From the Vault...


Duran Duran
"Big Thing"

© Capitol Records

Year of Release: 1988

track listing
  • Big Thing
  • I Don't Want Your Love
  • All She Wants Is
  • Too Late Marlene
  • Drug (It's Just A
    State Of Mind)
  • Do You Believe In Shame
  • Palomino
  • Interlude One
  • Land
  • Flute Interlude
  • The Edge Of America
  • Lake Shore Driving

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    Duran Duran
    "Big Thing"

    Back in the early 1980s when Duran Duran was in their prime, I was not a big fan of this group. (A few months ago when their 1981 debut album was chosen as the Album Pick of the Week, I gave it a fair-almost-bad review.) It was their 1985 #1 hit A View To A Kill and their 1988 release Big Thing that made me look at this band in a more positive light.

    Not caring for lead singer's Simon LeBon vocals, I would cringe every time I would hear songs from their earliest albums and their most popular hits. But as I listen to Big Thing, LeBon's vocals are just fine, and I believe that Big Thing is an album that is a high-rated album as compared to earlier releases. (Course, many die-hard Duran fans may disagree.) This album does have its great moments, yet it has weak points. But as a whole, I would place this album at the top somewhere of most "favorite" Duran Duran albums to listen to.

    The album's first six songs are truly great songs. The title track is a "smooth song along the sails." Two regular radio hits, I Don't Want Your Love and All She Wants Is are great songs, as they truly define the sound of what we now call Techno Pop. I Don't Want Your Love is an attention-grabber, and in All She Wants Is you can't help but sing along the title track's words, and the female chants are somewhat orgasmic, these two songs are the standouts, and most popular.

    Even on past releases by Duran Duran, I have always admired the keyboard works of Nick Rhodes. Too Late Marlene's opening keyboards is just simply beautiful. This soft ballad is another great tune, and (surprisingly) Simon LeBon's vocals doesn't make me cringe as other ballads or pop favorites.

    Drug (It's Just A State Of Mind) is another bouncing techno pop number, as this song returns the sound of Duran Duran of past releases. I was totally surprised by the next tune, a soft-bouncing ballad called Do You Believe In Shame?. I couldn't help but singing in my head the song Suzie-Q in a much slower fashion. I'm sure there are other songs similar to this one that Duran Duran has done in the past, but this song is very well-done; the music and vocals are finely tuned, and an easy song to slow down the pace as the other fast, techno pop driving songs.

    But it seems that the rest of the album seemed to have lost its identity, as compared to the first six songs. I'm not saying the remaining songs are bad, but there wasn't much excitement.

    Palomino starts out like Phil Collins' Another Day In Paradise, but the "low-keyed" vocals in the beginning just didn't do it for me, likewise the rest of the song. (But I can't say I cringed!)

    Two little "tidbit" songs (if you want to call them) I felt were a waste: Interlude One and Flute Interlude are just a little over 30 seconds in length. They didn't lead into the next available song, so why even have them?

    Land has nice harmony and background vocals, but like Palomino, there's no excitement, as it gets kind of boring. The Edge Of America is another ballad, it is a nice song to listen to, but again, there's no real big excitement.

    Which brings us to the last selection, Lake Shore Driving. It's an instrumental, it is a hard-driving song that gets down and dirty. Is it exciting? Well, kind of, but I wouldn't place this song at the top of the list called "The Best Top 10 Songs to Listen to by a Group Called Duran Duran." And the worst thing, it ends abruptly at the end of the song, where you would think it would fade out, or at least properly end on its own. Not a very nice feeling at the end of an album in this case, you would want to hear more.

    Big Thing has songs that really grab your attention, and towards the end of the album, the continuous ballads make you wish there was an upbeat tune in between. Maybe the arrangement of songs could of been arranged differently. (course we could fix that on our CD players to play songs in a different order, rather than the original tracklist.)

    But in the end, Big Thing by Duran Duran is an album that gets a good review. For the die-hard Duran Duran fan, they may (or may not) think that this album is highly rated as compared to their most successful early albums, like their debut, and/or their most popular album, Seven And The Ragged Tiger. (Now there's an album of songs that I did NOT like, despite everyone else loved them... Well, that's another review...)

    Where most music fans and critics simply loved this band, there are others who just didn't see what all the hoopla was about. Oh yeah, they were from England, credited to being the next Beatles. (Give it a rest; there will never be another Beatles, remember they used this same reference towards The Knack?)

    Like any musical talent, you either love them, hate them, or in-between. But putting my opinions concering Duran Duran aside, Big Thing is a fine album by a band not ranked highly in my personal list of favorite rock bands of all-time. I think Duran Duran became better with age. Where people say a band's earliest work was their finest (like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones), Duran Duran's Big Thing shines a bright light since their 1981 debut, being one of their best albums.

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    Previous Review: #593
    Jonathan Brandmeier--Almost Live
    Next Review: #595
    The Doors--L.A. Woman