Duran Duran

Duran Duran

Capitol Records, 1981


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The year was 1983. The setting: Catholic grade school. My buddies and I were just getting into heavy metal, and I found myself going to the little mom-and-pop record store each week to get the latest chart lists. The girls, however, were all giddy over five British men who were storming the U.S., thanks in part to MTV (as well as some suggestive videos).

Of course, the guys were curious about this new phenomenon, calling themselves Duran Duran. We gave it a listen, looked at each other, and asked, "So?"

We're nearing 20 years since their first self-titled album (the one without "Ordinary World") was released (or, in the case of the album Americans are used to, re-released in 1983), and while I've warmed up to the album more than I did when I was a lad of 10, a lot of the music on this first disc just hasn't held up well to the test of time. Then again, I wonder if the material was seen as being strong when it first came out.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The group - Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, and brothers John, Roger and Andy Taylor - would be immortalized thanks to three hits on this album: "Girls On Film," "Is There Something I Should Know?" and, to a lesser extent, "Planet Earth". The vocal harmonies combined well with the danceable beats, creating songs that had both style and substance. Of course, having five pretty faces to make the girls go wild didn't hurt matters, either.

Today, these songs are still rather entertaining, even if it's just for kitsch value. Call it a guilty pleasure, call it someone stuck in the '80s, call it whatever you like. I still think these songs are pretty solid.

For the most part, the whole first half of Duran Duran is a pretty good effort. Two of the lesser-known tracks, "Is There Anyone Out There" and "Careless Memories," actually contain some of the brightest moments on the disc. "Is There Anyone Out There" is less in a dance vein, and more of a rock style that is both intriguing and addictive. The only reason I can think that this track wasn't released as a single was because it didn't quite fit the mold with the other previously released tracks.

It's too bad that the entire second side of Duran Duran is a mess. Tracks like "(Waiting For The) Night Boat," "Sound Of Thunder" and "Friends Of Mine" are lifeless and stale - quite a letdown from the bright spots the first half of the album featured. The closing instrumental, "Tel Aviv," doesn't help matters any, sounding a bit bloated and self-serving - as if the members of the band had to prove they knew how to play their instruments.

There is enough material on Duran Duran to draw me back on occasion, and there is proof on this disc that LeBon and company were more than just pretty faces in the right place at the right time. But this is an album that has to be approached with caution, because the traps they set on the second side are lethal.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.