Rio: stone cold all time classic. Everything else: disposable. There, saved you a couple thousand words :) (Well, the Arcadia side project album is very good actually.)

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      jsd – Arcadia is fantastic, but that’s not Duran Duran, technically. C’mon man! Live a little! What about the splendor of “Notorious?”

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      • jsd says:

        I stand by initial comments :)

        Actually, I have a soft spot for 7ATRT but that’s down to being 15 years old and squarely in the crosshairs of the pop culture phenomenon that was Duranmania. You couldn’t talk to a girl at my high school without knowing who the members were (all the girls wore a pin with their favorite member).

        All You Need Is Now is indeed a very fine return to form but only because Mark Ronson basically forced them to remake their first album/Rio.

        No love for Notorious here I’m afraid.

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  3. Tim says:

    Ooooooohhhh….I’m in.

    I think that as their career arc went on the material that would be considered not DD BRAND SINGLE MATERIAL is the choicer stuff.
    Sekret Oktober.
    My Antarctica.
    Land.
    The Edge of America.

    Later year DD excels at the bic lighter power ballad moment.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I was not going to consider B-sodes, but DAYUM, how could I have forgotten “Secret Oktober??!!” The one track that made “7 + The Ragged Tiger” almost worthwhile? [scribbles furiously…]

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      • tim says:

        The only thing that has aged well from that album in my opinion.
        I don’t really have much love for Notorious. Totally eclipsed by Arcadia in my brain,
        This series of posts has promise. Called it a day and 4 comments, start the next day and 14!
        B-sides for your consideration beyond Sekret Oktober…..Like an Angel and Khanada.
        I suspect that at least 1/2 of what’s on my car DD CD is going to be on your list.

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  4. Mathmandan says:

    I’m also one of those whose interest declined after Ragged Tiger, and overall Rio is my favorite. But my most liked track on that album isn’t one of the singles, it’s Hold Back the Rain.

    I thought A View to a Kill was a great track. And in their slightly later years, I loved “Electric Barbarella.”

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mathmandan – It is positively insane that we live in a universe where “Hold Back The Rain” was dropped on to the B-side of “Save A Prayer.” If ever there was a DD guns-blazing megahit, it was surely that song! Never better than in the 7:00 “Carnival” remix! Has pop music ever been as bombastically exciting again?

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  5. Mr. Ware says:

    Looking forward to this as well. I can think of a b-side or two I might include on a single disc like this.

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  6. Douglas McLaren says:

    Easily my favourite DD track is the b-side “Khanada”. Shocking that tracks like this and “Sekret Oktober” were relegated to b-side obscurity…

    Like

  7. Fred says:

    Some later stuff that i quite liked were ” Out of my mind” and ”Other peoples lives” which has a killer chorus. Tracks i fancied from mid-period DD were ”Too late Marlene” and ”Serious”
    Very hard to pinpoint favorites from the first 2 albums: that live b-side version of Careless memories” and ”Last chance on the stairway” spring to mind though.

    A great challenge this, to convert ”haters” to ”believers” :-)
    Can’t wait for the one for ABC, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, Simple Minds etc…..

    Like

    • Tim says:

      I think that this project should be replicated with the A-ha catalog, although I suspect that the Monkular one doesn’t have that much. I remember buying East of the Sun, West of the Moon on the strength of the review in The Onion’s AV Club, which was often quite harsh at the time, and being solidly impressed with the album

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Tim – I have the first 3 a-ha albums. Even saw them on their big tour. Okay. Sold off the JPN remix CDs during a money crunch phase. Scant vinyl.

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        • Tim says:

          East of the Sun and West of the Moon & Memorial Beach are essential.
          Stay on These Roads (album 3?) that’s their equivalent of Notorious in my book.
          Post Memorial Beach they are all over the place for quality control but holy buckets when they score it’s pop music bullseyes!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Fred – “Serious” was a highlight of “Liberty” but it was a single, and thus falls outside of the purview of this notion. I don’t know if I can continue in this thread with other bands. It’s just because DDs music played a second fiddle next to their image and marketing for their imperial period, which colors how some good material was perceived, that I though about this for a long time. I don’t know if I can go further down this road.

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  8. Gavin says:

    One DD song I always play to guests and ask them to identify is “Michael,you’ve got a lot to answer for” from “Medazzaland”
    Nobody ever gets it right and people are always gobsmacked by how sensitive,mature and beautiful the song is.
    My personal faves apart from that are “Secret Oktober”,the original demo of “Tel Aviv”(with lyrics) and “Late Bar”

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  9. Andy B says:

    In the UK Duran Duran were successful right from their first release, Planet Earth. Only Careless Memories didn’t do so well. I enjoyed the first album and Rio was pretty good. I found 7ATRT pretty disappointing. Arcadia was a great detour and Notorious had its moments. Big Thing was a bit hit and miss for me. From then on I found their albums weren’t great although they still released some excellent singles. The covers album was totally uninspired. Medazzaland wasn’t even released in the UK. In fact Thank You was the last album of theirs that I’ve heard. I agree that they released some excellent B-sides during the eighties.
    I will interested to see what tracks you include in your compilation.

    Like

  10. Echorich says:

    This will be an interesting project and one I hope you continue with some other bands with mangled reputations…

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Maybe only Spandau have a similar reputation problem. But Spandau lack the beauty and sensitivity that DD bring to some of their work, which is how this is coalescing. Any suggestions for another in this wseries will be considered! The comment form is there…

      Like

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