Above Duran Duran's 1988 'iconography'.
Below a piece of poetry by Nick Rhodes dated 1988
November 16, 2010 | This is an exciting day in the 'Duran Duran World' as we just had the pleasure to listen a snippet of the wonderful new song 'All You Need Is Now', the first single from the upcoming Duran Duran album. But duranasty.com has always had a foot in the present and one in the past and eyes always looking to the future. So it's also time to post the special page to celebrate the release of Big Thing Collector's Edition, as announced within the Notorious special. On october 14th, when the Notorious special page was posted, I left you with this sentences:
John Taylor: "The scary thing about `Notorious' was that it was the first album we put out that people didn't buy. After having toured it, we sat looking at one another saying, `Wow, what happens now?!
Nick Rhodes: We intend to keep moving on. I think the next album will sound radically different than Notorious.
It took me a month to put it all together, since Big Thing was probably the first underestimated and ignored Duran Duran album of the series and back in 1988 there wasn't as much press and media attention as the band used to have during the fab five days. On a positive note, I have to say that the little press the band had back then was quality one so it was a real pleasure to dig into my Duran Duran Archive and search for the most interesting and indepth interviews from NME, International Musician and some prestigious newspapers and find also some unseen and unusual pictures or unpublished material, just to give more value to this page, since there's not much stuff online about Duran Duran's Big Thing.
So I spent the latest four weeks building this page, everyday I hoped to publish it but I always had some more urgent current news that required a post on the site [and of course I was soo excited to do that] so that's why this special page has been delayed. Sometimes I just rediscovered that little tidbit of news or cool picture and thought they could be interesting to add them to the page... so, day by day, it became a mastodontic tribute to this beautiful album.
This page wouldn't be the same without the help of valid collaborator and friend Christian D'Antonio, who donated to the project the full version of his yet unreleased revealing interview to Daniel Abraham, and Camillo Alfano, who helped me locate some pictures. Thanks also to the always great Warren Cuccurullo for the chat we had about his Big Thing days in Paris, it's always a pleasure to get in touch with him.
Well, That's it! Get it up, Get it out, Get it in time... Hope you enjoy this page in typical duranasty style.
Above pictures of the Big Thing special 2010 Collector's Edition which includes three discs: the original album, the singles/b-sides and mixes and the dvd 'Big Live Thing Live' [Palatrussardi, Milan]. The box-set includes also 4 glossy postcards, a poster and a special note written by John about 'Drug' [check it out below, within the John Taylor interview]. Below the 2010 vynil Collector's Edition of Big Thing. Both sound and packaging are great in these reissues so my verdict will be the same of the other reissues released this year by Emi: if you are a fan you can't miss this, it's a must have!
In 1988, the musical climate was changing, veering to a more dance-based groove. Duran Duran were known primarily as an early '80s new wave synth-pop act, and the band was sitting at a career crossroads; Big Thing was their stab at maintaining mainstream popularity.
Turning to more synth and bass-heavy grooves than their previous efforts, Big Thing was seen by many as the band's "house music" album. Tracks like the first single "I Don't Want Your Love", the title track, and the album's second single "All She Wants Is" cemented the band's more aggressive dance angle.
these three adjectives
were used to describe the Duran guys in the tour program and were also printed on the official Big Thing T-shirt
John in Paris Davout Studios.
Below fan taken pictures of the guys outside Davout Studios, early 1988. There used to be fans 'camping' outside the studios day and night.
Simon, John and Nick began some preliminary ideas for Big Thing in New York the day after their 6 1/2 month World Tour finished, then they took a short break before all meeting to resume work in Paris.
The band feared their creativity would suffer had they taken an immediate rest. Four songs resulted from these sessions:
The Edge Of America
Lake Shore Driving
Do You Belive In Shame?
All She Wants Is
“It was amazing what came out of all that, ” Le Bon said. “Sometimes a little embryo of an idea can blossom into something tremendous.”
The band took a small break after conceiving those first four songs, Nick went to London and Paris while John and Simon went to Greece together before John went to Denmark and Simon to Morocco, and regrouped later in the studio with producers Jonathan Elias and Daniel Abraham.
According to Le Bon, there was a great deal of friction between the two producers.
“There was this competition developing between everybody, which made people get the best out of the recordings,” Le Bon said.
“Everyone was determined to have their say: ‘I’ve got an idea, and you have to listen to it.’ ”I don’t know how democratic you can be when you’re recording an album. You can’t assemble these things by committee, now can you? But the results were great."
"Tension is a big part of our sound and always has been.”
"The new songs are certainly sounding different from the Notorious album, this time we have chosen to produce the album together with Jonathan Elias [who did some work on A View To A Kill, John’s solo single and many projects in his own right] and Daniel Abraham [engineer and mixer of the Notorious album, whose credits included Madonna and Seal] says Nick to his fans trough their official fanzine.
"We will commence recording on December 1st, also in Paris, this is when guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and drummer Steve Ferrone will join us."
“Any fans expecting to see the old Duran will be very disappointed. But that is what we want.” Nick says that teenybop fans made their life hell off stage as well as on."
“At one time we could not even walk out of our homes without being followed everywhere by girl fans,” he says. “That was one of the reasons the band began recording in Paris. There the fans leave you alone. You can walk around there without having girls scream their heads off.”
editor note: I hardly believe that Nick Rhodes ever said that sentence used in the newspaper's headline.
Cuccurullo has been touring the world with the band, in fact he has been with Duran Duran for nearly two years at this point, but on this album he'll be just a session player.
Le Bon said "it is too soon to consider the guitarist a permanent member. It’s taken Nick, John and me eight years to fit in with each other, ” the singer said. “Sometimes it takes a while to get to know a person. But I do feel that we’re a band. There’s certainly an essential five: we need a drummer, and we need a guitarrist. But I think the songwriting will come from the three of us from now on.”
There was a change on drums during the sessions, as neither Steve Ferrone [or David Palmer, ex -ABC] was available anymore, so they brought in Sterling Campbell who, as a fourteen-year-old, was tutored by David Bowie’s drummer Dennis Davis.
The record producer returned to play Moog synthesizer on Duran's 1995 album Thank You. In 1989, Elias recruited the entire Duran Duran lineup for his first solo album, called Requiem For The Americas, a tribute to the spirit and vision of Native American culture. The most recognizable of Duran Duran's contributions to the album was vocalist Simon Le Bon's solo track "Follow In My Footsteps", which also featured The Bangles vocalist Susanna Hoffs on backup vocals. John Taylor played bass on "The Chant Movement", with other Duran members adding their instrumental touches on various tracks.
The japanese version of the album.
"Smiling for cameras, from all around the world..."
Keen to building on the momentum of hundred-date world tour, Duran Duran began recording Big Thing at Davout Studios in Paris.
According to Abraham, "The original sessions were basically more like jamming/writing sessions in the studio, to come up with the material."
"The band at this point was still defined as Simon, John and Nick. We used a drum machine, Jonathan Elias played some additional keyboards and I played some guide guitars. Once the basic ideas were there, Steve Ferrone flew in to lay the drums and Warren Cuccurullo came in to play the guitar parts for real. Then Simon worked his vocals parts."
Below full page adverts from music magazines for each of the three singles from Big Thing
The 1988 core touring band, Warren Cuccurullo on guitar and Sterling Champbell on drums.
The Paris sessions rapidly split into two opposing factions. Although John Taylor had collaborated with Elias on film projects, he naturally began to ally himself with the more rhythmic approach of Daniel Abraham.
Nick Rhodes gravitated towards Jonathan Elias, as they shared an interest in atmospheric electronics. When Warren Cuccurullo arrived in Paris to play his guitar parts, he felt that he’d walked into a situation of ‘total chaos and confusion’.
In the pic Nick, Simon and John outside the Stanbridge Farm Studios in Uk. On september 14 Duran begins rehearsals for The Secret Caravan Tour at Stanbridge Farm Studios in Sussex with Sterling, Warren, Spike Edney [on keyboards] and Stan Harrison [on saxophone]. The studios
Nick Rhodes claimed that the new material was fuelled by a more energetic, experimental attitude in the studio: "We dispensed with the politeness of Notorious and we could scream at each other again. We like tension, we have disagreements. I think that's how we create."
"I was sitting in the hotel not knowing whether I was going to the studio or not. It was a split camp. There was Nick and Jonathan, who were much more into soundscapes, and then there was this little French dance guy working with John. Simon was kind of in the middle of trying to work out a way between the two."
Nick Rhodes asserts that the ‘split’ was more a case of convenience rather than warfare. "Its true I did most of my stuff with Jonathan because hes a keyboard player. Also I like working late at night."
"So what happened was that John and Daniel worked together in the day then there’d be a little crossover period. After that I'd work with Jonathan through the night and sometimes there would be another crossover in the morning."
"There were songs where we’d go off in completely different directions and that didn't
always work out. If you can imagine, we’d be working away all night, and by the time John arrived the next day there would be times when we’d completely changed the track."
Below some full pages adverts to promote Big Thing from international music magazines.
The book follows chronologically all of the band members careers, from the foundation of Duran Duran in 1978 to 2006. The 14 chapters analyse the musical and social innovation of the band, revealing unknown trivia about the writing process, the career moves and the interaction of the members with the culture of the times. There are exclusive interviews with producers [Nile Rodgers, Daniel Abraham], directors [Peter Kagan, Paula Greif], and designers [Frank Olinsky, Malcolm Garrett] which leads the reader through a creativity universe that does not only documents the career of Duran Duran, but chronocycles popular music and the history of the tendencies since the 1980s.
Authors Christian D'Antonio and Marcello Santone
Cover photos by Salvo Zuppardo  and Allan Ballard 
The front cover of the official fanzine with a picture taken on the set of the I Don't Want Your Love music video
Christian D'antonio, a very good friend of mine, pro-journalist and author of the italian Duran Duran biography Glam Pop Party has decided to share the original - unedited and unpublished interview he did for his book with Daniel Abrham back in 2006.
Christian for duranasty.com: When did you start working on Big Thing?
Daniel: I believe we started working on Big Thing in September 87, anyway in early fall 87. We went back to Studio Davout, in Paris. Again it started as writing sessions in the studio. At that stage, since there was no guitar player in the studio.
Warren was only brought in once all the songs were ready - I played some basic guitar to help beef up the sound and the arrangements as they were writing. I also ran simple sequences with my little macintosh and performer sequencer, while at the same time manning the recording console.
Is it true you were working as two seperate bands?
Daniel: In a way, yes. Often, John and I worked in the mornings and afternoons, while Nick and Johathan arrived late in the evening and spent the nightworking on the keyboard tracks.
John and I were trying to go in a rock/dance mix direction, working on grooves and hooks, while Nick & Jonathan went with the idea of doing more "experimental" tracks.
In particular, Jonathan was really into a lot of old prog rock, like early Yes. I found it incredibly depressing and frustrating that we couldn't find a common thread and work more in synch.
Somehow it became pretty antagonistic and I think that was a terrible failure that we couldn't get the two sensibilities to work together, instead producing a somewhat disjointed album.
A famous english tabloid after the Birmingham show says: "Duran Duran were slammed by furious parents last nighht over a shocking lesbian romp that is part of their comeback tour."
Any other songs scraped from the tracklist? Did Warren write one?
Daniel: I don't remember anything specific. There were certainly a few instrumental tracks or pieces that never got finished because Simon didn't come up with lyrics for them.
Basically the band would come up with tracks, and whatever Simon wrote lyrics for became a song and made it on the album. Everything else would be shelved.
I don't remember Warren contributing any songs at that time, but anything is possible. I remember him being into playing a lot of ambient, atmospheric guitar soundscapes then, and not so much into songs.
Apparently you used more musicans on this record than Notorious, but it sounded more electronic?
Daniel: A few musicians were brought and mainly did some percussions, adding little touches here and there on a number of songs.
The tracks had all started with drum machines that John programmed, and we used a lot of that in the mix.
We also sequenced some of the keyboard parts. I think some of the album may have sounded less organic than Notorious because we wanted to do something harder and different.
Was the pressure on Big Thing to make up for the Notorious commercial failure?
Daniel: There was the pressure to produce an album with only three musicians remaining from the original lineup, without the help of someone like Nile Rogers. I think they wanted to make a statement, see what they could do. That was already pressure enough.
John Taylor says: "Apparently Daniel Abraham knew very well the structure of Abbey Road [Beatles Album] and told us that slow songs would work better if put all together on one side"
Was John really leaving the band over your mixing of the song 'Drug' being ereased?
Daniel: Yes, he was really upset over the decision to use a remix on the album instead of the original mix, and he did tell me once that he was thinking of leaving because of what had happened.
Aside from hating the mix, he felt it diminished what they had achieved, and I think he thought using a flavour of the day sound would age terribly.
Aside from that particular issue, I think that he was angry about having to go along with decisions he thought were wrong, in the name of band democracy.
That being said I stayed out of all these discussions, I don't have more details.
How were the tracks written? Were Ferrone and Cuccurullo there all the time?
Daniel: All the tracks were written in the studio, and started as jams more or less. Usually, John would start by programming beats on a Linn drum.
He would then play various bass lines on top until Nick or Simon would hear something and jump in with their ideas. Nick played keyboards and Simon sang and played acoustic guitar.
Additionally, Jonathan would play piano and I played guitar, mainly chords [I called it "primitive guitar" out of recognition that I wasn't much of a technical player, to say the least.]
Steve Ferrone was brought in once the tracks were written, and he overdubbed his drums. I think Warren came in even later to add his guitars.
Did you know that...
On John Taylor solo album Resume there’s a track called ‘Tell Me All You Know' which contains the exact clapping beat used in All She Wants Is?! John in 2004 said " It’s a house-y clap groove, probably a descendant of the clap groove line begun in 1976 with ‘Car wash’ [a movie directed by Michael Schultz]
I read you were listening to punk stuff with John, where are the influences of this in the record?
Daniel: I don't know where that story about punk came from. John and I did spend a lot of time listening to music, and went out to buy all sort of stuff pretty much any time we had the chance.
I think we were basically educating each other, playing things we liked that the other didn't know. It wasn't necessarily meant to have a direct impact on the record we were making, although things always filter through in oblique ways. It's just something you do when music is your life.
We listened to all sorts of stuff. That might have included some punk, although I don't really remember, maybe something like the Heartbreakers or some early New York bands - it certainly was not the main thing we listened to.
John would play me some disco that he loved, that was something that I didn't really know much; he played a lot of Roxy Music - a band we both liked - but of course was a big influence for him. I played him a lot of Velvet Underground and related things, like John Cale or post-punk things, maybe like Suicide, or the Contortions.
I remember playing him some crazy gospel/blues cd's from the 20's that sounded like really raw hip-hop; we did listen to hip hop and dance tape collage things, like the "Paid in Full" remix by Coldcut, or "Pump up the Volume" by M/A/R/R/S, these were really incredible records.
We listened to club records, early House records, things from Chicago , Detroit , and some of the early English house things. And then we would listen to African pop, or Algerian Rai, or Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares. Basically pretty much anything.
I also have to add that the entire band was really into Prince, so we all listened to a lot of his stuff, including the Sign of the Times and the Black Album. And Nick would tell me about Sly and the Family Stone.
What was the situation with the record company at the time? Were they supportive?
Daniel: I don't know; we didn't discuss the band's relationship with EMI. I don't even remember the record company ever coming to the studio to check out how things were going - although I might be wrong. I think the band wanted to be left alone.
To help them realize their tense sound live, the band has recruited drummer Sterling Campbell, saxophonist Stan Harrison, trombonist Spike Edney and vocalists Melanie Redmond and Jackie Copland [pictured below dancing around Nick Rhodes during a show in South Korea]. Former Missing Persons guitarrist Warren Cuccurullo rounds out the backing band.
Despite the album’s title, the band has kept a very low profile, “to avoid all the usual hype of a Duran Duran tour” explain Simon Le Bon. The band quietly slipped into small clubs and venues, only announcing the shows on the day of the performance.
In Los Angeles, the band set up in a parking lot next to John Lennon’s new star on the Hollywood walk of Fame and played a free 45-minute show for the more than 5,000 fans who turned up after hearing about the event on a local radio earleir that day [pics below].
“We always react against things,” says Le Bon, “and after six years of being a ‘toothpaste band’ we want to be bad boys, stick our chins out and be blody-minded. All the lovely dovey blandness of the charts makes me want to puke, and that’s why we’re now writing songs like I Don’t want Your Love."
"We’re not grim, just perverse. Look at the charts today - it’s like being on the Bobby Vee era, with all this bubblegum pop and guys like Rick Astley.”
It's the first time the word ‘love’ is mentioned in a Duran Duran single lyric. "I did for many years consciously avoid using the word “love” says Simon. "I did this for a number of reasons. Primarily because I was of the opinion that it had become a worn out cliche which to some extent had lost meaning due to excessive mindless overuse.”
“The music on Big Thing is more honest,” says Taylor. “It reflects our diverse influences without copying any styles. We were all so polite during the Notorious sessions, that doing Big Thing was like starting over again. Now our confidence is back."
“It’s taken us two albums to sound like a band again,” says Le Bon. “Notorious was a great album, but it wasn’t really representative of us because there was a lot of Nile Rodgers there. We produced this album ourselves.”
“Bit Thing has all the funk of Notorious, but it’s also a lot more textured and melodic,” says Rhodes. “It’s radically different from anything we’ve done before, yet it fllows a logical progression - our identity is constant.”
The Artwork | Duran Duran’s new-found down-to-earth attitude is also reflected in the artwork of Big Thing. The album cover features unposed pictures of the group at work and bold graphic collages that Taylor describes as “a cross between Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Bluenote [jazz label].”
Regarding ‘Too Late Marlene’ it is written about somebody very special. I’m afraid it would be ungentlemanly of me to reveal exactly who that person is.” says Simon
Duran Duran has always been a very eclectic band and I think, with one or two exceptions, most of the songs worked out great. The widest split in the camp was over mixes for the track ‘Drug [It’s Just a State of Mind’].
John Taylor hated a house-influenced alternative version by Joe Dworniak and Duncan Bridgeman, which Rhodes and Le Bon insisted should go on the album. Taylor told Goldmine magazine, "I nearly left the band; that album was finished over the argument about "Drug”.
According to Nick Rhodes, he didn’t feel the situation was threatening the future of the band, but he does concede that the bassist was right to argue for the original mix.
"There was this trendy, techno-house remix and I felt that it would give the album an interesting edge. But, looking back, it wasn’t in the right context.
The original mix fitted much better with the other tracks on the album and John was absolutely right."
Big Thing was mixed at Soundworks in New York, where Le Bon escaped from the pressures of the music industry by falling in with Manhattan’s fashion crowd [thanks' to Yasmin's fashion job].
Duran Duran felt that the new album was one of the best things they’d done, and their instincts appeared to be confirmed when the first single, ‘I Don’t Want Your Love’, rose to number four in America and was a Top Ten success in Canada.
However, it only stumbled to fourteen in the UK. Featuring a guy called Chester Kamen on guitar rather than Warren Cuccurullo.
Impact: The 7" of 'I Don't want Your Love' with its very distinctive design, it's all about impact and communication with graphic symbols [they used the same kind of visual approach on the other two singles from the album]. A totally new image for the band, far away from the glossy 81/85 Duran Duran visual identity.
screencaps from the videoclip
The track is a wide-screen take on American funk. There is a European, dancey flavour in the beats, but essentially the mixture of rock, funk and electronics is a formula Prince made all his own in the mid 80s.
Big Thing followed on 18 October 1988, peaking at twenty-four in the States and only nine places higher in Britain.
The video for "I Don't Want Your Love" was filmed by director Steve Lowe and produced by The Molotov Brothers, and first aired on September 26, 1988.
The video features the band in a raucous courtroom filled with spectators and tabloid reporters, "testifying" by singing the song into the court's witness microphones. The instrumental bridge in the song is accompanied by images of a young man and woman dancing or fighting [or both], possibly daggio dancing.
The other musicians in the video are guitarist Warren Cuccurullo playing Kamen's guitar part and David Palmer, former drummer for ABC.
"I Don't Want Your Love" debuted and peaked at number 14 in the UK, but did much better in the rest of Europe, especially in Italy where it spent six non-consecutive weeks at number 1, becoming the best-selling single of 1988 in that country. It did very well in the U.S. reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play.
Although the album went on to sell just over 500,000 copies in America after spending three months in the Billboard Top Hundred, that was half of what they’d achieved with Notorious. Reviews were generally poor, with Q magazine describing Big Thing as ‘sadly devoid of ideas clumsy and boorish’, while Smash Hits concluded, ‘the dumper beckons’.
Thankfully Duran Duran delivered All She Wants is to offset those disappointments. Not only referencing the synthesizer pop that used to pulse on the Rum Runner's dance floor, All She wants Is also mixes Princes robo-funk with the more rigid futuristic textures of electro.
For a moment Duran Duran also recaptured some of their video-age pioneering spirit thanks to director/photographer Dean Chamberlain [the man responsible for the imaginative Visuals for the Arcadia track, ‘Missing’], who experimented with mannequins wearing masks of the band members and flowing, liquid-like lighting effects.
As the band was in the middle of a hectic promotion schedule, and was unable to spend the necessary weeks standing still to shoot the video, the members each allowed a plaster death mask to be made from their faces, from which latex imitations of the band members' faces were cast. With the masks fitted onto mannequins, Chamberlain was able to use painstakingly slow stop motion special effects. Only a few brief scenes at the beginning and end of the video feature the real band members.
Rhodes recalls: "They did a very good job of painting the masks and after we had finished filming the three heads got delivered to our office. The secretary opened up the boxes and screamed, because it was our three heads inside."
The video was shot in London and took nearly a month to shoot, using very long exposures to create unusual animated light effects around a girl and the surreal fixtures inside her flat. A photo from the shoot featuring the band members and the girl was used as cover art for the back side of the single.
The clip won a 1988 MTV Video Music Award for innovation
Duran and Andy in the same record. Yes, in some way it happened... strangely Do You Believe In Shame? is featured in the movie soundtrack “Tequila Sunrise” alonside 'Dead On The Money' by Andy Taylor.
For the first time in their career the band members decided to write personal dedication notes on the album sleeve thus thanking the late Alex Sadkin who had been killed in a car crash in late 1987, the late Andy Warhol, who had died in early 1987 and David Miles, a childhood friend of Le Bon's who died of a drug overdose during the album's creation.
‘Do You Believe in Shame?’ is the best track on the album.
It's the nineteenth single by Duran Duran. Released 10 April 1989 it was the third and final single from the Big Thing album.
The song was dedicated to three of the band's fallen friends: record producer Alex Sadkin, artist Andy Warhol, and Simon Le Bon's childhood friend David Miles. Le Bon has since said that "Shame" is the first part of a trilogy of songs written as a tribute to Miles, the other songs being "Ordinary World" and "Out Of My Mind".
Rare UK issue, these were part of a limited edition set of three 7" singles each with a different live in concert picture of a band member. Each single had a postcard with picture taken from the book Duranduran World.
A grieving Le Bon wrote the song after his ‘best friend' David Miles died from a drug-related accident in 1987: ‘Remorse? God, yes ...’ said Le Bon a few years later.
‘If only I had called him up the night before like I said I was going to, maybe he would have come out with me instead of his old junkie friends. I still feel him with me. I dedicated a little bit of me to him when l did "Do You Believe in Shame?" It finishes with the lines, "Do you believe in love? Do you believe in life? Because I believe a little part of you inside of me will never die.”I think about him every day. He was my very, very best friend.’
It’s a moving song lyrically and features one of Le Bon’s richest-sounding vocals.
"We were very conscious to write songs that were in a good key for him,’ explained Rhodes, reprising the approach he’d tried on the Arcadia album. I think we did well with these tracks because John, Simon and I kept in mind that no matter how good a song is, it won’t make it without the vocals."
There was a successful legal challenge over the close resemblance of the melody of "Do You Believe In Shame?" to that of the Dale Hawkins classic "Suzie Q" [more famously covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Rolling Stones].
The writing credits were changed accordingly. The members of Duran Duran have always denied that they intentionally copied any other works, and that the similarity of the two songs was based on what they described as a "basic blues progression".
"Do You Believe In Shame?" was released to coincide with the band's Electric Theatre Tour which kicked off in Newcastle on 15 April 1989. As such, the 7" triple pack issued by EMI in the UK featured tour dates in the artwork.
When it flopped at number seventytwo in the States and struggled to make the Top Thirty in the UK Simon Le Bon was absolutely gutted.
"That was one of the worst times for me personally," he said in 1997. "Do You Believe in Shame? was such a lovely song and it just fizzled away." Its failure also killed off plans to release a reworked version of ‘Drug’ by dance producer Marshall Jefferson as their next single.
Above the script for the music video of Do You Believe in Shame?
Do You Believe In Shame video has been made by Chen Kaige, director of ‘Yellow Earth" and Bertolucci associate. Taylor recalls his meeting with Kaige "He said, I want to make a film for this song, and what’s more I think I want you to be in it!”
The lyrical video for "Do You Believe In Shame?" was filmed by Chinese director Chen Kaige, who was later to direct acclaimed films such as Farewell My Concubine. It was set in New York City, and shows the three members of Duran Duran in separate storylines.
Nick Rhodes appears to be mourning a friend; he attends an auction and bids on a snow globe, which he later throws in the bin along with other mementos. Most likely this is an allusion to Andy Warhol, whose possessions were auctioned off after his death.
John Taylor connection; he attends a Catholic church and appears to be searching for faith and then attends the birthday party for a little girl.
While singing, Simon Le Bon seems to be watching the world around him, observing people on the streets, including a little girl who drops her crutches in order to hop up a flight of stairs and a blind man who confidently crosses the street in front of oncoming traffic. The Roosevelt Island Tramway is featured halfway through the video.
At the end of the video, a long line of dominos can be seen falling in succession forming a question mark, akin to the single's sleeve.
In 1988 Duran Duran maintain that they have lost the bad aspects of success with the good: less pressure, more time, more fun; they can “for the first time” judge their careers on something other than chart success; all three recognise that they’ve made “the best record we’ve ever made, with the best band we’ve ever had and having the most fun.”
Nick says: “How Wild Boys got to Number one and Skin Trade didn’t even make the Top 20, I’lll never know. Unfortunately good taste has always been exclusive!”
John says: We’ve done too much bullshit. We’d rateher be accepted for what we are.”
How does it feel to be fading? asks Jim Shelley from NME
“When Skin Trade only got to 26, I laughed”. “I couldn’t care less about Bros. I don’t envy them, God no,” says Nick. “The better you get, the less the public like it, so what?”
Simon: “People said we ‘d only last six months."
"10 years later, they’re saying we’ve only got six months left. It’s nonsense."
"We’ve done a big nosedive, bottomed out and now we’re climbing again. It’s the second coming hahaha.”
"I think some people are a bit worried because we’ve changed our image and sound quite considerably since we started, but the fact is, we’ve always been changing, and our audience has always changed too" Nick says, “now we’ve been together 10 years, and we have some history under our belts. We still believe in the name Duran Duran and we intend to perpetuate it.”
John Taylor in 1988 seemed the most comfortable with their new position. If Le Bon believes in Songwriting and Rhodes in “a good live band”, Taylor believes in Musicianship, he’s happy that the adulation will no longer “stunt the musical growth of the band”:
“Big Thing is a more mature album, but I’m 30 years old! We’ve been writing music for 10 years" says Simon. ”You couldn’t say Drug is Mor."
[Mor: middle-of-the-road: term used esp in radio programming]
"Great pop music should be controversial. “It may be ‘facile’ but it got people’s backs up, made them listen. it’s a lot more provocative than Acid House, which is just so pale compared to punk."
"But Pop Music is getting blander and blander, it’s to do with the conservatism of this country and the British. Music has become label conscious: ‘That’ll look good on the Golf stereo’. We’re reacting against all that.”
In 1989 Simon Le Bon is a different man, he belongs to Greenpeace, who he thinks have a problem with their public image, and write songs like The Edge of America concerning the dispossessed working classes of the Usa
Surprisingly, Le Bon takes umbrage with critics who have cited the band’s improved lyrics. “Saying that the message has to get a little deeper implies that the message was not deep in the first place, ‘ the singer said. ”The Lyrics may have been more fantastical, but that certainly does not mean they were meaningless."
“But I am in the process of becoming bolder lyrically, and that has to do with having confidence in what you’ve got to say. ”It wasn’t a realization, like I woke up one morning and said, ‘I’ve got to write stronger lyrics.’ It’s just that I’m more concerened about being direct."
You can try to make a formula for success, but until you get into the studio and record, it’s all talk.”
Big Thing is an album of contrasts. While the general feel was a response to the burgeoning house music and rave scene, a number of tracks on the album harked back to the band's more lush arrangements. Tracks like "Land", "Palomino" and the single "Do You Believe In Shame?" had more in common with "Save A Prayer" or "The Seventh Stranger" than with house music.
Guys on Tour: In 1988 the band signs a new management deal with Peter Rudge [previously with The Rolling Stones and The Who], pictured above with Nick Rhodes [first pic].
As the commercial slide continued, Le Bon talked up the new songs as 'Duran Duran with rave music. There's acid house in that funk piano thing. I’d taken ecstasy before the whole acid house thing happened."
"I had it pharmaceutical grade once, made by a pharmacist there and then - I asked him, “Have you heard of this stuff? “Oh, funny you should say that, I made some up today." It was intense ...’ It might seem like a great idea when you’re blobbed-out on an E, but it’s not easy to incorporate funky dance music into pop/rock. There’s a tendency for band to over-simplify their songs into repetitive chants, and that's exactly happens on the two weakest songs, ‘Drug [Its just a State of Mind] and the title-track." says Simon.
What is your opinion about drugs today?
Simon: “I can’t see it in a black and white way because for me even tobacco is a drug and hash is different kind of drug.
I hate cocaine. I think it’s totally evil. it’s built upon pain, suffering and horror in South America. And heroin is death. if there is a thing on earth that is the very substance of death, that is heroin. every time someone takes heroin, they’re taking in a bit of death.
Heroin addicts are having a love affair with death because they know they are going to die. Then there are other types of drugs. Anything that begins to control you is very bad.”
Are you telling me that there’s absolutely no basis to a story like that or there is no basis to a picture published in the News Of The World of you supposedly smoking a joint at Bill Stickers [a Soho social hole]?
“I don’t remember that,” says Simon in a peeved manner. “I’m not into drugs. I’m not into drugs now. I’ve tried it. I did try it.
I mean it’s not something that you can really maintain along with a successful career. I mean, Michael Jackson fasts for two days before he does a show and that’s the kind of league we fee we’re in. That’s competition and you’ve got to be as good as the competition. There’s no room for coke binges or even alcohol binges. You just can’t work like that.”
Simon, what it means?
It’s basically a guy on the dancefloor going ‘Don’t take drugs take me, I’m more fun. I’ll keep you up all night. Anything a drug can do I can do better’.”
Duran Duran in 1988: down-to-earth attitude and metaphorically
naked towards the media. They seems to refuse the glam image they have had over the years."We’ve done too much bullshit. We’d rateher be accepted for what we are" says John.
The album contains two short pieces entitled "Interlude One" and "Flute Interlude" which were more experimental in nature than anything the band had done before. The band would repeat the use of these "interludes" on "Prototypes" featuring on of Pop Trash.
On Big Thing, John Taylor stated a preference for Abraham's original mix of the song "Drug [It's Just A State Of Mind]" over the version that made it onto the album. It was such a bone of contention, that rumours say Taylor was about to quit the band over the mishandling of the track.
A house version of "Drug" which had been recorded with producer Marshall Jefferson in April 1989 was tentatively slated as that single.
Marshall Jefferson worked with Duran in the USA on the Drug remixes in april 1989. The band were present in the studio when the track was mixed and did over dubs and extra backing. He was never given a dat tape of the orginal and does not know why it was not released. Little know fact: he did 2 remixes and at the same time Mike Dunn did a further.
“None of us was crazy about the way the track turned out, and the album had kinda died, so it never came out. I was very excited to work with Marshall at that time, I’m a big fan of his too."
The reissued album features "Drug Daniel Abraham Mix", which is how the song was originally meant to be included on the album. The version which appeared on the original album, remixed by Joe Dworniak and Duncan Bridgeman, is included on disc two, labelled "Remix".
In a note included in the album John taylor says:
"We should be talking about affairs of the heart... The reality of the human disposition"
To get the new music played without preconceived 'teeny bopper band' notions of Duranduran, the band sent an edited three minute version of album tracks "The Edge Of America" and "Lake Shore Driving" to radio stations, known as "Official Bootleg: The LSD Edit". The promo was credited to "The Krush Brothers", which the band also used in a few surprise live dates.
John has put his heart and soul on this album, that was a hard time for him as he was struggling with his health and with serious drug problems, he did put a lot of mental energies on Big Thing, that's why I think he's the best of the three to talk about the band, the album and himself as a man and musician... The question was...
You either surrend to obscurity or attempt to expand your potential audience. Le Bon, Rhodes and Taylor have chosen the latter course. On their new album, Big Thing, they have started to write for grown-ups.
“It seemed a logical step”, explains John Taylor, “After all, we’re grown-ups ourselves.
Do You Belive In Shame was a turning point for us. We were on tour and we’d heard that a friend of Simon’s had died of a heroin overdose. Simon was vert upset. He came to me after a few days and said, ‘Do you think I should writing about?’.
I think if we’re to grow creatively we’ll have to say things. We’ll have to.”
What kind of things? Can for example you expect a Duran Duran song about the state of modern Britain?
Taylor’s brow furrowed slightly. “Modern Britain? I don’t know whether I’m the right person to comment on modern Britain. When I’m there, I spend most of my time in the wealthy bit. But, then again, you don’t have to spend time in Chile to know that people are suffering there. But the kind of social comment you mean is fucking hell of a long way off for us. I mean that we should be talking about affairs of the heart... The reality of the human disposition."
a song concerning the dispossessed working classes of the Usa
”For exmple, The Edge of America on the new album is a direct response to what we saw in Chicago. Me and Simon couldn’t believe that we were in the ‘land of the free’. We saw American people living from day to day and thinking, ‘is this really it?”
“There’s a spark there... we’re on the brink. We’ve realised that a song doesn’t have to be a hook. If God said to me, ‘Look: you can either develop more depth in your song or you can improve as a player. I’d go for the depth every time.
Guys on tour # 2
The journalist from International Musician said in article: "the irony of Duran Duran’s position is that although they have no ”serious creed”, they can really play. Augmented by the considerable talents of guitarrist Warren Cuccurullo and drummer Steve Ferrone, they are currently producing the best live sound heard recently."
“The cynicism against this band has nothing to do with our music”, continues Taylor. “It’s our press persona. Little girls screem at us, people are tired of seeing us in exotic locations. Our critics probably think we’ve misused our wealth."
"Other countries go hot and cold with quality of our work. But the British hate successful people... whether it’s Joan Collins or Freddie Starr. The press have made us stronger, made us determined that nobody but ourselves will decide when our fifteen minutes is up. Or the public will decide our music isn’t good enough. But I’m fucked if ‘The Sun’ is going to tell me.”
“I think, in time, people will come to understand our earlier work more. I mean, you can’t take a video like Rio too seriously. We were accused of making flashy video’s but we filmed three video’s in Sri Lanka and it cost us forty-five grand. That’s no indulgence compared to what other people are spending."
"I’ll admit that Wild Boy was indulgence, but I never liked that video. That’s why I’m not in it. ”The next video is a reaction to all the glamour. It’s the most psychedelic kitchen sink drama you’ll ever see. It’s a long way from the yachts and the sun tan lotion."
“There was talk of a Duran Duran feature film a while back, but I’m not really interested in all that shit. I know as much about acting as I know about accounting. I just want to make music, to be honest."
”We acknowledge we’re not brilliant musicians, but we’re working on it. It’s the songs we’ve always excelled at. Anyone who’s honest and really listens to our albums will see that we’re not bad, we can write good tunes. “I can’t read music but I could probably pick out a simple piece if you forced me to."
"When we were in Paris recording Big Thing, I decided I was going to expand my musical knowledge."
"I took music lessons with Herve Legrand [Son of film composer, Michael Legrand, a famed French composer and pianist, born in Paris, in 1959 - He not only composes for orchestra, chamber music ensembles, soloists or vocal music, but also for jazz compositions]. "
"What was fucking hard about it was that I had to make myself meek to learn."
"I had to suppress the old superstar ego and I couldn’t. It was a grim realisation... how little I knew about music in the technical sense. When the time came to promote the album, I had to stop having lessons. I didn’t want to keep reminding myself about my musical shortcomings when I was meant to be telling everybody what a great album we’d made."
“I wish I knew more about arranging. Arranging is very hit and miss for me. There were a couple of tracks on the album where we had to arrange a brass section. I really missed the presence of Nile Rodgers, who always know instinctively what to do."
"Communicating my ideas to English, French, and American players was a fucking nightmare. ”Yet I’m not too proud to ask. You’ve got to be able to learn from people."
"When I’m in the studio, the superstar ego is checked. It has to be. I’m not a good enough player to turn my nose up at the musicians I’ve worked with."
"Working on The Power Station project with Tony and Bernard was hard for me. Tony would say to me, ‘Why can’t you play this shit?’ and I’d say, ‘just put my picture on the cover’. Bernard really made me play, but I did feel inadequate."
"It was my first excursion into the world of the New York session muso and my ‘pop star’ image meant nothing to those people. “Improving as a player really intetests me."
"On the album we used a Synclavier on two tracks and put most of the stuff into a Macintosh computer. All the sequencers and rhythm units are on tape and we play to them live. We use sound effects, but they’re all synthesised sounds anyway. Todd Rundgren likes to use sequencers in a live way...
He’ll speed ‘em up or slow ’em down depending on his mood. That’s too far out for me. We’re not that live, but we’re a lot more live than some acts I could mention. We’ve always played drums over rhythm units, drums over sequencers... we’ve never even considered just using sequensers live."
“I consider myself fortunate to be in a position where I can go and make music. It’s not that difficult once you get the hang of it. But producing an album is one long argument from beginning to end."
"A lot of the time we’d break into two teams. Me, Simon and Daniel Abraham would use the studio in the daytime, and Nick would arrive with Jonathan Elias in the evening. We’d come back in the morning, listen to what they’d done and say, ‘What the fuck is that? We ain’t having that!’"
"I‘ve just finished reading a book about Motown which describes how Norman Whitfield wrote some of the big opus numbers like ‘Cloud Nine’. He’d get everybody playing and arrange the song on the spot.
Recording ‘All She Wants’ was as easy as that... we recorded the lot in one afternoon. We couldn’t believe it could be so easy. We used so many overdubs, added black girls, white girls, sundry guitarrists and finally went back to the original, simple version.
“You get hung up... I tend to think that if something’s worked once, we should never do it again. Nick thinks that if it’s worked before, we should keep doing it."
”Daniel and Jonathan are both incredibly talented producers, but they argued constantly. Two Jewish boys who just couldn’t see eye to eye. Tension does create art. When two people don’t argue only one of them is thinking."
“I think we play better live than we do in the studio... there’s an energy and spontaneity in the live show that doesn’t exist on the album. I don’t see touring as an obligation. Every time I tour I’m stretching and improving as a musician."
"If an album’s as good as Big Thing, I want people to know about it.”
And what if Big Thing, despite its melodic merits, fails to reach a wider audience?
“Look... I’m aware that it isn’t the hippest thing in the world to be a Duran Duran fan. But things are changing... a lot of people who wouldn’t admit to liking our records five years ago are now coming out of closet.
The album has probably sold about ten copies in England but we’re working on that. And the kids who are into Duran Duran are hip kids.”
Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo had begun working with Duran Duran in the middle of the recording of the previous album Notorious , after the acrimonious departure of former guitarist Andy Taylor.
While he was still not a full band member, nor a true songwriting partner, Big Thing was the first full album with which Cuccurullo was involved. His contributions can be felt all over the record, from the "lead vamp guitar" on "All She Wants Is" to the crazed guitar solo on album closer "Lake Shore Driving".
Contrary to popular belief, Chester Kamen plays guitar on "I Don't Want Your Love" [although it's Cuccurullo who appears in the video].
At the end of the global Electric Theatre Tour promoting Big Thing in 1989, Warren Cuccurullo became a full-time member of the band along with drummer Sterling Campbell. Campbell would stay for one more album, 1990's Liberty, while Warren would remain with the band until 2001.
On october 21, 2010 Salvo had a chat with Warren and asked him some question about that period in the band and his Big Thing days in Paris.
At the end of the global Electric Theatre Tour promoting Big Thing in 1989, Warren Cuccurullo became a full-time member of the band along with drummer Sterling Campbell [pictured below with John taylor]. Campbell would stay for one more album, 1990's Liberty, while Warren would remain with the band until 2001.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Warren, what you remember of that period of your life spent in Paris recording Big Thing at Davout studios with the guys, Jonathan Elias and Daniel Abraham?
Warren: Well that's when a young man turns 30, we had a great birthday celebration for me at Dave's chinese restaurant, it's pronounced dah vase, not Deve.
My then girlfriend Claudia was there from Rio, she came to spend two weeks with me... I was there for a while.
Me and Simon were living in a house on Rue de Miromesnil, I had a bunch of digital tapes with me of stuff that would later become Machine Language, they'd be playing occasionally in the background.
I was on call for the studio every day, but sometimes it wasn't necessasry to go in, it was quite far from the hotel on Champs De Elyses [my Paris residence for first 2 weeks, prior to moving in to the Miromesnil flat].
Thats the thing, Davout was in the pits of Paris, you never wanna go there...
the studio vibe was a little funny, the band had kinda split in two with JT working days with Daniel, and Nick working nights with Jonathan, that was a bit weird...
I had a great time doing the sessions because i brought my newly designed rack I called Delilah, endless possibilities for me at the touch of a few buttons, I used the rig to the fullest on this record...
duranasty.com: Did you record all your guitar parts just after everything was written or you took part actively to the writing process of some tracks?
If so can you remember which ones has your contribution?
Warren: I was just overdubbing like a mother fucker baby, the material was written...
We had one little jam on a riff I was playing with John and Nick and a drum machine with Simon singing words on the fly... we'd developed it a little... can't remember what we were calling it but I remember Daniel though it had single potential. Cocaine???
did you know that...
Nick Rhodes joined Cuccurullo as an admittedly less extreme convert to vegetarianism after tucking
into a steak in a gothic-styled Prague restaurant, decorated with
candelabra and white tablecloths. The pallid, courteous musician
watched with horror as blood splattered over the face and blouse of his dining companion, who was one of Duran Duran’s backing
singers. She screamed and Rhodes felt a wave of nausea as he
observed ‘the meat wobbling on the plate, like someone’s arm’.
Good friend Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo: they still have a project to release together, TvMania, hopefully out next year.
duranasty.com: According to my recostruction from interviews released around the album release, the band conceived parts of Big Thing immediately after coming off the Strange Behaviour tour.
Do you recall those early sessions? Where did they take place?
And did the band actually started writing any of these with extemporaneous sessions during the last part Strange Behaviour Tour?
Warren: I was still living in Los Angeles then but Ii was speaking with Nick every couple of weeks and he'd let me know how things were progressing, I think they were in Paris because JT still had his place there. Anyway, it was not long after Strange Behaviour ended...
duranasty.com: Is it true the band thought I Don't Want Your Love was too heavly influenced by Prince and thought to change it?
Warren: it wasn't mentioned while we were recording it, I have no idea what went on in the band meetings...
duranasty.com: Were you ever in the studio together with Chester Kamen, the other guitar player on the record?
Warren: No, Chester came in coz I was already back in LA, we hung out many times, he's a great guy.
duranasty.com: What do you consider your best work on that album?
Warren: Palomino's pretty trippy, it was fun with Nick and Jonathan, they loved Delilah...
duranasty.com: What did you think of the record at the time and what do you think of it now, has it stood the test of time?
Warren: I liked most of the tracks, I have'nt heard this one for a while but i think it will always be a special record for me, it was a sweet time in a now not so young mans life... better times were on the way... who knew???
duranasty.com: Did you work on the rearrangements on the subsequent tour? It was the first time Duran had medley on their live set...
Warren: No, this was the last time John had the honor, when I became a member of the band, it then became my responsibility, and pleasure.
In 1989 Duran Duran needed some new lifeblood and after two years hanging around in the wings, Warren Cuccurullo threw his considerable energy into the Duran Duran dates, exploring some interesting tangents with the more experimental Big Thing sound on stage and then hosting his own ‘Privacy’ parties when everyone returned to the hotel. Cuccurullo’s nightly ritual involved unpacking his own ‘nightclub from out of my suitcase’ and then decorating his room with strobe lights, a ‘CD player with the laser plugged in so the music goes with the laser’, psychedelic posters and incense. Once it was all set up, he’d invite back ‘as many girls as possible’. As the tour rolled on, these ‘Privacy’ parties grew increasngly outrageous, until in the end Cuccurullo hosted them naked except for the boa.
Simon says: “Actually, the song Palomino was mostly John and my baby, but certainly Nick contributed to it. The chorus lyric comes from a quote by Pablo Picasso which Daniel Abrahams one of our co-producers brought to light. It is said that at the height of his ‘blue period’, the great artist was asked [flippantly, one can only assume]“…but what do you do when you run out of blue?” To which Picasso replied “why, I use red instead.” Never lost for words, that one.”
Posters for the Krush Brothers gig at Town and Country Club in London and Big Live Thing tour shows in Uk, Christmas 1988.
Tour in pills: In support to the album Duran Duran start touring the Usa with the Caravan Tour, they only play small clubs. The live thing goes on in larger venues with the "Big live Thing tour" and in early 89 with the "Electric Theatre Tour".
Below drawings made by Simon, Nick and John to a fan outisde Davout Studios back in february1988.
On 20 October, Duran Duran performed a fifty-minute set to 5,000 fans in Capitol Records’ parking lot in Los Angeles and the series of ‘intimate’ dates ended at the Roseland Ballroom, New York, on 4 November.
When the full Big Thing tour hit Europe in November, some shows were downsized due to poor ticket sales.
They played live shows in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and Italy. Such was the strength of feeling against them in the European media, they tried performing as the Krush Brothers in La Locomotive, Paris. This half-hearted attempt at fooling journalists into listening without prejudice failed, as people soon cottoned on that it was a Duran Duran show and only the diehard fans turned up. They also tried the idea out with a show at London’s Town and Country Club followed by two shows at The NEC, Birmingham and London’s Wembely Arena on 23 December.
They zipped across America from 11 january to 27 February, then set off for dates in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, The Philippines, and Taiwan.
The Big Bing campaign ended quietly in the UK, where they toured under April. Noteworthy is the gig was at the opening night of the new London Arena in Docklands, where Nick Rhodes dressed in a priest’s outfit someone had bought him from the Vatican. He claims it was the suit’s one and only outing.
The summer of 1989 therefore brought some fresh changes, with the experimental, open-natured Warren Cuccurullo becoming a full-time member of the band, along with drummer Sterling Campbell, but that’s another story and I’ll be glad to relate about it when the reissue will be out...
Yes! A collector edition of Liberty might be reissued soon!
Nick said to a fan recently in London that Liberty would also be re-issued and the second disc would consist of unreleased tracks as they had written so many tracks for the album. He called it a "second Liberty album".
The Wedding Album would also be considered for re-issue according to Nick.
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