“Divine intervention couldn’t keep the word from leaking out”

Image used solely to illustrate the subject for the purposes of an album review, and consistent with Fair Use Doctrine. I really thought I had photos of my own vinyl copy, but I couldn’t find them. Now my entire vinyl collection is 900 miles away, in storage with almost everything else I own.

As discussed in my fandom story, Valentine’s Day 2011 was that magical moment when the switch flipped and I officially became a Duranie (though I was intellectually in denial about it for awhile). It’s hard to believe seven years have already passed!

To mark my seventh Duraniversary, I decided to review their very underrated album Big Thing, released 18 October 1988. Coming after the masses of screaming teenyboppers had petered out, this album came at a time when the musical scene was shifting from the trademark Eighties synth-pop sound to dance music.

To try to get a fair shot at unbiased radio play, the band sent an edited, three-minute version of “The Edge of America” and “Lake Shore Driving” to radio stations, under the title Official Bootleg: The LSD Edit, and credited to The Krush Brothers.

Track listing, with stars by the bonus tracks on the 2010 reissue:

“Big Thing”
“I Don’t Want Your Love” (#4 in the U.S.; #14 in the U.K.)
“All She Wants Is” (a song I found very monotonous until I saw the awesome music video) (#9 in the U.K.; #22 in the U.S.)
“Too Late Marlene”
“Drug (It’s Just a State of Mind)”
“Do You Believe in Shame?” (#30 in the U.K.; #72 in the U.S.)
“Palomino”
“Interlude One”
“Land”
“Flute Interlude”
“The Edge of America”
“Lake Shore Driving”
“I Don’t Want Your Love” (7″ mix)*
“All She Wants Is” (45 mix)*
“I Believe/All I Need to Know”*
“The Krush Brothers LSD Edit”*
“God (London)”*
“This Is How a Road Gets Made”*
“Palomino” (edit)*
“Drug (It’s Just a State of Mind)” (Remix)*
“Big Thing” (7″ mix)*
“I Don’t Want Your Love” (Big mix)*
“All She Wants Is” (U.S. master mix)*
“Big Thing” (12″ mix)*
“All She Wants Is” (Eurohouse mix)*

The album was #15 in the U.K., and #24 in the U.S. While it’s known as the band’s house music album (a popular style of dance music originating in Chicago), there are also lush, beautiful pieces of musical art like “Palomino” and “Do You Believe in Shame?”

The album also contains three experimental instrumentals, “Interlude One,” “Flute Interlude,” and “Lake Shore Driving.” This isn’t the type of album irrevocably date-stamped and immediately announcing its era.

Due to the relatively low chart position of third single “Do You Believe in Shame?,” the planned fourth single, “Drug,” wasn’t released.

My favorite tracks are “The Edge of America,” “Land,” “Palomino,” “Do You Believe in Shame?,” and “Too Late Marlene.” I’d rate this album a solid 4 stars.

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Happy Duran Duran Appreciation Day! (Rio at 35, Part II [Behind the scenes])


“My Own Way” was the very first Rio single to be written and recorded, in October ’81. It was released as a single the next month, in a very different style from the album version. The other eight tracks were recorded in early ’82, produced and engineered by Colin Thurston, at London’s Air Studios.

The massively overplayed “HLTW” was the second single, released 4 May 1982. “Save a Prayer” became the third single on 9 August 1982, and the title track was released as a single on 1 November.

In September 1982, record label EMI released the EP Carnival, featuring the Night Versions (extended dance remixes) of some of the band’s hit singles. The Dutch and Spanish version contained “HLTW,” “Rio,” “Planet Earth,” and “Girls on Film,” while the Canadian and U.S. version had “HLTW,” “Girls on Film,” “Hold Back the Rain,” and “My Own Way.” The Japanese version had “Rio (Part II),” “Hold Back the Rain,” “My Own Way,” “HLTW,” and “New Religion.”

Carnival was very successful, leading Capitol Records to start marketing them as a dance band instead of New Romantics. Seizing the moment, the band compelled Capitol to re-release Rio in the U.S. In November, they got their wishes, and this new version (with the first five tracks re-mixed by David Kershenbaum) went to #6.

The international success of the album and its four singles was due in huge part to the newly-mainstreamed artform of the music video. While music videos had been around for quite a long time, they were typically done only as promotion prior to MTV. They weren’t a carefully-considered artform in the old days.

Who could imagine any Eighties band, artist, or song without the music videos? They’re such a quintessential aspect of my childhood decade. While music videos are still being made (shocking as it is to discover), the modern ones are nothing like the classics from the Eighties.

Music videos were made for the title track, “HLTW,” “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” and “Save a Prayer” in Antigua and Sri Lanka. Also filmed was a very weird music video for “Nightboat,” from their first album.


Warning: Video NSFW or under 18!

A video album was released in 1983, featuring the four singles from Rio, plus album tracks “Lonely in Your Nightmare” and “The Chauffeur.” Also included were four songs from their début album and the March 1983 single “Is There Something I Should Know?”

The album cover was designed by Malcolm Garrett and famously painted by American artist Patrick Nagel, and went on to become one of Nagel’s best-known images. His alternate version of the cover was finally used in 2001 for a limited edition remaster. Most of his works were female figures in a style inspired by Art Déco and initially based off photographs.

Copyright EMI or Patrick Nagel’s estate; used solely to illustrate the subject and consistent with Fair Use doctrine

Rio frequently makes those incessant “best-of” albums lists, for British albums, Eighties albums, and greatest albums of all time. The album has not only remained popular and relevant over the last 35 years, but also influential on many other musicians. It’s not an album anyone could go wrong buying.

Rio at 35, Part I (General overview)

Released 10 May 1982, Rio was Duran Duran’s sophomore album and reached #2 in the U.K. and #1 in Australia. Initially, it didn’t do well in the U.S. (far from the first time a British band has been much more successful in their native land than across the pond). Only in 1983, after Durandemonium broke in the U.S., did it reach #6 on Billboard.

This is one of those quintessentially perfect albums, the album by which all other releases from an artist or band are judged. While I personally have grown to prefer their eponymous 1981 début, there’s no denying Rio is an absolutely perfect album from start to finish.

This is also my cold weather album for the car stereo. When I hear Eighties songs, I automatically picture the music videos. Thinking of the music videos in warm climates like Sri Lanka and the Caribbean makes me feel at least psychosomatically warmed up.

Track listing, with stars by the bonus tracks on the 2009 two-disc CD version:

“Rio” (#9 in the U.K. and Ireland, #3 in Canada, #14 in Finland, #36 in New Zealand, #14 on U.S. Billboard, #5 on U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock, #14 on U.S. Cash Box Top 100)
“My Own Way” (#14 in the U.K., #10 in Australia, #20 in Ireland, #1 in Portugal)
“Lonely in Your Nightmare” (my favourite track)
“Hungry Like the Wolf” (#1 in Canada and on the U.S. Billboard Top Rock Tracks; #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100; #4 in Ireland, South Africa, and New Zealand; #5 in the U.K. and Australia; #25 in Poland; #32 in Italy; #36 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play; #50 in The Netherlands)
“Hold Back the Rain”
“New Religion” (another favourite)
“Last Chance on the Stairway” (also love this one)
“Save a Prayer” (final line on the album version shorter than the music video version) (#1 in France, #2 in Ireland, #2 in the U.K., #56 in Australia, belatedly #16 in the U.S. in 1985)
“The Chauffeur” (such a sexy, sensual song and music video, back when “sexy” wasn’t synonymous with, pardon the misogynistic expression. “video hos” bumping and grinding in next to no clothes, accompanied by lyrics about horniness and cheap, tawdry sexual exploits)

“Rio” (U.S. album remix)*
“My Own Way” (Carnival remix)*
“Lonely in Your Nightmare” (U.S. album remix)*
“Hungry Like the Wolf” (U.S. album remix)*
“Hold Back the Rain” (U.S. album remix)*
“Last Chance on the Stairway” (Manchester Square Demo)*
“My Own Way” (Manchester Square Demo)*
“New Religion” (Manchester Square Demo)*
“Like an Angel” (Manchester Square Demo)*
“My Own Way” (original 7-inch version)*
“The Chauffeur” (Blue Silver) (early version)*
“My Own Way” (Night version; i.e., an extended dance remix)*
“Hungry Like the Wolf” (Night version)*
“Rio” (Night version)*
“New Religion” (Carnival remix)*
“Hold Back the Rain” (Carnival remix)*
“My Own Way” (instrumental version)*
“Hold Back the Rain” (alternate remix)*

I absolutely love this album, as obscenely overplayed as the title track and “HLTW” are. Everything holds up unbelievably well after 35 years, both the songs themselves and the incredible music videos.

I got it on vinyl in 2007 because it was only $2 and I wanted to indulge my Eighties nostalgia. It didn’t do much for me at first, which wasn’t helped by how I thought they were just a bunch of prettyboys who were only around in the Eighties, a boygroup like NKOTB or Backstreet Boys.

The respective sparks created by both my Eighties childhood and listening to this album a few times finally burst into a beautiful flame when I became a Duranie in early 2011. I can’t believe it’s already been six and a half years since I fell in love with this band!

“I wish I could stop, and start it again”

In loving memory of John Alec Entwistle, 9 October 1944–27 June 2002

Image used solely to illustrate the subject for the purposes of an album review, and consistent with Fair Use Doctrine

In honor of John Entwistle’s upcoming 15th Jahrzeit (death anniversary), I decided to review his awesome solo album Too Late the Hero. Some of the material is edited from my old Angelfire posts. Though I own several of his albums on vinyl, this is the only one I’ve gotten around to listening to so far.

TLTH was recorded from 1979–May 1981, and released 23 November 1981. This was his only solo album of the Eighties, though he tried to release The Rock in 1986. Instead, The Rock released in 1996.

TLTH went to #71 on the U.S. Billboard 200, his highest-charting position since his 1971 solo début Smash Your Head Against the Wall. This was also his last album to chart before his untimely death.

The single “Talk Dirty” went to #41 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart, with the B-side of “Try Me.” (I’m sure many of my younger readers don’t even know what a B-side is!) The other single, title track “Too Late the Hero,” charted at #76 on the U.K. NME (New Musical Express) chart, and #101 on the U.S. Billboard chart. “Fallen Angel,” while not a single, also received much radio play on album-oriented rock stations.

TLTH was John’s first solo album in six years, since 1975’s Mad Dog. He felt he’d been going in the wrong direction musically, and wanted to get away from that old-style rock and roll with its “shoo-bop, shoo-bop” stuff. With this album, John returned to his previous style of songwriting. (Read more in a 1981 Rolling Stone interview.)

Critical reception over the years, both then and now, has typically been rather underwhelming or negative. A rare positive review came from venerable music critic Chris Welch of Melody Maker.

I’ve always absolutely adored this album. It’s pulsing with so much musical energy, and as a proud Eighties kid, I can’t resist that trademark Eighties production style!

It’s been said that John’s voice was never this top-notch again after this period.

Track listing, with stars by the CD reissue bonus tracks:

“Try Me”
“Talk Dirty”
“Lovebird” (so lovely and poignant, with John’s voice sounding particularly pretty)
“Sleeping Man”
“I’m Coming Back” (catchy and upbeat, though veers a bit dangerously close to filler)
“Dancing Master” (claims to not be a disco song, but so obviously is, even if it’s more of a spoof!)
“Fallen Angel” (has some very insightful lyrics about how cynical and fickle people can be towards those who are no longer on top)
“Love Is a Heart Attack” (an eerily prophetic song he played at all his solo shows)
“Too Late the Hero” (so beautiful, epic, and haunting, with John’s voice sounding not only very pretty, but delicate)
“Sleeping Man” (demo)*
“Dancing Master” (demo)*
“I’m Coming Back” (demo)*
“Love Is a Heart Attack” (demo)*
“Overture” (unreleased outtake)*

I’m sorry I waited to long to get this album. There was a $3 or $2 copy at Mystery Train Records in Amherst for quite some time, along with Smash Your Head Against the Wall, but I always hesitated, since I wasn’t enough of an established, longtime, serious Who freak to be ready for solo work. But when I found it for $1 at the (now out of business) Saratoga branch of Last Vestige Records, I hesitated no more.

In spite of the many lacklustre reviews, I’d strongly recommend this album to someone interested in John’s unique solo work. Though he only had eight solo albums, it’s quality that matters, not quantity. Ideally, one should also be well-versed in a solo artist’s band of origin before branching out into solo work.

All these years later, I’d still rate it a 4.5.

Déjà Vu Blogfest—Happy Duran Duran Appreciation Day! (My fandom story)

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DL Hammons is once again holding his annual Déjà Vu blogfest, wherein participants revisit a post from the past year which didn’t get the audience one expected, or that one wishes to run again. I chose a post I originally published on 10 August 2016, “Happy Duran Duran Appreciation Day! (My fandom story).”

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Since taking this photo several years ago, I’ve added the lovely, underrated Big Thing (1988) and the spin-off The Power Station (1985) to my vinyl collection, but I didn’t feel like reshooting this picture!

To mark Duran Duran Appreciation Day (a fan-initiated holiday falling on the anniversary of Simon’s near-drowning experience in 1985), I decided to finally share my story of how I became a fan. It’s hard to believe this year makes it five years since I’ve been a Duranie. My path to fandom wasn’t the typical one, since it happened so many years after their greatest wave of popularity, I wasn’t some screaming teenybopper, and I’ve always most gravitated towards classic rock and pop.

To quote the lesser-known song “Beautiful Colours,” “Life isn’t standard-issue, it’s customised.” Not everyone has the same reasons for joining and staying in a fandom. I also like to discover bands, books, films, actors, writers, etc., long after the heyday has passed. I’m getting into them for my own reasons, not because of massive hype.

I’d actually bought Rio in July 2007, after finding it in the $2 stacks at a Northampton record store which has since gone out of business. At the time, I justified it to myself as indulging my Eighties nostalgia, a guilty pleasure I only had to part with $2 for. I listened to the album a few times, but it didn’t do much for me. It wasn’t the right time for me to become a fan.

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I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this now, but for a long time, I dismissed the band because I thought they were just a bunch of prettyboys who were only around in the Eighties, just some talentless boygroup for mindless teenyboppers. It took awhile for me to realise they’re a real band, and just happened to be heavily marketed to teenyboppers the way my belovèd Monkees were a generation earlier. Real fans stuck around after their heyday, while the fairweather fans moved on to the next big thing pimped by the media.

As some readers might remember, in November 2010, I finally went back to my long-hiatused book Little Ragdoll from scratch and memory. Around this time, I seriously started using YouTube, and began making playlists to listen to while writing. One of those was my Hollies’ playlist, which was my majority soundtrack for writing the book. I also made soundtracks for The Four Seasons, The Monkees, several other bands and artists, and the Eighties.

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 Of course, I searched out several Duran Duran songs for the lattermost playlist, and ended up clicking on a lot of their other recommended videos. As 2010 turned into 2011, I found myself liking and listening to them more and more. I’d “liked” the band’s official Facebook page by early February 2011, since I remember there was a post celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Planet Earth” shortly after I joined.

Then on Valentine’s Day, the page asked about fans’ choices for most romantic songs. A number of people named “Come Undone” as super-romantic and babymaking music, and I looked up the video on YouTube. I ended up watching and listening to it over and over again, hooked. That’s the song that really threw the switch and made me realise I was a real, active fan, not just disinterestedly indulging Eighties nostalgia. I consider Valentine’s Day my anniversary of becoming a Duranie.

During this early period, while watching their videos and listening to their songs, I found myself thinking, “Wow, the blonde dude [Simon] is really handsome!” This was pretty noteworthy for me because I’m almost never physically attracted to blondes. I’ve always been all about the dark hair and eyes, and consider blonde hair and blue eyes a rather boring, cliché look. A guy with those features has to be really, really special for me to pay attention to him.

On 23 March 2011, the band did a YouTube-broadcast concert for American Express, with truly bizarre video work by David Lynch. I was getting more and more into them, and starting to feel really self-conscious about it. That summer, I began writing the first draft of The Twelfth Time, and often listened to them as my writing soundtrack. All the while, I felt weird when I caught myself listening to them too much. I didn’t want to admit to myself I’d become a real fan and fallen in love with them so deeply, since I was afraid of being made fun of.

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Then I remembered, I’ve always cared less when people trash my belovèd Monkees and accuse them of being only for shallow, brainless teenyboppers with poor taste in music. I know the real story behind their origins and evolution, and love their music no matter what. Sometimes good bands get famous really quickly, and are heavily marketed to teenyboppers. As a result, they develop a stigma it can take decades to shake, and many people don’t take them seriously as real bands. Why was I being such a hypocrite about loving a band with a similar story?

I finally admitted to my head what my heart already knew, and no longer felt ashamed or self-conscious about how much of their music I was watching and listening to. Five years later, I’m not embarrassed to admit I sleep under a vintage framed poster of the band or to go out with a vintage button on one of my purse straps. My fave rave is Roger, though my giant stuffed frog is named Simon because I already named my stuffed tiger after my first Roger, the handsome Roger Harry Daltrey.

I’ve used lines from some of their lyrics as inspiration for chapter and part titles in my books, and narrative lines in general. Favourite songs include “The Seventh Stranger,” “Secret Oktober,” “Out of My Mind,” “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” and “To the Shore.” My favourite music video is the long version of “Wild Boys” (so deliciously macabre!)

And, of course, “Come Undone,” the song that made me come undone.