Last week I was reading online about the live Bowie tribute concert that Mike Garson was holding online as I was wondering if it would be something that I could see easily.
Hint – it wasn’t; being one of those 24 hour only things and priced outside of my “love boundaries” for Duran Duran in any case at $35-65 for a streaming show. The stories I saw about it related how Duran Duran were there and playing a cover of “Five Years” and that was as far as I thought it went. Until ace commenter Tim dropped a comment letting me know that it was also a “new release” by the band. Presumably a DL? Well, let’s get right on that one! This Monk is on a vow of poverty but we can usually afford $1.29 to feed a timely urge.
Let it not be said that Duran Duran and David Bowie didn’t have a pedigree going back to their very earliest days. The B-side to “Careless Memory” was a cover version of “Fame” and it was definitely the runt of the early Duran B-side litter. The awful “Thank You” album had a Japan-only bonus track of “Diamond Dogs” that was slightly better [actually one of the better tracks in that whole project, which was not saying much], yet it was still marred by an obnoxious toy dog sample hook that brought it screeching to a halt. And I’d almost forgotten about their cover of “Boys Keep Swinging” which happened [looks] a decade ago. It was another freeze-dried DD quickie with only synths and drum machine and more tawdry goods from the Fab Five. Could they redeem themselves by covering the stunning opening track to the career-making “Ziggy Stardust” album?
As soon as I heard the cheap, nasty drum machine loop in the faded up intro I knew that I had wasted my $1.29. When, oh when will Duran Duran finally get a clue and actually let their very fine rhythm section actually play on their records? Why do they hate the Taylor’s?!! Unless John and Roger are perhaps now human vegetables and actually incapable of playing, but if that were the case, then how would all of those concerts be happening?
Simon LeBon’s performance was another train wreck. I hated it from the first second thanks to that vile rhythm track and when he started singing my heart sank further. His phrasing and timing was awkward and contrary as he gamely tried to make it his own without having a clue as to how that might happen. It’s hard to believe that this was the same guy whose singing on “Red Carpet Massacre” had completely charmed me for the first time ever.
The only point I will cede to him here was his hold of the note on the line “I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to waaaaaaaaaaalk!” as the BVs came up under him very nicely. Listening to it, I can almost believe that it was him performing that and not Autotune®. Not so much on the far less believable holds on the closing “what a surpriiiiiiiiiiiiiiise!” An effect so ham fisted that he repeated it twice, of course. To twist the knife. It seems there’s a music video of the song on Vimeo. Who knew?
Only the piano by Nick that managed to dance adroitly between florid filigree and tasteful understatement [even Liberace knew how to work that action] had any dignity at the end of it all. Scratch all of that! Now that we have the video embedded above, the nagging truth is revealed: Mike Garson himself is playing the piano! I had serious doubts that I was hearing Nick Rhodes tickle the ivories! Homey don’t play dat. Nick was sticking to his synth atmosphere safety zone with the string patches.
In the end, we were left with another Bowie classic dispatched to the Double Duran slaughterhouse! Were is not for the piano of Garson, this would be another one star DD farrago. May heaven help us that there’s not a four track 12″ single EP this year for Record Store Day with all four Bowie covers on it for way more money than it would be worth. This in the year that Duran Duran are celebrating their 40th anniversary with a new album in the works. It’s produced by Giorgio Moroder [what took so long?], Mark Ronson [yay!] and one DJ Erol Alkan [uh-oh…]. Heaven help us that they don’t screw it up.