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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Duran Duran - 1981 Duran Duran
Duran Duran - 1981 Duran Duran

ARTIST: Duran Duran
ALBUM: Duran Duran
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2003, EMI, 7243 5 84380 2 4


LINEUP: Simon Le Bon - vocals * Andy Taylor - guitars * Nick Rhodes - synthesizers * John Taylor - bass * Roger Taylor - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Girls On Film * 02 Planet Earth * 03 Anyone Out There * 04 To The Shore * 05 Careless Memories * 06 Night Boat * 07 Sound Of Thunder * 08 Friends Of Mine * 09 Tel Aviv



Duran Duran seems to be my latest infatuation, I'm not frightened to admit it, but before you think I have lost it, take one moment to consider this scenario: a UK band release an album in 1981, and while it receives critical acclaim at the time, the singles fail to chart, even though it becomes the record of the week on the afternoon show on Radio 1, the record company pull the plug and the group sinks without trace. All we would end up with as a legacy of the group some 29 years later, would be this sole release. Now name me another UK band who release such a high quality hi-tech AOR album and be left with the question of 'what might have been?'

The actual situation of course is very different, they became one of the biggest bands from the UK, and therefore subsequently became totally ignored by rock lovers, thinking it was just wrapped up in all that New Romantic nonsense, and me being one them, as it's only in the last 6 months have I bothered to become that bit more adventurous and picked it up. Yes of course I knew the singles, in fact brought the wonderful 'Out Of My Mind' in 1999, but in the early 80's, I was metal head, mullet hair cut, large glasses, spotty and anyway they were a girly band weren't they? Add small mindedness to the list.

So you can imagine the furore of Andy Taylor appearing in the hallowed pages of Kerrang, claiming they were rock. What next? Prince on the cover of the magazine? Well he certainly had a point and he would subsequently go on release a couple of melodic rock albums. Over the years, while adding a couple of chins to their features and model wives, they are still producing music, finally in 2004 they were finally acknowledged by receiving the BRIT award for outstanding contribution to music which they deserving earned more than other winners say like the Spice Girls, Oasis and Wham.

The Songs
'Girls On Film' provides a bristling opening and surprisingly it was the 'third' single and largely responsible to catapult them onto many of the front pages of pop and teen magazines. Together with a stroke of genius by showing they were more than just having that girly tag round their necks by having that risky video to accompany it. (I'll stop here while 'you tube' is accessed).... Ok back with me? I'll carry on! The Record Company were looking to attract the male market at the same time, years later it doesn't sound that dated and really it is a classic pop tune.

The debut single was 'Planet Earth', nice danceable keyboards opening, really perfect start. Underlying keyboard noises not that much different to New Order, who were always considered more indie and high brow. Very much a synth dominated track and there is a desperate lack of Andy Taylor's guitar but the strength of the tune means it doesn't necessary lose any power.

Like many such albums, it's usually the lesser known tracks that are the most rewarding and not surprisingly, this album is no exception. Take 'Anyone Out There' and 'Careless Memories', really they would provide a memorable experience to anyone who enjoys the likes of Red 7 and The Producers. Both tracks merit further scrutiny, let's take 'Careless Memories' first. This was the second single that really bombed, only reaching number 37. See my earlier argument about being a potential one hit wonder is beginning to be taking shape. This starts with chopper sounding keyboards and it does ring a bell in my memory banks of hearing this all those years ago. Touches of Secret Steps with power chords competing with swathes of synths. Best tune on the album by far, this has a real Hi Tech AOR pedigree and with a close eye on early Spandau Ballet, the boys have reached a pinnacle, a real work of infectious art.

Whereas 'Anyone Out There' asks the question, whether it's referring to anyone in the universe or just a hedgehog in their back garden it's unclear, what is clear that this is another special moment. The Andy Summers (The Police) inspired guitar opening leads into a tune signified by a flowing melody and is an ideal AOR classic with synths topping off the pleasure vibe.

But it's not all good news, as 'To The Shore' is far from perfect and in fact labours. Granted it's an OK album track but it never really is going to grab your attention.

'Nightboat', has a keyboard/synth opening like an excerpt from the 'Flash Gordon' soundtrack by Queen, this 2 minute intro shows they are more than just a pop band. I wonder if Nick Rhodes ever listened to Starcastle to gain influence, probably not but you never know? Add to the odd stunning Andy Taylor strumming it becomes probably the most rock inspired track on offer.

'Sound Of Thunder' again has a similar intro of chopper synths; in fact you hear this as often on the album as if you were on the film set of 'Apocalypse Now' (perhaps Aldo Nova nicked the idea for his debut album?.. Ed) A pleasing number, with Simon Le Bon's vocals fully wired (or should that say whining?), but his performance has became the template of Duran Duran's success - like it or not. I'm far more interested in the synths, blitzing the background scenery and helping to obliterate the somewhat cheesy lyrics.

Next up is the David Bowie influenced 'Friend Of Mine'; imagine the Thin White Duke holding that puny microphone in his fingertips. Bearing in mind that the rather poppy chorus has a real boy band feel which is slightly at odds with the avant garde nature of the verses and sound effects.

'Tel Aviv' is an instrumental which is as puzzling as ever reaching a resolution between Israel and Palestine and as meaningless as Zodiac signs and horoscopes, maybe a case of getting the cigars out too soon and letting the artistic flow to be stifled.

In Summary
Do I like it? yes I do and it's taking years to appreciate it, although maybe not as long as India getting ready for the Commonwealth Games.. (like dodgy Pakistani bookies, never trust Indian construction workers to get anything built on time! lol!..Ed) I wonder how my musical journey would have ended up going if I had taken more of an interest in these guys all those years ago? Even to become a New Romantic, well the floppy hair I have now is more useful in covering my bald spots, rather than to impress the girls. Years ago, admitting that I liked Duran Duran would probably be as depressing as the closing sequence of TV's series 'The Incredible Hulk', with that sombre music, but now I'm pleased that it has been a welcome discovery and it is a quality album, if you have any prejudices put them aside and discover a quality recording.

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#1 | Eric on October 06 2010 13:58:31
Superb band/ album and excellent review Chris, although I'll ignore the Oasis slam lol! Back then I remember them getting slammed hard for 'the look' etc, but I never viewed Duran Duran as something other than sons of Roxy Music and when 'Rio' came out, their fate as heirs to Roxy's crown was sealed.
#2 | Eric on October 06 2010 17:53:45
Despite some hits and misses, thier entire catalog is worth hearing at least once. 'Notorious' and 'Big Thing' are out next week remastered with bonus tracks and 'Astronaut' from 2004 was exceptional.
#3 | reyno-roxx on October 06 2010 21:35:10
Good band on their day, but they tended to rip off Japan like crazy..just like Japan ripped off Roxy Music....
#4 | Jez on October 06 2010 21:36:48
This and 'Rio' were both great discs, and ones that I still play fairly regularly even now. My fave tunes off this were always 'Careless Memories' and the brilliant 'Anyone Out There' as highlighted in the review. There's so much more to this band than the teeny image of the time, and even though I was a 'Rocker' type chap at the time, I always had a secret liking for DD and still do.
#5 | chewie on October 08 2010 04:27:20
I like this album so much that I have the US and UK versions.... and BTW,

Chic + Japan = Duran Duran
#6 | englandashes on October 08 2010 12:11:08
Yep, sorry Eric, actually when I looked at who won the Brit award, most of the winners did seem to be worthy receipents, I was hoping the likes of Take That, Westlife had previously won so I could add them to my list, rather than Oasis, who really got the short straw!, so I was probably being a bit mean!
#7 | Eric on October 08 2010 17:31:42
Actually looking forward to the Oasis offshoot Beady Eye... back to DD, I read the Duranies went to Japan's David Sylvain and Mick Karn with the hope of producing DD at one point, although Mick Karn remembers none of it.
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