article about the making of Ordinary World and the Wedding Album
Duranasty's archive | Transcription by Salvo
confirmed date yet but re-issue of Duran Duran, the 1993 album,
but it will definitely come out this year
Glad to bring to light such an important piece of history and detailed
testimony about the making of a masterpiece
Recording Ordinary World: Duran & J. Jones
23th The Wedding album has reached its 20th anniversary. According
to Emi Repertoire's the re-issue of Duran Duran, the 1993 album,
will definitely come out this year! No confirmed date yet, they
say at EMI, but it will be in our hands by the end of this year!
A Fantastic piece has been published on duranduran.com
with reflections from the band members and their collaborators
on the album.
wants to add its little contribution to the celebration of such
a fantastic masterpiece, the album that includes gems such as
Ordinary World and Come Undone, hit singles that changed the course
of Duran Duran's history, songs that helped the band to get out
of the 80s and get in the 90s in a relevant way.
I'm glad to
share with you this great article from my personal collection.
The feature was originally published on International Musician.
This piece, through the words of John Jones and the guys, focuses
on the making of the album from a technical point of view but
it's also enriched with anecdotes and details on the making of
what became a Duran Duran classic, a song that today, after 20
years, talks to the hearth of us all and is still the beautiful
ballad that we first listened in our 20s. Enjoy the read!
the left the band and John Jones at Townhouse studios.
group really wanted to control this record.
They wanted to have the time to be creative without spending hundreds
of pounds in a studio, and so they basically asked me
if I thought we could make a record in a living room." John
Born in London in 1957 before moving with his family
to Jamaica in '59, John Jones cut his musical teeth playing the
piano when he was just three years old; a couple of years later,
the precocious kid had composed his first minuet. "I was pretty
rebellious," he recalls. "For my first piano lesson I
was given a piece to learn, and I just went away and re-wrote it!
Nevertheless, several years after his 1963 emigration to Toronto,
Canada, ’JJ' had graduated to playing bass guitar and composing
material for assorted bands, and in 1974 one of his songs landed
him a publishing deal with ATV Music. This led to a couple of fairly
fruitless stints as a staff writer both there and at CBS, coinciding
with equally unrewarding results from his participation with a number
of bands. Yet during this period JJ also gained some recording experience
demo'ing songs at AT\/ and working as a tape-op at Toronto Sound
Studios; in the late ’70s, this provided him with the inspiration
to build his own studio with musician friend Dee Long.
Buying an old farmhouse with a large barn in Buttonville, a suburb
North of Toronto, they installed a 16-channel console and a Fairlight,
and cornered the local demo market before upgrading to 24-track
when Bob Ezrin came in to produce Alice Cooper's Dada album. Hereafter,
the business really began to take off, and when, in 1984, JJ and
Dee were asked by EMI to produce an album for a new band called
Rational Youth, they came to London to mix it at the famous Air
Studios. Having taken one look at the vibrant London scene, the
pair decided that this was where they wanted to be. In 1985 they
sold the studio in Canada and returned to the UK armed with their
Fairlight. Together with Dave Harries, Malcolm Aitken and John Goldstraw,
they set about designing and building the MIDI room — Studio
5 — at Air. Over the course of the next few years, work here
brought them into contact with the likes of George Martin, Paul
McCartney, Elton John, Mark Knopf|er, Yes, and Michael Kamen, but
by the late ’80s the world and his brother had acquired MIDI
gear, and the novelty of just using Air's Studio 5 had worn off.
then, JJ has contributed to records by, among others, Paul Rodgers,
The Rolling Stones and Duran Duran, programming and re-mixing tracks
on the latter's 1989 album, Liberty, as well as co-producing a piece
entitled "Burning The Ground' on the compilation CD, Decade,
the following year.
January 1991 saw Duran Duran embarking on their latest project,
Here Comes The Band, in the home studio of guitarist Warren Cuccurullo.
"Warren had a sequencer, a drum machine, a couple of synths
and his extensive guitar setup, and the idea was that by just bringing
in a small keyboard rig for Nick [Rhodes] they could write there,”
recalls JJ "So they started composing together and jamming,
and a couple of months later I came in and began to demo some of
the ideas that they had.
"The group really wanted to control this record. They wanted
to have the time to be creative without spending hundreds of thousands
of pounds in a studio, and so they basically asked me if I thought
we could make a record in a living room. My response was that we
certainly could, and that we could at least start by making demos
and seeing how far it would get."
all this came a new album, and the single, entitled ’Ordinary
World', which was to be so successful for the band.
never recorded in a home studio before, " says John Taylor.
"On our previous album we had a fully working band for the
first time in years, so we really had most of the songs written
and arranged in advance, but there were a couple of albums before
that which we had written in very expensive studios. This time around
we used pretty much the same method, but the difference was that
it was in our guitarist's living room, and so we didn't have to
keep looking at the clock."
“The console we were using was an Akai MG1214, with the
built-in analogue 12-track recorder, while for monitors we had AR
Red Boxes and an Auratone," explains JJ "I was placed
in the window-bay, and at the other end of the room there was the
guitar setup, Warren's sequencer setup, Nick's keyboard setup, and
a couple of little Zoom guitar boxes which John could plug straight
into. I myself used Notator on the Atari, and I had an Akai S1000,
an S900, a Roland D50, other keyboards, and each setup had a Yamaha
DMP7 from which I would take a feed straight into the 12·track.
"So within all of that the band played live together, everyone
initially being miked with a Shure SM58 which they could each sing
or talk through.
Our primary aim was to get about 15 songs demo'd, because while
the band has total creative control it was felt that this album
should be done with feedback from the record company. We wanted
to get that from day one, not after we'd spent £800,000, and
so we were really concerned about the songs at this point rather
than perfecting sounds.
There was a feeling in that room like it was 1962, and that's what
we loved about it."
After quickly running through 'Ordinary World' and three other songs
on the analogue 12-track, technician and artists then awaited the
arrival of two Akai ADAM digital I2-track recorders and a DDA DMR12
"After just two days of doing a demo on the analogue 12-track
we all thought, 'Yeah, we can do the whole thing here,' " recalls
JJ. "We just needed a decent desk and digital tape machines,
and then we could get on with it. We were aware of all the times
in the past when we've said to each other, 'Oh, the demo was so
much better'," adds Simon Le Bon, "and so we wanted to
have a setup which facilitated using those recordings as part of
the finished product... You see, our generation had been used to
listening to very, very polished, tightly packaged music, and then
there was punk, before everyone went back to talking about 'quality'
and 'crafted songs' again. So we never used to like leaving rough
edges on, but now that's changed."
actually started with the chorus, " recalls Simon Le Bon. "’Nick
was playing the chords, Warren picked them up and then kind of altered
them a little bit, and within minutes I had the melody. It was very,
case in point is the final song on the album, a lengthy piece entitled
'Sin Of The City', of which the last few minutes
comprises a free-for-all jam session. "The drum machine program
kind of slipped out of gear," explains John Taylor. "Warren
and I were playing along, and so we just started playing in a different
key, jammed a little bit, stopped playing, put down our instruments
one by one, and then the drum program ran out. We listened to it
back and eventually mixed it all the way to the end, because we
decided that we had to keep the whole thing."
"There are lots of different rough things like that on the
album," adds Le Bon. " Lots of things which five years
ago we would have had to either clean up technically or totally
re-do, but we just left them on because they sounded OK. We tend
to like things when they slip a little bit, as long as they’re
not sufficient to spoil the listener's enjoyment if he or she picks
up on them."
By the time JJ became involved in the sessions, the band had already
produced the basic structure of ’Ordinary World' — a
DAT recording of acoustic guitar, bass, keyboard pad, and very simple
drum machine, together with a vocal which, although not yet complete,
had many of the elements which would end up on the finished record.
"We actually started with the chorus, " recalls Simon
Le Bon. "’Nick was playing the chords, Warren picked
them up and then kind of altered them a little bit, and within minutes
I had the melody. It was very, very quick"
The verse took a little longer, Cuccurullo eventually re-shaping
and refining the initial chord structure, prior to the band developing
the bridge melody and thus completing the musical side of the composition
within about three days. "The words just fit in with the melody,
and that's when I really like writing," says Le Bon. "The
words seem to feel right and they are right, and suddenly they take
on a meaning whereby people can understand naturally what you are
trying to say. "I already had the words ’ordinary world'
when we were coming up with the chorus. At one point, somebody suggested
that it should be 'ordinary girl' — [sings] 'She's just an
ordinary girl...' — but I said 'no', I knew what I wanted
this one to be about. 'Ordinary World' seemed like such a great
title, because it says that the important thing is the ordinary
thing, the reality, and the song's about somebody who feels that
he's suddenly woken up in a bit of a crazy world and wants to regain
the ordinary world that he once knew — something that he can
recognise and feel comfortable with."
The demo of the song reflected the straightforward nature of its
sentiments: stereo drums, a single bass track, a doubled acoustic
guitar, a stereo pad, and a vocal, all achieved in a couple of passes.
"I was engineering as well as programming, and also p|aying,”
recalls JJ "because a lot of the time someone would sing me
something rather than play it, and so I would have to reproduce
this. We re-programmed the drums and tidied things up, but we didn't
record any of the computer stuff at this point. We just left it
all live, and this was at the same time that we bought a Calrec
Soundfield mike, an all-purpose microphone which seemed the best
to me in that environment — Urei and Drawmer com pressors,
Drawmer gates, the SSL stereo
compressor, a pair of NS10s and whatever else I thought we needed.
We didn’t have to buy an Ultra Harmonizer — we already
had one — we had two AMS delays, and we already had a Lexicon
With the arrival of one of the Akai ADAM machines — the other
would take a few weeks longer — recording continued for a
while in 12-channel mode using the MG1214 through into the digital
recorder. "The 1214 has internal digital track assigning,"
says JJ, "and you can’t actually use the desk with a
tape machine in the conventional manner. But it has two busses,
and so you assign something to the buss and then patch it out of
there into the tape machine. So I’d be climbing up, moving
the plugs along, and that was really intense!
"'What we'd do was fill up the 12 tracks, and then I'd copy
those onto the Akai DD1000 magneto-optical disk recorder with a
SMPTE reference, and put that back on another tape so that we could
keep on over-dubbing. So for the first few weeks we were sort of
24 track, but only using 12 tracks at a time. l would have just
run the DD1000 live, but we were using it all of the time. I moved
a lot of stuff around. I mean, even the second time we did 'Ordinary
World ' we weren’t yet sure that we had the structure right,
so what I was able to do with the DD1000 was to take tracks off
it in stereo pairs, edit them and then j put them back on in a different
"Even much, much later, when we over-dubbed live drums, there
were a few points in the
track where things weren't quite tight, because everything was done
to machine and then drums were played to that, and this caused a
couple of discrepancies which wouldn’t have arisen if they
were playing together. So I even moved the live drums a little bit,
and I had to do this two tracks at a time, shifting little bits
around and shifting the acoustic to make it work, and although that
kind of work only took a few hours it was really quite intense.
I mean, you’re dropping in drop-ins, and again that's not
something which you can do with two machines, because you’re
taking bits from everywhere, changing them around and cross-fading
You can't do that unless you’re putting it back through the
desk and fading and so on, but I didn't want to do that because
I wanted to keep it all digital, and so that's what I was doing:
bouncing off digitally into the DD1000 and digitally back into the
machine, so we didn't lose anything.
"When we were doing the acoustic guitar everyone was in the
room. We were all sitting there, and so when it was time to clap
I'd just swing the mic into the middle of the room, put it on all-around
and everybody would clap. It was really fantastic. There were a
couple of fans which I had to turn off, and we occasionally had
helicopters flying overhead which forced us to retake, but ‘Ordinary
World" nevertheless definitely has some birds on it! You can't
hear them on the track but you can hear them if you solo the vocal,
and you can hear the odd car and the odd kid out in the street.
We didn"t have a sealed room, that's for sure!"
Working 6-8-hour days, bass guitar was next to be overdubbed, once
again through the Zoom, into the analogue desk, and onto the digital
tape machine, followed by a second guide vocal, miked with an 87.
"We'd jump from one thing to another, " says JJ. ”We'd
be in the middle of doing the bass, and we'd change something on
the drums or something on the keyboard, albeit on the same song.
”The loud, raunchy guitar work on ‘Ordinary World' features
some heavy power chords played by Warren on one of his many Steinbergers,
while there were some Beatley sounds courtesy of keyboard parts
off the Ensoniq VFX, plus string and choir samples off the Akai
SI1000. The main string synth sound was from the Roland D50, which
Nick had played on the original demo. We retained that, and it's
still the main sound. It was played as a pad, however, to add atmosphere
rather than melody, so we later tried to orchestrate it together
and I added some real strings to give it more rhythm. ”We
were constantly trying new ideas. I mean, John might come up with
an idea for a sound and he'd play a little keyboard part.
would play a little keyboard part. Warren would play some keyboard
parts; I can remember an occasion when Warren tried to tell me about
a keyboard part and I
just couldn't get it, so he ended up playing it. So it was very
one point, somebody suggested that it should be 'ordinary girl'
— [sings] 'She's just an ordinary girl...' — but I
said 'no', I knew what I wanted this one to be about.
'Ordinary World' seemed like such a great title, because it says
that the important thing is the ordinary thing, the reality"
World definitely has some birds on it!
You can't hear them on the track but you can hear them if you solo
the vocal, and you can hear the odd car and the odd kid out in the
We didn"t have a sealed room, that's for sure!"
"For the proper lead vocal, Simon stood in the middle of the
room and used the Audiofile,” says JJ. ”Again, everyone
was sitting there with headphones on, and anyone could interject
or sing something. Occasionally, somebody would sing a harmony in
the middle of a vocal pass, and sometimes we'd end up using it.
In any case,
the vocal was eventually made up of a composite because we changed
the arrangements slightly, and we flew a few bits in."
”These days, with vocals I’m actually much more concerned
with timing than tuning," adds Simon Le Bon. ”You can
make tuning work for you when you get it slightly wrong —-
that's all down to style. Flat singing is a lot more acceptable
than sharp singing. Sharp singing is too tense and it makes you
feel uncomfortable, whereas flat singing just sounds a little bit
laid back." By the point at which Le Bon laid down the main
vocal for Ordinary World', the DDA DMR12 desk had been installed.
This entailed quite a lot of re-wiring, but all worth it, according
to JJ. "The DDA is a very quiet desk," he says. "The
EQ on it is very good, but I only ever use EQ to fix things which
I can't get out of the instrument or can't get out of the mic. The
Calrec Soundfield, on the other hand, is really wonderful, and we
had such a great time with it, zooming in, changing the perspective
and so on."
at Maison Rouge
a week’s break, and some attempts to mix a couple of tracks
on the new console, JJ and the band decided that they’d rather
do this in a proper studio. At the same time, live drums were commissioned
for ’Ordinary World' and a couple of other songs, and these
were subsequently recorded in the space of a few hours utilising
the percussive talents of Steve Ferrone and the engineering skills
of Tony Taverner at Maison Rouge Studios in South-West London.
"Taking a new tape there with a stereo mix on it would only
have left us with 10 tracks, and that might not have been enough
to record a couple of drum passes. So what I did was to mix down
the songs in question without the computer drums to the DD1000 with
SMPTE reference. Then, at Maison Rouge, using 24-track Dolby SR
analogue, we striped the tape with the same time code and Steve
played along to the DD1000, and it all went off great.
The real drums
gave a depth to the songs." Finally, Nick Rhodes and JJ perfected
the string and other keyboard parts on ‘Ordinary World' at
Maison Rouge, and after a
other amendments were made to drums and acoustic guitar with the
much—used Akai DD1000, the song was ready for mixing. Steve
MacMillion in the US, JJ and Dee Long in the UK, and Queen's producer
Dave Richards in Switzerland all made attempts at mixing the track,
which were felt to be not entirely satisfactory, prior to David
Leonard doing what JJ recalls as ”a fantastic job."
Leonard's mix was cut at London’s Townhouse Studios; but that
wasn't quite the end of things. When the Freddie Mercury Tribute
Concert For AIDS Awareness took place at Wembley Stadium earlier
this year, Dave Richards was in London to cut his own mixes, and
he got to hear Leonard's work on 'Ordinary World'.
Unbeknown to anyone else he decided to take another stab at it,
and the result so pleased the band that this is the version that
has found its way into the record shops! End of story.
“We've all put a lot into this record, and we’re all
pleased with it, " says John Taylor. "The good material
is really good, and we've put a lot of work into the other material
so that it still sounds fresh.
So half the record sounds new to us, and the other half, which sounded
great six months ago, still sounds great."
rare studio recording documentation sheet of the Ordinary World recording
session at Maison Rouge studios.
Jones 20 years later...
his blog | February 23rd, 2013 - Where did the time go? The 20th
anniversary of the release of the Wedding Album by Duran Duran was
today. It was certainly a milestone in my life. I love this album!
There were so many side stories during the making of the album,
I wouldn’t know where to begin. A lot of people’s lives
changed during and after it.
taken by John Jones at Privacy studio where the band recorded the
comments on the
article about the album's important anniversary | Very interesting
piece on our Wedding Album, which in case you hadn't noticed is
20 years old.
However, Idolator, in common with many past reviews, mistakenly
quotes "Destroyed by MTV..." As the 1st line of Too Much
What I actually sing is "Destroy my MTV, I hate to bite the
hand..." Written as a reply to the then ubiquitous "I
want my MTV".
Of course it doesn't convey the sense of victimization which some
would want to project on to the song. But then I didn't feel victimized.
I simply DIDN'T want my MTV. And believe I was not alone in that
Album's 20th in Switzerland
23/24, 2013 | On the 20th birthday of the The Wedding Album Duran
Duran were in Switzerland to play a private gig... and who knows,
they probably played Ordinary World and Come Undone which are a
must on every show, including the short sets they use to play on
corporate and private gigs.
According to lastfm.es
the band played at Vanja's Birthday Bash!
Our friend Raffaella Ciroli from Zurich was lucky enough to see
the guys on the day of the Wedding Album anniversary and she managed
to get from Nick this cool autograph on her cd!
Thanks very much Raffaella for sharing your memories with us all.
the left a picture taken during the band's performance and Raffaella
and Nick on the 23th
the original advert published in 'Interview' magazine back in 1993
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