Duran Duran “Save a Prayer” 1982. I’m spinning the most perfect 80′s new wave/synthpop ballad today for Simon Le Bon’s 61st birthday (b. Oct. 27th, 1958). Released in the UK as their third single from Rio (it wouldn’t be released in the US until ‘85), “Save a Prayer” was a massive hit, going to #2, their biggest hit to that date. In ‘85 it went to #16 in the US, though American audiences had a ton of exposure to the track before then as it had heavy rotation on MTV. The video is gorgeous, shot in Sri Lanka, and I vaguely remember reading or hearing an interview with one of the other band members – maybe Roger? – lamenting that Simon always got to dance with the pretty girls in Duran Duran videos. Side B of this 12″ has “Hold Back the Rain (remix),” the regular version of which is also on Rio.
Duran Duran “Rio” – It’s a #Duraniversary! Rio, Duran’s second LP, was released on this date, May 10th, 1982, though this version is a 2014 reissue, limited edition double vinyl. Of course I have an original US version (I think purchased in ‘83 or so), which is one of my top 10 records of all-time. This copy has the original UK album on disc one and the select tracks that were remixed for the US version (released November ‘82): Side A – “Rio (US album remix),” “My Own Way (Carnival remix)” and “Lonely in Your Nightmare (US album remix)” and Side B – “Hungry Like the Wolf (US album remix)” and “Hold Back the Rain (US album remix)” (all remixes by David Kershenbaum). Because the US version was the one I primarily listened to (over and over and over) in the 80′s, these mixes are the ones I’m most familiar with, though recently I’ve listened to the UK version with more frequency. Most of the remixes are fairly subtle (“My Own Way” is simplified on the US version) though “Hold Back the Rain” is probably the most obviously different of the two variations: Nick’s synth on the US version is missing a lot of the bright top-note chords that are present on the UK variation and John’s bass is far funkier on the UK original. I love that song so much – my favorite recollection of listening to that song was when my parents and I went to England in the summer of ‘83, I blasted “Hold Back the Rain” into my off-brand Walkman headphones while driving down some English highway en route to Wales late in the evening – it’s a fantastic fast-driving tune.
My DD2 obsession is long-lasting and never-ending (I recently renewed my Duran Duran fan club membership…aaaanndd I’m not that far away from 50 years old. Sigh). I’ve written about this a couple of times previously, but back at age 13 or 14 my Duranie pal and I went a little nuts and wrote an entire story based on the lyrics from Rio (and a few tracks from Seven and the Ragged Tiger). If you want a laugh and a glimpse into the psyches of two teenage girls in the mid-80′s, you can read the entire transcript here.
Today, October 27th, is Simon LeBon’s birthday! It’s also almost Halloween so celebrate it all, I’m spinning the only vaguely Halloweenie single by Duran Duran, “Union of the Snake” b/w “Secret Oktober” – along with “Rio” because I just received my special edition Rio/Nagel lip palette by Urban Decay today. It’s like Simon sending me a present!
Those are my lips, wearing the sparkly lip color, called Big Bang, second from the right in the palette.
“Union of the Snake” was the first release from Duran Duran’s third LP Seven and the Ragged Tiger, hitting #3 in the UK and US. “Secret Oktober” does not appear on any original Duran Duran albums (though it is on the 2010 reissue CD of Seven and the Ragged Tiger). The band needed a song for the flipside of “Union of the Snake” and quickly wrote “Secret Oktober,” whipping it out, including recording and mixing, in less than 24 hours. It is beautiful and atmospheric, not at all creepy, singing of birthday parties that are full of surprising fireworks, all night parties and cocktail bars.