Saturday, April 26, 2014

Being In The World of Duran

 I have been asked what, exactly, what is it that Duran Duran does for me? The answer is complex, because being a Duranie often means so much more than enjoying the music, though that in itself is a significant experience. I believe that I speak for many Duranies when I describe being in the world of Duran Duran as something of a safe place to be; not unlike the feeling of belonging in a spiritual home.

 With the 80s came a sense of excitement with newness. New bands and new sounds were embraced, analyzed, scrutinized, and picked apart by us children and teenagers who sought the perfect form of art to define our own senses of being. Being an adolescent is a difficult time and we were ready to be swept off our feet and allow music and art to be our safe place. Duran Duran sought us out,  took us by storm, and became that very place.

 We had never heard anything like it before. It resonated with us on a level that we never knew existed and it became that safe place in both sight and sound that we could hide inside. Seeing videos, hearing songs, internalizing the art associated with different songs, and collecting memorabilia all became an experience in itself, materializing into an escape of sorts. When things in life went bad, we could tune in and duck inside, even if just for a while, and things didn't seem so bad for the time being. I tend to think of the experience of safety as an invisible cloak of comfort, activated with a magic that only Duran Duran can conjure.

 Years later, Duranies can hear a Duran Duran song, or spot a picture of the band, or somehow otherwise experience a Duran Duran memory, and a piece of these Duranies will go back and touch on a bit of the safe place that was built back in the mid-80s. Here we are, 30-some years later, and the resonating sound of Duran Duran, both old and new, still takes us back to that adolescent time where the core of us was unsure and worried, but the familiar cloak of Duran safety would give our shoulder a slight squeeze for assurance.

 There is one place, however, that instead of us stepping back into a piece of that Duran era, a piece of that Duran era is brought to us.

 I have mentioned in previous posts my friend, Durandy (aka Andrew Golub,) and his amazing collection of Duran Duran memorabilia that he refers to as "The Archives." Anyone who has experienced Duranieism the way I described above would experience the incredible rush of the Duran world if they should ever visit Durandy's amazing collection. During my visits to The Archive, I have experienced a wide variety of emotions ranging from laughter to tears. Looking through posters, magazine clippings, pins, books, etc., I relived my walk through my life as a Duranie, remembering where I was at certain times when I heard this song, bought that album, or wore a Duran Duran T-shirt. Many hours of my life vanished in a matter of minutes there as I allowed the essence of Duran Duran to consume my very being as it had many years ago.

 Durandy has been very generous to open up his world to many who wish to share in it, but of course, because of the volume of Duranies there are in the world, it is impossible to invite them all inside. This is unfortunate, because this is something that all deserving Duranies should be able to experience.

 However, Durandy very cleverly took a piece of the magic from his archives to share with Duranies around the world by placing it in a book. Made out of a labor of love, his book, "Beautiful Colors (The Posters of Duran Duran)," is an adventure through time starting with the very earliest promotional posters on to the present. Each page is splashed with color and love, containing the very magic that can bring Duranies to the safe place carved out of our adolescence with the music and art that resonated with us Duranies in the most intimate of ways. "Beautiful Colors" transports us through past and present, taking us through our own personal journeys as the band itself is chronicled through its varying images over time. It is a journey that all deserving Duranies should take.

Beautiful Colors (The Posters of Duran Duran)

 Living and loving in the Duran world does something wonderful for me. Something close to sacred. I grow strong in the present while taking comfort in the familiarity of the band that I have loved for a long time. "Beautiful Colors" is a glowing example of the way Duranies can do just that. As I said before, being in the world of Duran is not unlike the feeling of belonging in a spiritual home.

 Not unlike...

a New Religion.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


 There was a piece of the 80s that exploded into something HUGE at one point, but you really don't hear about it any more. This, of course, was the breakdance. Originally known from the early 70s as b-boying, or breaking, this dance consisted of amazing skills that gave the illusion of gliding, flying, and contorting the body as young dancers flipped and spun about with apparent effortless ease.

 Elitists of the dance will insist on calling it "b-boying" and that the term "breakdancing" is sacrilegious. I, however, think of that tiny era of 83-84 as breakdancing when suddenly everyone wanted to learn a move, to show off on a piece of cardboard on the playground like the guys in parachute pants on Night Tracks. The elitists can call the dance whatever they want for the time before and after that era. But let's leave the "breakdance" title for that particular time. After all, do the serious dancers REALLY want to associate their sacred image with the funky outfits of 83-84? Really?

 This is the bit of time where the news was suddenly filled with stories of young dancers who were "breakdancing" their way to the hospital because they were doing advanced moves that they were not ready for. "Breakdancing" was suddenly associated with broken limbs and joints, and the question was raised whether this fad dance should be banned, but those who loved watching and participating in the dance defended it passionately. In the end, it was determined that this dance, like any other dance, is dangerous only when those who practice it attempt moves that they are not physically ready for.

   This craze during that era was the blip on the radar screen that caught my attention and made me ask the one kid in my class who knew breakdancing if he could teach me a few cool moves. After a full minute, he was done trying to manipulate my awkward moves into anything cool, but we both got a good laugh out of it, which made the whole dance lesson worth it! Since then, I have been content to leave the breaking to the pros.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Got It On!

 What do you do when a band changes a member for a different one? Do you welcome the new sound they bring to the music, or do you pine for the original? Are you conflicted if they are both good?

 The point of my entry today is about, of course, Power Station. 

 And many of you are saying, "Who?"

 Duran Duran was at its peak in 1984-85, when the world of Duranies was suddenly shaken up from two of its members stepping out into a new music project; Power Station.


We tuned in, hoping that John Taylor and Andy Taylor's influence would have this new group sounding like, well, more Duran Duran. It didn't, but us faithful Duranies were very quick forgivers. Power Station's music sounded fabulous and fun so we were in!

 So, there were John and Andy. The rest of the band included Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson. 

Who and Who?

Well, the teen heartthrob magazines assured us that they were cool fellas, Palmer being an established musician who worked in bands many of us Duranies had never heard before but we recognized his amazing hand in influence, and Thompson, also a seasoned musician, whose music many of us Duranies "grew up" to, but he wasn't old enough to be... like... well, old. That was good enough for us. Palmer and Thompson were making music with a couple of gods in training so what they did was GOLD. 

 The sun was shining on me the day I learned that Power Station was touring and doing Live Aid in the process. What Bop and Star Hits failed to inform me was that there was a slight change in the band member lineup. 

 So there they were at Live Aid, just weeks before I was to see them in Seattle myself. There they were; John Taylor, Andy Taylor, Tony Thompson and Michael Des Barres. 

 Wait. And who?

 Where was Robert Palmer? Surely Tiger Beat should have mentioned something to the effect that Palmer was doing his own solo thing now and didn't want to tour with Power Station and they had to replace him? I wasn't sure that a switch like this without informing me was even, well, legal!

 But who could replace the sexy so-cool-he's-hot Palmer? Who would DARE?!?

 Well, Des Barres. 

 That's who!

 He came on, not trying to be Palmer, but being himself. That was all that was needed. Palmer did a bang-up job in the recording studio, super-cramming sexy into the grooves of vinyl, but Des Barres made it his own and brought it all to life in the concert experience. What he lacked in Palmer's cool he made up for in HOT! 

 August 1, 1985, he went and did it again in Seattle. I know, I was there. 

 So, what do you do when a band changes a member for a new one? In this case, both lead singers did extremely well with what they were there for. I am content with the Power Station experience both on and off the vinyl. Although the need for a replacement was unfortunate, their choice was an excellent one and I am very glad both Palmer and Des Barres now have their foot prints embedded on the Duran map.