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

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“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.

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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.

Happy Duran Duran Appreciation Day! (My fandom story)

3

cropped-80s-albums-banner.jpg

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.

IMG_2331

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.

IMG_2371

 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.

IMG_0133

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.

How to create a knockout début album

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Copyright EMI; used solely to illustrate the subject in the context of an album review, and consistent with Fair Use Doctrine. I unfortunately only have the 1983 American repackaging of this LP (which doesn’t have the same cover art), and thus can’t take a picture of my own album to showcase the cover art.

Some of my readers might remember 10 August is Duran Duran Appreciation Day (a totally real holiday). This year, I decided to review the band’s incredible début album (which is now 35 years old) on Monday, and on the actual holiday, I’ll finally be sharing my story of how this proud classic rock and pop fan ended up becoming a Duranie at the age of 31. I can’t believe this year makes it five years I’ve been a fan already!

Released 15 June 1981, this eponymous début was initially only a success in the U.K. It was released in the U.S. with some modifications (“To the Shore” got the chop, and the Night Version of “Planet Earth” was used instead of the single version), but it wasn’t a success. Meanwhile, back in the U.K., the album reached #3, and spent 117 weeks in the Top 100.

Following the band’s U.S. success with their awesome sophomore album Rio, their début was released again in 1983, with the current single “Is There Something I Should Know?” substituted for “To the Shore.” This time, it reached #10, and stayed on the Billboard 200 for 87 weeks.

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Thanks to Spotify, I now have access to the deluxe 2010 reissue, with tons of awesome bonus tracks. I’ll always be a vinyl person, but I can’t complain about MP3 music when it’s free and it has so much extra content!

 Track listing, with stars by the bonus tracks:

“Girls on Film” (their Top 10 breakthrough in the U.K., and a #5)
“Planet Earth” (their début single, reaching #12)
“Anyone Out There” (kind of reminds me, thematically, of The Beatles’ “No Reply”)
“To the Shore” (such a gorgeous, underrated song!)
“Careless Memories” (their second U.K. single, released 20 April 1981, but a relative flop at #37)
“Night Boat” (a song I hated at first, since the video is really weird even by my standards)
“Sound of Thunder”
“Friends of Mine”
“Tel Aviv” (instrumental)
“Late Bar”* (the B-side of “Planet Earth”)
“Khanada”* (The B-side of “Careless Memories,” and the name of my current journal. It’s pronounced Ka-NAY-da, not like the name of the country.)
“Fame”* (originally done by David Bowie)
“Faster Than Light”* (the B-side of “Girls on Film”)
“Girls on Film” (Air Studio version)*
“Tel Aviv” (Air Studio version, with lyrics. It’s a completely different song from the instrumental, not just because this one has lyrics.)*
“Anyone Out There” (Manchester Square Demo version)*
“Planet Earth” (Manchester Square Demo version)*
“Friends of Mine” (Manchester Square Demo version)*
“Late Bar” (Manchester Square Demo version)*
“Night Boat” (BBC Radio 1 Peter Powell session)*
“Like an Angel” (BBC Radio 1 Peter Powell session)*
“Planet Earth” (Night Version)*
“Girls on Film” (extended Night Version)*
“Planet Earth” (Night Mix)*
“Girls on Film” (Night Mix)*

A Night Version is an extended dance remix, intended to be played in a nightclub. They’re basically longer versions of the songs with more instrumental breaks.

The album was recorded in December 1980. It was difficult to keep recording after getting the news of John Lennon’s murder, but they pressed on to complete the album.

It’s been said women tend to prefer Rio, while men tend to prefer the début album. Originally, I preferred the poppier Rio, but now I’ve switched and prefer the rockier sound of their début. I also like the darker tone to Simon’s voice on this album; as it was pointed out in a blog post on The Daily Duranie awhile ago, most of the rest of the band’s songs were written in a higher register than his natural key. Those songs are awesome and make his voice very recognisable, but I wish he would’ve stayed with this key for more songs.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to this album as a writing soundtrack! It’s just so atmospheric and insistent. It’s a 5-star album, no question.

RSW Ninth Update (Happy Duran Duran Appreciation Day!)

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Ready. Set. Write! is a summer-long initiative hosted by Alison MillerKaty UppermanElodie NowodazkijJaime Morrow, and Erin Funk. Each week, participants post brief updates under five headings.

  • How I did on last week’s goal(s)

Only 5,000 words this week, coupled with more writing out of order than I’d hoped for.

  • My goal(s) for this week

Write at least a few thousand words and complete a few chapters.

  • A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

Aleksey put down the letter. “This girl’s family is going to be expedited to St. Petersburg and staying here as our guests.  Everyone else in Hungary is also coming here.  These people are in a life or death situation, and there must be many children among them.  I don’t want to be remembered for anything else but saving as many people as possible from that madman.”

  • The biggest challenge I faced this week

Wanting so badly to start in on my fourth Russian historical instead of waiting three more months! I’m glad I didn’t immediately dive into it after finishing the 891K behemoth of the third volume in March, but the break from these characters has become immense. I even found a Theda Bara image to base Lyuba on for a potential cover.

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My mental image of Lyuba is of Theda Bara in her natural, non-Vampy state, and this is so how I imagine Lyuba looking in her late forties and early fifties (albeit with a slightly different hairstyle). It really helps that Theda was of Russian descent herself, even if some folks would insist Russian Jews are ethnically different.

  • Something I love about my WIP

It’s really fun to write short first-person interludes in the form of letters, particularly when you’re writing in the voice of royalty. This week, I got to write as Prince Harald of Denmark (the Dowager Empress’s nephew) and Queen Marie of Romania (Tsar Aleksandr II’s granddaughter). Marie is one of my favourite members of the extended Russian Imperial Family. She was just such an awesome queen, warm-hearted person of indomitable spirit, true patriot of her adopted homeland, and all-around fascinating. If Aleksey had lived and married Princess Ileana, Queen Marie would’ve been such a good mother-in-law to him.

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10 August is Duran Duran Appreciation Day, which is a real holiday. Given its origins, it’s not just a holiday about appreciating the band, but about appreciating life. This year makes it 30 years since the near-disaster which inspired the holiday. I know I’ve shared this video a number of times now, but it’s the only video I’ve been able to find of Simon discussing his near-death experience. For some reason, the first part of the video repeats, but then there’s new stuff afterwards.

Once you’ve looked Death in the face and won, you never take life for granted ever again. The Angel of Death passed us over for a reason, since it wasn’t our time yet. Not everyone is lucky enough to get that kind of miraculous second chance at life.

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For those who don’t know, this is my giant stuffed frog Simon. That teddybear tag fell off his eye awhile ago. Sometimes you just need a life-sized frog to cuddle.