Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk
But I won´t cry for yesterday
There´s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive –“Ordinary World”
Duran Duran is celebrating their 35th anniversary this year. They’ve had a tumultuous career, starting with the new wave scene of the 80’s, and with repeated attempts to maintain relevance in the 90’s and 2000’s. This is a great time to take a look at their discography. I’ll be ranking these albums on a scale of 1 to 5 tigers.
The roster is:
- Simon LeBon–vocals
- Nick Rhodes–keyboards, vocals
- John Taylor–bass, vocals
- Roger Taylor–drums
- Andy Taylor–guitar, vocals (*)–no longer in band.
Duran Duran (1981) 3 1/2 tigers
Singles: “Girls On Film”, “Planet Earth”
This debut album is one of the best debuts I’ve heard. The Fab Five had a good handle on their sound early on, and they managed to stick around longer than some of the other New Wave acts of their time, such as Missing Persons or A Flock of Seagulls. MTV gave them a huge fanbase in the states, in fact “Girls On Film” was one the most popular videos on MTV in that year.
Best Tracks: “Girls On Film”, “Planet Earth, “Careless Memories”, “Night Boat”
Fun Fact: The video for “Girls On Film” had to be edited to be shown during the day. The more risqué version was played at night.
Rio (1982) 5 tigers–magnum opus
Singles: “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Save a Prayer”
This is Duran Duran’s most definitive album, so much so that Alexandra Heller-Nichols, editor of Fiend magazine, contributed it to Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It’s this album that truly helped launch them into stardom. John Taylor’s bass line is great on songs like “Rio” and “The Chauffer”.
Best Tracks: “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “My Own Way”, “New Religion”
Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) 4 1/2 tigers
Singles: “The Reflex”, “New Moon on Monday”, “Union of the Snake”
This was one of the first albums I owned as a kid, and I still think it’s one of the band’s best albums. While it doesn’t have the instantly recognizable hits from Rio, it’s the non-hits that stand out the most. It also has one of the best instrumental rock songs ever, “Tiger, Tiger”
Best Tracks: “The Reflex” “New Moon on Monday”, “Tiger, Tiger”, “The Seventh Stranger”
Notorious (1986) 3 1/2 tigers
Singles: “Notorious”, “Skin Trade”
This album began Duran Duran’s more experimental phase. Nile Rogers gave them a more horn-based sound (this would be his first album with the band), as evidenced by the singles. By this time, the band had broken into two side projects, Power Station and Arcadia, indicating some tension in the band. This was also their first album with Warren Cucurullo, who would become a new member later on.
Best Tracks: “Notorious”, “Vertigo (Do the Demolition)”, “Meet El Presidente”
Big Thing (1988) 2 1/2 tigers
Singles: “I Don’t Want Your Love”, “All She Wants Is”
Big Thing was another shift for the band, as they experimented with a more “house”-based, techno sound that would stick with them for the rest of their discography. However, it took them a while to perfect it.
Best Tracks: “I Don’t Want Your Love”, “Palomino”
This album was a bit of a dip for Duran Duran, as the tide was beginning to turn away from New Wave. A new kind of alternative music was on the horizon, one defined by bands like Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana, and Green Day. Duran Duran would have a hard time adjusting to the times.
Best Tracks: “Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over”, “All Along the Water”
“Wedding Album” (1993) 3 tigers
Singles: “Too Much Information”, “Ordinary World”, “Come Undone”
By the time this album was recorded, Andy Taylor had left the band, with Warren Cucurullo taking over. The music scene had shifted towards a darker sound, and Duran Duran had failed to evolve, becoming more reminiscent of a time that the 90’s had become more cynical for. Of their 90’s albums, this one is actually their best. The opening track, “Too Much Information”, is a great stab at the popular media of the time. “Ordinary World” is a grim eulogy for a friend who died in a car crash.
Best Tracks: “Too Much Information”, “Ordinary World”, “Breath After Breath, “Femme Fatale”
Fun Fact: Because the band already had a self-titled album, this release is unofficially called the “Wedding Album” because of the cover art, depicting wedding pictures. “Femme Fatale” is a Lou Reed cover, making it a taste of what the next album would be.
Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Duran Duran”