Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Duran Duran, II

Duran Duran- Arena

The only purposes I can imagine this live record served were to: a) fulfill a contractual obligation (the band moved from Capitol to EMI after its release- I confess to not knowing the origin points of all of the multicorporation hydra’s tentacles. I’m sure if you go back in time and ask the 20-year-old me he’ll know and then deliver a blustery speech about keeping cash local and not supporting the machine while he smokes a pack of Camel filters a day) and b) act as a de facto greatest hits package. Either way, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this record that’s nice- LeBon stretches well beyond his vocal range on a regular basis, the mix sucks, and I’m not sure the world needed a live version of ‘The Reflex’ a year after the song was released for the first time.

Duran Duran- Notorious

If I had been a little bit more savvy as a kid, I would have been worried about the Duran Duran side projects that effectively split the band for a little while (Power Station and Arcadia.) I wasn’t, though- I remember being psyched that I could see videos for ‘Re-election Day’ and ‘Some Like It Hot’ back to back (although my mom was none too happy to see that particular Power Station video.)

So the band got back together with three of the five members- guitarist Andy and drummer Roger flew the coop. In retrospect, I can’t say that I ever thought of the band as a vehicle for the great guitar work of Andy Taylor, you know?

Still, though, there’s a noticeable difference in the band’s dynamic- the departure of the two founding members coincided with a change in their overall sound. There’s more emphasis on horns and backing vocals, and there’s a lot more swing to the songs. Starting to veer away from rock/new wave and into uncharted (for them) territory.

Does it work? I think so, yeah. Granted, the title track is pretty dumb, and ‘A Matter Of Feeling’ treads the same sappy, tired water as ‘The Seventh Stranger,’ except that LeBon’s voice is overextended and shrill like on a lot of the ‘Arena’ tracks. Beyond that, though, everything holds up well. ‘Skin Trade’ is a hell of a single- the falsetto works, and the song slinks sexily along- horn solo instead of guitars (Andy who?) Both ‘Skin Trade’ and ‘Meet El Presidente’ are both playful- sometimes the LeBon lyrical imagery gets a little bogged down in self-importance, but both songs manage to steer clear. ‘Proposition,’ the closer, is great- a lot of swing, a lot of horns, good vocals.

The Duran Duran Tribute Album

I was going to review this record, but realized doing so would contribute to the Skalacaust. I couldn’t live with myself if something like that was hanging over my head.


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