From the Vault...


Duran Duran
"Duran Duran"

© Capitol Records

Year of Release: 1981

track listing
  • Girls On Film
  • Planet Earth
  • Anyone Out There
  • Careless Memories
  • Is There Something I Should Know
  • Night Boat
  • Sound Of Thunder
  • Friends Of Mine
  • Tel Aviv

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    Duran Duran
    "Duran Duran"

    The 1980s... The sounds of the 80s dance pop... That unique 80s sound... One sound in particular for the 80s... Duran Duran.

    This week's choice is the debut of England's Duran Duran; their self-titled album. With two major hits, album, Girls on Film and Is There Something I Should Know, the rest of the album has the unique 80s/Duran sound, and anyone would have to ask themselves, if they really admit to enjoying this kind of music or not.

    For myself, let me say that back in the heyday of Duran Duran's popularity, I was not a true fan of this band. In fact, I was practically against this band. Sure, some of their songs are of good-if-not-better quality. But with all of the hoopla everyone made about this band, and that their style of music was different than others, it seemed to me that even though they made themselves a staple in rock music, I thought that there were many other bands (at the time, old and present), that were much better.

    Back then, a person I used to know put Duran Duran on the map as THE band that ruled the world, like The Beatles did back in the Sixties. My favorite band at the time was The Police. And as we battled ourselves over and over saying who was better, my final verdict, (and still is today), is The Police. As years went on in their later career, Duran Duran had put out some songs that really caught my attention; songs that caught my eye in a better sense for a band that made me cringe every time I heard the name Duran Duran, and hearing the sound of lead singer Simon LeBon's voice.

    It was their 1985 #1 James Bond theme, A View to a Kill that threw me for a loop. That song wasn't so bad. I would place that song as my favorite by Duran Duran. Their 1988 album, Big Thing, had a couple songs that weren't quite as bad as previous songs I had been screaming foul about. So now I was thinking: Well, maybe these guys aren't really THAT bad ?!?

    So therefore, let me swallow my pride, and let us look back at their 1981 debut. It starts out with Girls on Film. And even back then, this song is not as bad as some others I had heard. Girls is a good song, and if I were to make up my own greatest hits of Duran Duran (and they were would be a few), this song would be there somewhere. Back when it it received popular airplay, Is There Something I Should Know, is a song that was not (and still is, not) on my personal playlist. As Simon and the boys keep singing Please, please tell me now..., god, it just gets on my nerves!

    Throughout this album, the songs contained features great synthesizer work by keyboardist Nick Rhodes. I give this band credit for one thing: The keyboards made the sound of the Eighties what it was. And throughout Duran Duran's career, the synthesizers on most songs truly made their songs stand out. Tel Aviv is an instrumental that showcases Rhodes' work.

    But one thing that stood out for me, is that I never thought Simon LeBon's voice truly matched the quality of other rock singers. And there were times when I was listening to this album for this review, as I did back in the 80s, and I do now, cringe in some instances while listening to some of these songs. Where some songs start out quite enjoyable, but when the vocals kicked in, well, I'd start analyzing (and in most cases, cringing). In one song, Anyone Out There, the vocals were listenable, as compared to others like Friends of Mine. I enjoyed the instrumental Tel Aviv. Why? Because there were no vocals!

    I'm not arguing that Duran Duran is bad as a group. It's just that their vocals were the least in my list in what made Duran Duran's sound 'good'. In any case, there were some songs I could stomach, and the rest, well you know, my stomach (likewise my ears) could take so much... I'm sure that there are people who thought that Sting of The Police's voice may not be enjoyable as Simon LeBon's. And speaking of unique voices, Duran Duran was inspired by Roxy Music, who featured another vocalist by the name of Bryan Ferry. He too, had a unique voice. Sometimes it's the voice behind the music that makes a band great. Yes, all three of the bands mentioned here have one thing in common: Their lead vocalists are unique, likewise to the style of their music.

    I'll have to admit: Duran Duran were ahead of their time. They developed a sound that would pave the way for many other Duran Duran-sounding groups to come and go in the late Eighties and early Nineties. Groups like A Flock of Seagulls, Spandau Ballet, (hey, where are they now?) and others that I can't think of (or should I?) defined the dance pop sound of the Eighties.

    Duran Duran is one of those groups either you love them or hate them. And as much as I argue about certain groups having greatest hits complilations vs. getting all of their original album works, Duran Duran is a band that would be enjoyed more based on greatest hits packages. However, their 1981 debut Duran Duran has its moments. Of the nine songs, some have potential, as the rest starts to drift, depending on how you can tolerate the vocals and the unique sound Duran Duran has in this album.

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    Previous Review: #568
    The Time--Ice Cream Castle
    Next Review: #570
    Kiss--Love Gun