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Making Duran Duran: Notorious – Classic Pop Magazine

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Returning from their hiatus diminished in size and stature, the three-man Duran Duran recruited two new members and turned to Nile Rodgers to help them get their groove back, resulting in their funkiest work to date – Duran Duran: Notorious… By Mark Lindores

Duran Duran: Notorious

The road to Duran Duran: Notorious was a long one. Following the band’s mid-80s hiatus during which they indulged their musical infidelities in the form of The Power Station, Arcadia and solo experiments, the group’s planned reunion in 1986 was not what any of them had expected.

As well as being down to a three-piece following the departures of Andy and Roger Taylor, the band had split from long-term managers Paul and Michael Berrow, the Birmingham brothers that had guided them to global stardom.

It wasn’t just the band itself that had changed – the pop world had undergone a seismic shift post-Live Aid, developing a social conscience that rendered the vulgarity of globe-trotting playboys flaunting their wealth and excesses in everyone’s faces null and void.

Meanwhile, in the land of the teen mags that Duran Duran once ruled, Norwegian trio A-ha had stolen the hearts of Britain’s teenage girls with their impossibly catchy hits and heartthrob lead singer Morten Harket, causing many to question what the future held for Le Bon and Co.

As the band regrouped to discuss their fourth studio album, they were essentially a four-piece. Roger Taylor had made it clear from the offset that he wanted to leave the band and the music business altogether.

Burnt out after half a decade of mass hysteria and intense scrutiny, he moved to a farm to instil normality back into his life.

Andy Taylor was trickier. After weeks of uncertainty as to whether he was rejoining or not, he left without telling the others. Then he assembled a legal team to conduct his departure, at one point even attempting to stop the band using the Duran name.

“Andy really messed us around,” Simon recalls. “It made the whole artistic process really difficult because we had to have meetings with lawyers at 10 in the morning, and these would drag on, then we’d try to get on with work, but it was hard to get into creative mode after that.”

Though Andy’s departure had a negative impact creatively, John Taylor remembers the remaining three members bonding closer than before.

“It galvanised us,” he says. “We had gone on our own paths with The Power Station and Arcadia, but our relationships after that moved to a whole new level, because we were now just three, fighting to survive. Like one of those soccer teams down to 10 men – stronger, more determined, more focused. Less can be more. That was the silver lining.”

Though the trio had begun writing and recording in London and France, they had no clear direction for the record. Demoing tracks, some of which would survive, they nicknamed them after Hitchcock films for identification purposes. Their only criteria for the record was that it was to be a Duran funk album.

With that in mind, they asked Nile Rodgers to fill in as guitarist, not wanting to recruit permanent new members as they were still unsure whether the situation with Andy would be resolved.

“I always describe Duran Duran as my second band after Chic,” Rodgers told Spinner. “I think that we were the right pairing  at the right time. I don’t like to overly take credit for anything, but since they said it first…

“Had I not been there in their lives at that pivotal time of their lives, when we did Notorious, when the two other Taylors left, that’s a heavy blow to a band at the top of their career.

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“I think I was the glue that held that together. I used to say to the guys, ‘People don’t realise how great you are. You’re still like this boy band and the girls are still talking about your looks, and the music becomes sort of an added bonus.

“Now it’s time to go in the direction where you can become more like a U2 that’s really classic and solid artistically. You gotta build that foundation, and let’s take the fans along with us.’ And that’s what the Notorious album was supposed to do.”

With Rodgers on board as guitarist (and later taking on production duties), they completed their line-up with Warren Cuccurullo (who had contacted the band and offered his services after Andy Taylor informed him he’d left the group) and drummer Steve Ferrone.

These incoming members combined with the originals’ new-found renewed vigour and passion to ignite a fresh creative flare.

The title track, one of the first to be written, set the tone for the rest of the record.

Notorious was such an important song for us, because Simon, Nick, and I were left holding the flame, sort of wondering, ‘Can we keep this going? Can we maintain the momentum?’” John says. “We’d already taken a break and we knew we weren’t the biggest band in the world anymore, and the question was, did we have a hit in us?

“And, again, we have to be grateful for Nile, because Nick and Nile really sort of cooked up the main hook to the opening, the sort of guitar hook to the song. And by the time we finished it, we knew we had a song that could announce the next phase of the band’s career.”

Tracks such as Skin Trade, Vertigo and American Science displayed a loose funkiness which harked back to the disco/funk sound Rodgers had pioneered with Chic. However, unlike his work with David Bowie and Diana Ross, on which the main artists had a tendency to sound like guest performers on a Nile Rodgers record, Notorious retained Duran Duran’s identity, with the results revealing a more balanced collaboration.

“It was patently obvious very quickly that we were going in that funk-driven direction,” Simon says. “I was initially quite surprised, but I shouldn’t have been, because if you listen back to tracks such as Last Chance On The Stairway we knew we had it in us. Once we started making the music, we didn’t even think about it. The last thing on our minds was how it was going to be received. We thought it was great.”

Released in October 1986, comeback single Notorious reached No.7 in the UK, faring much better in the US, where it peaked at an impressive No.2.

The album followed a month later and it topped out at No.16, making this the band’s first album to miss the Top 10. Further disappointment came with both Skin Trade and Meet El Presidente missing the Top 20.

Duran Duran: Making The Wedding Album

Read our feature on Duran’s cover art

John Taylor felt disillusioned by the Notorious album’s failure, having felt almost certain it would be a hit. “We felt we redefined the sound of the band in a good way,” he says. “We thought the title track and Skin Trade were great songs. When you look back through your albums, even if they all have one great song that goes into your canon, not all of them have something unforgettable. Notorious in particular has done great things for us over the years.”

The title track got a new lease of life in 1999 when the chorus was sampled for a posthumous song from rapper Notorious B.I.G., forming the basis of a track now considered a hip-hop classic.

More than three decades after its release, it is being discovered by new generations, and the Biggie track is used as the walkout music for mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor.

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

Read our feature on Duran’s 1990 album Liberty

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Listen to “Long Summer Nights” by Oliver Nelson and Lilla Vargen

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Have you ever stopped to imagine what a collaboration between a Swedish producer and an Irish vocalist might sound like? If you wondered about this or if you do not think about this for that matter. You will soon find out. I am about to share with you. “Long Summer Nights” the new track from Sweden’s Oliver Nelson (producer) and Irish breakout artist Lilla Vargen (vocals).

The offering isn’t one of those summer anthems which pump up the bass and blares horns. The dance track emits a different kind of energy. Shimmering electro-tinged synths and emotively tender vocals. Create feel-good vibes that are flawlessly executed, and come together to form a soundtrack for sun-drenched days and hot summer nights.

It isn’t until the lyrics kick in that we are alerted the that song is not as joyous as it first seems. This is because of Lilla’s vocal unravels a story of a love gone cold. Although we could also look at the track another way. As an invitation to break away from the familiar to embrace new perspectives. For want of a better description. “Long Summer Nights” is this summer’s ultimate sad pop banger in this respect. A soft and soothing melody joined by vocals vulnerable with emotion.

Listen on Apple Music

“After all those long summer nights without you here. Dancing alone, feeling weird. And I’ve been far from home this whole year, just wishing I could disappear. (lyrics)

When the temperatures heat up. It is not unusual that our thoughts should turn to day trips outdoors. It is lovely to have some good music to help with creating a suitable ambience for our journies. Simply put. “Long Summer Nights” is a catchy and danceable track sure to be the perfect addition to summertime playlists. Blissful, upbeat pop that harnesses a carefree and driving disco feel.

Connect with Oliver Nelson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/olkannelson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/olivernelson_
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/olivernelsonmusic/

Connect with Lilla Vargen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lillarvargen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lillavargen/



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Watch “My Demons” by Tears for Fears

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British duo Tears For Fears released their new album “The Tipping Point” on February 25th, simultaneously receiving much acclaim. Already spawning singles “Break The Man,” and “No Small Thing,” as well as the album’s title track. The album “The Tipping Point” has topped the Billboard Charts in the USA and went top 5 in the UK. Sharing “My Demons,” their fourth focus track lifted from the long player. Curt and Roland have reached the point where they are willing to go a bit harder with the synths again.

The track that I was waiting for Curt and Roland to release is “My Demons.”. This is not least because of how electrifying and intoxicating with synths the track is. That it has the feel and stylising of something Depeche Mode might do. “My Demons” does shake up any preconceptions about Tears For Fears. They have still got it. In fact, they never lost it, whatever it is. It is in roaringly fine form on this song.

Listen on Apple Music

The legendary duo are very good at using their lyrics to inform and convey bold messages. It has always been their way to speak up on topics they are passionate about or spark a debate. So very definitely not another love song. In “My Demons,” they express their annoyance with a world that has become increasingly big brother. In their thought-provoking lyrics, they raise concerns about security measures in our modern-day society that act as a double-edged sword. Where tracking, monitoring and surveillance encroach our right to privacy. But also has the intelligence in place, to track down those who go off track and wayward in their lifestyle choices.

Yeah, we would have liked a video with Tears for Fears in it. They bestowed upon us one starring dancer and actor Ed Munro instead.

Curt and Roland have remained elusive about the release of the video for the song. Although I’d like to assume that “My Demons” was put out as their way of raising a toast to Depeche Mode keyboardist Andy Fletcher who passed away last week.

Tears For Fears kicks off the UK leg of their “The Tipping Point” tour, July 1st. Also on the bill as support is Alison Moyet. (Further information, here.)

Connect with Tears for Fears
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TearsForFears
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tearsforfears
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tearsforfearsmusic/



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Listen to “Mirror” by Russell Louder

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Are you fed up with recycled pop songs? The ones that rely on heavy sampling and the ones that have endless cover versions. I feel this way sometimes. More than anything, I love to discover new music that breaks the mould. So, when I received a note alerting me to Canadian raised trans-singer-songwriter, producer and performance artist Russell Louder. (And upon reading their informative bio.) This artist intrigued me, that I wanted to find out more. Since they just dropped a new track, “Mirror,” I was able to do this easily.

I am glad I took a risk on Russell Louder. Their track “Mirror” was entirely what I needed. There is no lack of originality from this artist. They walk their own musical path. Some have compared their voice to that of Florence and the Machine, Eurythmics, or La Roux. There most definitely, is a powerful and ethereal quality present in the vocals. Where the vocals are both haunting and spellbinding at once. The other star of the show is the music, of course. This is where Louder comes into their own. By way of immaculate production and skittering off-centre electronica.

Listen on Apple Music

“Mirror, mirror, nothing is clearer. If I can’t see her, I can’t believe her. Lover, lover just like the others. It’s funny what a reflection uncovers.” Russell exclaims

The lyrics explore doubt and deception in a relationship.

“Don’t want to be away from love. Don’t want to stay just for your love.”

These are the words of someone carrying a heavy emotional load. A person burdened with torment. And yet, the track is highly fascinating and intoxicating. This is a blend I can’t get enough of. So I keep listening. While it fills me with a sense of uneasiness, I truly think the song has cast a hypnotic spell over me.

I shall check out more of Russell Louder’s tracks right away. They have a rare musical maturity. Something major is occurring here.

Connect with Russell Louder
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russelllouder
Twitter: https://twitter.com/russelllouder
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/russelllouder/



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