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Making Duran Duran: The Wedding Album

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With Duran Duran: The Wedding Album, the band responded to the new decade by eschewing their old extravagance, going back to their roots and injecting a heavy dose of introspection to create an extraordinary return to form… By Mark Lindores

Duran Duran The Wedding Album
To say that Duran Duran were at a crossroads in 1991 as they readied their seventh studio album is no understatement. The new decade had seen the advent of genres like rave, rap and grunge – none of which were an obvious fit for Duran Duran, or “Done Done” as some crueller sections of the media had taken to calling them.

1990’s Liberty spent one week in the Top 10 before falling out of the charts; the single Violence Of Summer only scraped the Top 20 while Serious missed the Top 40 altogether.

“After Liberty, we decided we weren’t sure we had gotten the direction right,” recalls Nick Rhodes. “A funny thing happens when a decade changes. In reality, not much happens on that day, but people think, ‘Right, now things have changed’. Somehow at the end of the 80s, music changed considerably. We had grunge, techno and rave culture, which left us in a place where we felt we had to make ourselves relevant to the times. We weren’t about to make a grunge or techno album, but we had our songwriting. We very much went back to basics. We went to the studio and wrote and wrote.”

The sessions for Duran Duran: The Wedding Album were centred at Privacy – Warren Cuccurullo’s home studio in Battersea, a far cry from the lavish locations in far-flung climes in which previous albums had been recorded.

However, the fact they were in a home studio allowed them the freedom to experiment without the constraints of deadlines or the expense of studio time.

Lacking a definite direction, the only brief for the record was that songcraft was paramount, and songs had to be able to hold up to simply being performed by four guys in a room (the departure of drummer Sterling Campbell had left them as a four-piece again), unreliant on studio trickery or whatever happened to be in vogue.

Rather than missing the extravagances of earlier records, the band found themselves liberated by the back-to-basics, no-frills approach to working and used the process to signal a rebirth for Duran Duran.

As sessions progressed, they explored a variety of different approaches, including the dance, funk-based sounds that had informed their later albums, before achieving a breakthrough with Ordinary World – a beautifully melancholic marriage of Warren Cuccurullo’s mesmerising guitar riff and a wistful lyric from Simon Le Bon about the death of his best friend, David Miles.

“Earlier in our career Simon’s lyrics had been quite oblique… you weren’t quite sure what they meant – and that’s what made them so interesting,” John said. “But at this point, we kind of felt like we should start writing songs about emotions and see how that worked out.”

The band were cautiously confident that Ordinary World was going to be important for them, and they were right – it provided the impetus for the rest of the record and lit a creative spark that saw an outpouring of music ranging from the rocky, MTV-baiting swagger of Too Much Information to the trippy sensuality of Love Voodoo, the dancefloor stomp of Drowning Man, the Prince-inflected U.M.F and the breezy bossa nova of Breath After Breath, a duet with Brazilian artist Milton Nascimento. 

Read our feature on Duran Duran’s cover art

Read our feature on Duran Duran’s 1990 album Liberty

Feeling that this was a make-or-break album, the boys worked tirelessly throughout 1991, often writing and recording round the clock (one working title had been Four On The Floor due to them crashing on the studio floor after sessions petered out in the early hours).

Satisfied they had crafted a solid body of work, they decided to self-title the album, enlisting the talent of photographer Nick Egan to emphasise the rebirth of the band in artwork based on a concept of Nick’s. 

“I had the idea of putting our parents’ wedding photos on the cover,” Nick said. “The photos of these eight people, on the day they were married… that was the DNA that was to come to form us, to make that album. I wasn’t sure that everyone was going to go for the idea, but everyone loved it. We gathered the photos together and when we saw them all for the first time we all thought, ‘Wow – we couldn’t have made this any better if we had gone looking for old photos in some archives.”

Though the album and artwork was complete and delivered to the record company in the summer of 1992, the label was hesitant in releasing it, preferring to focus on what they considered to be ‘priority’ acts.

Promo cassettes containing a different tracklisting, including future B-sides Time For Temptation and Stop Dead, were distributed to media outlets and record stores before being revoked, and the album’s release postponed until the following year.

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

Read more: Duran Duran Superfan

Frustrated at the delay, Duran Duran, in the midst of a creative streak, continued writing and recording throughout 1992 on a number of other projects. The sessions provided a pair of tracks which would become the final touches to the album.

A cover of The Velvet Underground’s 1967 classic Femme Fatale was the first, while the second began as a groove which Nick and Warren were working on for a project with Bush’s Gavin Rossdale; snatched back by Simon, it was rewritten as Come Undone, a sublimely seductive love letter to his wife Yasmin, and was included as a last-minute addition to the record (so last-minute that John didn’t have time to return from LA where he was awaiting the impending birth of his daughter to play on it).

Released in January 1993 – it was released a month earlier in the US after it being ‘leaked’ to radio – Ordinary World became the band’s biggest hit in eight years, reaching the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. The album followed a month later.

Providing the foundation for a major career revival for Duran Duran, it saw seven of its tracks released as singles in various territories, became the basis for a mammoth world tour and won the group an invitation to appear alongside luminaries like R.E.M., Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen on the landmark series MTV Unplugged – an affirmation of their rightful place among the greats. 

“I just remember thinking ‘Thank God!’ and being incredibly relieved,” John Taylor later sighed. “For so long we had been faced with ‘Eighties band! Eighties band! They’re done! They’re done!’ And the success took the pressure off us and allowed us to get a foot in the door of a new decade.” 

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

 

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Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher dies age 60

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Andy Fletcher

Andy Fletcher, founding member and keyboardist of Depeche Mode, has died at the age of 60. No cause of death has been disclosed.

“We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness with the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member, and bandmate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher,” the band wrote in a statement.

“Fletch had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh, or a cold pint. Our hearts are with his family, and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and respect their privacy in this difficult time.” 

Fletcher formed Depeche Mode in 1980 alongside Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Vince Clarke, releasing their debut album, Speak & Spell, a year later.

Depeche Mode were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2020.

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

 





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Marc Almond announces rescheduled 2022 tour dates

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Marc Almond tour 2022

Marc Almond has announced his rescheduled tour dates for October 2022 adding extra dates in Liverpool, Buxton, York and Cambridge. Says Almond: “The fans have been so understanding and patient through the endless rescheduling due to the pandemic but now we have confirmed these dates I can’t wait to get back on stage.”

All the original dates are the same venues with the exception of the London Roundhouse show which is being moved to the London Palladium. All tickets bought from the Roundhouse will be refunded. Tickets bought on Ticketmaster will be automatically transferred to the Palladium show.

Almond will be singing songs from his last solo album, Chaos and a Dancing Star, released in March 2020plus many faves from his extensive catalogue.

His last album was released to critical acclaim just before the pandemic and lockdown. The singer was able to perform a one-off concert in February 2020 at the Festival Hall with co-writer Producer Chris Braide, joined by guest Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

Marc Almond’s career, spanning over four decades, has seen him receive an Ivor Novello Inspiration Award in 2013, a Brit Award as well as an OBE in the 2018 New Year Honours for his services to arts and culture. His latest album with Soft Cell, *Happiness Not Included, was released earlier this year.

Tickets for the rescheduled dates (Manchester, Glasgow, Bexhill and Birmingham) are on-sale now and available from Ticketmaster.

The new dates in Liverpool, Buxton, York, and Cambridge, as well as the London date, will go on-sale on Friday 27th May.

All tickets for the rescheduled shows remain valid except for the London show unless purchased on Ticketmaster.

Tour Dates

16 October         London Palladium – * VENUE CHANGE

17 October         Liverpool Philharmonic Hall – *NEW SHOW

18 October         Manchester Bridgewater Hall

20 October        Buxton Opera House – *NEW SHOW

21 October         York Barbican – *NEW SHOW

22 October         Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

24 October         Bexhill De La Warr Pavillion

25 October         Cambridge Corn Exchange – *NEW SHOW

26 October         Birmingham Symphony Hall

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Listen to “Sunburn” by Sylvan Esso

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I wanted to spotlight Sylvan Esso because electronic music coverage has been scarce of late in the blog. The acclaimed duo have new music out by way of the track “Sunburn“. They are not without a legion of fans. Although I have looked into them frequently, the full extent of their allure didn’t yet rub off on me. They are a band with festival and TV appearances aplenty and a Grammy nomination under their belt. Their popularity is such that I do not think my quiet period of indifference has much impact on them, though.

Since the sun put in an appearance the last weekend. I just felt it appropriate that I slap “Sunburn,” the latest from Sylvan Esso, streaming into my earbuds and seeing what effect it would have on me. Let me begin by first saying I felt the hypnotic pull of the track. (The bass line pops off like the little explosions popcorn kernels make when in a pan, heat on and with a lid firmly in place). This I found immediately transfixing.

Equally, the dreamy vocals by Amelia Meath of the duo exhibit wholly mesmeric properties. “Sunburn” is more of a stripped-back track that relies on a steer of catchy rhythm and blippy electronic bleeps.

Listen on Apple Music

When seeking an electronica hit that is uncluttered but still attention-grabbing. Plugging into “Sunburn” by Sylvan Esso is a move well made. Listening to the song, not only are we swept up in the feverish rhythm. We also get a sweet reminder about the after-effects of sitting out in the sun for too long. The metaphor extends much further than that. As the duo’s Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn explain:

Sunburn” is: eating candy till you’re sick or riding your bike too fast down a hill.”

Coming, from not being sure about them to then having their skittish electronic track, “Sunburn,” firmly stuck in my head. I guess I don’t mind Sylvan Esso after all.

Connect with Sylvan Esso
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SylvanEsso/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sylvanesso
instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sylvanesso/





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