The relationship between art and its patrons is an age-old one that dates back to the heyday of the Renaissance period. This dynamic is no different in the world of pop and rock music. Despite gatekeepers of music (terrestrial radio DJs) claiming that they play what listeners want, in reality, they decide what listeners should want and until recently, that attitude has rarely been challenged. This unfortunate trend had been accentuated further in America in the early 90s wherein the music industry was far more interested in promoting “new and hip” acts while almost pushing veteran acts into a dark corner of obscurity. Bands that had risen to prominence in the 80s had a difficult transition into the 90s wherein the sound had become defined by rap and grunge. The sound of bands from the 80s was considered a sound of the past and not forward-looking. The idea that a sound that been nurtured in a previous decade was not what people wanted was a decision made exclusively by music industry heavyweights. In America, this was the first sign of a growing disconnect between music gatekeepers and music fans. In the midst of this unfortunate atmosphere, one band dug deep into their creative well and made a very conscious decision to re-position themselves for the 90s. The success of the comeback against all odds in the form of “Duran Duran – The Wedding album” was buoyed by the ubiquity of songs such as “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” in early 90s pop culture. In fact, in certain parts of the world (especially the Indian subcontinent), these are the first songs that come to mind when the name Duran Duran is mentioned.
While I do not intend to review the “Wedding album”, here are some of the facts around the album that struck me as being the most interesting:
The desire for Duran Duran to truly re-introduce themselves:
The decision to name this album “Duran Duran” (their second eponymous album) was driven by a realization that their popularity as 80s posterboys had faded and this had translated to lackluster sales of their albums “The Big Thing” and “Liberty” (despite the inclusion of gems such as “Serious” and “My Antarctica“). Furthermore, the band had undergone a few line-up changes since the mid-80s. Two of the original members, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor, were no longer part of the fold. American guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was now the 4-member band’s official fourth member. This was an effort at removing any ambiguity around who the band’s members were. The album’s cover features a montage of wedding photos of the parents of the members of Duran Duran. In an interview, the band’s keyboard player Nick Rhodes mentioned that these photos “represent where we are from”. Not only is this a beautiful homage to their familial heritage but is an exemplary demonstration of artistic and creative authenticity.
The band’s fearless nudging of listeners towards something that might have been overlooked:
For a band trying to revive their star-factor, one might think that they would want to dissociate themselves from musical offerings that characterized their commercial decline. Instead, Duran Duran exhibited a dogged belief in the merit of their previous album “Liberty” by including “My Antarctica” (hands down one of the most under-rated tracks by Duran Duran) as the B-side to “Ordinary World”.
The immortalization of Warren Cuccurullo in the legacy of Duran Duran:
The reunion of the original five members of Duran Duran in 2004 for the release of the “Astronaut” album was bittersweet for me. This time, the band was riding a wave of the 80s revival (despite concocting a sound that was current but also quintessentially Duran Duran) in pop culture that first surfaced in late 1998. While I was happy that the original five were exploring their newfound creative chemistry, I was gutted that Warren Cuccurullo was not a part of this incarnation of the band. The memorable guitar solo by Warren on “Ordinary World” and the guitar hook that forms the sonic foundation of “Come Undone” are the signature sounds that ignited my love affair with the music of Duran Duran. As a child of the 90s that grew up in the Indian subcontinent and had minimal context around the early days of Duran Duran and the role that MTV played in the band’s meteoric rise, Duran Duran was a 90s band and Warren was a part of it. Fortunately, these songs have paved the way for Warren’s indelible stamp on the band’s timeless legacy.
On February 11, 2018 – the “Wedding album” turns 25 years old. We believe this needs to be celebrated. This is not just a celebration of a chronological milestone for an album or great songwriting by Duran Duran’s charismatic frontman Simon Lebon. This is about commemorating a slap in the face to the ageist music industry heavyweights that almost failed in their responsibilities to be good gatekeepers of pop music by writing off Duran Duran as has-beens. Artists that rose to prominence in yesteryear are not historical relics and their relegation to the distant past by the music industry should be challenged. We are glad that Duran Duran rose to that challenge and delivered one of the greatest albums of their career that has spanned almost 40 years. As a tribute to the band, we are accepting song requests from listeners all over the world for a song from the “Wedding Album”. We will feature these requests on February 11, 2018 on our global online radio broadcast. For those that send over requests, I also encourage you to tell us why the song has a special place in your heart.
What do you need for a record request?
– A computer/smartphone
– A microphone (smartphones come with these built-in!)
– A software that can record your voice (ALL computers have at least a “Sound Recorder” software on them).
Rules for the request
The recording must NOT be longer than 20 seconds.
What would a sample request sound like?
Here is an example:
— Hi, this is Julie from Brooklyn, New York. I would love to hear “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran.———-
—- Hi, this is Mike from from Los Angeles. Please could by play “Too Much Information” by Duran Duran.———–
When will your request get played?
Your request will be played in the hour of YOUR choice. We can give you an hour-long range of when your song will get played. We are not able to provide a precise time. Please note that we can feature ONLY one request per hour on our 24/7 broadcast.
So what are you waiting for? Send us your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, we would like to leave you with a personal favorite off the Wedding album. This is Duran Duran featuring Milton Nascimento with “Breath After Breath“:
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In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Alongside newer artists, we also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s. Noteworthy examples include Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Tears For Fears, Suede, The Corrs, Dubstar, Duran Duran, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, INXS, Depeche Mode, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.
Give us a spin when you get a chance.
We just might become your alternative of choice!