Saturday, August 25, 2007

Putting my money (read time) where my mouth is

Some Duran Duran with some songs that I believe prove their musical merit. eSnips gives me the power and I'm going to use it. (Bwahaha)

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This is one of my all time favorite songs. I have it on a B-Side Collection, although I can't find any mention of what it was B-Side of, just that it came out in 1988.
The words are quite haunting, as is the melody. But, I can hear you say, this is not at all a standard D2 song. Well, no, but what is a standard song by any band? How do you average that? Thomas Dolby's singles were always abnormal compared to the rest of their respective albums. Same with Barenaked Ladies. I think the B-Sides are often truer to what the band wants to be without the pressure of the labels for commercial success.

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This is probably more like Duran Duran you're thinking of, right? It's from Pop Trash, released 2000. The words are based on the true story of a boy who was building a nuclear bomb in his garage--because it's that easy.

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From Big Thing, also 1988. I listened to this over and over as I worked on my college essays and read "Atlas Shrugged" to enter an essay contest a teacher wanted me to enter. The two seemed to echo each other in strange ways (I've never read of any connection--other than the fact that Simon was once a fan of Ayn Rand's work--but like every sane person, he got over it). Even now, certain passages in the music can evoke the images of the book--empty streets, America collapsing. I bet you never knew D2 could be serious.

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Careless Memory, from their very first album--very raw, not overproduced. Simon's early lyrics were not always known for their coherence, but I've always thought "Fear Hangs a Plane of Gunsmoke," an amazing piece of poetry.

[Sidenote: continuing the L'Arc/D2 connection, I have a copy of Simon singing Linger with The Cranberries. It's not a very good recording since it was live, which is why I'm not putting it here.]

Edit: In searching and Wikipedia for dates, etc., I have discovered the rather frightening fact that Justin Timberlake has produced/mixed a new D2 single supposedly coming out soon. I listened to it. I am saddened (as were many of the commentors). Is this a bid to become "popular." I think it makes them bland. Crap.


Matt said...

Some things I know about why Duran Duran is actually good (which I discovered against my will, and was happily surprised by):

1) the bass player is a freaking genius. I think the bassists for many 80's new wave-ish bands were really phenomenal and overlooked. The guy in Kajagoogoo was pretty good, too. It's easy to think it was all over-produced simple keyboard-y, drum-machiney crap, but there were actually some great musicians in some pop bands.

2) The band is named after the villain in Barbarella. That's awesome.

3) For being kind of a weird wank, Andy Taylor was a really interesting addition to that band. He was their hard-rocker, bad boy, weirdo. His guitar work is usually pretty solid, too.

4) Simon was a model they recruited so they'd have a good-looking frontman. He took voice lessons and turned himself into a singer, and that's very impressive.

5) I remember this cat in my first college creative writing class who looked like a second-string Jon Bon Jovi saying "Dude, what does 'The Reflex is a lonely child' even mean? What's that all about? But who cares, right? Because it's just that cool."

Novel said...

Some other cool things about Duran Duran:
Nick Rhodes produced Kajagoogoo and later The Dandy Warhols. Nick mixed most of D2's early work.

Nick Rhodes and John Taylor were both self-taught. They advertised for Andy and Roger in the hopes of getting people who could play.

When Andy left, Warren Cuccurullo asked to join the band because he thought they were good. He had played with Frank Zappa and Missing Persons (Missing Persons was made up of Zappa's back up group). Interestingly, Dale (formerly) Bozzio came on stage and sang with D2 during a show I saw here in Boston.

They sampled Jane Fonda from Barbarella for their mega-mix Burning the Ground. They also got Milo O'Shea to play a mad villian (like the one he played in Barbarella) in their concert film, Sing Blue Silver.

I think if you just bet that all of Simon's early inscrutable lyrics are about sex and/or his member you probably have it.

A not so cool fact:
Simon made out with a girl I worked wih when I first came to Boston. She was the reason I got to meet Simon and Warren.

As to John's bass work...hmm, it's good to hear that. I have trouble picking out the bass lines in songs and judging whether they are good or not. I can usually hear when it's boring though. Maybe that's part of why I like D2 and L'Arc, because John and Tetsu, being somewhat self-taught play the bass as if it's a guitar--with a strong melodic line.

It's that cool!

Novel said...

Edit: I realized that I'm I have no idea if Tetsu was self-taught or not. I know that John was. So retraction.

musing said...

This is really off topic, but thinking of L'Arc, have you seen their intro to the Music Japan live of My Heart Draws a Dream? You've got Hyde sniffling from a head cold, Tetsu and Ken doing, well, you just have to see it, and Yuki acting all, "I so don't know these people." :)

Novel said...

I actually just saw it last night. Tetsu and Ken is priceless. Hyde seems to have a cold every other week. Probably the smoking.

musing said...

I've never heard Gray Lady of the Sea before. I love it. I've played it five times already.

Also, I wondered what you thought of the Justin Timberlake produced single. I heard it a week or so ago and wasn't impressed.

P.S. Hyde stop smoking!

Novel said...

I'm so glad you like Gray Lady of the Sea. I thought you might. Yeah, I'm really not impressed with the single. I'm hoping the whole album isn't like that.

Matt said...

Another possible reason for Hyde's cold -- the travel during a tour, and all the AC in the heat and humidity of Japan makes for some nasty NASTY natsukaze - "summer colds." I had one that lasted 3 weeks, and I'm still coughing a bit 5 weeks in, though I don't feel like crap.