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Duran Duran: The Side Projects

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If there’s a schism that exists within the ranks of Duran Duran, it was most obviously visible in their wildly differing splinter groups, The Power Station and Arcadia. Classic Pop takes a look at Duran Duran: The Side Projects… By Steve Harnell

Duran Duran The side projects

Funk rock, members of Chic, a William S Burroughs cameo and mountains of cocaine – when Duran Duran do side projects, they don’t do them by halves. Born from a band hiatus in 1984, The Power Station and Arcadia revealed two factions within the mothership, showcasing a tough rock-led approach on one hand and an art school dandyism on the other.

Both John and Andy Taylor were on board for The Power Station, in essence a neat encapsulation of the bassist’s original vision for Duran as a “Sex Pistols meets Chic outfit”.

With Nile Rodgers now making a name for himself as a super-producer hitmaker for the likes of Bowie and Madonna, his former Chic bandmates – drummer Tony Thompson and bassist and co-songwriter Bernard Edwards – were at a loose end and soon joined forces with the Taylors, intrigued by the musical cross-pollination that was floating in the wind.

Meanwhile, across the fence, Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor formed Arcadia (although the latter had a foot in both camps and provided percussion for The Power Station on occasion, too).

Diametrically opposed to the strident rock of their counterparts, Arcadia was a more melodic and delicate affair – Le Bon went as far as saying the band’s debut long-player was “the most pretentious album ever made”. 

While the two bands’ ambitions may have swerved in different directions, they had one thing in common – a devil-may-care extravagance where every artistic whim in the studio was fully indulged.

The Duran boys had earned the right for vanity projects, and they exploited that opportunity to the maximum.

Seven And The Ragged Tiger caused some dissent within the ranks. John Taylor in particular had a problem with the over-fussiness and detail-oriented approach of producer Alex Sadkin, so a chance to flex his funk and rock muscles couldn’t come soon enough.

Read our feature on Duran Duran’s cover art

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After the success of the Nile Rodgers remix of The Reflex, he was fully in the orbit of Chic and its members, but it was only when John and Andy Taylor met Tony Thompson after a Bowie concert in France in May 1983 – Thompson was behind the drums for the Serious Moonlight Tour – that an idea for a collaboration began to percolate.

Within a year, the nucleus for what became The Power Station was in place (they convened under the working title Big Brother until it was noted that Janis Joplin’s backing band had essentially taken that name already). The trio gathered to record a backing track for a cover of T.Rex’s glam rock classic Get It On for model and singer Bebe Buell, whom John was briefly dating.

With Bernard Edwards also in tow, the signs were good – but when Taylor and Buell fell out, the sessions came to nothing. 

With the vocalist-free band all dressed up with nowhere to go, a revolving-chair position was considered for the frontman role, with various singers guesting on an ad hoc basis. Remarkably, Mick Jagger was approached, as was Richard Butler from The Psychedelic Furs and Billy Idol. The group, it was planned, would provide a rock twist on the soundsystem multiple-singer approach later adopted by the likes of Massive Attack and Soul II Soul.

But when Robert Palmer – a favourite vocalist of Duran Duran, who was still yet to enter his Eighties imperial chart crossover phase – entered the fray, all bets were off. An outstanding performance on the pre-existing Get It On backing track sealed the deal. He was their man. The Chic contingent were convinced, and the Bolan cover went on to be a standout on their debut album.

Duran Duran: Making The Wedding Album

Duran Duran: Making Seven And The Ragged Tiger

That LP cost a cool $500,000 in studio fees. An enormous cocaine intake characterised the sessions, with John Taylor in particular taking full advantage of what he described as an “unlimited” supply.

Recorded in London, Nassau and at The Power Station in New York – the studio from which they took their name – The Power Station was a cocksure collection of cavernous gated drums, slashing, almost heavy metal guitars, John Taylor’s pumping basslines, and Palmer’s commanding vocals.

Lead single Some Like It Hot was an impressive calling card and although the reviews were mixed, the chart results – particularly in the States – were positive. The album made No.6 on the Billboard chart and Some Like It Hot achieved the same position in the Stateside singles rundown.

Palmer soon capitalised on his increased public profile, releasing a new solo album, Riptide, in 1985 that included the imperious Addicted To Love. But when the singer bailed on live commitments with The Power Station, he was replaced by Michael Des Barres.

Then the fingers began to point, with Palmer being accused of using the supergroup for his own ends, both financially and professionally. Firing back, Palmer told Number One magazine: “Firstly, I didn’t need the money and secondly, the cash wasn’t exactly a long time coming. It wasn’t exactly an experience that set me up for retirement.” He later added: “I gave The Power Station [their] sound. They took it from me, not the other way around.”

Des Barres’ tenure with the band was short-lived, although he did have the honour of appearing with them at the Philadelphia leg of Live Aid, where they played Murderess and Get It On

Duran Duran: Making Rio

Read more: Duran Duran Superfan

Although the Robert Palmer collaboration had ended in acrimony, the bad blood was put aside a decade later when the original members reunited for a new album. The harmony, however, soon evaporated, and John Taylor left the sessions for what eventually became 1996’s Living In Fear amid an array of personal problems.

Bernard Edwards stepped out from behind the mixing desk to become the band’s full-time bassist, only to pass away suddenly later that year of pneumonia during a trip to Japan.

If The Power Station were renowned for their Class A indulgence, their counterparts in Arcadia were not be outdone – at least, not on an artistic level. Their debut album So Red The Rose was recorded at a cost of $1 million, making it at that point one of the most expensive efforts of all time.

With Arcadia retaining both a synth-based sound and producer Alex Sadkin, this was on the face of it less of a divergence from the Duran template than The Power Station, yet it jumped into experimental waters with both feet. Both Rhodes and Le Bon have at various times admitted to (and revelled in) its almost unrivalled pretentiousness.

This was, after all, a band that took its name from a Poussin painting of 1638, Et In Arcadia Ego (The Arcadian Shepherd), which was itself influenced by Virgil’s Ecologues and would become a future touchstone of WH Auden, Evelyn Waugh, Goethe and Nietzsche.

The lead-off single – the wonderful Election Day – boasted an epic nine-minute mini-movie directed by Alien’s art director Roger Christian and was inspired by French auteur Jean Cocteau’s La Belle Et La Bete, no less. Like many tracks on the album, it featured a high-profile collaborator, in this case Grace Jones, who added a mysterious spoken-word section.

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Bowie sideman Carlos Alomar provided guitar, while jazz legend Herbie Hancock weighed in with keyboards on The Promise (that’s Sting on backing vocals, by the way).

So Red The Rose, recorded in Paris,  has aged well but it only charted at No.23 in the US and No.30 in the UK, and after the success of Election Day the subsequent singles barely made a dent in the charts.

The gothic, dyed-hair look the trio adopted, along with tuxedos, bow ties and vintage suits, made more of an impression than most of the music.

Arcadia made a handful of appearances to plug So Red The Rose, but never toured. As a nod to the band and sister act The Power Station, Election Day and Some Like It Hot made it onto the setlist of the Notorious Tour… a slim legacy for two intriguing side projects that deserve further investigation. 

For more info on Duran Duran check out their official website here

Read more: Pet Shop Boys: Top 25 countdown

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Duran Duran share new track Tonight United

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Tonight United
Duran Duran: Tonight United

Duran Duran have unveiled the latest song from their forthcoming album Future Past.

Tonight United is produced by dance music legend Giorgio Moroder and is, says Simon Le Bon, “music for a world that’s coming back together.” Listen to the song here.

Arriving on 22 October, Duran’s 15 album, Future Past, features collaborations with Blur’s Graham Coxon, Bowie pianist Mike Garson, Swedish hitmaker Tove Lo and Uptown Funk writer Mark Ronson.

Pre-order the album here.

Future Past tracklisting

INVISIBLE

ALL OF YOU

GIVE IT ALL UP (Feat. Tove Lo)

ANNIVERSARY

FUTURE PAST

BEAUTIFUL LIES

TONIGHT UNITED

WING

NOTHING LESS

HAMMERHEAD (Feat. Ivorian Doll)

MORE JOY! (Feat. CHAI)

FALLING (Feat. Mike Garson)

Read more: Making Duran Duran’s debut album

Duran Duran: Making Seven And The Ragged Tiger

Duran Duran: Making Rio

 

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Listen to “Sex for Breakfast” by Mike Taveira ft Allie X

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I have had this new Mike Taveira track flagged up in my inbox for a while because I knew the release coincided with my summer holiday. I was hoping my delayed reaction to it publicly would not be mistaken as my being late for the party. Because the regular readers of this blog, all should realise by now. If I get wind Allie X is somehow involved in a new track or project, I will usually be doing a happy dance all over it in double-quick time. Full-on, Pisces (it’s VERY obvious, apparently), queer artist and songwriter Mike Taveira HAS snagged the musical assistance of Allie X for his latest release – “Sex For Breakfast“. It went without saying, I was always going to be super-duper excited to learn how this collaboration turned out.

Sex for Breakfast” was one of those lightning-in-a-bottle songs”. Mike says of the new song. “The idea came to me after an intense morning with this guy I was head over heels for. We were essentially dating but kept pretending it was a fling. We ended up in this almost masochistic cat-and-mouse game, knowing we were so right together, but, both, being too uncomfortable to admit it.”

Listen on Apple Music

I have already come across Mike’s heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics before. On the 2020 track, “Karma“. Where he showed no hesitancy about being seen caught up in his feelings. At the other end of the spectrum. “Sex For Breakfast” sees him dishing out realism without a filter switched on. The track is written as though having a conversation with his lover. And as a way of putting their new relationship under the microscope. Does this union stand up as more than physical attraction? Do they share real compatibility? Can they go the distance or likely end up as soulmates? They are certainly having some fun as they try to figure everything out.

Allie X duets on a verse with Mike, and she heads up the songwriting team for the track. Equal parts, mesmerising and electrically charged. Like strawberries and cream, they go together like a dream team. With more new music on the way, there is no doubt that Mike Taveira is a name you will be hearing a lot in the future. Stay tuned…

Connect with Mike Taveira
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miketaveiramusic/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taveiramike
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/miketaveira/

Connect with Allie X
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alliexxxxandra/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alliex
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alliex/





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The Pretenders’ first two albums reissued

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Pretenders
Pretenders

The Pretenders are to release brand new 3CD deluxe editions of their first two albums, curated by lead singer Chrissie Hynde.

Pretenders from 1979 and Pretenders II from 1981 will also be available on limited edition red and white vinyl respectively, as well as a special, numbered print based on the Brass In Pocket single cover limited to 500 copies worldwide, exclusively available on Dig!.

Both Pretenders and Pretenders II are each presented in striking 12×12 3CD deluxe sets, featuring a high-quality book with brand-new liner notes by journalist Will Hodgkinson. They also include a myriad of rare and unseen photos of the band.

Pretenders (Deluxe Edition) contains the original album remastered by Chris Thomas, alongside demos, rarities, and many live performances. These include BBC sessions on The Kid Jensen Show, and performances at the Paris Theatre, London and Paradise Theater in Boston. 

Pretenders II (Deluxe Edition) also features a remastered version of the album by Chris Thomas, demos, and alternates alongside two live performances; one from Central Park, New York City in 1980, and an electric show from the Santa Monica Civic in 1981.

Both editions are out 5 November and you can pre-order now.

Tracklisting

Pretenders (Deluxe Edition) – 3CD

CD1 – Original Album & B-Sides

Original Album

Precious

The Phone Call

Up The Neck

Tattooed Love Boys

Space Invader

The Wait

Stop Your Sobbing

Kid

Private Life

Brass In Pocket

Lovers Of Today

Mystery Achievement

B-Sides

Cuban Slide

Porcelain

The Wait (Nick Lowe Version)

Nervous But Shy

Swinging London

 

CD2 – Demos & BBC In Studio

Demos

The Phone Call

Suicide*

Brass In Pocket

Precious

The Wait

I Can’t Control Myself

Stop Your Sobbing

Tequila

Kid

I Go To Sleep*

Do I Love You*

BBC In Session: The Kid Jensen Show, February 5th, 1979

The Wait (The Kid Jensen Show, February 5th, 1979)*

Up The Neck (The Kid Jensen Show, February 5th, 1979)*

Stop Your Sobbing (The Kid Jensen Show, February 5th, 1979)*

Private Life (The Kid Jensen Show, February 5th, 1979)*

Cuban Slide (The Kid Jensen Show, February 5th, 1979)*

BBC In Session: The Kid Jensen Show, July 2nd, 1979

Mystery Achievement (The Kid Jensen Show, July 2nd, 1979)

I Need Somebody (The Kid Jensen Show, July 2nd, 1979)

Tattooed Love Boys (The Kid Jensen Show, July 2nd, 1979)*

 

CD3 – Live

BBC In Session: Live at The Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979

The Wait (Live at Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979)*

Stop Your Sobbing (Live at Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979)*

Kid (Live at Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979)*

Cuban Slide (Live at Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979)*

Brass In Pocket (Live at Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979)*

Tattooed Love Boys (Live at Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979)*

Mystery Achievement (Live at Paris Theatre, London, January 2nd, 1979)*

Warner Bros. Music Show: Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)*

Space Invader (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

The Wait (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)

Kid Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

Private Life Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

Cuban Slide Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

The Phone Call Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)*

Talk Of The Town Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

Tattooed Love Boys Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)

Up The Neck Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

Mystery Achievement Precious (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

Stop Your Sobbing (Live at the Paradise Theater, Boston, March 23rd 1980)**

 

 

Pretenders (2018 Remaster) – 1LP Red

Precious

The Phone Call

Up The Neck

Tattooed Love Boys

Space Invader

The Wait

Stop Your Sobbing

Kid

Private Life

Brass In Pocket

Lovers Of Today

Mystery Achievement

 

 

Pretenders II (Deluxe Edition) – 3CD

CD1 – Original Album

The Adultress

Bad Boys Get Spanked

Message Of Love

I Go To Sleep

Birds Of Paradise

Talk Of The Town

Pack It Up

Waste Not Want Not

Day After Day

Jealous Dogs

The English Roses

Louie Louie

 

CD2 – Studio Demos, Singles & Alternates

Talk Of The Town (Demo)

What You Gonna Do About It

I Go To Sleep (Guitar Version – Outtake)

Pack It Up (Radio Mix – Outtake)

Day After Day (Single Mix)

In The Sticks

Louie Louie (Monitor Mix)*

Live in Central Park, NYC, August 30th 1980

Precious (Live in Central Park, NYC, August 30th 1980)

Space Invader (Live in Central Park, NYC, August 30th 1980)*

Cuban Slide (Live in Central Park, NYC, August 30th 1980)*

Porcelain (Live in Central Park, NYC, August 30th 1980)*

Tattooed Love Boys (Live in Central Park, NYC, August 30th 1980)*

Up The Neck (Live in Central Park, NYC, August 30th 1980)*

 

CD3 – Live At The Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981

The Wait (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

The Adultress (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Message Of Love (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Louie Louie (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Talk Of The Town (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Birds Of Paradise (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

The English Roses (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Stop Your Sobbing (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Private Life (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Kid (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Day After Day (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Up The Neck (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Bad Boys Get Spanked (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Tattooed Love Boys (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)*

Precious (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)*

Brass In Pocket (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

Mystery Achievement (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)*

Higher And Higher (Live at the Santa Monica Civic, September 4th 1981)

 

 

Pretenders II (2018 Remaster) – 1LP White

The Adultress

Bad Boys Get Spanked

Message Of Love

I Go To Sleep

Birds Of Paradise

Talk Of The Town

Pack It Up

Waste Not Want Not

Day After Day

Jealous Dogs

The English Roses

Louie Louie

 

*previously unreleased

**first time on CD

 

Read more: Annabella Lwin interview

 

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