Category: roger taylor

Duran Duran “Arena” released 35 years ago today, November 12th, 1984. My original gatefold copy from ‘84, complete with an 8-page glossy booklet featuring sultry photos of each band member (the one of Nick clutching what looks to be a pole is particularly amusing). 

Arena (which went to #6 in the UK and #4 in the US) was “recorded around the world” when Duran Duran toured in ‘83 and ‘84 promoting Seven and the Ragged Tiger and includes songs from that album performed live like “The Seventh Stranger” and “Union of the Snake” but also many from Rio. Those are the always popular “Hungry Like the Wolf” which Simon introduces by asking the audience “Is anybody hungry??!!” as well as “New Religion” (which fabulously demonstrates the tension between Andy’s desire to be a rock-n-roll (metal???) band, Simon and Nick’s art-rock tendencies and John’s funky disco bass playing), “Save a Prayer” (I love it when Simon sings this live, adding in  “ch-ch-ch” after the word “fire”), and “The Chauffeur.” They also perform the stand-alone “Is There Something I Should Know?” which appears on the US reissue of their debut record Duran Duran, plus “Planet Earth” and “Careless Memories” from that LP. The only non-live track on Arena is “The Wild Boys” (produced by Nile Rodgers) which they released as a single just prior to Arena; it went to #2 in both the US and the UK and became infamous for having the most expensive video ever made up to that point. 

Duran Duran “Duran Duran” 1981/2010 limited edition double vinyl reissue. Today, June 20th, is DD2 bassist John Taylor’s birthday (b. Nigel John Taylor, 1960) so I’m spinning my 20th copy of their debut album – that might be an exaggeration but I do have several different versions of Duran Duran. And for good reason: it’s an amazing new wave, new romantic synth pop debut that still sounds amazing almost 40 years on. It hit #3 on the UK charts and while reception was initially lackluster in the US, its re-release (with a slightly altered track listing and different cover) in ‘83 sent it to #10 on the Billboard album chart. This 2010 edition has the original UK release with the original single version of “Planet Earth” and the dreamy “To the Shore” track (the original US version on Harvest Records had the “Night Version” remix of “Planet Earth” and dropped “To the Shore;” the ‘83 reissue went back to the original “Planet Earth” and added “Is There Something I Should Know?”). 

The record sleeve insert for Disc Two has this amazing photo of the band – it also makes me laugh because my dear friend Carrie keeps a file on her computer titled “Awkward Photos of Duran Duran” that include several that either highlight or try (in vain) to obscure the massive height difference between Simon and John vs Nick, Roger and Andy. This is one that highlights it, obviously. Plus OMG Nick’s hair!!!

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The second record in this double LP set is a bonus 12″ single with the aforementioned “Planet Earth (Night Version)” plus the Extended Night Version of “Girls on Film” that has previously been unreleased,  another variant of “Planet Earth” – the Night Mix – and “Girls on Film (Night Mix)” – also previously unreleased.” Overkill? Nope, I cannot ever get enough of those songs. 

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

Duran Duran – “Is There Something I Should Know” from AS THE LIGHTS GO DOWN:

My new favorite version of “Is There Something I Should Know” from the RSD 2019 release As The Lights Go Down (which I wrote about here). 

Simon’s dancing and harmonica totally on point. Biggest shocker – Andy’s cheekbones. Not enough Nick or Roger though.

Duran Duran “As the Lights Go Down” 2019 exclusive Record Store Day release, pink and blue vinyl. Gatefold cover.

As the Lights Go Down is a live recording from the Oakland Coliseum’s 3-night concert series, April 12th, 13th and 15th, in 1984. The edited concerts were originally released as the video Arena (An Absurd Notion) in 1985 (aired on Cinemax and MTV), a loose story interwoven with concert footage from the Oakland performances; it also included the notoriously expensive video for the single “The Wild Boys” (also on the album Arena, 1985). The first official release of the music-only album came out in 2010 as a bonus disc as part of the reissue for Seven and the Ragged Tiger (there are bootleg copies floating around as well). 

The three-sided album is gorgeous, a collection of some of Duran Duran’s best tracks from their first three albums: Duran Duran, Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger (weirdly “The Reflex,” one of their best-selling and most popular songs from that era is not on As the Lights Go Down). Side A starts off with the deep-cut instrumental “Tiger Tiger” and from there segues directly into one of the best live versions of “Is There Something I Should Know?” I’ve ever heard, with some extra bright keyboard work by Nick Rhodes. “Hungry Like the Wolf” comes next, complete with an amazing howl by Simon LeBon at the song’s end. Simon introduces the next track by saying “Hello! Good evening! Nice to see you here! This is a sexual fantasy of mine, it’s called “Union of the Snake” and Side A then concludes with the dark and rollicking “New Religion.” Side B begins with one of the most beautiful songs ever written, “Save a Prayer” and it’s just as mysteriously lush live as on the original Rio recording. “Rio,” the perennial Duran party song, is next (lots of extra by Nick on this one, too, and John Taylor’s bass is intricate, deep and funky; Andy Taylor gets down, whipping out the power chords and Simon whoops and hollers), followed by another Seven and the Ragged Tiger deep-cut, “The Seventh Stranger” which I’ve always loved. Side B ends with another beauty from Rio: “The Chauffeur” (it’s really a tie with “Save a Prayer” for most beautiful song ever).  Side 3 has three tracks from Duran Duran: “Planet Earth,” “Careless Memories” (Andy is in really fine guitar form and Roger’s drumming is relentless on both those songs), and encore with “Girls on Film” – Simon invites the audience to sing along on its chorus, resulting in a stadium full of teenage girls ecstatically shrieking “GIRLS ON FILM!” (Had I been there, I would have shrieked too) Side 4 is blank but etched with the album’s cover design.

I have soooooo much Duran Duran and so did I really need another album in my collection??? I absolutely did – As the Lights Go Down is pure perfection: 80′s pastel, big 80′s sound and production and my boys performing at the height of their popularity. This album makes me so happy ☺️

Duran Duran “As the Lights Go Down” 2019 exclusive Record Store Day release, pink and blue vinyl. Gatefold cover.

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As the Lights Go Down is a live recording from the Oakland Coliseum’s 3-night concert series, April 12th, 13th and 15th, in 1984. The edited concerts were originally released as the video Arena (An Absurd Notion) in 1985 (aired on Cinemax and MTV), a loose story interwoven with concert footage from the Oakland performances; included, too, was the notoriously expensive video for the single “The Wild Boys” (also on the album Arena, 1985). The first official release of the music-only album came out in 2010 as a bonus disc as part of the reissue for Seven and the Ragged Tiger (there are bootleg copies floating around as well). 

The three-sided album is gorgeous, a collection of some of Duran Duran’s best tracks from their first three albums: Duran Duran, Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger (weirdly “The Reflex,” one of their best-selling and most popular songs from that era is not on As the Lights Go Down). Side A starts off with the deep-cut instrumental “Tiger Tiger” and from there segues directly into one of the best live versions of “Is There Something I Should Know?” I’ve ever heard, with some extra bright keyboard work by Nick Rhodes. “Hungry Like the Wolf” comes next, complete with an amazing howl by Simon LeBon at the song’s end. Simon introduces the next track by saying “Hello! Good evening! Nice to see you here! This is a sexual fantasy of mine, it’s called “Union of the Snake” and Side A then concludes with the dark and rollicking “New Religion.” Side B begins with one of the most beautiful songs ever written, “Save a Prayer” and it’s just as mysteriously lush live as on the original Rio recording. “Rio,” the perennial Duran party song, is next (lots of extra by Nick on this one, too, and John Taylor’s bass is intricate, deep and funky; Andy Taylor gets down, whipping out the power chords and Simon whoops and hollers), followed by another Seven and the Ragged Tiger deep-cut, “The Seventh Stranger” which I’ve always loved. Side B ends with another beauty from Rio: “The Chauffeur” (it’s really a tie with “Save a Prayer” for most beautiful song ever).  Side 3 has three tracks from Duran Duran: “Planet Earth,” “Careless Memories” (Andy is in really fine guitar form and Roger’s drumming is relentless on both those songs), and encore with “Girls on Film” – Simon invites the audience to sing along on its chorus, resulting in a stadium full of teenage girls ecstatically shrieking “GIRLS ON FILM!” (Had I been there, I would have shrieked too) Side 4 is blank but etched with the album’s cover design.

I have soooooo much Duran Duran and so did I really need another album in my collection??? I absolutely did – As the Lights Go Down is pure perfection: 80′s pastel, big 80′s sound and production and my boys performing at the height of their popularity. This album makes me so happy ☺️

Duran Duran “Skin Trade” b/w “We Need You” 1987. I’m spinning Duran Duran’s fifteenth single today, Valentine’s Day, mainly for the b-side’s cover and for the 7″ torn heart artwork (but any day is a good day to play D2). “Skin Trade” was the band’s second single from Notorious, the group’s first full-length LP after Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor left the band. Andy did a bit of guitar recording for the album but his relationship with the rest of the group was so bad (legal threats, etc) he eventually was released from his recording obligations. The b-side “We Need You” was written specifically about this turmoil during the album’s recording in 1986 (it was the first song that John, Nick and Simon recorded with just the three of them). The A-side “Skin Trade” went to #22 in the UK and #39 in the US – a disappointment because up until then most of Duran’s singles had made the top 20. I’ll admit it’s not my favorite Duran song (the Borneo Horns, the falsetto singing, etc.). The cover sleeve for the single was also controversial: in many countries it featured an airbrushed naked female buttock but in the US and UK you get the plain sleeve pictured here. 

Queen “Jazz” released 40 years ago today in the US, November 14th, 1978, released on November 10th in the UK. Jazz was Queen’s 7th studio LP and as one of the biggest bands in the world in the 70′s it hit #2 in the UK and #6 in the US. It was often critically panned at the time of its release, called “dull,” “fascist,” “dumb” and – I love this summation from the website queenpedia.com  “Critics were quick to lambaste the album for being overcooked and pretentious, though it should be mentioned that every album since Queen II received the same criticisms.” Of course in retrospect, and after the wild success of the album, Jazz is now viewed as sleek, sophisticated, fun, “wildly hysterical” and a gem of a record. 

The first single from Jazz was a double A-side of “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bicycle Race” (#11 UK, #24 US) which had “a bizarre marketing campaign, in which sixty-five naked women were perched atop bicycles rented from Halford’s Cycles and sent racing around Wimbledon Stadium. Video footage from the day’s photo shoot was later used for the accompanying promotional film for “Bicycle Race,” though it was a poster included with early releases of the album that caused the most controversy: banned in the USA, second run pressings included an order form to be sent off for the fold-out.” (Queenpedia). “Legend has it that the band borrowed the bicycles from a store (Halfords, according to the liner notes), but upon returning them were informed that they would have to purchase all the seats, as they had been used in an improper manner (i.e. without clothing).” (Wiki) 

Queen released three other singles from Jazz though not globally. “Mustapha,” an up-tempo Arabic rocker (according to Circus magazine), was only released in West Germany, Spain, Yugoslavia, and – weirdly – Bolivia. “Don’t Stop Me Now,” a fantastically Queen-style anthem was a bigger release and went to #9 in the UK but only to #86 in the US; however it eventually became one of Queen’s best-known songs. Finally there is “Jealousy” which did not have a UK release, just US, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and the USSR; it did not chart in any of those countries. Though not singles, I’m also fond of the big-rocking “Let Me Entertain You” and the wild-tempo’d “Dead on Time.” I’m not crazy about the only vaguely “jazz” track on Jazz, the New Orleans-ish bluesy “Dreamers Ball.”

Queen “The Game” 1980. Last night we went to see Bohemian Rhapsody; we took the kid with us because he’s finally gotten into music and Queen is one of his favorites (Bowie is number 1 – parenting done right!). So I’ve had various Queen songs stuck in my head since and decided to grab The Game as the record to listen to today. Here’s me and a positively giddy Vault Boy outside the theatre before the movie. 

The Game was Queen’s eighth studio LP and the only one to hit #1 in the US (interestingly, it went to #8 on the US R&B chart and, not surprisingly, also went to #1 in the UK). It was their first album to use synthesizers and, at least according to the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, was the first where the band consciously wrote songs to dance to (“Disco? Queen doesn’t do disco!”). The first single from The Game was “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” a rockabilly-ish track that for a looonggg time I never believed was Queen (in fact, I still find it somewhat disconcerting). It went to #2 in the UK and became Queen’s first #1 song in the US. The second single released was “Save Me” and went to #11 in the UK; I don’t think it charted in the US. “Play the Game,” the lead track on The Game, was the third single and it’s here that Queen unabashedly introduces synths for the first time. It charted at #14 in the UK and #42 in the US. The fourth single, “Another One Bites the Dust,” is the one where the disco quote comes from in the movie, the deep bass-line utterly addictive and danceable and was a massive hit, going to #1 in the US where it remained for three weeks and spent a total of 15 weeks in the Top 10; it went to #7 in the UK and ultimately would be Queen’s best-selling single. It’s also the song that I first remember actually hearing by Queen (I’m sure I heard others before but I was pretty young) at 9 years old during the summer of 1980 while at camp. With equal fondness I also remember Weird Al’s spoof, “Another One Rides the Bus.” The final single from The Game was “Need Your Loving Tonight” which was only released in the US and Japan; it went to #44 in the US.

Allmusic writes about The Game “Queen had long been one of the biggest bands in the world by 1980’s The Game, but this album was the first time they made a glossy, unabashed pop album, one that was designed to sound exactly like its time. They might be posed in leather jackets on the cover, but they hardly sound tough or menacing – they rarely rock, at least not in the gonzo fashion that’s long been their trademark. Gone are the bombastic orchestras of guitars and with them the charging, relentless rhythms that kept Queen grounded even at their grandest moments. Now, when they rock, they’ll haul out a clever rockabilly pastiche, as they do on the tremendous “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” a sly revival of old-time rock & roll that never sounds moldy, thanks in large part to Freddie Mercury’s panache. But even that is an exception to the rule on The Game. Usually, when they want to rock here, they wind up sounding like Boston, as they do on John Deacon’s “Need Your Loving Tonight,” or they sound a bit like a new wave-conscious rocker like Billy Squier, as they do on the propulsive “Coming Soon.” But even those are exceptions to the overall rule on The Game, since most of the album is devoted to disco-rock blends – best heard on the globe-conquering “Another One Bites the Dust,” but also present in the unintentionally kitschy positivity anthem “Don’t Try Suicide” – and the majestic power ballads that became their calling card in the ‘80s, as they reworked the surging “Save Me” and the elegant “Play the Game” numerous times, often with lesser results. So, The Game winds up as a mixed bag, as many Queen albums often do, but again the striking difference with this album is that it finds Queen turning decidedly, decisively pop, and it’s a grand, state-of-the-art circa 1980 pop album that still stands as one of the band’s most enjoyable records. But the very fact that it does showcase a band that’s turned away from rock and toward pop means that for some Queen fans, it marks the end of the road, and despite the album’s charms, it’s easy to see why.”

Duran Duran “Thanksgiving Live – The Ultra Chrome, Latex and Steel Tour” 1997/2018, Record Store Day 2018 limited edition release (2,000 copies), double marble vinyl. Today, October 27th, is my first boyfriend Simon Le Bon’s 60th birthday (though the boyfriend bit would be a surprise to him I suppose since technically we’ve never actually met). I’m pretty sure Thanksgiving Live is a bootleg; it’s on The Big Bang Concert Series label and is from a concert in Orlando, Florida for the Big Band Radio Broadcast on Thanksgiving in ‘97 and even though it is an official Record Store Day release, there are some online grumblings about its pressing and I can see why. The quality of the album’s production is definitely not up to Duran Duran’s normal stellar standards (Nick Rhodes is a total perfectionist and their records’ production value always reflects that). The late 90′s were also kind of a dark time for D2: John and Roger aren’t even on the album (John left Duran for awhile in ‘97, Roger had left in the 80′s but made a brief return to the band in ‘95 for the recording of Thank You), instead there’s some guy Wes Wehmiller on bass and another dude Steve Alexander on drums. Andy has had a notoriously complicated relationship with his old band so he’s not on Thanksgiving Live either, instead Warren Cuccurullo (formerly in Missing Persons), who at least was briefly an official member, is on guitar. The lack of John and Roger in particular (we’ve all gotten use to MIA Andy) makes the live LP particularly thin: no deep funky play-that-fuckin’-bass-John or Roger’s rich stomping beats. 

The track listing is a mix of the great old stuff including “Hungry Like the Wolf,”  “A View to a Kill,” “Save a Prayer” (which Simon dedicates to Michael Hutchence who had just committed suicide), “Friends of Mine,” “Careless Memories,” “Rio” and a super-deep cut “Secret Oktober” (always an old fave of mine) and what was then newer stuff from their 1997 album Medazzaland like “Electric Barbarella,” “Medazzaland,” “Big Bang Generation,” “Who Do You Think You Are?,” “Out of My Mind,” “Be My Icon,” and “Buried in the Sand.” I love Duran Duran but the usual sparkling joy of their music just isn’t present on this live album.