photo & text by nacrowe
i should start by stating that like most music ive discovered, ive got into it out of context. i wasnt aware of DURAN DURAN during their 1980s heyday, in fact the only childhood memories i have of them (at DISNEYLAND's TOMORROWLAND of all places) were "COME UNDONE" and "ORDINARY WORLD" from the THE WEDDING ALBUM (PARLOPHONE, 1993). so i just want to come straight out and say i discovered DURAN DURAN and their self-titled debut DURAN DURAN (EMI, 1981) album long after it was released, in fact it first came into orbit when i was in college and i was listening to THE DANDY WARHOLS of all bands. they had a video for "THE LAST HIGH" single off of their WELCOME TO THE MONKEYHOUSE (CAPITOL, 2003) record that was a near scene-for-scene homage to the song "PLANET EARTH" off DURAN DURAN's debut.
what drew me to them initially was the cinematic presentation of their image and sound, which at the time seemed to me more in keeping with certain post-BERLIN eras of DAVID BOWIE. the two standout tracks for me were the aforementioned "PLANET EARTH" and especially "GIRLS ON FILM." i strongly believe JOHN TAYLOR is one of the most underrated bassists of all-time, with a driving, kinetic, propulsive energy that really drives those two singles and is reminiscent of the classic FUNK and MO-TOWN he so admires. in fact, throughout their discography, my favorite DURAN DURAN tracks are generally the ones with great TAYLOR bass-lines and undeniable grooves. for me TAYLOR is the key ingredient that makes them DURAN DURAN, although i would be remiss if i didnt mention the amazing synth textures of keyboardist NICK RHOADS. his contributions cannot be understated as they very much set the table for those amazing grooves.
i mentioned before how i felt DURAN DURAN had a particular cinematic quality and i think this attributed in part to the lyrics of SIMON LE BON. like DEVO, THE SMITHS, LOU REED and DAVID BOWIE, there is this sense of interiority lyrically with DURAN DURAN whereby you find yourself unpacking a web of allusions and references to ART, FILM and LITERATURE. you really do enter into a little universe unto itself which like those other artists, is simultaneously rooted in a real world of ideas while paradoxically also being pure escapism.
definitely take a look at the debut DURAN DURAN record and get lost in its cinematic bliss.