Duran Duran, simply three to get ready.
A very rare, fan taken, picture of Andy Taylor arriving at the studios to lay down some guitars after he was served notice by the record company that he would have been in breach of contract had he not performed.
On the right the official announcement of Andy leaving Duran Duran, published in the official fan club magazine.
That magazine and all the teen mags were the only way to stay up to date with all the band happenings when there was no internet it was all about the paper.
In this special page, to celebrate the release of Notorious collector's edition, the Duran guys explain in their own words the process and the meaning behind the songs of their 1986 masterpiece.
When I originally bought this album, back in 1986 I was only 14 years old, I loved it at the time but maybe I couldn't understand the whole project and the band's intent in its entirety as I was too young and I had no experienced life. For sure today, after 24 years since its first release, I look to the whole Notorious period, the music and [especially] the lyrics, from a different perspective, and I see now those two years of works [recording, promoting, touring] as a well designed painting, a black and white painting. This, more than any other Duran Duran album, seems a piece of art since its conception.
Notorious Collector's Edition | Review | With its hard-edged production from Nile Rodgers Notorious emerges a winner in deluxe form. The album still sounds incredibly fresh and full of inspiration. Not only is the remastering good and well-maintained [compared to the last batch of Duran remasters earlier this year], but the bonus material, much of it confined to vinyl all these years, is a treat.
The box-set includes the album, the remixes with the live ep 'Duran Goes Dutch', 'Working for The Skin Trade' dvd, orginally published on vhs and a set of five glossy picture cards.
In the center the remixes cd which has on the cover an alternative picture from the John Swannell album photo session.
The five picture cards
Five live tracks recorded in Rotterdam in may 1987 during the Strange Behaviour Tour [Ep previously released under the title 'Duran Goes Dutch'], featuring a full horn section and including a cool recasting of “Hungry Like the Wolf", and remixes of underrated single “Skin Trade”, “American Science” and “Vertigo [Do the Demolition]” strike the best balance between the band’s classic early remixes and dance-heavy revamps that were more commonplace on the late ‘80s club scene. The bonus dvd, Working For The Skin Trade, shows a band which was getting increasingly intriguing as a live act, adding horn sections and rearranging past hits to accommodate their new sound.
The sound and the picture quality of the video is pretty good. Highlight of the show Vertigo [Do The Demolition] with a fantastic counterpoint moment with Curtis King on the final chorus.
The cool packaging is coherent with the band's 1986/87 visual identity.
duranasty.com verdict: a must have!
The only flaw in all this magnificence, just from a visual point of view [ I have to remark since this is a collector's edition] it's the bad moire effect on the sleeve of the album. It looks like they didn't work with the original artwork but they just used professional scans of the album sleeve. That could be the cause of such a disagreeable effect.
Below the vinyl version of the collector's edition. Couldn't resist, I had to get them all!
In 1986 Roger Taylor officially leaves Duran Duran which is a shock to all the band. “I din’t realise how much it was all getting to him,” says Nick. Steve Ferrone is drafted in to play on the new album but fans are assured it’s not permanent.
Steve recalls a year later: "One morning, the phone rings and it’s John. He said “what are you doing this year?” I said well, this summer I’m supposed to be working with Peter Frampton. He said, ”you want to rethink that?” And here I’m, on the new Duran Duran album, and on the upcoming tour!"
Work begins on Notorious in Paris. No sign of Andy. After many frantic transatlantic phone-call it transpires tha Andy is getting a solo career together in LA, jamming with Belinda Carlisle, Rod Stewart and Steve Jones. Andy, appear on some tracks on Notorious. In October Notorious is released with a neat line about “flaky bandits”. Says Nick: “What we said was Andy gets paid for playing on this album but he’s not with Duran anymore.”
The remaining three original band members, Rhodes, Le Bon and John Taylor continued working on the new album with Warren Cuccurullo and producer Nile Rodgers [himself a guitarist from his days in Chic] providing the remaining guitar work. Incidentally, with material from three guitarists, the band has since found it difficult to tell what guitarist ended up playing on what finished track.
Nick Rhodes recalls: "It left us in a position where we knew what direction we wanted to go in. We knew what producer we wanted to use. We teamed up with Nile Rodgers who'd worked with us on The Reflex and Wild Boys. We wanted to make a funk record."
John Taylor recalls: "Nick came to me and said, `We're going to do another Duran Duran album,' and I was kind of getting into a more of a funky [sound]. I'd enjoyed with a horn section [on the Power Station album] and the band didn't exist as it had before; we had to find a new sound."
Warren Cuccurullo recalls: "When I got into the band in 1986, here they were, three guys from the original five, continuing on under the name Duran Duran. To go on and to keep the name is something that I really admire about John, Nick, and Simon because you're really putting your a** on the line. There's fans that are expecting to see the whole band, and then there's the die hard fans who are thinking, `This isn't Duran Duran anymore.' ...I think my style of guitar playing is more what the band really needs. I think it's more with the direction where Nick and John were kind of at than what Andy's doing. Andy was more into kind of an American rock thing, and I was always more into the more esoteric British rock stuff."
The guys about Andy and Roger leaving the band in 1986
John: “What happened was we all arranged to meet in Paris on April 1 or something to start writing songs and Andy didn’t turn up. He didn’t call us and he didn’t return our calls and he was sending messages through his lawyers and all we wanted to do was make a record and cut the crap. We were determined to do it and it wasn’t just that he didn’t want to do it, he didn’t want us to do it either. He had no interest in the group whatsoever but we were buggered if we were going to stop. I don’t want to sound bitter about it but he definitely tried it on.”
“No, we don’t hold grudges” says Nick.
Nick: “We believed in Duran Duran and we had pride in that name but I think he’d have been quite happy to see us just split up.”
John: “It came to the point where we’d pretty much finished the album and he was served notice by the record company that he would have been in breach of contract had he not performed, so he came over and he actually plays on three songs - but when we met with him we just had nothing whatsoever in common.”
Simon: "You can't make someone do what they don't want to do. It wasn't us kicking them out; we'd have loved to have had them around still. They just didn't want to know. [Nick and I] just felt that Duran Duran was not dead, and we weren't going to let it die."
Nick:”When we finally met him we said ‘Well, okay, you’re five months late but do you want to come and do some stuff now?’, but really didn’t. He put a couple of nice things down on the album but we couldn’t use some of the other things he played. I’d actually been over to Los Angeles previously to do some work with Andy and even at that stage I realised that something was a little bit dubious. He was driving around Los Angeles with his producer in a gold Rolls Royce looking at studios, and, gold Rolls Royces not being my favourite method of transport, I knew that something was up. The trouble is Andy is into rock’n’roll and we are into art’n’roll...”
Nile Rodgers with Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon during the recording session in London.
A picture from the book 'Duran Duran World', filled with pics taken by Virginia Liberatore during the Strange Behaviour World Tour
John: "I think fame overwhelmed Roger, it's ok if something overwhelms you and you're enthralled by it. But if it's something that overwhelms you and bores you at the same time, who needs it? I just think that Roger was just kind of bored by the circus, really. And Andy just wanted to play his guitar and I can't really blame him.
We're getting on better that when we started, also, we feel sort of drawn to each other. There's a strenght between us. we have to support each other a lot more; we're a lot more responsible to each other. We're very powerfull as a triad; we're very strong together. I think that one day, we want Duran Duran to be considered a very powerful source in music, but it takes a long time if you 're good-looking." [laughs]
The break-up with their management team, the Berrows.
Less widely publicised than the personnel problems, but just as disruptive,
has been the protracted break-up with their management team, the Berrows,
who have been associated with the band since their beginnings at Birmingham’s
Rum Runner [owned by the Berrows].
“The situation is that we are without management now,” says Simon flatly. “Which means that it’s a lot more work for each of us to do. We’ve got to think about artwork, press, touring details... basically, we’re making all the phone calls ourselves. But we have more control, and that’s the best thing.”
With a split in the ranks, management limbo, “aggressive letters from Andy’s lawyers”, recording the first album in years could have been very difficult. Instead it proved to be useful escape. “Surprisingly enough, recording was the only relief we had from all that. We were able to concentrate on the music, where we could go and hide I suppose, and because of that the album got done. In fact, it was a lot easier making this album than Seven And The Ragged Tiger.”
The ensuing Notorious made a very respectable debut in the British charts in the Top 20.
Even the relatively less successuful Arcadia and Power Station off-shoots were million sellers. Those two projects were even more important in shaping the future of Duran. Partly in distancing Andy from the band, and partly for providing new inspiration to remaining members.
In 1987 plans for the world tour are announced but Skin Trade disappointingly fails to dent the Top 20.
Above pics from the Notorious video which was was shot on 16mm.
John: The title “Notorious” existed before the song. We wanted to call the album that because it just seemed the right title. But Simon was reluctant to write a song...
I was very reluctant to write a song which would...
John: Simon was reluctant to sing “hey hey we’re notorious” or something, but actually the tune was the last thing we came up with when we were jamming in the studio and he started coming up with some lines and it just felt right.
Simon: I felt like “Notorious”. And, actually, as a statement it just says “bog off”. If you understand the lyrics you understand why.
John: It was never meant to make a statement but we’ve always been so ambiguous before. I mean, like with “Rio” wich was about a girl called Rio or like with “Seven and The Ragged Tiger”... it was nice to have something more direct.
Nick on the set of the video for Notorious.
Nick: “It’s about consumerism, It’s about being bamboozled by American science, all those commercials on television. Call toll-free and you can have whatever you want. It’s a nice way of looking at it, saying America is more modern and more high-tech and more neon and more fututistic than other places. It’s kind of a fun song.”
This was written in Paris and this was when things started falling into place for us. Maybe this one will be a single. It’s kind of a slow version of a rap type rhythm.
John: No - do you think so?
Nick: Yes, it is.
I do n’t think so. It’s just a mild, light groove. When we
started it, it was shockingly funky.
Simon: It’s about being consumerised. Not really McDonald’s but the whole bit. The way that people are just led into...
John: But it’s not overly negative, is it?
Simon: No, it’s quite an innocent song in a way. It’s like I’m watching TV and I’m being Americanscienced. The American science is consumerism. it’s about being addicted to the idea of consumerism and spending and products exposed on TV.
There’s nothing like blowing your own trumpet!
John Taylor and Nile Rodgers during one of the recording sessions in London.
“It’s probably going to be the next single. It’s actually
our favourite thing we’ve ever done, which is an interesting concept
- that we all agree on something.
This is the favourite track for all of us. It’s quite simply the best thing we’ve done, I think.
John: Yes, it is..
Nick: It’s just so basic in many ways. It’s such a simple melody.
Simon: It’s not actually a simple melody.
Nick: It is
Simon: It’s not! (sings) “da da da da...”
John: that is amazing. You said the other day “that’s one of the simplest melodies I’ve ever written”. [sings]“da da da da”...
Simon: It’s not simple. It’s not the most obvious thing there could possibly ever be ever. Excuse me.
John: It’s the best bass line I’ve ever played.
Simon: But I had absolutely zero idea what to do with it. It just didn’t rub me at all. I was sitting there thinking “what the hell am I going to do with this?” The whole thing was all too regular for me - until I had an idea for it and i wrote it...
John: And I walked in and went “Oh my God! That’s it! That’s fantastic!” It blew me away, actually. It was a very emotional moment.
Sleeve of Skin Trade 7"
A flattering review by Max Bell for the Uk pop magazine 'N°1'.
someone please explain, the reason for this strange behaviour? Not
only have Duran Duran confounded everyone with their best album ever (despite
or because of Andy Taylor’s departure) they’ve also managed
to pack it full of classic singles.
Nick Rhodes during the recording sessions trying to replace Andy Taylor on guitar?
Nick: “I suppose this is more like Save A Prayer than anything we’ve ever done before. It wasn’t meant to be like that on purpose, it just developed. We wanted to put a song that had a little bit more of a relaxed, almost ballad feel. We felt that Seven And The Ragged Tiger lacked that. One day we just started writing and this came out.”
John: This is one of the clearer ditties on the album. We kind of wanted something in the same vein as “Save a Prayer”.
Simon: No, we didn’t. It was a very unsure song to begin with.
John: But we were in control of the guitar parts...
Nick: Wich is very novel for us.
Simon: We came up with th everse straight away so we had a great verse but no real chorus for it. And we tried different things and it started developing into magnum opus – kind of almost like “Bohemian Rhapsody” - and then we looked at it and thought “that’s crap”. We were dead embarrassed by it, so we went back to the verse and said “right, everybody end on the chord that feels right” and everybody ended on different chord...
Nick: I finished on a demolished ninth...
John: But then we got some empathy going and it all fitted into place.
Another beautiful picture published in the Duran Duran fanzine issued by the official fan club.
Nick: “This is the bridge between the old and new Duran Duran. It’s, uh, a very simple r-pop song. I was going to say rock song, because it’s really a pop song. I think it’s the only one on the album that could possibly have been on an earlier Duran Duran album. really nice structure actually. I like the middle of it.”
John: That was a song thinking “well, we better not stray too far away from the Duran formula...”
Nick: Well, it was a bridging the gap.
Simon: It’s funny, though, because as soon as it gelled, as soon as it all came together, it grew like 20 times and the whole of the rhythm track got reduced and economised and, um... do you know what I mean?
Nick: The rhythm track didn’t change.
Simon: Yes, it did, The bass changed.
John: It was exactly the same. I re-recorded it six or seven times but it stayed the same.
Nick: It’s a very natural song. It wasn't a deliberate attempt so sound like old Duran but it did come closer to the old sound.
John: It’s definitely the one track on the album that could have been on our other albums.
Simon: The song is about keeping secrets. It almost had “The Trouble With Louise”, that Hitchcock film title, in brackets after it.
Nick: It’s the The Trouble With Harry, that Hitchcock film, actually.
Simon: The film was The Trouble With Harry but the title of the song in brackets was going to be “The Trouble With Louise”.
John: The trouble with what?
Simon: The trouble with Louise.
John: The trouble with who?
John: The trouble with Louise?
Nick: What’s the matter with her?
Simon: Well, it was about, um, I don’t know...
Nick: Actually I remember you telling me about that. What happened to Louise?
John: I like that title much better than “Hold Me”. Much better! Why didn’t you use it?
Nick: He couldn’t get it in the chorus, could you, Charlie?”
So who is Louise?
Simon: I can’t really say, can I?
Nick: Haw haw.
Simon: Well, suppose she is a real person...
John: It could be his auntie or his mother or something...
Nick: It could be a tortoise, on the other hand.
John: Right, we’ve finished Side One.
Nick: And very good it was too, huh?
John Taylor and a dancer on the set of the Notorious video.
Nick: “It’s funny, this is one of the first things we wrote. John and I had the backing track done before Simon arrived and it all sort of spiralled around this one chord and that’s how it got the title Vertigo, it really seemed to make you a bit dizzy and everything repeated. Simon got a title for the chorus, ‘Do The Demolition’ and it somehow took on a much softer feeling than the verse somewhere along the line so it almost feels like two different songs stuck together, so that’s why it’s called ‘Vertigo [Do The Demolition].”
John: This is a very, very odd little number. Musically, how it all came about was it started with a dadadadadadadada and the drums and the bass and the keyboards all ment around it so it was like a spiral and I listened to it after a while and said “hey, actually, this does!” It’s kind of cool, actually.
Nick: The title, “Vertigo”, comes from the Hitchcock film. We were going through Hitchcock films and we got Vertigo and Notorious from it...
Simon: The song actually reminds me of standing on a high building and knocking the bricks out from under you feet. that is basically what the song’s about, anyway. It’s about messing yourself up in any way, whether it’s having ideas that can take you out of your depth of getting messed up on cocaine.
John: Oh, I don’t think we want to say that, do we? I think it’s so blatantly obvious when you listen to the lyric that we don’t need to repeat it.
Simon: It’s a very personal statement.
John: It does something that none of our songs have ever done before, musically. It goes off in two different parts. The verse is very kind of devilish - I kind of imagine it as being the Devil - and the chorus is very sweet and angelic. but they’reboth saying exactly the same things. It’s quite interesting how it works.
Duran Duran's Notorious had a lot of attention from the media and the band also featured on the cover of many international magazines.
On the right a couple of paper goodies from my personal collection.
A behind the scene article about the making of Notorious from a Us 80's teen magazine and the poster for the world preview of the 'Three To Get Ready' rockumentary in a cinema, during the Florence Film Festival in december 1987.
Nick: “This one’s kind of like a ‘60’s soul thing to me. It’s got a very bizarre rhythm to it. It was written one night in Abbey Road studios in London. The reason we went there is to get the drum sound that had never been recorded before. There’s a room there, Studio One, where they record all the orchestras.
And we called them up and said we’d like to book Studio One for drums. And they went ‘Aw, no-no-no, you want Studio Two or Three.’ We wanted tha one, though, it’s like an aircraft hangar. And together with the help of 32 microphones, we got a drum sound in there.
This is a very compact songs. If anything, it reminds me of some of those old soul songs from the ‘60s. It’s more normal in its melodic structure than some of the songs. It’s a great melody.
John: It’s a very ‘60’s soul melody, actually. The rhythm section is designed on Weather Report...” (‘70s “fusion” “Jazz band”)
Nick: it’s not that bad.
John: ... and it’s very complex...
Nick: It was so complex to start with that John couldn’t play it!
Simon: We had to change it twice... The lyrics are about... well, it’s called “So Misled”, so it’s there - it’s obvious. You know, we haven’t printed the lyrics on the album cover and this is an acceptance of the fact that the words are very clear more than anything else.
It’s very difficoult to talk about lyrics because someone is asking you to explain something that you’ve already tried to explain in the song. You’ve already put it in the most economical form you can and then someone asks you to expound on that. It’s very anty-lyrical to do that...
Nick: Besides, Simon has been to elocution lessons.
Simon: No. No, I haven’t!
Nick: Oh, dooooon’t! I’m only joking!
Simon: I secretely went for a holyday on the boat but I didn’t tell you about it. I told you I was at elocution lessons.
Nick: So that’s where you were. I kept phoning up and they said “Simon’s not in”. I’m terribly sorry...
Three to Get Ready:
the behind the scenes rockumentary prior to the Strange Behavior Tour in 1987
Nick: “This is the most ‘60s-influenced song on the album. When we were writing the album we looked back at the things that maybe influenced some of the people we liked. So we went back a generation and listened to things like Sly And The Family Stone and James Brown. And this song is partially a result of some of that. This one’s actually one of my personal favourites, because it’s something that no one would have ever expected from Duran Duran and it’s got an interesting storyline, but I’ll leave it up to you to figure it out.”
John: For us, this number was an outrageous thing to do. It’s outrageously black.
Simon: I can remember a time when I hated the whole song. I really didn’t like it - and Nick didn’t like it...
Nick: I loved it!
Simon: You didn’t!
Nick: Well, not when it had the [sings]“dadadadada”...
Nick: But I loved the chords. That’s a potential single, actually. I think it’s nice because it’s so different for us and we always said that we wanted to do things that were different. We didn’t want to stick to the same old sound. On this album we made a deliberate effort to make it a lot more funky and danceable - and this track’s definitely that.
Simon: It’s very obvious when you listen to it what it’s about - and I’m not going to go any further into it because John and Nick are giving me dirty looks...
John: If you listen to it, it doesn’t take the Brain of Britain to figure out who it is about.
Nick: Absolutely! Simon: Is it about Neil Kinnock? No, not quite! But as far as I’m concerned, very close...
John: Definitely in the same ballpark!
Working For The Skin Trade, the video were recorded live infront of 100,000 people during The Strange Behaviour Tour in Rio De Janeiro [Brazil] on 8 January 1988 at the Praca De Aporteose. The Strange Behaviour was a 99 date world tour that took Duran Duran from Japan to Europe and onto Canada, USA and finally Brazil.
Nick: “...is the song that could have almost made it onto the Arcadia album. It’s the most atmospheric thing on the record and it’s the B-side of the first single. The funny thing about that is that John did quite a lot of work on that one, wich is kind of different to Power Station and I did a little more work on Notorious wich is nearer to Power Station. To me those two songs sort of bridge the gap between the two different projects. i think it’s just a good song, it’s the prettiest song.”
This is the B-side of “Notorious”.
John: It’s quite a late night track. It was written quite late in the evening.
Simon: It was great. It was one of those creative periods we had when everything happened and we fell in love all over again hahaha.
Nick: Oh shut up, Charlie. Yawn!
John: Actually, I hope it’s not just being thought of as a B-side because it’s a great song - although when we put down the demo it sounded so obscure it was like the B-side of a Siouxsie And The Banshees single...
Nick: Or Throbbing Gristle... (dodgy “experimental” “band”)
John: We didn’t know where to take it and then we started thinking about the way The Beatles kind of played the classic instruments and stuff.
John: It’s the calm between two storms, isn’t?
Simon: Do you think so?
Nick: Yes, definitely
A rare fan-taken candid picture of the guys when they first reuntited in the studio in may 1986 to record Notorious.
Nick: “the rockiest track on the album, maybe, and also one of the very early ones - the backing track was recorded in Paris where we wrote the album. It’s one of the things Simon liked when he arrived. It’s the last lyric you finished, wasn’t it, Charlie? It seems to be the right one to end the album on, just because I think it’s a quiet and optimistic song. It’s more to do with life in general. It can be thought of in almost any context, whether it be a girl and a boy or a politican and country.”
John: there you go - this is a great example of how we write songs: “Lets write something with a Bo Diddley beat!” hahaha
Simon: Oh, good. Well, the lyric is... well, I suppose it’s about getting to the point where you realise that you can’t sit by and watch things happen and that’s what we have to do something about.
It’s quite simple and the proposition is we can only do it if we do it together. It’s no good if we all try to do something different and try to do it in our own way. There has to be some definite kind of unison.
And this proposition is analagous to the group, to politics and to living in the late 20th century Northen hemisphere. It’s about saying “hey are we going to do anything about all the crap - the fact that they’re cutting down the forest and making bombs that are going to blow up the world?”
That’s really what it’s about. Are we going to accept any of this? - that’s my proposition. Let’s try. At least we can try! We simply cannot keep our heads in the sand any longer or run away from each other...
Nick: And that’s about it. That’s all folks!
the national flag of Duran duran, 'cos Duran Duran is a place, it’s not a band.
The three symbols used in the Strange Behaviour tour iconography.
The refused cover of the 7" of Skin Trade with the famous bum and a second version available in some countries with a different, less explicit, photographic cut of the picture.
“As for the three symbols which are also in the film we made which show during ‘Save A Prayer’, the globe is the world and the star becomes political and punches through the globe and the heart pulls it back together again. It’s sort of ‘60s vibe. I nearly fell down when I saw the ad for the Prince Lp with the heart and the cross and nearly the same thing as we’ve been using. That’s purely lateral thinking - nobody ripped anyone off!”
Nick: “The bum on the Skin Trade cover? Well EMI just refused - they said WH Smiths wouldn’t stock it so they didn’t print them up. It was a very tasteful bottom too. A very nice bottom indeed. A young lady’s bottom. I wasn’t present at said photographic session, sir, but we did give some reasonably explicit instructions as to how the bottom was to be shot - the angle and so forth...
Above adverts from the music press. No expense was spared in making Notorious a success.
Above the book of the exhibition 'Horst Portraits: 60 Years of style' from 2001 which features the Duran Duran photograph originally shoot as a try-out for the Notorious sleeve.
Maybe not everyone knows that...
the famous photographer Horst P. Horst [horstphorst.com] was asked to photograph the band as a try-out for the Notorious cover back in 1986. In the book 'Horst Portraits' released for the 2001 exhibition Horst Portraits: 60 Years of style at the London National Portrait Gallery the note about the beautiful Duran Duran picture says:
"On the same trip to England he photographed Le Bon’s wife, the model Yasmin, for a Vogue fashion shoot.
was slightly baffled by the band, their world so far removed from his,
but was pleased that they wanted to know ‘all about Madame so-and-so
and all the people from the thirties’.
Taken in London in 1986 as a try-out for the Notorious cover back in 1986
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.
Big Thing special page coming soon on duranasty.com
Special thanks to Tom Hibbert for the revealing chat to Simon, Nick and John | transcription by Salvo
This is not the official Duran Duran website | www.duranasty.com is a fan-site made with passion from a fan to all the fans of Duran Duran on Planet Earth.
No part of this page may be reproduced without crediting www.duranasty.com
contact the editor and webmaster email@example.com | the life and times of D u r a n a s t y ® All rights reserved