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Fear hangs a plane of gunsmoke
drifting in our room
so easy to disturb
with a thought
with a whisper...
with a careless memory
Duran Duran

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"The early revelation of Duran Duran goes back to 1978, when Nick Rhodes (keyboard) and John Taylor (Guitars) formed the band with a couple of friends. It is not until 1980 that the line-up was complete and final, including Roger Taylor (drums), Andy Taylor (guitars) and Simon LeBon (vocals). By 1981, Duran Duran had released their first single 'Planet Earth' - which broke into the UK charts -, and were well on their way to lead the New-Romantic movement. The band quickly gained grounds on their Neo-romantics counterparts, by releasing provoking, edgy, and artistic videos with every new single: 'Girls on Film', 'The Chauffeur', 'Rio', 'Hungry Like the Wolf',... They owe much of their success to MTV, that favored rotation of their catchy video clips.

After releasing their self-titled debut album, The Durans were one of the biggest bands on the UK pop scene. They followed soon after with 'Rio' in 1982, and by 1983 Duran Duran had become a phenomenon in the US also. With the release of their third album ' Seven and the Ragged Tiger', and it's #1 hit single ('The Reflex') in both the US and the UK, Duran Duran had become the biggest pop sensation since the Beatles, and the incontestable New-Romantic icon worldwide. The quintet released two more chart topping singles 'Wild Boys' in 1984 and James Bond's movie theme 'A View to A Kill' in 1985.

And because every good thing must end, in '85 John Taylor and Andy Taylor decided to form The Power Station with singer Robert Palmer, and their debut was quite a success. Nick Rhodes, Simon LeBon and Roger Taylor on their side formed Arcadia, with a brilliant ensemble of artists, and released an outstanding piece of work 'So Red the Rose'.

It's 1986 that sees the fall down of Duran Duran, as the trio Nick Rhodes, Simon LeBon and Roger Taylor release 'Notorious', with pop trash material signaling the end of an era.
Their fifth studio album 'Big Thing' ('98) is slightly superior to 'Notorious' musically, but 1990's 'Liberty' fails miserably. In 1993, guitarist Warren Cuccurullo joins the line-up, and they release the 'The Wedding Album', a surprisingly richly textured album, including the two hits 'Come Undone' and 'Ordinary World'... a strong unexpected comeback, to say the least.

But if you thought that 'Liberty' was their worst effort, well think again! Duran Duran follow-up with the epiphany of failure: 'Thank You' ('95), a collection of cover songs.
In 1996, John Taylor leaves the band. The remaining members release two follow-up records that prove that these guys have nothing left to offer: 'Medazzaland' in 1997 and 'Pop-Trash' in 2000.

In 2001, Nick Rhodes and Simon LeBon announce that Duran Duran, the original line-up, including the three Taylors is to reunite and record a new album for release in 2002. "
-- Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 8/01

 Duran Duran Discography - Album / CD Reviews


****¼ 1981: Duran Duranaudio
"Duran Duran's self-titled debut effectively established their slick, catchy synth-pop sound. Featuring the decadent 'Girls on Film' and 'Planet Earth,' the album set the pace for scores of new wave bands in the early '80s, which were subsequently dubbed the new romantics. "
-- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

****¼ 1982: Rioaudio

"(...) The original Duran Duran's high point, and just as likely the band's as a whole, its fusion of style and substance ensures that even two decades after its release it remains as listenable and danceable as ever. The quintet integrates its sound near-perfectly throughout, the John and Roger Taylor rhythm section providing both driving propulsion and subtle pacing. For the latter, consider the lush semi-tropical sway of "Save a Prayer" or the closing paranoid creep of "The Chauffeur," a descendant of Roxy Music's equally affecting dark groover "The Bogus Man." Andy Taylor's muscular riffs provide fine rock crunch throughout, Rhodes' synth wash adds perfect sheen, and Le Bon tops it off with sometimes overly cryptic lyrics that still always sound just fine in context courtesy of his strong delivery. Rio's two biggest smashes burst open the door in America for the New Romantic/synth rock crossover..."
-- Ned Raggett, AMG

***¾ 1983: Seven & The Ragged Tiger audio

"Duran Duran continues its remarkable pop assault with another collection of hits and near misses. The hits: "Union Of The Snake," "The Reflex," "Cracks In The Pavement" and "Shadows On Your Side." If that's not enough, Seven is truly great listening throughout-some of the most adventurous pop music around. "
-- CMJ, via CDnow

**** 1984: Arenaaudio
Includes 9 of Duran's hit songs from their first three albums, recorded during their live performances around the world in 1984, + the track 'Wild Boys'.

** ¾ 1986: Notoriousaudio
"With Notorious, Duran Duran aimed to record a "white funk" album, but the band didn't quite pull it off. Tracks such as 'Notorious,' 'Skin Trade,' 'Meet El Presidente' and 'American Science' make earnest moves toward that sound, but the group's inexperience with syncopation resulted in a odd hybrid of funk and pop. Steve Ferrone's drumming, for one, didn't play around the beat enough. Other songs momentarily fall back on the Duran of old."
-- musicwhore.org/soloist/0101/notorious.shtml

*** 1988: Big Thing audio
"Released in 1988, the album is just plain big -- more noise, more experimentation, more boldness. Placed alongside 'Notorious', ' Big Thing' marks yet another drastic change in Duran Duran's make-up. (No pun intended.)
For this album, the group sought an entirely synthetic sound, but unlike its early work, 'Big Thing' makes no attempt to sound remotely clean. Warren Cuccurullo's guitar performance contributes heavily to this rougher sound.(...) Rhodes takes many liberties with his keyboard work, distorting bass lineses on 'All She Wants Is' and using patches with inherently dissonant overtones on 'Too Late Marlene.' The horns from Notorious make a return, but this time, they're better integrated with the songs' textures."
-- musicwhore.org/soloist/0101/big_thing.shtml

**** 1989: Duran Duran - Decade
A chronological collections of 14 hit songs spanning 1981 to 1988.

1990: Liberty audio
"Having delivered an album like Big Thing, the follow-up is a bit dissapointing. Liberty was recorded by a five-piece band, including a new drummer: Sterling Campbell (David Bowie) and produced by nonother than Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones). You would expect a real live-feeling album. But the album was overproduced with loads of keyboards and overdubs. Songs like Downtown and Hothead are very experimental. Serious, the second single of the album and My Antarctica are two of the best songs Duran Duran has ever recorded. On the whole, it's an album with two faces. Most of the fans thought: let's buy the next one or stick to the old!"
-- Marco ter Beek, for musicfolio.com, 2/5/03

*** 1993: Duran Duran 2 [The Wedding Album] audio
"Combining lush melodies with shimmery guitars, low-key synths, and thumping rhythms, "The Wedding Album" is a testament to pop music. (...) The guitar lick and steady beat of 'Come Undone' perfectly accentuate LeBon's seductive lyric and melody... one of the moodiest songs to hit radio in years. ... with "The Wedding Album" they [the Duran Duran] have indelibly left the world a perfect testament as to the value of their career. "
-- Michael Abernethy, amazon.com customer reviews

* 1995: Thank You audio
"a simply awful album of covers, 1995's Thank You, which saw LeBon struggling through songs like Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay and Lou Reed's Perfect Day. What were they thinking? "We did make a mistake with it," says LeBon. "
-- Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun, 11/97

** ½ 1997: Medazzalandaudio

"... apart from 'Electric Barbarella,' that's exactly how Medazzaland sounds -- tired, bored, and starting to get a bit cranky. 'Electric Barbarella' (I never thought I'd be saying this) is the highlight of an otherwise uninspired album, going further than anything else Duran Duran has put out in the last ten years to recapture their cocaine-fueled glory days as the Tiger Beat titans of the early 1980's. From that song on, though, Medazzaland begins to lose steam rapidly, and by the end of 'Undergoing Treatment,' things are starting to look decidedly gloomy.
-- Darren Gawle, Drop-D magazine, 2/98

**** 1998: Greatestaudio
"This greatest-hits collection documents the band's ambitious beginnings as a funky glam-rock outfit and follows its gradual transformation into a high-tech pop band with loads of commercial appeal."
-- Mitch Myers, Amazon.com

** 2000: Pop Trash audio
"In a lot of ways, Pop Trash is exactly what its title says. This is an album of Duran Duran revisiting old sonic touchstones, and not coming up with anything that eclipses their older material. It’s a solid, but not particularly innovative or hit-laden, Duran effort. Pop Trash makes for a good comfortable background album, but it may be time for the trio to do some more reinvention, instead of retreading."
-- John Everson, The Star, 8/00

**¾ 2004: Astronaut
Tracklisting: 1.Sunrise 2.Want You More 3.What Happens Tomorrow 4.Astronaut 5.Bedroom Toys 6.Nice 7.Taste The Summer 8.Finest Hour 9.Chains 10.One Of Those Days 11.Point Of No Return 12.Still Breathing
"Twenty years ago, Duran Duran was the best pop band in the world. With Astronaut, they look to reclaim that throne. Can Duran Duran deliver? (...) Given an opportunity to make an enormous comeback and retake the pop charts by storm, the boys from Birmingham come off sounding like they are doing their best Duran Duran imitation. In fact, I think that if you had a really good Duran Duran tribute band that decided to write original material and make it big on the pop charts, the result would be an awful lot like Astronaut. The music has sexuality and attitude when it needs to be edgy. The choruses build and swell when they need to be dramatic. The instruments are filled with crisp, Pro Tooled effects when they need to be contemporary and cutting edge. But overall, the total is much less than the sum of its parts. ...on Astronaut almost every attempt at a hook falls flat. The chords are too obvious, the melodies too contrived, and when an element of a song actually shows some promise, LeBon fails to build on it. It should be mentioned, however, that LeBon is in his best vocal form in years. (...) Astronaut sounds spectacular, but it doesn't matter much because the songs just aren't there. "
-- Jason Artman, epinions.com, 09/04

*¾ 2007: Red Carpet Massacre
Tracklisting: 01 - The valley 02 - Red carpet massacre 03 - Nite runner (featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland) 04 - Falling down (featuring and co-produced by Justin Timberlake) 05 - Box full O' Honey 06 - Skin divers (featuring Timbaland) 07 - Tempted 08 - Tricked out 09 - Zoom in (featuring Timbaland) 10 - She's too much 11 - Dirty great monster 12 - Last man standing
"Duran Duran plus one Justin Timberlake, multiplied by a red-hot Timbaland, should on paper equal a mega-album of colossal proportions. Well it would appear that we're terribly wrong, because rather than a sex-fuelled, smutty Rio meets SexyBack monster, 'Red Carpet Massacre' is a liquorice allsorts selection of squelching, aimless, funk-less workouts. (...) There are repeated glimpses of what inspired the Timberlake-Duran dream team across the 12-track LP, but none last long enough to justify the other 40-odd minutes. Opening track The Valley, which is probably the closest thing to old-school Duran with its haunting keys and classic LeBon warble, is underlined by what is possibly the funkiest slap-bass session this side of Prince. However, as with much of the album, it's followed by a full-on raspberry in the shape of the title track. There's a classic Duran Duran tune hiding somewhere underneath the surface , but it's been smothered by a dreadful selection of clunky drum and bass solos, and the chorus sounds as if it's being performed by a group at gunpoint, being told to "have fun" and "rock out". (...) The inconsistency of the whole record is perhaps the most frustrating thing. It would have been a hell of a lot easier if they hadn't included the likes of Dirty Great Monster, which could slip into any Duran album thanks to its sleazy trumpets and brooding, pulsating chorus. Likewise, and worryingly for LeBon, the instrumental Tricked Out, shows that the band could be making sizzling electro-romps with dashes of Kraftwerk robotics if he decided to bugger off elsewhere. (...) It's disappointing, and, quite shockingly for a Duran Duran album, incredibly boring. Much like watching your dad showing his Status Quo air guitar moves at your 18th birthday party, Duran Duran have got far too old to be rocking it with the kids. Unfortunately nobody has informed them yet."
-- Alex Fletcher, digitalspy.co.uk, 11/07

***½ 2010: All You Need is Now
Tracklisting: 1. All You Need Is Now 2. Blame The Machines 3. Being Followed 4. Leave A Light On 5. Safe (in the heat of the moment) 6. Girl Panic 7. The Man Who Stole a Leopard 8. Runway Runaway 9. Before the Rain
"On the heels of 2007’s very underwhelming 'Red Carpet Massacre', New Wave icons Duran Duran sought a return to their glory days with their latest effort, All You Need is Now. Leading up to the LP’s release, the band trumpeted it as “the imaginary follow-up to Rio that never was,” while keysman Nick Rhodes claimed All You Need is Now to be “the best record we’ve made in over two decades.” While it falls short of the band’s lofty claims, Duran Duran’s 13th studio album (and first with neo-soul luminary Mark Ronson at the helm) is a success on many levels, mostly because it manages to simultaneously play like a fresh, vital 21st century club record and a wistful throwback to Duran Duran’s greatest hits. (...) Musically, not much has changed for the band. Simon LeBon’s signature croon that served as a soundtrack to much of the ’80s is just as solid as it was 30 years ago, as are Nick Rhodes’ icy synth lines and the tight-as-ever rhythm section of John and Roger Taylor. All You Need is Now splits most of its 40-minute length between recreating, often successfully, the band’s glory days and trying to sound hip to the niceties of modern pop music. (...) While All You Need is Now won’t bring flocks of teenagers over to Duran Duran’s side, it’s certainly a commendable effort if for no reason other than it’s the band’s most relevant and listenable record in almost two decades. And though it’s not quite Rio 2.0, Duran Duran’s 13th album does possess many of the qualities that put the synth-pop legends on the map in the first place."
-- Möhammad Choudhery, consequenceofsound.net, 12/10
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Recommended Links:

Duran Duran official website
Lizard King's: Duran Duran page
 
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