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Making Duran Duran Seven And The Ragged Tiger

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After sailing their way to superstardom with rio, Duran Duran’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger saw them threatened with becoming victims of their own success. In danger of being overexposed, they saved their reputations – and their money – by spending the year abroad… By Mark Lindores

Duran Duran Seven And The Ragged Tiger

After a whirlwind two years which had seen them release two albums, tour the world twice, become video age posterboys and spark scenes of fan hysteria, Duran Duran were firmly established as one of the biggest bands in the world.

However, as Duranmania reached its zenith, the group was perilously close to implosion due to constant scrutiny into their personal lives – be it from the press or the ardent acolytes that followed their every move with militant accuracy.

As the band began work on its third album early Seven And The Ragged Tiger in 1983, the decision was made to write and record abroad to avoid a burgeoning backlash and a hefty tax bill. 

“It’s an adventure story about a little commando team,” Simon told Rolling Stone. “The Seven is for us – the five band members and the two managers – and the Ragged Tiger is success. Seven people running after success. It’s ambition – that’s what it’s about.”

As many of the songs from the first two albums had been written around the same time and recorded close together with the same producer, Duran Duran and Paul and Michael Berrow agreed a change of sound would be beneficial to illustrate both their musical progression and the story of their success. 

“We decided on a change production-wise because we wanted a different sound,” Nick Rhodes says. “Instead of Colin Thurston, we worked with Ian Little, who had worked on Is There Something I Should Know? and Alex Sadkin, who had done great stuff with Grace Jones, the Thompson Twins and Bob Marley.

The combination worked extremely well for us. Alex worked really well with rhythm, which was something we hadn’t exploited to its full potential within the band before. At that point, it was definitely the most rhythmic thing we’d done.”

Escaping to a three-storey chateau outside Cannes in the south of France, the band, along with Little, set up a writing camp, taking a 24-track mobile studio from London’s RAK studios and beginning writing and recording lengthy jam sessions before listening to them back, cherry-picking segments and ideas and using them as a foundation on which to build new songs.

Little had learnt the technique while working on Roxy Music’s Avalon, and he deployed it to great effect on Duran Duran’s music.

Read our feature on Duran Duran’s cover art

Read John Taylor’s interview with Duran Duran guitarist Dom Brown

“That was the first time we’d done anything like that,” Nick says. ”The songs were built rather than written. On Union Of The Snake, I started off putting down a pattern all the way through, then another pattern, and then a third.

“Then as I played them back I could press a button and punch in and out, switching between the three patterns at different points, and that resulted in a very interesting arrangement. Then Simon could see where he wanted to put the vocal parts, where the bridges and the choruses should go.”

After three months of demo work in Cannes, the band moved to Montserrat’s AIR Studios for six weeks, where Alex Sadkin took over main production duties on Seven And The Ragged Tiger. “EMI was getting nervous about me and the band co-producing the album, and to be honest I was a little bit out of my depth, so the decision was taken
to use Alex,” Little recalls.

“I was devastated. I went to the band’s management and said ‘You can’t do this to me. I’ll be finished,’ and they said ‘We’re sorry, but this is a big project and we can’t risk it, so you’re out.’ The band members all appeared to want me involved, but they weren’t prepared to stand up to their managers or to EMI, so I went to Alex and he said ‘From what I can see you’re like a sixth member of this band. I won’t do it without you.’

“He needn’t have done that – from a financial standpoint he would have been better off if I wasn’t involved, but that shows what kind of person he was; an absolute gentleman [Alex died in a car crash in 1987]. But he also wasn’t an idiot, and this signalled a recognition on his part that I was an integral part of Duran Duran’s work process at that time. I didn’t get writing credits and I don’t believe I deserved them, but I know I helped come up with ideas during that time.”

Read our feature on Duran Duran’s 1990 album Liberty

Read more: Duran Duran Superfan

Now that the band was favouring a more dance-oriented direction, Duran Duran saw the album as an opportunity to take risks and evolve from their Rio sound. Is There Something I Should Know? became a blueprint for the sound of the record, along with recent favourites such as David Bowie’s Let’s Dance (which influenced Union Of The Snake in particular). 

As the album was nearing completion in Montserrat, recording was interrupted after Nick Rhodes fell ill and was airlifted to hospital suffering from complications due to an irregularly fast heartbeat.

The band also flew back to the UK to perform two charity concerts – one in Birmingham’s Villa Park in aid of MENCAP, and a Prince’s Trust Benefit Concert on special request from their fan Princess Diana. 

After the gigs, the third phase of album sessions took them to Sydney, Australia, where they spent the rest of 1983 finishing the album and kicking off their next tour. The first single, Union Of The Snake, preceded Seven And The Ragged Tiger by a month in October 1983.

It was a Top 10 hit, yet this performance was a letdown (likewise with second single New Moon On Monday). With the album receiving poor reviews, and their inability to promote it as much as they would have liked to due to commitments in Australia, the boys were relieved when the album went to No.1 in the UK. 

For the third single, the group decided to remix The Reflex. As huge Chic fans, they were thrilled when Nile Rodgers agreed to rework the song. His use of samplers and mixers proved invaluable, giving Duran Duran their biggest hit to date.

“We didn’t really nail it on the album… we were, like, ‘There’s a hit song in there somewhere,’ but we didn’t get it,” John recalls. “When Seven And The Ragged Tiger came out, it was a little underwhelming that there was no obvious follow-up to Hungry Like The Wolf or Save A Prayer but we sent the song to Nile and said, ‘Could you do anything with this?’

“And then he turned it into something extraordinary, with all the ‘fleck, fleck, flecks’ and the ‘why-yi-yi’ and all the magical things that he applied to the original recording. Then we did something wacky with the live video and… yeah, we were still in the game. Back in the game again!” 

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

 

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Watch “Mistress Violet” by Violet Chachki and Allie X

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RuPaul Drag Race Series Seven winner Violet Chachki and Allie X first teamed up on the Canadian alt-pop singer-songwriters 2016 track “All The Rage“. A spicy offering where Violet role-played as Allie X’s alter ego in the Jungle George and Maluko Haus visual. Perhaps it has always been inevitable that these artists would at some point come together again. Anyways, the six-year wait has flown by. I am more than happy to see their next joint effort, unapologetically decked out in 80s inspired couture. As much as the track “Mistress Violet” heavily features synths, robot pop and vaporwave stylings.

When these two artists collaborate together, it is broadly assumed they will kit themselves out in high fashion garments. Couture looks are everything for these two (in this instance, Schiaparelli). The sharper the clothes, the better, as long as there is a designer tag attached. The track “Mistress Violet” has acutely provocative tendencies. It is like a duel between two personalities. As to who gets to be the dominant half of the powerfully commanding, musical coupling. They spar with one another, but really, neither are about to submit because the thrill exists in seeing how far these bitches can push each other.

Listen on Apple Music

As far as the song goes, the synths appear similarly modelled in vintage Kraftwerk or David Sylvian like stylings. There is a strong sense that there is a penchant for all things avant-garde. The nostalgia vibes and aesthetics are strong. Everything about “Mistress Violet” screams peak 80s. And I have absolutely no problem with any of that. Make no mistake, this collab is Violet Chachki and Allie X having the best of fun. While indulging in complete escapism. Hands down, an empowering serve.

Connect with Violet Chachki
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VioletChachkiOfficial/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VioletChachki
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/violetchachki/

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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Watch “Till It Hurts” by JORDY

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It seems every song JORDY releases blows up on TikTok these days. He has become one of the TikTok famous, but I was interested in the music before all of this started. So feel I did my duty as a music blogger/ tastemaker in getting the EQ readers involved super early. Ahead of the curve, it would seem. Fact! I have become a bit of a serial offender when it comes to writing about him. Purely because he has found his lane. (Striking similarity to Troye Sivan and Lauv). Also, he has not put a foot wrong yet. (Sorry to pile on the pressure). There is a reason for the increased pace of recent single releases. The debut full-length album arrives in September. To this end, JORDY is sharing with us one last summer ready bop. “Till It Hurts“.

The track is written about self-acceptance. Understanding our flaws and embracing our uniqueness.

“I think we all feel like we’re hard to love sometimes”. He says. “I’ll go out of my way to love someone else so fiercely that I’ll forget to love myself”. Further adding, “Till It Hurts” is me owning all of my flaws and insecurities while also recognizing my capacity and ability to love someone else unconditionally. Even if it hurts.”

Listen on Apple Music

Because the pop culture of the 80s is never far from my mind. My initial thoughts on the “Till It Hurts” music video instantly had me picking out lots of comparability to the movie musical GREASE. (Yes, I know the film was released in 1978, making it not strictly 80s. but it started the trends which followed into the 80s.) In his latest bout of soul-searching, JORDY revisits a high school campus. He dances among the bleachers the same as John Travolta did in the movie, (well sorta). And sings out loud in front of the lockers as Britney did for the “Baby One More Time” video clip. The only way to look at the “Till It Hurts” video is with a good dose of nostalgia. If you are in the mood for reminiscing about your school days, then watching JORDY in this music video is sure to jog some memories.

Most of all, we are treated to another fine example of his unique spin on pop music and a finely, honed sense of songcraft.

Connect with JORDY
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialJORDYmusic/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jordysongs
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jordymusic/





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Listen to “Slip Away” by Meet Me In Orbit

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Like most musicians, San Francisco based synth-pop duo Meet Me In Orbit have not been idling away the last year and a half. With much of the live performance sector of the music industry closed down. (Due to the effects of the pandemic). They have instead filled the time working hard. Refining their already slick synthy sound while also getting a new EP ready for launch later this year. The duo whose style I have previously likened to Roosevelt, The Sound Of Arrows and Satin Jackets. Get us ready for the onslaught of new material by sharing the first track lifted from the forthcoming EP. A sparkling, widescreen cinematic offering. “Slip Away“.

This kind of synth-pop sounds great when streamed but even better when experienced in a live capacity. As the whole experience is more of an immersive one, and feelings become more intense. And this was the intention, completely, of Meet Me In Orbit with what they are hoping to evoke in “Slip Away“.

Listen on Apple Music

Saying “with “Slip Away,” we wanted to explore the claustrophobia of desperately yearning for something but having no clear sense of what that thing is,” the duo explains. “It’s a song about the ways we tend to craft our inner-dialogue around autobiographies that are themselves constructed of little lies and self-deception. In the end, that’s what nostalgia itself is–the overwhelming desire to go back to a time and place that never really existed in the form, we’re, yearning for.”

Being forced into lockdown really did see this duo diving into their feelings. Where they have embraced pondering about escaping the delirium brought about by the pandemic. They focus on transporting themselves and us out of the lows, the fears and anxiety. With an offering that is both transcendental and otherworldly. Meet Me In Orbit’s thoughtful lyrics cut deep while the production has a warm mesmeric charm. From mysterious otherworldly swells. the sonic soundscape Meet Me In Orbit creates is lovely to fall into. As similarly, it also feels great to completely indulge and devour a super fudgy chocolate brownie. Made with decadence and served warm drizzled in chocolate sauce. While I must address my downfall of lockdown comfort eating. I will do so while enraptured in bliss listening to the synthpop masterpieces of Meet Me In Orbit.

Connect with Meet Me In Orbit
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meetmeinorbit
Twitter: https://twitter.com/meetmeinorbit
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meetmeinorbit/





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