Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Duran Duran - Duran Duran

Today (June 15th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the release of the self-titled debut from Duran Duran. This 1981 went multi-Platinum in sales and climbed to number 27 in Canada, number 22 in Germany, number 9 in Australia, number 3 in the UK and number 2 in New Zealand. Here in the US, it failed to chart in 1981 but upon re-release in 1982 it spent eighty-seven weeks on the Billboard Album chart with a top spot of number 10.

In 1981, there were two versions of the track listings. One was the original release with nine tracks.

Side one opens with "Girls on Film". As the third single, it went to number 26 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 19 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 16 in Ireland, number 11 in Australia, number 5 in the UK and number 4 in New Zealand. Focusing on the theme of models and fashion, the music video for this song was all over the early days of MTV and really helped build a fan base in my age group in the States. The standouts for me are the pounding percussion and the soaring synths which made the track a school dance favorite.

"Planet Earth", the first single, soared to number 70 in France, number 26 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 14 in Ireland, number 12 in the UK, and number 8 in Australia. In the lyrics, the band directly references the new romantic movement in new wave music of which the group was clearly a part.

"Anyone Out There" gives me feelings of loneliness and isolation. The song would have fit well as part of 80's film about a post-apocalyptic world.

"To The Shore" has an ebbing and flowing sonic synth backing melody. The vocals similarly move with the sound, creating a distorting effect.

The second single "Careless Memories" peaked at number 72 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 60 in Australia, and number 37 in the UK. The song has a very clipped rhythm to it which reminds of US bands at the time like the Cars.

Side two begins with a rather lengthy instrumental intro to "(Waiting for the) Night Boat". The whole piece has a dark, foreboding mood to it.

"Sound of Thunder" opens with a synth bit that is straight out of late 70's Euro-disco. But like the previous track, this one is a more heavier dance track and a sharp edge.

"Friends of Mine" continues the dark themes both musically and lyrically. This one sounds like it stepped right out of a murder mystery crime drama.

The album ends with "Tel Aviv", a lush and layered instrumental piece. It really helps to drive home the point that this was a band with an ear for deep compositions.

The 1981 US release, known as the Harvest release, only had eight tracks due to the inclusion of an extended version of "Planet Earth"; this one dropped "To The Shore". The 1983 US re-release went back to nine tracks with a new single "Is There Something I Should Know?" replacing "To The Shore". I think both of these were smart calls.

"Is There Something I Should Know?", as a single in 1983, went to number 34 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 29 in Italy, number 28 in Germany, number 24 in the Netherlands, number 7 in Switzerland, number 5 in New Zealand, number 4 in Australia and on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 3 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 2 in Finland and Ireland, and number 1 in the UK. This one got a ton of radio airplay back in the day.

I did not own a copy of Duran Duran back in the 80's. I did pick up the hits on 45's or later compilation albums. It wasn't until the early 2000's when I was buidling my digital music library that I would get it and actually hear the entire record from start to finish. For me, the first half is pretty strong and is where I likely would have focused had I owned the vinyl back in the 80's.

For more from Duran Duran, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

The earliest Duran Duran never registered with me. I wasn't a video show viewer (MTV came to town more than a year after its launch) and none of the radio local stations were playing their songs. They were never on my radar until I heard "Hungry Like The Wolf" one Sunday night on the Virgin Vinyl/New Music Test Department radio program and bought it on the first record I found - the Carnival EP, which also had "Girls On Film" among the other songs. Then came Rio.

I think it was a new gal pal who pointed out the shiny "new" double Duran album while we were browsing in a record store sometime around my birthday in April 1983. I took a pass but she bought the damn thing. While it turned out to be a repackage of their first album, it was new to the both of us so we enjoyed it though I have always strongly disliked the "Is There Something I Should Know?" song with it's annoying repetitive intro.