Duran Duran (1981)
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Girls on Film A
These herky-jerky new wave boys give us a song to dance to! Not only is this a good song to dance to, but it has a very catchy melody, driving bass-line, and cool and smooth vocals. Basically, it's all the fringe benefits of this so-called new romantic music that was all the rage in the early '80s. And did anyone do it better than these guys? ...Well, probably, but Duran Duran were emerging on top.
Planet Earth A
Yes, another awesomely herky-jerky new romantic sort of song for all the teenagers to dance to. But I like it for reasons other than being a teenager. The melody couldn't possibly be more infectious. The chorus, the verses, the bass-line, those back-up vocals going “ba-ba-buh-ba-buh-ba-ba-buh-ba!” ... Basically everything they do here is CATCHY. And, also, I like the drum machine beat! Enjoy it while it lasts, because this sort of stuff would evolve into techno in less than a decade.
Anyone Out There A-
Still a good song, though not as hopelessly infectious as the previous two, and also not as intrinsically danceable. Though a song doesn't have to be danceable in order for me to like it. It's a very fun song with nice, poppy guitars, and more of those drum machines! (Should I be celebrating drum machines? I suppose not...) Simon Le Bon has a great voice for this stuff. Maybe even better than David Sylvan's voice. I'll try to remember to mull that one over when I go to sleep tonight... and then I'll never come up with a decision, because I'll quickly realize that no one cares. But I hope that everyone cares how freaking catchy these Duran Duran songs are. There aren't that many slick records like this out there.
Careless Memories B+
This is certainly one of the more intrinsically danceable songs of the album and probably one of the more well-renown ones. But for some reason I've always had a little trouble liking this one as much as everything else on this album. It's not as juicy! The melody is infectious, of course, like everything here, but not as infectious as the previous three. But I do at least continue to like those drum machines and Le Bon's smooth vocals... Yeah, I could be alone on that one, but that's a lot of the fun.
Is There Something I Should Know? B+
Hm... Some editions of this album have a song called “To the Shore” instead of this song. “To the Shore” is interesting if a bit boring... I'd definitely scout out copies of the album with this extremely pleasant mid-tempo pop song if I were you. The riff they come up with might not be especially original, but it's catchy enough that it'll probably run through my mind all day. The vocal melody is very good, although it's not the best melody of the album. ...But at least it's fun to listen to! Very fun!
Night Boat A
They start showing their artsy side pretty clearly with this song, although I don't see why some of the previous songs can't also be considered artsy. I mean, just because they're dance songs don't make them any less interesting on a qualitative level. But in this song, these artsy weirdos unleash their creativity with creepy synthesizers, a very brooding and an evolving rhythm that takes awhile to build up. And you know what? Despite all this crazy artsiness, they don't forget to also include a catchy melody. ...How can you not love these guys? Japan probably did this better, but Duran Duran proves to be quite worthy of them.
Sound of Thunder B
I like this song, but I listened to it a bunch of times just now trying to see if I would ever convince myself to move up from the “B” rating. Alas, I cannot! It has a catchy melody, of course, but it doesn't quite have the spark of these other songs. I give them kudos, though, for once again nailing that drugged up disco beat and the dark synthesizers keeping the atmosphere strange. I mean, listen to this song and tell me that it ain't from artsy weirdos. Heck, listen to those Star Wars laser sound effects all throughout that strange instrumental interlude. Very cool.
Friends of Mine A
This song contains one of my favorite disco bass-lines of this whole album... And you know, those disco bass-lines are pretty much my favorite thing about this album. Making it even better is the melody, which once again is one of those things that are prone to lingering around in my mind and I'm prone to like it there. Plus, there's more of those weird and atmospheric keyboard textures inserted throughout, which again hints at these guys' artsy inclinations. ...But of course, it all goes back to that disco bass!
Tel Aviv A+
Sheesh! This song sometimes evades mention in reviews, but it's the most eye-popping track of the lot. It proves once and for all that Duran Duran were really a bunch of art-school nerds from square one. It's unfortunate that they moved away from doing this sort of song to gain massive worldwide popularity later on, but let's enjoy this while it lasts! (If you haven't listened to this song, then off with ye!) It's a unique instrumental that combines their drugged-up disco atmospheres with Middle Eastern music, and it's very absorbing. They even don't forget to include a catchy melody, brought to us by a bending violin synthesizer. David Bowie and Brian Eno invented this sort of music, and this is really up there with what they were doing.
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Call me insane, but I think this song has got to be the product of genius. If not genius, then at least serious smartness. I mean, you can't have a song like this if there weren't extraordinarily smart guys working on it. Again, anyone who is reading this probably thinks I'm nuts, because this is a song you hear played in grocery stores, but I don't care. I've long been aware of the fact that I'm totally nuts, and I'm coming to terms with it! Anyway, I like pretty much everything about this song. That slightly disheveled fade-in at the beginning, the disciplined verses section with that herky jerky bass rhythm, and of course the chorus is so good that it's certainly among the most distinctive choruses of all pop-rock. Plus, the textures are very unique! All those little synthesizer touches they throw in the background shows that they wanted to create something a little bit better than a simple pop song. And, ya know, I think they did that.
My Own Way A
These slick '80s pop songs are all worth their weight in gold. It's very hard to follow up a song like “Rio,” but a song as mightily lovable and catchy as this is about as good as you possibly could have expected. They weren't trying to be artistic gurus or anything... Obviously, this was another attempt at trying to dominate the pop charts as much as they could. But they did it in the best way imaginable... Actually giving the people a song that's worth listening to. You can't beat these immaculate pop hooks with a stick.
Lonely in Your Nightmare B+
This is another excellent song, although not quite as infectious or as danceable as the previous two. Of course, not every song on the planet has to be danceable, but the infectious part is a bit of a problem considering that Duran Duran were only shooting for mega pop-star status. The melody is pretty well-written, though, and it's memorable enough that I can readily recall the chorus when I read the song title. It's just that as I'm listening to this, it doesn't seem to spontaneously catch fire.
Hungry Like the Wolf A
This was probably a big song for Duran Duran. I was only a fetus when this album was released, so I don't have much of an idea of what songs were famous. Other than “Rio,” of course, because it's still famous. But this seems like it was a huge hit considering this melody is so damn infectious. Once again, these guys could produce the world's classiest pop hooks, and of course their instrumentation was as slick as it possibly could be. The interlude is even weird, echoey and interesting.
Hold Back the Rain B
Is it possible that I have even grown softer toward Duran Duran than I used to be? Yeah... it seems I used to not like this song, but here I am liking it now! To be sure, it doesn't quite have the insane infectious quality of really any of the other songs, and the instrumentation standards don't impress me altogether. Those ultra-sweet, bubbly synthesizers playing a groove are sort of nice, but they're also terribly cheesy and they don't really have an excuse for that. The drumming patterns also get a little bit nuts around the end for no good reason other than I guess they were trying to spice up this song, which they probably knew wasn't quite as good as the others.
New Religion A-
This is a really cool one! Once again, this song's main attraction is this absolutely immaculate melody, which is completely dazzling from beginning to end. It doesn't have anything next to “Rio,” but this is another chorus that really sticks out at you, and the verses are pretty good, too. They do layer on just a little bit of creepy and wind-ridden atmospherics here and there, but of course that's just window dressing. We have a cool bass-line and a fun drum pattern to provide the body of the song. (Yeah... what would Duran Duran be without their bass?)
Last Chance on the Stairway B
Weaker this time, although I've actually been known to sing along with this when I let this album roll on my car stereo. (That's right... I actually listen to this album somewhat frequently in my car!) But I can't say this one has quite the sparkle that the others have. The melody is alright, but doesn't leap out at me so well. It's a lot of fun, though.
Save a Prayer A
The ultimate proof, I guess, that Duran Duran were still real artists in Rio even though they were going head-first into mega-pop-stardom status. I can see why some listeners wouldn't quite go so far as to call it that, but I'm really think they nailed the atmosphere on this one. The synthesizers create a very laid-back atmosphere, and there's even a slightly out-of-tune synthesizer toward the end, making it seem like it's going out-of-whack. That's a minor touch, I guess, but it's one that tends to stick in my mind. The melody, of course, is great here. Very sing-a-long-able.
The Chauffer B+
Aw, now, this is somewhat of a disappointment. I get the feeling that they were trying to veer a little farther away from the ultra-slick popsters shooting for nothing but endless radio hits for this one. This has a bit of a stranger atmosphere with all sorts of unusual drum machine patterns and a rather gloomy synth atmosphere. I can certainly appreciate this atmosphere, but it doesn't even come close to matching the absolute magic they achieved in their previous album with “Tel Aviv.” In fact, I'm a little bit bored with this song. The melody is pretty good, but not really up to their usual standard.
Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983)
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The Reflex B+
Right away, you can tell that this is going to be a much worse album than Rio! This is no replacement for that album's glorious title track! ...I mean, it's a nice song, and it has a good melody and well-done smooth '80s style vocals... But this doesn't even come close to being as hopelessly catchy and wonderful as “Rio.” Or “My Own Way” for that matter. The synth-riff they come up with isn't bad, but it isn't great, either. The chorus is pretty memorable, but the verses aren't. Yeah... Methinks Duran Duran were already off their peak.
New Moon on Monday A
Ah, but this is good! Very good! As far as Duran Duran's major radio hits from the '80s goes, this is one of my favorites. I used to like this slightly more than “Rio,” but thinking twice about it, I don't find this song's atmosphere quite as interesting or as immersing. But this vocal melody is pure awesome and shows Duran Duran at their absolute best! Unlike the previous song, the verses are just as memorable as its powerful and soaring chorus. Yes sir, I really like this song! (What are these lyrics about, anyway? Pagan fire dances?)
Cracks in the Pavement B-
Good, but where's the magic? This is just an ordinary '80s pop song without that all the sparkle that made all of Duran Duran's big hits such a fun experience. The melody is good, but it's very weaaaak and again the verses are nowhere near as memorable as that chorus, which isn't even such a great chorus. The instrumentation is OK, but it doesn't even sound as cool at atmospheric as they did all through Rio. There's some interesting things going on in the interlude, I guess, but it's pretty clear they were half-assing it.
I Take the Dice B+
Those ultra cute and bubbly synthesizers are sort of fun, but they are a little to syrupy for me. (I know... if it's too syrupy for me, then it's too syrupy for anyone.) They never got this dang cheesy in Rio, so this is more ultimate proof that this album ain't quite the bee's knees. The good news is that the melody basically rules. The verses are quite good, and the chorus is even better. That said, it's not as hopelessly memorable as they probably could have made it. But it's good. I especially like listening to Le Bon's playful vocals in that chorus...
Of Crime and Passion C+
Alright, this is realllllly getting sterile. They get some decent energy going, but this is the very first time in Duran Duran's discography where one of their songs isn't even vaguely memorable. Unfortunately, it won't be their last. (...It serrrrrriously won't be their last....... Yeah, that's right, I've heard them all! And I'm about to hear them all again!) This guitar- and synthesizer-led tune has a menacing groove, but they forgot to make the groove infectious. Boooo...
Union of the Snake A-
This was a minor hit for Duran Duran, but it didn't quite have the potent commercial power of their earlier hits like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The reason for that is, simply, this song is pretty lame compared to those! It's a good song, but where's the sparkle? AND WHERE IS THE ATMOPHERICS? Come on, there's no point in making an '80s pop album if you're going to crap out when it comes to smooth synthesizers and cool atmospheres... Ah well, this little melody is infectious as it gets, so there you go.
Shadows on Your Side B+
I sort of like that ultra-tight synth groove they come up with for this one. About half of this melody seems to recapture a vague hint of that Rio sparkle, but it still ain't the same. (Is it unfair of me to continuously compare this album to Rio? You're probably growing tired of it... but, look, I'm doing what every teenager was doing in 1983, so cut me some slack!) It's a fun song, certainly, and more interesting than most things pop bands were coming out with in 1983, but not by a whole lot.
Tiger Tiger B
Here is a little instrumental with a bit of an Asian vibe to it. They wrote a song earlier with an Asian vibe and so I guess they were serious about that! (Plus, these guys were huge Japan fans! Japan wrote music like this!) This is a pretty nice instrumental altogether, but it doesn't come close to matching “Tel Aviv” from their debut. The atmosphere they create is OK, but not nearly as creative or as immersing as the previous song. In fact, I even have a hard time distinguishing a main melody in this thing. It seems like it's mostly just a bunch of instrumentals layered on top of each other! ...This is pretty good, though. I think it goes to show well enough these guys still had a creative spark. Not a very prominent one.
The Seventh Stranger B
I like those Japanese sticks at the beginning of this! (I have no freaking idea what they're called... I just remember seeing in a movie once that a bunch of Japanese guys were clicking sticks together. Some traditional thing I don't care about. ...Well, I like it!) After that, a more typical Duran Duran ballad comes up. Unfortunately, it wallows quite a lot before it finally starts to pick up steam for a more memorable chorus. This is nothing like the average songs from Rio, which was more or less memorable and awesome from beginning to end. As a whole, this thing is pretty sluggish and slow moving. (I don't know why, but whenever this song starts to play, it sounds an awful lot like Pink Floyd's 1987 song “Flying.”)
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Is There Something I Should Know A-
I'm surprised that they would open this album with a song from their awesome debut album! Granted, it wasn't one of my favorite songs there, but that album was so freakishly catchy that I would gladly hear anything from that album! They give it quite a solid rendition there with good, polished instrumentation standards, the poppy guitars sound good, and Simon Le Bon's lead vocals sound fantastic and spirited. The audience noises have been whited out for whatever reason, but you can occasionally hear hints of them. (I'm not too sure what the point of eliminating audience noise from a live album is... I thought the whole point of live albums was to give us a chance to close our eyes and pretend we're among the bunch!)
Hungry Like the Wolf B+
Ah yes, the members of the audience that we cannot hear must've been going CRAZY hearing this one. There was underwear shedding galore, for sure! Although I'm a bit disappointed with this... The instrumentation sounds a bit too bare and clunky... Especially with the audience noise whited out, there's really no reason to listen to this version instead of the original At least it would spare you from having to listen to Simon Le Bon ask the audience “Are you hungry?” at the beginning.
New Religion B+
Never my favorite Duran Duran song, and it still isn't. Although I hope that I have impressed upon you by now that these guys had such MONSTER hooks that it's impossible to not find pretty much all their songs catchy. They improved this song a little bit by speeding up the pace, which undoubtedly helped the kids in the audience do some cool '80s dances with it! But I'd still prefer the original version which had much more finely developed atmospheres. (Sorry... I'm criticizing these live songs for the obvious things!)
Save a Prayer A-
Sort of a weird song for them to perform live since it was mostly atmosphere based in the original form. (I mean, why do a song like this when they could have just done another dance song for the kiddies?) But anyway, this song has a really nice melody, so I still like hearing it! Plus, Le Bon's vocal performance is great throughout it. He sounds like he's enjoying his superstar status, which is nice for him ...But again, without the audience noise, there's just no point in listening to a weaker version of a great song from Rio!
The Wild Boys C+
I'm such an album-based music listener that I wasn't even aware this albumless single even existed until now! Well... I can't say that I've been missing out on a whole lot missing that one. That song is alight, but that's the moment in Duran Duran's career when they started to get way too obnoxious in a bad '80s way for their own good. The drums are just loud to be loud, and this song seems mostly based on the use of dumb '80s vocal effects instead of a real melody. Even worse, this song doesn't have that free-flowing tastier-than-ice-cream quality about it that I like.
The Seventh Stranger B-
What's with this song selection? What gave them the idea to put a live version of this boring song from Seven and the Ragged Tiger and not put “New Moon On Monday” anywhere on it? Granted, this song has a terribly hooky chorus, but it's nothing like “New Moon on Monday.” ... It's at moments like these I seriously begin to question Duran Duran's judgment!
The Chauffeur B
Again, this is a fairly questionable song to include from Rio. (This live album wouldn't even have a version of “Rio” on it if it wasn't for the 2004 remastered edition that I'm reviewing right now.) But I still like listening to this good song from Rio, because Duran Duran came up with the world's coolest hooks. The atmospherics were certainly more developed in its original incarnation—this rendition sounds awfully clunky—so again there's no real point in listening to this. But seriously, they could have made this live album a billion times better by choosing different songs. I mean, that's obvious. Isn't it?
Union of the Snake B+
This was definitely one of the better songs from Seven and the Ragged Tiger, but it's no “New Moon on Monday!” If I was a member of this ghost-audience, I would have floated up on the stage and screamed at these guys for neglecting to perform that great song. But since we're stuck with “Union of the Snake,” I guess we'd might as well enjoy it while we can! Watch me as I do my finest '80s dance!! (OK, I'm not really dancing...)
Planet Earth B+
Oooo...... I don't know what it is about this song, but it just doesn't have chemistry. It's an excellent song that I love from Duran Duran, but it doesn't click this time. The sound quality doesn't seem to be as crisp and clear as it should have been, and I don't quite get those infectious herky-jerky feelings. The melody was pretty catchy to begin with, and that still rubs off here, but ... hm ... Maybe it's not *actually* as catchy as I originally thought it was? Good song, though.
Careless Memories B
This was a good song from Duran Duran, but definitely not one of my favorites. At the same time, I actually can understand why this song would be on here seeing that it's one of Duran Duran's more prominent DANCE numbers! Simon Le Bon sounds awfully hoarse singing this, though, and I can't be sure if he's doing that on purpose or he just had a sore throat or something. Anyway, he sounds really awful here.
Girls on Film B+
This wasn't originally included on the album, but it should have been. I mean, “Girls on Film” is one of Duran Duran's great songs, so how dare they not include this? I wish the bass was mixed about three times as loudly as it is here, but the guitars sound great, and Le Bon's playful vocals are pretty cool. (He gets a little bit of audience participation going... which is weird, because you can barely even hear them. It's like he's doing that in his living room or something.)
I can't believe they didn't even include this song in the original album. I mean, “Rio” was their biggest song by far. I don't understand it. But they corrected it here, so now the unbalance in the universe has been corrected. Although I suppose this rendition isn't as great as it could have been. Le Bon does a few weird little yells and hiccups in his vocal performance, which doesn't suit it that well. ...Yeah, this has nothing on the pristine original version!
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This is the song that goes “Nuh-Nuh-Notorious! Notorious!” ... What? You don't recognize that song? That's because it wasn't a hit! Unfortunately, nothing on this album is anywhere near as memorable or as creative as their peak era material. Stylistically, this is indistinguishable than the sort of boring, over-processed music that Madonna or the SAW team were producing at the time. You already know what the drums sound like. The bass guitar is very strong in the mix, which I like, but it's just an ordinary supporting instrument now instead of bringing us catchy disco grooves like it used to. The one thing that makes this song more or less worth listening to is the melody, which is fairly good. It has nothing on the average song on Rio, though.
American Science B+
They might not have their sparkle anymore, but they could still come out with a few good hooks. And this song is dang hooky. The groove is very over-processed and squeaky clean... I have no doubt that they would have added more to it if they did it in the Rio era. Those horn synths seem very plain and boring... they certainly could have done more with it. But it's still mostly fun to listen to for the most part. The instrumental interlude is really lame.
Skin Trade C
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... This is a good example of how bland Duran Duran had been getting. Their songs used to be lively and fun, so what is with this six-minute snooze fest? The melody isn't interesting at all, and the groove is an over-slicked piece of nothing. Sorry, guys, but ya gotta try harder than this...
A Matter of Feeling C
You know, I'm probably being a little harsh on them. They could write more interesting melodies than Madonna could at the time, and I am extremely grateful that the instrumentation of this ballad isn't quite as vomitous as Spandau Ballet's “Blue.” But, geez, this is booooooooooooring. It's very slowly paced and the melody isn't strong enough to ever threaten to become catchy. The instrumentation is fairly classy for the mid-'80s, but that hardly saves it.
Hold Me D+
Yikes, Duran Duran managed to pull off a melody and groove that's even blander than the previous two songs. Geez, do you remember when Duran Duran's choruses used to POP out of the speakers? I don't even know where the chorus is in this song. It's all a toneless blur to me. The drums are slick and loud. The bass guitar doesn't really do anything but plop around. STOP PLOPPING AND START ROCKING!
Vertigo (Do the Demolition) B
I halfway suspect the reason I'm giving this a high-ish score is because it sounds utterly splendid compared to the previous track! The groove is a little more interesting, and it has a distinct chorus. This would have made a pretty great Madonna song, I think, and it makes a good Duran Duran song. Still, this is missing any real personality. Man! Duran Duran used to have personality up to their ears!
So Mislead D+
I consider myself a big pop music fan, and '80s pop music has given me some great moments. But listening to a pure pop song as mind-numbingly boring as this is like someone coming along and laying a turd in my ear canal. I mean, at least someone pooping in my ear would have given something to remember, as traumatic as it might be, which is more than I can say than listening to this... over-slicked piece of nothing. Read my review for “Hold Me,” because they are essentially the same song.
Meet El Presidente C-
Duran Duran had released this as a single, and it totally flopped. There's a good reason for that: IT'S BORING! In Spanish, it would be EL BORINGO! This doesn't even have one of the album's more notable melodies... It's only slightly better than the one from “So Mislead.” The groove is uninteresting, and the chorus is nothing. COME ON, GUYS!!!!
Winter Marches On D+
The boredom marches on, more like. At least the previous boring songs had the decency to have an over-processed '80s drum rhythm. This is a dreary ballad with no groove at all. All we're left with is uninteresting synthesizers, and a completely bland melody. I do appreciate that they were trying for something completely different here. I see this as a spiritual descendant of “Save a Prayer.” But this doesn't even come close to recapturing the magic. Not even close to recapturing the magic I would expect of a Duran Duran rip-off band!
More lively and enjoyable than the previous song, which is a perk, but this is continues to be a strictly bland an uninteresting pop song. It's really frustrating reviewing this album, since I really WANT to say nice things about it, but the music hasn't been giving me much of an excuse to do it. GIVE ME SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS WORSE THAN JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP!!!!!!!!!!!!
Big Thing (1988)
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Big Thing D+
This is crap, but at least it's not as bad as the Tommy Shaw solo albums released that year. Hey, you've got to look on the bright sides, right? ...This is a big, slow-moving arena-rocker sort of like Queen's “We Will Rock You,” except the melody isn't nearly as catchy. It is completely idiotic, though, so I guess that means they quasi-succeeded in their Queen-like goals! ...I'm more disappointed that Duran Duran has even moved further from their classy, sparkly sound. This is no fun whatsoever.
I Don't Want Your Love B-
...I don't want this song! Do you know what it reminds me of? Madonna. I have made it no secret that I consider most of Madonna's career to be nothing but a hunk of over-glossed boringness, and the last thing I wanted in the world was for Duran Duran to writes songs like she does. Blah!!! But I can be a man enough to admit that Madonna had a good song with “Papa Don't Preach,” and “I Don't Want Your Love” is only slightly less infectious than that one. As you can probably expect, this song is filled with a bunch of electro-crap. CRAPPPPPPP. I give it a B.
All She Wants Is B
The good news is that this song is compelling enough for it to stay pretty comfortably away from the C-range. We'll see how long that lasts! The melody is pretty catchy, although nowhere near the level of Rio. I also generally like that ultra-dark atmosphere amidst some of those drum machine rhythms. It's almost creative! What ruins it, however, are those samples. We are “treated” to some guy guy repeating “uh!” all the time, and a female making gasping noises. Annoying! I don't know why the late '80s thought that sort of thing was cool.
Too Late Marlene B+
Not bad! This is a little more like the Duran Duran that I want to remember! The melody surely could have used an added does of infectiousness, but at least it's sweet and likable. The chorus is nice, and the overall feeling of the song seems to make the best use of Le Bon's ultra-cool vocal style. (OK, let's address the Kenny-G saxophone solo in the final third... ugh... Why not do a twisted keyboard solo instead, like the old days?) It's very plain and vanilla-flavored, but it goes down easily.
Drug (It's Just a State of Mind) D+
...OK, I don't think Madonna even got this bad. This is electro-garbage of the worst kind. It's nothing but a bunch of aimless, quickly-paced synthesizers that do absolutely nothing except acting as pure clutter. The worst thing about it is the melody, which is so BLAND that it only goes to completely ruin the good reputation of Duran Duran. I'm sorry, guys, but this song makes me want to disown you as one of my favorite '80s bands.
Do You Believe in Shame? C-
Yes, I do, but I don't think this band does. If I wrote something like the previous track, I would have hung myself before going onto writing another song! ...The good news is that “Do You Believe in Shame?” is greatly improved over the previous track, but the bad news is that almost anything would have been. This song starts out pretty nicely with a mid-tempo pace and a decently hooky melody......... but after repeating that hook about eight billion times, it starts to get a little old. And the chorus is completely worthless. What happened to this band? Their choruses used to rule!! On the plus side, that sitar sound in the background is pretty cool!
This sounds right out of a David Sylvian solo album! (Of course, David Sylvian invented Simon Le Bon, so it's no surprise that he was listening to his solo albums!) Unfortunately, Sylvian's solo albums can be dreadfully boring, and this knock-off has the similar effect. It starts out extremely dully as Le Bon sings in his cool voice amidst a slick synthscape. Pretty soon, the drums pop up, which helps matters, but the melody never gets that interesting. There's a very awkwardly placed psychedelic bit in the middle featuring a bunch of whooshing noises and someone playing random notes on the keyboard... Man... these guys really needed to work on developing the flow of their songs!
Um. I think having a thirty-second track randomly placed in their album called “Interlude One” when there is no “Interlude Two” is the ultimate proof that Duran Duran were terribly confused at the time. ...This track sounds like some sort of sped up tape or something. ...Sheesh.
This is a lot like “Palomino” except it's even less interesting. It seems to threaten like it's going to erupt into an enormous chorus just like the old days, but it's nothing but a big tease. Le Bon gives a flashy vocal performance, at least, which I suppose is nice to listen to if you're an American Idol sort of music listener. The instrumentation is terribly plain. Boring, base-level synthesizers provide the backing instrumentation, and the bass guitar is ploppier than poop.
OK, there might have been no “Interlude Two,” but there was the “Flute interlude!” Maybe “Interlude One” should have been retitled the “Crappy Sped Up Tapes Interlude.” ...Anyway, this is just a thirty-second thing with boring synthesized flute noises. Sounds like some stupid synthscape they abandoned or something. I really don't know what the hell the point of including this was. But to it's credit, it's about as interesting as “Land” and takes much less time in achieving that.
The Edge of America D+
There is nothing beyond the edge of America! (I'm pretty sure that England is located somewhere in Maine.) ...Man, I really don't see how this is different than “Land.” It's very slow moving, very echoey, and it constantly teases me that it'll eventually erupt into some sort of huge chorus except it never does! ...What a freaking waste, man.
Lake Shore Driving C
Wow, those are pretty gruff guitars and loud stadium drums for “Lake Shore Driving!” Despite the best intentions from the gruff guitars, this is a fairly bland late '80s instrumental. Just too generic, and there's nothing about it that's hooky or melodic whatsoever. Blah.
Drug (It's Just a State of Mind) (Daniel Abraham Mix)
Isn't it just like Murphy's Law to include a remixed version of the worst song of the album? I shall dislike this song no matter how many times it's remixed!
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Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over) A-
How can a one-star-scoring album on the All Music Guide have such a fun and catchy pop song like this on it? Geez, you'd think Duran Duran would at least get some recognition for making this more upbeat and snappy than the song that opened their previous album! ...It's not such an amazing song, or anything. It's mostly a club-dance ditty where a single hook that gets repeated over and over again, but it's such an excellent hook that I love listening to it for its freaking entirety. (I should mention that there is also middle-eight section, of sorts, but it's not nearly as interesting as the main groove.) The instrumentation is bright and sparkly enough that I'm finally beginning to notice that old Duran Duran spirit in this, an entity that was completely absent in their previous two studio albums. If nothing else, listen to that quirky keyboard solo! Also, listen closely to hear all those subtle sounds they occasionally flash around in the background! There's a funny, dreary synthesizer passage at the end of the song! ...Why, there's actual creativity in this!
FOR CRAP'S SAKE, THIS SONG HAS AN INTERESTING CHORUS! DON'T YOU THINK THAT SONGS WITH INTERESTING CHORUSES DESERVE MORE THAN ONE STAR??? (Stephen Thomas Erlewine really gets me riled up sometimes!) Not only is the chorus interesting and soaring, but the verses section has a cool rhythm to it. Simon Le Bon's vocals are youthful and spirited, as they're supposed to sound, and I like that muted piano that grooves around. The bubbly back-up singers are really weird and really cool. Heck, this has even got an interesting electric guitar solo.
Wow... this is political. And it's a quasi-rap song. Very early '90s-ish. But what the heck? The lyrics aren't that bad. (They rhyme!) The soundbytes of President George Bush and other prominent news makers of 1990 are sort of cool... although it's little more than a gimmick that gets a little tiring after the first 30 seconds. I like that eerie backing synthesizer that pops up occasionally... It's not around nearly enough. Most importantly, this hook is interesting enough to keep the overall experience punchy and enjoyable. So, chalk this up as another good song on this one-scoring album!
Slick, hooky, and likable. The more I listen to this, the more it seems to grow on me. That soft-pop riff they come up with is immediately ear-catching to me. I suppose you could call it a little bit elevator-music-ish, but this somehow seems to rise just a little bit above the norm in this genre. For one, the overall melody is excellent, and Le Bon's vocals soar most alluringly throughout it. Not a whole lot of creativity in the instrumentation this time; I guess they were intending it to be a sort of “hit single.” Although that weird, echoey synthesizer passage is certainly a step in the right direction. (The ultimate proof that these guys were starting to care about their music again.)
All Along the Water B-
OK, I'll concede that this song is a little bit lame. It's a very flashy song with a very busy electronic beat, and the melody ain't hooky enough to make it worth its weight in gold. On the other hand, I don't get the feeling that it's trying to suck out my soul, unlike most of the songs from Big Thing, and it's a decent enough of a thing to tap your foot to.
My Antarctica A-
Ahhh! Isn't it nice when a great pop band like Duran Duran just decide to sit back and let their melodies flow? There's absolutely nothing stifled about this one; this is the sort of song that you can sit back in your easy chair to soak up. The overall groove is a little bit plasticy, but that hardly matters since we expect that. Perhaps the hooks could have been stronger, but it's still very nice to hear Le Bon sing so freely to this. Also, I like those echoey synthesizers they bring up in the background. Gives it a little bit of extra depth!
First Impression B-
Slightly weakish this time, but I continue to believe that even this is far better than any one-scoring album deserves! What I like about it is that it's upbeat and alert... It has some of that old-time Duran Duran sparkle that had been lost over the course of the two previous albums. What I don't like about it is that the melody is awfully bland. Hm. But at least it has a marginally interesting instrumental interlude with fading keyboards, and there's an alright electric guitar solo in its final third.
Read My Lips C-
This isn't about George Bush, as far as I can tell. (I immediately looked up the lyrics and tried to find any parallels, but ... Nope. ...On the other hand, I have no real idea what this song is about! ... Ah, I had no idea what “Rio” was about, either. I think this explains why nobody listens to this band for the lyrics!) Anyway, I'm beginning to see what Stephen Thomas Swineflu had against this album. He probably only listened to this song. This is loud, annoying, and filled to the brim with a bunch of ugly, aimless electric guitars. The melody isn't interesting to me whatsoever. This is just a big bore, really. BRING BACK THE SPARKLE!
Can You Deal With It B-
Not bad, but not great either. Again, I think the only reason I'm enjoying this right now is because it's upbeat. Although it ain't particularly sparkly or happy, which is a problem. (I mean it wouldn't be a problem if Duran Duran were somehow able to get moody or gritty, but I'm not nuts enough to believe that they were capable of that.) This melody surely could have been more interesting.
Venice Drowning C
OK, I'll completely fess up that Liberty gets very weak and lazy by the end. But what can I say? This is a transitional album!! I suppose you could say that they were shooting for some sort of gritty, moody thing here, but it's way too weak for it to ever get to that point. What it all comes down to for Duran Duran is their melodies, and this one just ain't cutting it. It's big, bloated, and vastly uninteresting. (At least it isn't annoying, and I can still sit through it without feeling terrible about it, or anything.)
Hm. This is a weak ending, for sure. Once again, I think Duran Duran are trying too hard to be gritty when it doesn't suit them at all. Those huge synthesizer chords are pretty neat coupled with those rough guitar licks, but Duran Duran forgot to include the one thing that had always set them apart from the pack: MELODY!!!!!!! What's a Duran Duran song without a catchy melody that you can mouth along with? ...We don't want to hear them trying to be seedy! ... I think the simple fact that this is a two-chord song should have been an easy indication that they were barking up the wrong tree with this one.
Duran Duran (1993)
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Too Much Information A- Wow! What an excellent opening track! It's even better than the song that opened their previous album, which impressed me greatly for an '80s band trying to make in in the '90s. But this song continues Duran Duran's quest to be culturally relevant in the '90s, and it happens to completely rule. Why? Because Simon Le Bon & co. have successfully recovered their old knack for hooky songwriting. This melody is so good that it gets caught in my head, and I want it to remain there as long as possible. The instrumentation is quite a thing. It manages to be very polished and atmospheric, but not to the point where it starts to sound like plastic, which is a trap that the vast majority adult contemporary bands fall into. The drums have quite a bit of crunch to them, and those acoustic guitars lend the experience a sweet texture. The electric guitar is thrust deep into the background, and it flails around back there well. What's more, Le Bon's vocal performance is
clean and exciting. ...Very, very good pop music! I don't normally go for '90s pop music, but this juuuuust right.
Ordinary World A+
Yeesh, nobody in the world expected Duran Duran at this point of their career to write such a fantastic song for a '90s audience, much less did they expect it to actually become a hit. But here it is. Duran Duran has become a '90s adult contemporary band and, for my money, one of the best of them. This song has such a strong and soaring melody and it's instrumented so well that it immediately captures my senses and takes me up into the clouds. Really... This is the sort of song that takes my mind up into the atmosphere! That's sort of the same thing I get from listening to ABBA's “Eagle.” The instrumentation again sounds ultra-smooth and polished, but it flows beautifully. Just like they're best '80s material, you could accuse it of being dated, but why would you want to? Le Bon's vocal performance is extremely powerful with this one, as he's singing to the sky so everyone in the world can hear his echoes. ...What a song!!!!!!
Love Voodoo A-
Weaker, surely, but it's still a good song. Listening to this, I get the comforting feeling that Duran Duran's hook-writing had come very naturally to them, which is a feeling that I haven't gotten so strongly since Rio. Again, they really do a nice job with the instrumentation. Of course, they're catering to the mass populace, but they're sure to include a pounding bass-line, some calculator synthesizers, and an ultra-smooth atmosphere. The production in this whole album is nearly perfect! My only minor beef with this song is that it seems to go on for a bit too long... The hook, while excellent, loses its power by the end. ...Oh, if only Madonna albums sounded this good!
Drowning Man B+
OK. I'm pretty sure that this is techno. Obviously designed for the kids who go to clubs and dance with all those flashy lights. I've never been one of these sorts of people, because I like to sit at home in my room listening to songs like “Ordinary World” and pretend I'm floating around in the blue sky. ...But I'll tell you what, as someone who doesn't like '90s dance songs at all, I have to say that this one's pretty cool. The rhythm is wonderful, for a start. It's very busy and sort of cliché for the genre, but its tone appeals to my ears in a way. (Again, just another testament to how freaking well this album is produced.) But the overall background instrumentation is very interesting to me. From that bendy, out-of-key synthesizer that flails around in rhythm to all those subtle sound effects that keep on coming in and out... Yup, you can count this one as yet another well-done song on this album. ...Of course, it's not gettin' an A, because techno songs never have interesting melodies. Except that one Madonna song. Except that song wasn't even remotely this well instrumented!
A weird song, to be sure. I think someone wondered why the 'gunshot' instrument setting on their keyboard never got put to use, so they based a whole song on it. Interestingly, it keeps a pretty good rhythm! ... I've also got to compliment Duran Duran some more. This song isn't even a minute long and yet it has an interesting melody. Alright, it's official; these guys' songwriting prowess was officially BACK. I'm soooooo excited!! (Really!)
Come Undone B+
Man, this album is so much like a '90s Rio that this song is a little like “My Religion.” It's hardly one of the album's main highlights, but it's so dang hooky and likable that you can't help but loving the crap out of it anyway. This song is more of a laid-back song with a busy, shuffly drum beat. The production isn't too intricate this time, but it's still pretty well done. The female back-up singer sounds verrrry cliched for the '90s, but this is such an enjoyable song that I actually like hearing that cliché. Imagine that!
Breath After Breath A
Huh... The verses section reminds me more of a Police song. The rhythm section has a tropical vibe to it, and the quasi-disconnected vocal melody in a different language is very Sting-ish. But that chorus section that comes out of nowhere is very Duran Duran. Normally, I think, I tend to reject songs that have chorus sections that seem to just materialize without there being much build-up, but I don't care in this case. The melodies are so breezy and likable, that I'm absolutely delighted with this whole thing. The ending is particularly wonderful as we get to hear Le Bon sing over those back-up singers in a different language. This song is a real peach!!!!
Wow, I really hated this song when I reviewed this five years ago. I don't know if my standards have lowered or what, but I actually kinda like this now. I accused it of being banal, and I hated the sound of that drum machine. ...But here I am five years later, thinking that whooshing drum machine sound is pretty cool! I will agree with the five-year-younger version of myself when I said that the melody isn't that interesting this time. It's still smooth and likable and continues to show Duran Duran at a new peak, but it doesn't sound nearly as fresh as any of the previous songs. They give us some nice things in the instrumentation here and there, particularly at the end when the drum sound gets crunchier and there are some nice synth-strings looping around!
Femme Fatale B
Oh, I always thought that The Velvet Underground wrote this song! But now I know that they were actually covering Duran Duran!! (OK, that was lame. But that's why you read these track reviews, right? ......In my dreams.) ...Anyway, Duran Duran do quite a nice job with this cover. The instrumentation is very atmospheric and sensitive. Le Bon gives a nice vocal performance although he does get a bit carried away by the end. ....Er.... I don't know what it is, but somehow this song doesn't quite connect with me like the other songs. Maybe the instrumentation is just too plain this time. Yeah, this song works best if the instrumentation is hypnotic, which this isn't really. Or maybe I'm just way too familiar with the more inspired cover to really give it a fair assessment. Ah, but you're familiar with the original too, right?
None of the Above B
Man... these nice melodies just keep coming and coming... It's important that I say that as a prelude to a 'B.' I have a feeling that if this appeared on any other album that I'd give it a B+ or maybe even an A-. Just that for this album, this is the slightest of disappointments. While the melody is good and memorable, it's not quite as breezy as I like them. The rhythm section is cliché here, but somehow it's missing its added sparkle that a song like “Drowning Man” had. ...Perhaps worst of all, I get the feeling that any old ordinary singer could have done this. It seems a bit too plain. I want songs that sound like only Duran Duran could have done them!
Wow... My enthusiasm for this album really runs out by the end. Not that I'm noticing this for the first time. I get this when I listen to this album freely in my spare time, and I also got that when I first reviewed this album. This remains a fitfully enjoyable song with a strong enough melody to keep it fun. The instrumentation and production continue to be masterfully done. The big orchestral hits they use of course are very dated to the early '90s, but Duran Duran manage to incorporate it into their groove so well that it doesn't stand out like a sore thumb. ...But when I listen to this song, I don't really get the urge to listen to it again. That's the exact opposite feeling I got from “Ordinary World.”
To Whom it May Concern B-
Hmmm... Still a good song, but it's starting to get a little bit forced now. That loud drum beat is quite stiff and quite good, sounding exactly like David Bowie's “Let's Dance.” The melody is nice enough for me to enjoy the overall experience, but it seems pretty weak to me this go around. The chorus starts out sounding interesting, but that feeling only lasts a few seconds. So... Hm.
Sin of the City A-
This starts out with some “city” sound effects. Quasi-pointless, but whatever. It does no harm. After that, they bring us another one of their cool '90s songs! This melody soars and is likable, which proves to me that the previous few tracks had substandard melodies. The production is neat and atmospheric, the drums again give us a nice sound, and it's all textured up very nicely with some upbeat strumming guitars. ...My potential problem with it is that Duran Duran occasionally raps with this, and I'm pretty notorious for avoiding rap music like the plague. But they do a nice job. I can't say the rapping sections add a whole lot to the experience, but at least it isn't obnoxious!
Thank You (1995)
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White Lines A-
They first pay their respects to an “influence” to someone who actually started after they did! I mean, this song was released in 1983 after Duran Duran had already peaked. ...Alright, I guess that Grandmaster Flash might have inspired an album like Liberty, but that was long after these guys hit their peak, so who really cares? OK, as a song this is actually pretty good. I took a listen to the original, and enjoyed it a lot. Duran Duran's version is of course much lusher and electric-guitar heavy, and I think that suits it well. It's quite a hooky song, and it's fairly exciting to listen to. (...I panned this song in my original review. Obviously, my sentiments toward rap music has improved somewhat slightly.)
Take Me Higher and Higher B
Sly and the Family Stone? ....... Alright I believed Grandmaster Flash because of Liberty, but there's nothing about Duran Duran that ever rings *Sly and the Family Stone* to me. Of course that was a great band, and anybody who likes rock music likes Sly and the Family Stone. But come on! Do a Kraftwerk cover for pete's sake! If it wasn't for Kraftwerk you might never have had that precious drum machine of yours!! ...... But this song also sounds pretty good. I've got to be fair about this. They do get a little too carried away using that murky guitar. I get that it was the grunge era, but funk music still works best with clean guitar........ and these guys just weren't talented enough to pull off grunge-funk, if there was even such a thing.
Perfect Day B+
This is a formidable cover of a great song, but again, I don't actually believe that Duran Duran were influenced by Lou Reed. ...Anyway, they were clearly influenced by David Bowie and Brian Eno's Berlin Trilogy, and Bowie produced the Reed album that this song appears on. So, I guess that's a legitimate connection! .... While I generally like listening to this song for its impeccable melody, I don't think Duran Duran did it any favors by over-producing the crap out of it. That ridiculously echoey piano that opens it was a mistake, and all those cheesy '90s synthesizers and elevator-music guitars weren't a good idea either. ...Again, this is such a good song that it's almost impossible to screw it up, and these guys don't.
Watching the Detectives B
Elvis Costello??? I don't see this connection at all. Costello wasn't even around when Duran Duran were kids and Duran Duran's sound obviously didn't come out of Costello, so this is a pretty dang left-field choice if you ask me. This is a good song, though, and not a bad version of it. They did a nice job upping the reggae component of it, which I admit I didn't notice until now. The synthesizers in the background providing that echo effect during the chorus was a pretty neat idea! My main complaint about this is its lack of overall spark. It doesn't really seem like their heart was in this. Le Bon's vocal spirit has seen much better days, and the band sounds almost on sleepwalk mode.
Lay Lady Lay A-
Bob Dylan? I suppose everybody in rock music has been influenced by Bob Dylan in one way or another, but this constitutes yet another slightly strange choice for them. I really don't understand these “influences.” I'm still waiting for the Japan cover! Anyway, this is surely one of the better songs on here, and “Lay Lady Lay” given the Duran Duran treatment makes quite a nice listen! I like that synthesizer they use to provide a neat, echoey background texture, and Le Bon's vocals sooooooooooooar over it nicely.
911 is a Joke B+
Public Enemy??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!! I guess it's not any stranger than Grandmaster Flash, but still!!!! ....OK, I've officially given up believing that Duran Duran wanted to say 'thanks' to anyone who actually influenced their signature sound. Maybe I was completely nuts in assuming that's what this album was supposed to do in the first place. What the hell do I know? Maybe they just wanted to cover some of their favorite songs. .....This is a pretty good cover and they do a startlingly good job of it, although I'd imagine that some people might be a little bit against the idea of a bunch of preppy white guys covering such a song. ...I don't actually care, though. I still think they should've done a Japan cover.
Iggy Pop. I can't think of anyone who was more of the opposite than Duran Duran than Iggy Pop! On the other hand, the music was written by David Bowie, so I guess I got part of my wish after all! ...I've got to say that this cover is pretty good, which I find amazing considering that I already said that Iggy Pop was the antithesis of Duran Duran. Of course, it's not as gritty or as intense as the original, but they get that pounding drum right, and Le Bon appears to be having fun singing lead vocals.
Crystal Ship B
The Doors. ...Alright, I'll buy this one. Maybe Jim Morrison had something to do with Le Bon's vocal style even though David Sylvian probably had more to do with it. But notice that Le Bon doesn't have to do much with his voice to mimick those Morrison-isms! This is a great, catchy song of course, and they don't screw it up. But I'm gonna complain, again, that they glossed this one over too much. The guitars shouldn't have been so tame and watery, the drums needed to be crunchier, and that bass needed to be thumpier. In a nutshell, this needed more SOUL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ball of Confusion B
A somewhat meh-worthy cover of the Temptations song. It's done as more of a rap, which I guess I can see how they got from the original. ...Someone is going to have to tell me if someone from the '80s or '90s had also covered this song as a rap, since I'd be surprised if Duran Duran thought of that on their own... Anyway, they certainly got that pounding electro-bass right, but Le Bon's voice seems a bit too pretty.
Thank You A
OK, maybe Iggy Pop wasn't the exact opposite of Duran Duran, after all. Led Zeppelin is! I've said this before, but now I mean it: There is no way in hell that this album was meant as a tribute to the people who inspired their sound. Obviously. And I'm glad that they decided to cover one of Led Zeppelin's ballads instead of something like “Black Dog” thus saving them considerable embarrassment. And, perhaps not coincidentally, it also gave them the album's namesake! They do a pretty nice job with this, though. Le Bon's pretty vocals are much nicer to hear than Robert Plant's, and they come up with a New Agey synthscape that I actually think is appropriate and aesthetic. I'm going on a limb, but I think this is the main highlight of the album.
Drive By C+
Well if this was the only thing they could come up with in terms of an original composition in 1995, then it's no wonder that they could only make a covers album! This starts out boringly and echoey where Le Bon talks all over an airy synthscape. It's a little like something Jarvis Cocker would do, except it's not as entrancingly poetic. And then they boringly manage to work in the theme of “The Chauffeur” from their own album “Rio” in there. ...You mean, this was a self-cover?
I Wanna Take You Higher B
Their second cover of Sly & The Family Stone only goes to conclude conclusively that Sly and the Family Stone had nothing to do with Duran Duran. Sly and the Family Stone might have been terribly fun for them to listen to, but all Duran Duran do here is take all the grit out of the original version! I suppose this is still a rather fun song to listen to, all things considered, since this is a good song. But ... eh!!!!
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This is a strange sort of song. It's like a psychedelic song for the '90s. You have that canned, ultra-clean drum machine beat, but all sorts of chaotic instruments come in and out of the mix, which I guess are trying to mess with our minds. It's surely nice that Duran Duran are experimenting instead of trying to come out with a mega-seller! Although, this isn't a greatly memorable experience. There's no melody to speak of. The atmosphere, while nicely done, doesn't seem to draw me in as much as it should have.
Big Bang Generation A-
They're still continuing the general chaotic feeling of the previous song, except they've brought out a solid melody to keep it all held together! While this isn't the most infectious melody they've come up with, I still like. It's easy to follow, and perhaps you can even whistle along with it, if you want to. The busy, cluttery instrumentation continues to be weird and rather creative, showing that Duran Duran had that artistic knack that we knew they've had all along.
Electric Barbarella A-
Oh man, this melody is so infectious that it manages to weave itself into my brain. That can only be a terrible thing if catchy melodies tend to haunt you, but that rarely happens to me for some reason. (Except that one time I was taking a math final, and I couldn't expel an '80s Alice Cooper metal anthem from my brain.) The instrumentation continues to be fairly brilliant. Of course the '90s drum machine sound is still here, but they bring in all sorts of gritty, squeaky sounds to give it an extra edge. I like it!
Out of My Mind A
Hey! This is excellent! Listen to that awesome Middle Eastern atmosphere! This is like “Tel Aviv” except it has a vocal melody and it isn't quite as brilliant. But it's almost as brilliant, and that's saying a lot. Unfortunately I don't know enough about Middle Eastern music to really say what they're doing... But hearing the way they westernized their instrumentation is quite appealing to the ears. The drums are still programmed, of course, but they're actually well-programmed and not obnoxious whatsoever. Really cool!
Who Do You Think You Are? C+
Eh. This is a fairly plain ballad. It starts out quietly as Le Bon sings a not-at-all interesting melody. Things get better when they bring in a thundering drum beat and some rougher guitar textures, but the melody never changes. It just seems like they made it all loud and dramatic to try to cover up the lack of melody. And it didn't work. Also, why does the instrumentation sound so plain? Awwww! They were so impressive in the preceding four tracks!
Silva Halo B-
Awwww!!!! Since when did Duran Duran get so dang depressing all of the sudden? This song features a pulsating synthesizer and a pounding timpani. It's out of some sort of dark and depressing futuristic war movie or something. The melody isn't horrible, I suppose, but it also has trouble getting off the ground. The best thing about it, I suppose, is that it doesn't even go past two and a half minutes. But even as it fades out, it seemed incomplete. They probably shoulda cut this!
Be My Icon B+
Again, this sounds like it's right out of some futuristic war movie with its dank drum beats and dark, buzzy guitar sounds. Why did Duran Duran have to go from a slightly happy psychedelic band to this much more depressing version of them? Give them credit, I guess, for being able to do multiple things! But this is depressing me. The melody is much better than the previous two songs, anyway. The chorus is rather powerful and memorable. The atmosphere, while depressing, is boldly done.
Buried in the Sand B+
This is still very dark, but this has more of the psychedelic attributes from earlier in the album instead of giving me visions of modern sci-fi movies. The atmosphere is very easy to get caught up in, particularly listening to that programmed drum beat and those watery synthesizers. Somehow, this reminds me of something right out of The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour except it doesn't have the melody, and it's for the '90s.
Michael You've Got a Lot to Answer For A-
Do I, now? I know I didn't like Big Thing all that much, but I didn't know you were going to come along and write a song about me! (...Oh wait, I've got to remember that I'm not the center of the universe. OK, yeah.) ...This is another ballad, but it's about a trillion times better than “Who Do You Think You Are?” The instrumentation features jangly guitars and sweeping synth-strings. Le Bon's vocal melody probably could have been more infectious, but I still like its whispy, windy attributes. This would have made a good '90s R.E.M. song. (Oh, Michael Stipe maybe? I don't know.)
Midnight Sun B-
Yikes, I guess this is a hit-or-miss album, or something! Luckily, Duran Duran were the sort of band who generally sounded good no matter what they were doing, particularly in this era. But holy crap, this song is BORING! It's a big, thundering piece with a lot of hazy atmosphere brought to it. It doesn't make a terrible listen, but it also just plods along without doing anything particularly interesting. The melody is meh. So, hm. (There you go, track reviews written with grunts!)
So Long Suicide B
Man... I really wish these songs weren't so...... serious, I guess. Whatever happened to their wistful cheeriness and playful inventiveness? This one has a more captivating chorus, which explains why I overall enjoy the experience of listening to this. But I still get the feeling that this is way too heavy handed for its own good. It doesn't do much to ignite my imagination, or anything. And the last minute of this is just awful.
Undergoing Treatment A-
Ahhhhh!!! Now, take a listen to that bizarre bass drum that sounds like it has a serious illness. That's the sort of inventiveness that should have been present throughout this entire album! This is still a bit of a heavy-handed sort of song, but at least it has a fun personality. They do some really weird things in the middle there with all sort of sound-effects-ridden instrumentation that sounds positively messed up. I suppose this isn't an entertaining song as much as one that engages my curiosity. This is a funny sort of song that I'm more surprised that they even tried. I mean, this thing literally sounds like it belongs in a hospital, as it seems to be drifting in and out of consciousness.
Pop Trash (2000)
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Someone Else Not Me A-
Aw, what a lovely song! It doesn't start out too excitingly, but since this is Duran Duran, you're pretty much automatically going to hang onto it hoping that they come forth with a soaring chorus! ...Well, this doesn't quite have a chorus on par with “Ordinary World” or “Rio,” but whatever. It's wistful, it's airy, and I like it. The overall pacing of this is rather clunky and slow moving, but somehow I'm able to get caught up in its charm. The melody is sweet, and those sliding guitars they subtly bring in the mix are utterly captivating. Really cool! A slow moving song like this has no business being so good!
Lava Lamp A-
Why did Duran Duran open the album with a slow-moving song? So that we would appreciate the crisp and delectable song that follows. I can't say that they've come up with a particularly memorable melody, though, which is sort of disappointment considering this band. But this is still a cool song with playful and bubbly guitars keeping the rhythm, and Simon Le Bon's cool vocals sounding semi-drugged-up but playful nonetheless. This sounds like late-career The B-52s except it's slightly artsier. (Kudos for the sitar!!!!)
Playing With Uranium A
I tried playing with uranium once. Not a good idea. ........And I've got to once again compliment these guys for continuing to create these strangely compelling songs despite the lack of greatly hooky melodies. I mean, stuff like this just isn't supposed to happen. Just ask Madonna. Although, as far as melodies go, there's something epic about the way Le Bon sings the chorus, which does manage to strike me as memorable. The instrumentation is busy, modern and seems quite brilliant. The drum machines are crunchy and appealing, the synthesizers are big, towering and fun. The bendy synthesizer solo in the middle rules. Who would have thought it?
Hallucinating Elvis A-
Is Duran Duran supposed to be this good? Why am I giving out so many A's? When is the madness going to stop??? ...I'll have to say that that weird quasi-rap bit in the middle almost inspired me to drop this a rating, but the rest of this song is so gosh-durned enjoyable that I can't help myself. Again, the instrumentation is very modern and decadent, but it's actually creative and appealing to my ears. Those buzzy synthesizers help create a crunchy atmosphere, and they bring in all sorts of other cool touches to keep the experience sounding fresh. I mean, seriously. Eat your hearts out, Coldplay.
Starting to Remember B
Uh oh! This is a ballad, and it's not very interesting. The melody is flat, but it's dreamy and wistful enough that it floats around rather nicely instead of falling flat on its face. The instrumentation is pleasant, particularly that twinkly piano that we can barely hear. Le Bon's vocals are weirdly hoarse, though. Wouldn't he have sounded better singing in his normal pretty-boy voice? ...I don't know. .......I prefer not to think about such things.
Pop Trash Movie A-
Hey! Here's a good one! It starts out as the same sort of do-nothing ballad as the previous track was, except this one has a real chorus that manages to take off. I will say that I sort of miss that pleasant decadence and all around creativity as the songs at the beginning of the album....... But this is actually a good song. I mean, you might even be inspired to listen to this so many times so that you might be able to sing along with Le Bon. The instrumentation is extremely pleasant with some lovely synth-strings that give me visions of floating around in the atmosphere. ...What a cool album so far! A big improvement over the darkness of Medazzaland, for sure.
A weird 49-second instrumental. I thought I told Duran Duran on Big Thing that these sorts of things were pointless. I mean......... really? Did we need this? There's nothing really even here. Just someone noodling around boringly with an echoey synthesizer. NEXT!
Mars Meets Venus A
Once again, are Duran Duran even supposed to sound this good in 2000? Especially an album full of decadent pop tunes, I don't think they're supposed to sound this good. And yet, here I am, enjoying the crap out of this. Not only is the instrumentation tasteful and would make a great addition for an exercise workout tape, but they come out with a hooky melody! This isn't particularly creative, but it is a lot of fun!
Lady Xanax B+
Count this one as another semi-uninteresting ballad, but I still like the wispy instrumentation and how pleasantly Le Bon's vocals soar over it. This is exactly the way his pretty boy voice was supposed to sound! The weaker melody is the main problem here—I just don't remember how this one goes after it's through playing. But at least I enjoy it as it's playing. That's more than I can say for most of the songs in the last half of Medazzaland, at least.
The Sun Doesn't Shine Forever B-
Alright, Duran Duran. This is just boring. This is a completely unimaginative ballad that, unlike the album's previous unimaginative ballads, doesn't even put Le Bon's soaring vocals to their good use. The melody is dull, the instrumentation has nothing particularly creative to it. I guess it's not quite bad enough to clearly deserve anything in the B-range. But Duran Duran had spoiled me in this album. I was expecting something to reach up and grab me somewhere, but it's just not happening! I mean, it's gets audibly louder all the time, but that's just a cheap tactic. Blahhhhh. Mark this one as better than an average Barry Manilow ballad, but not much.
Stop it with these insanely short and pointless instrumentals! It is unbecoming of gentlemen!
Last Day on Earth B
Not bad, I guess. This is an upbeat song, which you'd expect to be automatically more enjoyable than the ballads. They up the electric guitar in the groove, making this a rougher and crunchier song, which I like. But couldn't they have come up with a more grabbing melody? I know, these guys have spoiled me, since most bands don't write melodies as good as even the ones in Pop Trash. But this still makes for a rather dull album closer!
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(Reach Up For The) Sunrise A+
What the! Where did this come from all of the sudden? After sitting through two Duran Duran albums that were endless seas of decadent beats and half-melodies, it's surprising to hear an actual pop song come out of their mouths. What's more, this is a pop song featuring one of the finer melodies I've ever heard come out of them. And, remember, this is Duran Duran, so that's saying a lot. This is a bright and bubbly song that recalls their glory days back in Rio, but updates the sound for modern audiences. And what can I say? It's a peach!!! This even constituted a minor pop hit in 2004, since I've heard it enough around town. Good for them! Man, this song even has a cool fade-in just like the opening of Rio. Already, this is the greatest reunion album ever.
Want You More! A
What the! They hit gold again!! Is this the beginning of a new Duran Duran renaissance, or something? I know I said in my Notorious review that I had no idea who was the heart and soul of this group, but I'm now thinking that it was good old Andy Taylor all along. How else can you explain the return of these good times? I suppose it could be circumstantial since this was a reunion album after all, but whatever. This song is awesome. Listen to that bouncy buzzy riff and tell me that you don't think it's the coolest thing you've ever heard. ...Seriously, do it. Plus, the melody is 100 percent infectious! I know that right away from the first 10 seconds of it. And it's happy too. Just get a load of that exclamation mark in the album title. It's happy!!!! I like songs that make me happy!!!! The pounding pop drums are very hip for the '00s audience, but they're fun for us pretend-old-folks, too.
What Happens Tomorrow A-
Alright, not as good as the previous two, but what do you expect? This is Duran Duran! Rio wasn't even that great. And, wow, listening to this song is quite a joy to behold as well. That clomping rhythm in the verses section is strangely ear-catching and inventive. Just like the old days, they bring in an entirely soarrrrrrrrrring chorus with a melody that's so infectious that you'll probably want to listen to it forever. I know I do! ...Wow, I can't believe this album is this good so far! I'll tell ya, this is pretty close to an A.
Another score for our good friends Duran Duran. It starts out with a bit of a bouncy acoustic guitar with pretty-boy Le Bon singing a catchy melody before a bass, synthesizer and drums come into join the party. All very flawlessly executed and terribly fun to listen to. ...And of course when the chorus pops up, it just takes off. Is there even more proof that these guys have come back? The instrumentation is wonderful. It's super-polished, but the chorus is filled with all these space-age blips and bleeps that keeps quite an appropriate atmosphere considering the subject matter. ...My only complaint about this is a very uneventful middle-eight section. It's not a deal breaker for me, but I think they would have been better off just keeping this happy groove going!
Bedroom Toys B+
Alright, I'm a little less impressed with this song even though it still has a far catchier melody than you'd ever expect out of them. I mean, I'm still giving this a B+, which is still a pretty high score. But this song with an uber-polished R&B riff doesn't quite have the charm and drive of the previous four songs. After it's halfway through playing, I basically seem to lose interest in it. The melody is pretty good, though, particularly the chorus. .....And what exactly are “bedroom toys?” ...Er, on second thought, don't tell me.
This reminds me of something that one horrid pop band from Russia named TATU might come out with, except this is good. It has a quickly paced druggy vibe and those idiotic voice-altering vocoder things that had been infesting recent Madonna albums. Except, I somehow actually enjoy listening to it. First of all, the annoying vocoders are used more as a background instrument; Le Bon's pure vocals are heard over the mix. Second of all, the druggy drum beat is cool; it's tasteful and fun to listen to. ...And it doesn't hurt that the melody is a bit infectious as well! That's more than just icing on the cake, you know!
Taste the Summer A-
Oooooh, get a load of this bass-line! It's not the greatest bass-line in the history of the universe, but it's bouncy and it's happy. Don't you remember the old days when Duran Duran had some fine old bass-lines? That's what this reminds me of. And the melody is cool, too, delivered partially with these bubbly doo-doo-doo-doo-doos! You know a song has got to be fun and happy if the lyrics consist of a lot of doo-doos! The drum beat is programmed, of course, but it's crunchy and mesmerizing. Man, and Le Bon sings his lead vocals just like a pop star. ...Man, why couldn't Madonna be this good? Seriously! She should take a listen to '00s Duran Duran and adopt her sound accordingly.
Finest Hour B+
Well, not every song is going to get an A, you know! This is one of the more slow moving songs of the album, but I still greatly enjoy the experience of listening to it. The melody could have been more infectious, and maybe they could have done something else to spice up the rhythm. .......But this song manages to redeem itself surprisingly well with that cosmic instrumental interlude. Those airy synthesizers coupled with Le Bon's angelic lead vocals almost seem to channel heaven. (But, seriously, where's the melody?)
These guys just don't let up! This doesn't have the intense concentration of hooks as the songs that opened this album, but this ballad is a pure charmer all the same. It even has a somewhat inventive middle-eight section, which works in an entirely different melody that might have made an entirely decent song by itself. Simon Le Bon, once again, puts his pretty boy vocals to great use, soaring through this entire song. Indeed, that guy should just soar that cool voice of his forever!
One of These Days A-
Man!! Let me tell you, if the only thing I listen to for the rest of my life are these sorts of dreamy, soaring pop songs, then I'll be OK with that. Again, the melody is slightly weak but it has its fair share of hooks. What I like the most is that Duran Duran have once again created a beautiful, atmospheric song that I just love sitting here and soaking up. This is like sunbathing for the ears! (I'm pretty clever thinking that up, aren't I? ............YOU KNOW IT!)
Point of No Return A-
So many A-minuses. Well, what else can I do? These songs are so dang consistent! This is more of a standard mid-tempo pop song with a catchy melody and a memorable chorus. Once again, these guys draw me in with their gentle and atmospheric instrumentation, which makes the overall experience of listening to this song a pleasurable one. Of course, this isn't great art or anything, but it's purely pleasurable. That's all I've ever wanted!!
Still Breathing B
Still breathing, but what happened to the sparkle? And why are the hooks so weak? ...Alright, I like that smoothly flowing chorus, but the rest of the song seems a bit forced. It was a pretty weak idea to close this song with a six-minute, slow moving ballad anyway. Close it with a bubbly dance song, for pete's sake! ...Anyway, this isn't too horrible, which I guess still says a lot about this band. The subtle work they did keeping the atmosphere nice 'n' thick, I suppose, deserves some credit. That cinematic middle section is surprisingly pretty absorbing, too.
Red Carpet Massacre (2007)
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The Valley C+
Strike one: That synthesizer and drumbeat. What the hell do you guys think you're doing? That ultra-repetitive drum and synthesizer looping and pounding around like that is grating to my nerves. I must have nerves of steel right now, and so I don't know why I'm not banging by head against my closet door. In fact, it's a miracle that I'm not performing some form of physical injury upon myself right now. ...Alright, I'll grant you that this song's most grating moments only last 30 seconds. After that point, more instruments come in to help matters. But still, that drumbeat continues to lurk, driving me insane. Listening to this song is not a pleasure. The sad thing is this melody is mildly interesting. It might have worked if they weren't going out of their way to be obnoxious. ...Really, I'm having trouble extracting the good things out of this.
Red Carpet Massacre C
That buzzy synthesizer was a bad idea. Sometimes I like funny synthesizers, but this sounds like somebody forgot to shave that morning, and they waited until they went to the recording studio! ...Oh, but the funny synthesizer isn't this song's only problem. What's with that smooth, atmospheric little section that opens and closes the track? It didn't make a bad intro, I suppose, but how can they just stop the obnoxious groove suddenly and then just play that intro again? Arggghhhhh. Why am I listening to this? The one pure thing in this nightmare is indeed Simon Le Bon's smooth cool voice, which is here unfettered.
Nite Runner C-
What's the deal??? STOP IT! STOP IT!! This song features yet another annoying, tinny drumbeat. The melody is basically nothing but a few uninteresting hooks being repeated over and over and over again. I suppose this is better than your average Britney Spears song, but I don't want these guys to sound like Britney Spears! Why take something that was pure and wonderful and then take a dump on it? In the end, this song is bad, but at least I can assume that it's more pleasurable than Sayid from Lost ripping out my toenails. Not that I know what that feels like.
Falling Down B-
What's this? I can sense that there's a Duran Duran song trying to break out of here! But it can't, because of that annoying, tinny drumbeat, the ringing guitar, and those obnoxious synthesizer patterns. I'm using my imagination and pretending that this is a good Duran Duran song. Listen to how Simon Le Bon's vocals soar during the chorus! Those heavenly, airy synthesizers that pop up in the background also reminds me of the sorts of wonderful things these guys used to do! ...I swear, I would have been well prepared to give this song a B+ for being a pleasant reminder of their previous albums, but then I realized that this song has a really terrible melody. No hooks at all. Just nothing. And it's way too long. It's almost six minutes. Are they crazy?
Box Full O' Honey A-
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They must have recorded this before they retardedly decided to ask Justin Timberlake to come into the studio. They finally give the terrible instrumentation a rest. Listen to the beginning of the song and how it's just an acoustic guitar and a pure piano. And when the drum comes in, it's a thumpy one and not a tinny one! Why do so many pop albums these days only use those tinny drums? These thumpy ones are much better! ... This melody is OK, but not great. It's a bit flat, I suppose, and I don't remember it too well after it's through playing. I suspect that I would've given this a B if it appeared on Astronaut. I'm not sure. Listening to a song like this is like finally getting a deep breath of air after suffocating.
Skin Divers B-
Have I given up? This song has rapping on it, and I don't want to rip its guts out. That's pretty weird. I suppose that drumbeat is a little more crunchy than it has been lately on this album and therefore it doesn't strike me as utterly obnoxious as the other songs. The hook isn't bad, either, particularly the chorus. Although I would much rather that Le Bon have used his gifted vocals to sing through this instead of having that boring rapper spouting off things throughout. Who wants a Duran Duran song without Le Bon, anyway? This was a straight B until the final minute, which just seems to linger doing nothing.
Alright. Now I can feel my individual brain cells start to commit suicide. Ughhhhhhh! This song blows. It's not only bland melodically, but the instrumentation is done so poorly that it blatantly insults me. This is absolute nadir of Duran Duran, my friends. That clubby synthesizer loop is just about the worst freaking thing I ever heard. Not only is the tone of it aesthetically ugly and annoying, IT JUST REPEATS AND REPEATS AND NEVER ENDS!!!!! OK, it does actually end around the three-minute mark, but it's only replaced by echoey synthesizers that seem to just leave us hanging. Thus, once again, this song has developmental issues. ...Why are they doing this to me? This song is tempting me to commit suicide!
Tricked Out B
Seriously tricked out! The relative tastefulness of this instrumental compared to that previous nightmare makes me think that it was a joke all along. Yeah, I'd believe it! This is sort of cool as it starts out, showing off its busy chord progression, hollow drum machine loop, and somebody playing a harpsichord. Then there's some technological malfunction in the last minute, with all these weird buzzy synthesizers. This sounds like The Residents. Maybe that's a good thing.
Zoom In C+
I will say one thing for Justin Timberlake. His songs, while unabashedly aimed toward the limited tastes of teenagers, sound slightly better than the ones that Duran Duran just did on their own. I mean, this song is still awful, but I don't have much of an issue with the way these instruments sound. The drums sound like regular drums, and there's a quirky synthesizer tone buzzing throughout this. I mean... it would have been nice if they would have done something with that bass other than have it mind-numbingly hitting the same note the whole time. But, there are a lot of things that I wish for when it comes to Red Carpet Massacre! The main problem I have with this song is the bland-as-hell melody! Didn't these guys used to write excellent songs? I hope those days haven't passed them by already...
She's Too Much B-
Geez, when Duran Duran lays off the horrid instrumentation practices and give us a song that at least sounds like it could have appeared on Astronaut, they give us something like this that's dull. What happened to the melody? Why is it so flat and lifeless? I mean, there are certain moments that seem like the song could have taken off, but it never does. Now that Simon's vocals were free from those oppressive synths and drumbeats, why not set them free and let them soaaaaaaar just like the old days? That's all I'm sayin'.
Dirty Great Monster B
Man... Well, at least this is a full-fledged song with a loud drumbeat and a flashy vocals and everything. It doesn't make a bad listen, and that saxophone solo in the second half is completely insane and therefore good. I like listening to Simon Le Bon's smooth vocals going “Ooooo Ooooh Aaaaah!” in the background, and I like how his lead vocals sound a little like he's singing a night club jazz ditty. But I'll be danged if this isn't a boring song, too. The melody is fine for nightclub jazz, I guess, but I find it to be uninteresting, and I wish they would have done something a little more creative than this somewhat blank instrumentation. Don't you remember when these guys used to be creative?
Last Man Standing B
OK, now I'm actually thinking this has been a joke the whole time. This also sounds as though it's done in the style of a typical Britney Spears song. The drums are overly flashy, the synthesizers and guitars are loud, annoying and screechy. The chord progression is dumb and repeats the whole time. And yet, I listen to this and it actually seems to come alive a little bit. The twinkly instruments subtly in the background sound nice (even though the obnoxious drum machine beat tries to stifle them), and the melody is almost good. Hey, “almost good” is a high compliment when it comes to Red Carpet Massacre!
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