Playing July 15 at Starwood
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat/Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat.
The reflex is an only child, he's waiting in the park/The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark.
The first epigraph comes from Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," a universally acknowledged masterpiece. The second is from Duran Duran's "The Reflex," universally dismissed as a gobbledygook confection. Why is some meaninglessness assumed to be profound, while other meaninglessness is assumed to be, well, meaningless?
Must be the context. The former lyric arrived in 1965 from an already acclaimed poet only beginning to dabble in the surreal. The latter was the product of 1983, when image was presumed to be the only thing the five admittedly pretty boys in Duran Duran could possibly have to offer.
That notion didn't allow for either the flashes of meaning that gave punch to Duran Duran's abstruse radio hits"The first crystal tears fall as snowflakes on your body"; "There's a fine line drawing my senses together, and I think it's about to break"or the way those lyrics dripped across their sleek, post-disco to create an idea of the world as a barrage of confusing and exciting sensations.
Despite making a series of albums (Duran Duran, Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger) that still shimmer today with pop smarts and hooks, Duran Duran set themselves up for critical dismissal. There were the videos shot in exotic locales, which practically defined the style-over-substance ethos of nascent MTV; hair piled high in a Skittles-like rainbow of colors; an extreme degree of intimacy with the makeup mirror; the mind-numbing number of international models they shagged; and, yes, good looks that made armies of pubescent females fall to pieces.
By 1986, Duran Duran themselves were falling apart. Guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor left, and the original chemistry went with them. Andy Taylor's hard-rock theatrics had given the band a mild rock edge, while the imperfection of Roger Taylor's white-boy-funk backbeat was missed when replaced by session players or a drum machine. The group managed a brief surge with their self-titled 1993 album, but they immediately undermined it by following with Thank You, an oddball album of covers. By the time bass player John Taylor left in 1996, things were looking irredeemably dire.
But in 2001, Duran Duran began piecing the original lineup back together. The members demonstrated their enduring canniness in the careful way they set themselves on the comeback trail with a series of buzzed-about club shows, just as a crop of young bands were flaunting new wave influences. They hired hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri to produce much of last year's Astronaut, assuring a modern feel even while indulgently re-creating a sound not heard for two decades.
Unfortunately, while the band were slowly disintegrating over the late 1980s and early 1990s, so was their knack for nonsense. Later hits like "I Don't Want Your Love" and "Ordinary World" are comprehensible boy-girl scenarios without the stylish absurdity of yore, and Astronaut continues in that direction. A lyric as direct as last year's "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise," the meaning of which is encapsulated in the single's title, won't leave you scratching your head the way that "Union of the Snake" or "New Moon on Monday" did. That's too bad, because it's been peculiarly satisfying trying to decipher all those riddles Duran Duran came up with 20-odd years agolike finding treasure in the dark, you might say. Here's hoping there's still a little more buried somewhere.
I just...this recap...why did I not know these were here until now?! 4 times on…
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…
How ironic that "Vandy radio" gets resurrected as a fictional station?! I was just glad…