Album: Duran Duran, 1981
Justification: Duran Duran were a lot weirder a band than you remember, you know. The same’s true of Spandau Ballet and the Human League and damn near every other big UK singles band of the early 80s. It’s easy not to realise if you just have a singles collection – especially after it dawned on all the above bands that there was money to be made in the US, a realisation that kicked in about 1984/85 – but these were generally art-school weirdos who saw music as just one element of their means of expression, man. Duran Duran especially: for every shiny ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ or ‘Rio’ there was a ‘The Chauffeur’ or ‘Union of the Snake’.
This mix of the poppy and the arty was perhaps best expressed with their debut single, which is danceable as all get out (and never the wrong thing to play when DJing, right Britpop punters? Eh? Right?) but also has a very neat key change in the chorus and a sweet call-and-response thing going on between the keys and the guitar which never gets old to me.
I had been waiting to see Duran Duran live since I was eleven and finally got to do so at V Festival in 2009 where, it has to be said, they weren’t so good. Simon le Bon – whose intonation’s never been the best – was leaning heavily on the real-time autotune, and bassist John Taylor, who was once the prettiest boy in all the land, has had some excellent plastic surgery, assuming he wanted to look like a ghoulish burn victim. Andy Taylor had left by then too, so it wasn’t the full Duran experience. And I know they were playing up the 80s-throwback thing, but asking girls in the audience to get their jugs out? Really? Aside from being tasteless, given the nostalgia-friendly demographic the band attracts, isn’t that just a little bit cruel?
I did get to interview Roger Taylor when Astronaut was released, though. Nice fellow.
Oh, and back in the early 90s when Jason Sweeney was fronting them, Adelaide band the Millards used to do a great version of this (that started as ‘Shine On’ by the House of Love for some reason).