Duran Duran Returns!
I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in ecstasy. Duran Duran announced on Twitter that they will have a new album and tour starting this month in Spain, eventually meandering across the US and then finishing up in Britain. While my tastes veer more toward punk than the New Romantics, I was there at the start of MTV’s influential run, so I have a soft spot for the Double D boys, largely because their Russell Mulcahey videos were a lot of fun and usually pretty sexy, too.
Who can forget the overheated theatrics of ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’? I know ‘This is Planet Earth’ was before that but honestly, it was just a bit too silly and too far on the lace and ruffles side of the New Romantic playbook. HLTW really took advantage of the Sri Lankan setting and a vaguely Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe as well as the new network’s desire to break in new music: according to an article Wikipedia links to, they played it four times a day! Repetition works.
But it was more than that: there’s a little bit of everything in the song:
The lyrics were inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, and the repeating of the word “do” at the end of each verse takes its melody from the instrumentals in Gordon Lightfoot‘s song “If You Could Read My Mind“. Andy Taylor worked out a Marc Bolan-ish guitar part, a very Marshall-sounding Les Paul guitar lick that was added to the track. Then the bass and drums were added, and the whole track was finished that day, including Le Bon’s vocal melody and lyrics. The laugh at the beginning of the song and the screams during the song’s fade-out were performed and recorded live by Rhodes’ girlfriend at the time.
The visuals are the most effective part especially in the new music channel: like the best music videos, it offered a tantalizing glimpse into another world. Le Bon’s Indiana Jones-like character really wanted that vaguely cat-like woman (played by model Sheila Ming) very badly. It all seemed so new and wild back then. It also set the bar high for music videos — at least for a time. Simple performance videos weren’t enough: it was time for high concept.
For Duran Duran the ultimate in that regard might have been the William Burroughs-influenced ‘Wild Boys’ and Mulcahey’s million-dollar video, an unheard of amount at that time which shows you just how far things had gone. Mulcahey wanted to film the whole of Burroughs’ novel as a feature length film but found few to support the idea. The band appeared in costumes and scenery reminiscent of the second Mad Max film but the video got curtailed for a shorter radio edit of the song.
What bands do you want to see tour again? Who would get your teenage heart beating again? Or do you fear disappointment in finding the wild boys of your youth have become middle-aged?