Tag: The Devils

30 Lost Art School Bops Of The Digital Era

Here are 30 songs which may have escaped attention as the world went grunge and then had an ongoing hangover in the wake of Britpop.

Denied mainstream recognition and now lost when looking from a UK perspective even within the dwindling synth music community, these offerings come from artists who have mostly remained in total obscurity. However, some are highly established in their own right, albeit not necessarily within the electronic pop field while others have drifted away.

As with the 30 Lost Obscure Alternatives Of The 45 RPM Era feature, acts who have since been featured on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK like ARTHUR & MARTHA, DE/VISION, ONE DOVE, PEACH, WOLFSHEIM and YOUNGER YOUNGER 28s have not been included on this list.

Starting from 1992 when the CD established itself as the dominant format to the year before ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK came into being, here are 30 Lost Art School Bops listed by year and then in alphabetical order…

VEGAS Walk Into The Wind (1992)

What happens when you cross FUN BOY THREE, EURYTHMICS and SHAKESPEARS SISTER? This lovely under rated electro-reggae tune featuring Terry Hall, David A Stewart and Siobhan Fahey! VEGAS was a one-off project when Hall and Stewart were between bands, with the former’s forlorn opening gambit of “You have to learn to love by loving” more than suiting the latter’s lush cinematic backdrop on the captivating noir of ‘Walk Into The Wind’.

Available on the album ‘Vegas’ via RCA Records


SVEN VÄTH L’Esperanza (1993)

Sven Väth is a Frankfurt based DJ whose his career started in 1982. Mixmag rated his album ‘Accident In Paradise’ one of the Top 50 dance albums of all time. From that, this synthpopped remix of its most accessible track ‘L’Esperanza’ recalled ‘Magic Fly’ by SPACE and captured the tranquillity of a swim with dolphins. The melodies sang despite the tune being totally instrumental while the groove drove along without being intrusive.

Available on the single ‘L’Esperanza’ via Eye Q / WEA Records


2WO THIRD3 Hear Me Calling (1994)

Hear Me Calling captured the spirit of early ultrapop DEPECHE MODE and even had CULTURE CLUB backing singer Helen Terry thrown into the mix of this infectiously catchy number. Although a publicly a trio, there was a silent fourth songwriting member who was represented by a cartoon character called Biff in the band’s promotional material. Biff was actually Richard Stannard who has since written songs for KYLIE MINOGUE, LITTLE BOOTS, MARINA & THE DIAMONDS and SPICE GIRLS.

Available on the single ‘Hear Me Calling’ via Epic Records


INTASTELLA Grandmaster (1996)

INTASTELLA were formally indie rockers LAUGH, until they discovered singer Stella Grundy  and adapted their sound to a more dance-orientated style in a vein not dissimilar from fellow Mancunian’s HAPPY MONDAYS. Having had a minor hit with the SAINT ETIENNE flavoured cover of the FRANK VALLI Northern Soul favourite, the funkier electrovibe  of ‘Grandmaster’ was the follow-up and later featured on the soundtrack of the ‘9½ Weeks’ sequel ‘Love In Paris’.

Available on the album ‘What You Gonna Do’ via Planet 3 Records


INAURA Soap Opera (1996)

INAURA combined NINE INCH NAILS and DURAN DURAN, with the latter every much in mind when the band were signed to EMI. Produced by Steve Osborne, the metallic finish of ‘Soap Opera’ gave a rock edge to the electronically driven sound. But despite securing a support slot with THE HUMAN LEAGUE, the band got emboiled in internal record company politics with EMI actively trying to bury the band. The shelved album ‘One Million Smiles’ eventually secured an independent release in 1998.

Available on the album ‘One Million Smiles’ via ORG Records


ORLANDO Just For A Second (1996)

Melody Maker’s Simon Price announced the arrival of a new scene of New Romantic revivalists, with a bold headline declaring “ROMO – The Future Pop Explosion!”; from these Romantic Modernists came ORLANDO who combined stylish, synthesized dance-pop with a love of classic songwriting. ‘Just For A Second’ was their best song, with elements of PET SHOP BOYS euphoric flavour as reimagined by the boy bands of the day, combined with an emotive lyrical backdrop.

Available on the album ‘Passive Soul’ via Blanco Y Negro Records


MONO Life In Mono (1996)

MONO were Siobhan de Maré and Martin Virgo, who found their cinematic sound lumped in with trip hop movement that spawned SNEAKER PIMPS and PORTISHEAD. A mysterious Gallic flavour crossed with samples from John Barry’s soundtrack to ‘The Ipcress File’ provided the song’s spy drama chill. The track was later incorporated into a contemporary film adaptation  of ‘Great Expectations’ which starred Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hank Azaria. SPICE GIRLS’ Emma Bunton recorded a cover of it in 2006.

Available on the single ‘Life in Mono’ via Echo Records


SEXUS The Official End Of It All (1996)

Also seen as part of the Romo movement were SEXUS, a Manchester duo comprising of David Savage and Paul Southern  Signed by ZTT, ‘The Official End Of It All’ was their second single and recalled ELECTRONIC’s ‘Getting Away With It’. The pair recorded a full album with Trevor Horn but it remains unmixed and unreleased. The duo would later team up again musically under the name PSYCHODELICS.

Available on the single ‘The Official End Of It All’ via ZTT Records


BROADCAST Come On Let’s Go (2000)

The late Trish Keenan’s ice maiden cool was instrumental to BROADCAST’s cognoscenti appeal and with their experimental electronica, they won many fans among the cognoscenti. ‘Come On Let’s Go’ was their most accessible offering with its spy drama feel, vintage organic textures and Keenan’s sweet nonchalant vocal tones. Futuristic yet with a Cold War chill, this pushed all the tender buttons. The band were a favourite of Matt Groening, creator of ‘The Simpsons’.

Available on the album ‘The Noise Made By People’ via Warp Records


QUEEN OF JAPAN I Was Made For Loving You (2000)

QUEEN OF JAPAN were a colourful European trio consisting of singer Koneko alongside eccentric producers Jo Ashito and Jason Arigato. Specialising in dance covers of an incongruous origin like JOHN LENNON and QUEEN, their fun electronic sound took on a distinct sinister turn with this brilliant synthesized interpretation of rock legends KISS’ neo-discofied 1977 anthem. The track gained prominence after being included as part of 2 MANY DJ’s ‘As Heard On Radio Soulwax Part 2’ DJ set in 2003.

Available on the album ‘Headrush’ via Echohammer Records


DOT ALLISON Substance (2002)

Following Ms Allison’s pop flavoured debut album ‘Afterglow’ in 1999 and prior to her ‘Aftersun’ collaboration with MASSIVE ATTACK, the former ONE DOVE vocalist experimented with some lo-fi electro sounds alongside some more folky acoustic excursions on her album ‘We Are Science’. Playing squelch games over stuttering percussive loops, Allison’s enigmatic breathy vocal style almost acts as another instrument in a mildly hallucinogenic dance fashion.

Available on the album ‘We Are Science’ via Mantra Recordings


THE DEVILS Big Store (2002)

Before Nick Rhodes got involved in the full DURAN DURAN reunion, he and fellow founder member Stephen TIN TIN Duffy dusted off a few of the pre-Le Bon demos. The results show how avant pop the original DURAN DURAN concept was with Big Store sounding like Moroder crossed with Iggy Pop! With a camp cynical snarl of “I like going shopping …shopping in the big store”, how great this must have sounded at Barberella’s back in the day!

Available on the album ‘Dark Circles’ via Tape Modern Records


MANNEQUIN Take Me To The Club (2003)

Apparently based on true events, ‘Party Monster’ starring Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green and Chlӧe Savigny was effectively ‘Electroclash – The Movie’; ‘Take Me To The Club’, written and produced by Bruno Coviell, captured the tension and euphoria of nightlife. Electrofied slap bass and sinister sequences added some gothic grandeur to the aural hedonism. “I only feel right under bright lights… take me to the club” was the profound proclamation!

Available on the album ‘Party Monster’ (V/A) via TVT Soundtrax


SYNTAX Pray (2003)

‘I Feel Love’ meets THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS on this duo’s amazing debut single, SYNTAX consisted of Jan Burton and ex-FLUKE member Mike Tournier. The 8 minute full length version possessed a pulsing hypnotic quality while spacey Sci-Fi synths and full-fat sequences recalled a bygone disco age but updating the template for a new century. Dark but immensely danceable!

Available on the album ‘Meccano Mind’ via Illustrious/Sony Music


WHITE TOWN Whenever I Say Hello (2003)

WHITE TOWN aka Jyoti Mishra had a freak No1 hit with ‘Your Woman’ in 1997 but kept a low profile, carving out an independent musical career with little regard for public profile. Influenced by his heroes OMD and DEPECHE MODE, ‘Whenever I Say Hello’ first appeared on Ninth Wave’s ‘Electricity 2’ compilation and was the highlight of his album ‘Don’t Mention The War’, eventually released in 2006. A wonderful lonely paean to lost love, this does sound like ‘Things You Said’ reimagined for ‘A Broken Frame’.

Available on the album ‘Don’t Mention The War’ via Bzangy Records


DARREN HAYES I Like The Way (2004)

Sony Music were none too happy when the former SAVAGE GARDEN front man veered from his drippy ballads to go electro! ‘I Like The Way’ was the highlight from his album ‘The Tension & The Spark’, the title of which came from the chorus of this spiky piece of synthpop. Like ERASURE gone all aggressive if you can believe that, Hayes and Sony Music parted ways following this fuzzy excursion.

Available on the album ‘The Tension & The Spark’ via Sony Music


VIC TWENTY Txt Msg (2004)

THE great lost act of the synthesizer revival has to be VIC TWENTY. Blowing away ERASURE while supporting them on their muted covers tour, Piney Gir and Adrian Morris showed promise with their cartoon-like girl/boy synthpop. One of the highlights in their live set was an ironic electronic reconstruction of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. Released on Mute, ‘Text Msg’ was their only single as a duo, a quirky narrative of the modern generation who can only dump hapless lovers by mobile phone.

Available on the single ‘Txt Msg’ via Mute Records


DELAYS Valentine (2005)

After the succes of  THE KILLERS, indie bands were starting to embrace synths again and DELAYS almost went the full hog with this Trevor Horn assisted electronic disco number. The pulsing sequences and syncopated rhythm section were just pure DURAN DURAN, while Greg Gilbert’s raspy falsetto in the soaring chorus and choppy guitar ensured the band weren’t totally detached from their roots.

Available on the single ‘Valentine’ via Rough Trade Records


JULIET Avalon (2005)

Before he worked with MADONNA, NEW ORDER, THE KILLERS, KYLIE MINOGUE, TAKE THAT and PET SHOP BOYS, Stuart Price produced and co-wrote most of the only album by Philadelphia songstress Juliet Richardson. Driven by a heavy percussive mantra coupled to a deep bass rumble, her sultry soulful vocals worked well within the cool electro backing to provide a wonderful sexually charged atmosphere. Richardson is now a yoga teacher with a young family.

Available on the album ‘Random Order’ via Virgin Records


THE MODERN Jane Falls Down (2005)

This promising band took the best of New Romantic thrill and a tight Stephen Hague production for a brilliant single with a killer chorus and solid beats, reinforced by a big reverberating bassline. Despite a support slot with HEAVEN 17, a chart scandal involving over enthusiastic management on their second single ‘Industry’ destroyed all momentum and the band retreated, re-emerging later as MATINEE CLUB before becoming THE MODERN again! Nathan Cooper has since reappeared as KID KASIO.

Available on the single ‘Jane Falls Down’ via Universal Music


LUKE HAINES Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop – Richard X Mix (2006)

Once referred to as the Adolf Hitler of Britpop by the music press, Luke Haines’ memoir ‘Bad Vibes: Britpop & My Part In Its Downfall’ suggested that BLUR’s Damon Alban deserved to be nominated for that title far more! An installation of danceable pop terrorism by THE AUTEURS and BLACK BOX RECORDER leader, with a full fat octave driven electro mix by Richard X, this gleefully satirised the Shoreditch club scene with a bitter attack on its array of poseurs.

Available on the single ‘Going Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop’ via Fantastic Plastic


PROTOCOL Love Is My Drug (2006)

PROTOCOL had some Romo flair and despite being almost entirely based on ‘Atomic’ by BLONDIE, second single ‘Where’s The Pleasure?’ secured that all important radio play. But despite this, Polydor pulled the plug on their excellent follow-up ‘Love Is My Drug’ and the promising debut album ‘Rules Of Engagement’ despite sending out promos to the press and filming a promo video. Lead singer John Pritchard took another punt at stardom by participating in the 2013 series of ‘The Voice’.

Available on the album ‘Rules Of Engagement’ via https://protocoluk.bandcamp.com/


STEFY Chelsea (2006)

This was an excellent ‘Sweet Dreams’ pastiche from vocalist Stefy Rae and producer Jimmy Harry. Aimed at the teen pop market with its Orange County brat subject matter, ‘Chelsea’ was more sophisticated than it appeared and was probably three years ahead of its time. Co-written by the soon-to-be ubiquitous producer Greg Kurstin and accompanied by a video featuring an Adam West cameo, if this had come out in 2009, it probably would have been a Top 10 hit.

Available on the album ‘The Orange Album’ via Wind-Up Records


DEAD DISCO You’re Out (2007)

Victoria Hesketh before she was LITTLE BOOTS, she came to together with Lucy Catherwood and Marie France at Leeds University to produce a series of well-received spikey pop numbers before splitting. Their final single ‘You’re Out’ was produced by Greg Kurstin and the start of a more electronic sound in the mix. Treated guitars, fuzzy bass and subtle synths all merged together in a feisty cocktail and the seed of the raw excitement found its way into songs like ‘Meddle’.

Available on the single ‘You’re Out’ via 679/Atlantic Records


FROST Sleepwalker (2007)

Consisting of Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, FROST have described their music as upbeat space-pop.  This was beautiful electronic dance music from the enigmatic Norwegian duo with Peterson’s soaring soprano and the gorgeous synth vibrato putting minds into a marvellous trance. ‘Sleepwalker’ was the sort of song you would want to play at a rave in the snow! their cool cover of OMD’s ‘Messages’, from the ‘Love! Revolution’ album which ‘Sleepwalker’ came, is also a worthy listen.

Available on the album ‘Love! Revolution!’ via Frost World Recordings


HEARTBREAK We’re Back (2008)

Italo disco was a much maligned form of electro kitsch but was rooted in GIORGIO MORODER which eventually influenced NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS; Anglo-Argentine duo HEARTBREAK revived the genre, complete with accents, “wo-woah-ah” chants and heavy dance rhythms. On great catchy songs such as ‘We’re Back’, the sweaty impassioned charisma of vocalist Sebastian Muravchik was more than convincing while Ali Renault provided the meaty electronic backing.

Available on the album ‘Lies’ via Lex Records


POLARKREIS 18  The Colour Of Snow (2008)

The Dresden sextet were a dreamy but epic cross between A-HA and SIGUR RÓS. Singer Felix Räuber’s falsetto voice polarised but the frantic driven tempo, dramatic electronic strings and rousing melancholic chorus of ‘The Colour Of Snow’ made it a fine follow-up their German No1 ‘Allein Allein’ and gave the band enough of a reputation to be invited to support DEPECHE MODE at their Leipzig gigs in 2009.

Available on the album ‘The Colour of Snow’ via Vertigo Records


RED BLOODED WOMEN You Made Your Bed (2008)

Pure octave shift disco heaven on this ode to the IKEA generation by modern electronic take on BANANARAMA. Despite being all under 25, these three ladies grew up to the sound of the synthesizer and learned to dance to the beat of electronic drums via their mothers’ ERASURE and A-HA singles. Paying girl group homage to both YAZOO and DEPECHE MODE, RED BLOODED WOMEN sounded not unlike GIRLS ALOUD produced by Daniel Miller!

Available on the album ‘Electronically Yours Vol 1’ (V/A) via Undo Records


KATSEN Florian (2009)

KATSEN were a short lived Brighton duo comprising of Donna Grimaldi and Chris Blackburn who crossed CRYSTAL CASTLES with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA for their own brand of quirky synthpop. ‘Florian’ with its mournful melodica line inspired by ‘Kommetenmelodie 2’ was yet another in a tradition of songs dedicated to the enigmatic quiet man of KRAFTWERK which have included ‘V2 Schneider’ and ‘Rolf & Florian Go Hawaiian’ (sic).

Available on the album ‘It Hertz!’ via Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation


SPUTNIKO! The Google Song (2009)

SPUTNIKO! (real name Hiromi Ozaki) showcased her brand of laptop pop around London where she was based. “Exploring intersections between technology and popular culture” as reflected by titles such as ‘The Skype Song’ and ‘The Mixi Song’, her most immediate track has been ‘The Google Song’, a story of love in the modern computer age. Too shy to approach the object of her desire, she simply went home to her faithful laptop and googled him!! “I like you” she proclaimed. It was tremendously catchy too!

Available on the DVD ‘Parakonpe 3000’ via 360° Records


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th September 2017

A Beginner’s Guide To DURAN DURAN

Photo by Michael Putland / Getty Images

DURAN DURAN were described by The Guardian in 2015 as “an electronic band with a heavy rock guitarist bolted on”.

Meanwhile, Greek duo MARSHEAUX added that “Synthpop is a lot of other things, not just a synthesizer. Apart from the music, there is also the attitude in a band. Υou can tell DURAN DURAN’s debut is synthpop, even if there are real drums, bass and guitar on all tracks”.

DURAN DURAN were founded by Birmingham boys John Taylor and Nick Rhodes; influences like ROXY MUSIC, KRAFTWERK, JAPAN and THE HUMAN LEAGUE alongside David Bowie and Girogio Moroder helped them gain the support of synth aficionados.

In his book ‘In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran’, Taylor remembered: “Seeing THE HUMAN LEAGUE for the first time was a turning point. Nick and I saw them supporting SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES at the Mayfair Ballroom in the Bullring shopping centre and watched in amazed silence. They had no drummer. No guitars. They had three synthesisers and a drum machine instead. So Nick’s mum, Sylvia, made a £200 investment: the first Wasp synthesizer to arrive in Birmingham…”

While the classic line-up of Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor took the arty poise of JAPAN and toned down their androgynous outré to make it more accessible, the bottom line of DURAN DURAN’s enduring appeal is great timeless pop songs. However, as with all great bands, there were creative tensions, particularly when Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes’ artier aspirations conflicted with Andy and John Taylor’s more straightforward musical approach.

But legend has it that Andy Taylor would deliberately write songs in a key that the limited but passionate voice of Le Bon would struggle with; this came to a head with ‘The Wild Boys’, a song that the Northumberland guitarist wrote “in E” and apparently insisted was “staying in f***ing E”! Later, Le Bon retaliated in kind with the line “who really gives a damn for a flaky bandit?” in ‘Notorious’.

Now just about everyone knows DURAN DURAN’s massive hit singles like ’Planet Earth’, ‘Girls On Film’, ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’, ‘Save A Prayer’, ‘Rio’, ‘The Reflex’, ‘The Wild Boys’, ‘A View To A Kill’, ‘Notorious’, ‘Ordinary World’ and ‘Come Undone’ even if they don’t like them. But what of the lost jewels tucked away on albums or B-sides and artistic diversions that might also deserve a mention?

With a restriction of one song per album project, this is not a best of list or a history of the band. Friends of mine, this is ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s own Beginner’s Guide to the work of DURAN DURAN…

DURAN DURAN Late Bar (1981)

When TELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK asked John Taylor when he knew DURAN DURAN would trump SPANDAU BALLET, he replied “To Cut A Long Story Short”! Although ‘Planet Earth’, produced by Colin Thurston, was the debut hit that launched DURAN DURAN to the world, it was the B-side ‘Late Bar’ that affirmed their songwriting chops and potential for longevity while Andy Taylor showed his worth as a guitarist. Clocking in at less than three minutes, this celebration of night life was vibrant, energetic and confident.

Available on the DURAN DURAN boxed set ‘The Singles 81-85’ via EMI Records

DURAN DURAN The Chauffeur (1982)

Although written acoustically, the arrangement of ‘The Chauffeur’ began with Nick Rhodes programming a Roland TR808 and layering up with his synths, particularly those from the Jupiter family. The lyrics came from a poem written in 1978 by Simon Le Bon who also provided some windy ocarina, while the barely audible closing monologue was sourced from a natural history documentary on insects. In 1995, a bizarre update was recorded as ‘Drive By’ for their best forgotten  covers album ‘Thank You’.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Rio’ via EMI Records

DURAN DURAN Secret Oktober (1983)

Third album ‘Seven & The Ragged Tiger’ yielded a No1 single in a Nile Rodgers remix of ‘The Reflex’ but overall, it was an over produced disappointment in the shadow of Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’. Tucked away on the B-side of ‘Union Of The Snake’, this atmospheric ballad from the sessions turned out to be the most synth led recording under the DURAN DURAN name and showcased more esoteric influences. In hindsight, ‘Secret Oktober’ now sounds like the start of the ARCADIA project…

Available on the DURAN DURAN boxed set ‘The Singles 81-85’ via EMI Records

THE POWER STATION Some Like It Hot (1985)

John and Andy Taylor became disillusioned with the growing reliance on technology within DURAN DURAN and wanted to venture more into rock with THE POWER STATION. With CHIC’s Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson coming on board respectively as producer and drummer, the sound developed a rhythmic funk edge. The idea had been to use guest vocalists but after Robert Palmer recorded ‘Communication’, he wanted to do more. ‘Some Like It Hot’ with its stabbing horn section was the combo’s dynamic debut single.

Available on THE POWER STATION album ‘The Power Station’ via EMI Records

DURAN DURAN A View To A Kill (1985)

DURAN DURAN had more or less split up, but the two factions reconvened to record the theme to ‘A View To A Kill’, the fourteenth film in the James Bond franchise. Co-written with John Barry and produced by Bernard Edwards, Roger Taylor’s heavy percussive template owed more to THE POWER STATION while the staccato influence of THE ART OF NOISE was also lurking. The song was a triumph but following a strained performance at Live Aid, Roger and Andy Taylor exited the band…

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Greatest’ via EMI Records

ARCADIA Goodbye Is Forever (1985)

In response to THE POWER STATION, ARCADIA was Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor’s attempt to be JAPAN, although the songs were smothered in an esoteric pond of self-indulgence. However, one of the songs that did show promise was ‘Goodbye Is Forever’, a steadfast art funk number that pointed to where DURAN DURAN would eventually head with the ‘Notorious’ album. It is possibly one of the more under rated tracks in DURAN DURAN history.

Available on the ARCADIA album ‘So Red The Rose’ via EMI Records

JOHN TAYLOR Do What I Do (1986)

When Robert Palmer declined to tour with THE POWER STATION, his place was taken by Michael Des Barres who afterwards, was offered a soundtrack opportunity for a new risqué film called ‘9½ Weeks’. ‘I Do What I Do’ was written by Des Barres with John Taylor and producer by Jonathan Elias but was originally intended to be sung by Canadian singer Lisa Dalbello. After she declined, Taylor took the lead vocal, adding his own Bowie-esque tones to proceedings.

Available on the soundtrack album ‘9½ Weeks’ (V/A) via Capitol Records

DURAN DURAN Winter Marches On (1986)

The remaining trio attempted to get Andy Taylor back into DURAN DURAN, but the matter ended up in litigation. The guitarist did end up contributing to ‘A Matter Of Feeling’ and ‘American Science’ while the album’s remaining six string duties fell to MISSING PERSONS’ Warren Cuccurullo and producer Nile Rodgers. Although the album is noted for the funkier vibes of the title song and ‘Skin Trade’, as the title suggests, ‘Winter Marches On’ was a solemn synth laden art piece reminiscent of ARCADIA, only much better.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Notorious’ via EMI Records

DURAN DURAN All She Wants Is (1988)

With new producers Jonathan Elias and Daniel Abraham on board, the ‘Big Thing’ album saw a more programmed electronic approach for the three piece, with a drum machine being used for writing purposes and John Taylor putting aside his bass guitar. One of the results was ‘All She Wants Is’, possibly the closest DURAN DURAN have come to replicating the robotic overtures of KRAFTWERK. It gained the band a surprise UK Top 10 hit in early 1989, but their fortunes were beginning to wane…

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Big Thing’ via EMI Records

DURAN DURAN None Of The Above (1993)

After the lame plod rock of the underwhelming ‘Liberty’ album in 1990, live guitarist Warren Cuccurullo joined DURAN DURAN as a full member and was inspirational in revitalising the remaining trio. Setting up a home studio in Cuccurullo’s Battersea home and pushing for back-to-basics songwriting, the huge hits ‘Ordinary World’ and ‘Come Undone’ were birthed. The beat-laden jam of ‘None Of The Album’ was another of the highlights from ‘The Wedding Album’ and even earned its own single release in Japan.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘The Wedding Album’ via EMI Records

DURAN DURAN Electric Barbarella (1997)

By 1997, DURAN DURAN were in trouble; John Taylor had left halfway through recording the ‘Medazzaland’ album while end product was only released in the US, resulting in the end of the band’s tenure with EMI. Touted as the first song available for digital purchase on the internet, with Rhodes penned lyrics about falling in love with a robot, the deviant ‘Electric Barbarella’ was a close relative to ‘Hold Back The Rain’, with screeching guitars alongside the processed electronics.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Greatest’ via EMI Records

THE DEVILS Big Store (2002)

Stephen Duffy had been the original DURAN DURAN vocalist but left in 1979. 20 years on, Duffy found a recording of a concert from his days in the band and following a chance meeting with Nick Rhodes, suggested re-recording some of those pre-Le Bon songs using vintage instruments and the original lyrics. Entitled ‘Dark Circles’, an album highlight was the superb ‘Big Store’ which came over like a camp Iggy Pop over synth backing that exuded a hint of Giorgio Moroder.

Available on THE DEVILS album ‘Dark Circles’ via Tape Modern

TV MANIA Euphoria (2003)

TV MANIA was Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo’s on/off side project formed in 1995. Rhodes described it as a “social junk culture triptych opera”, but despite its more experimental nature using TV sound samples, some of the tracks ended up on ‘Medazzaland’. The project was abandoned after Cuccurullo left DURAN DURAN following the reunion of the classic-up and ‘Euphoria’ was made a free download by the guitarist. But after the DAT masters were found by Rhodes, an album was finally released in 2013.

Available on the TV MANIA album ‘Bored with Prozac & the Internet?’ via Tape Modern

DURAN DURAN Want You More! (2005)

After the classic line-up reunited for a highly successful world tour in 2004, they entered the studio for their first album together since ‘Seven & The Ragged Tiger’. However, the long awaited long player ‘Astronaut’ did not meet expectations, with far too many producers like Nile Rodgers, Dallas Austin and Don Gilmore involved. But the album’s lead single ‘Sunrise’ and second song ‘Want You More!’ managed to recapture some of that bouncy old DURAN DURAN magic.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Astronaut’ via Sony Music

FERRY CORSTEN featuring SIMON LE BON Fire (2005)

Ferry Corsten’s association with DURAN DURAN began when he reworked ‘Sunrise’ into a banging largely instrumenatal club track! Having worked with Marc Almond and Howard Jones, the Dutch producer’s work, which first came to wider attention as SYSTEM F, often highlighted the spiritual connection between trance and Synth Britannia. ‘Fire’ was based around ‘Serious’, one of the few reasonable tracks from the ‘Liberty’ album, although the vocals were re-recorded by Le Bon.

Available on the FERRY CORSTEN album ‘L.E.F.’ via Flashover Recordings

DURAN DURAN The Valley (2007)

An album entitled ‘Reportage’ was shelved by Sony, leading to Andy Taylor leaving for the second time. At the suggestion of the label, the involvement of Timbaland and Justin Timberlake in ‘Red Carpet Massacre’ confused fans and critics alike. According to Roger Taylor, Sony wanted to make something “a bit pop” and forced them to collaborate with Timbaland. While the album was another mixed bag, the synth heavy pulse of ‘The Valley’ was a terrific standout and even featured an unexpected bass solo from John Taylor.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Red Carpet Massacre’ via Sony Music

MARK RONSON & THE BUSINESS INTL featuring SIMON LE BON Record Collection (2010)

Producer Mark Ronson had been mining classic horn filled soul arrangements to achieve fame for himself, despite being reliant on guest vocalists. For ‘Record Collection’, he dumped the brass and took an interest in vintage synths. With Ronson himself taking the deadpan lead vocal, Simon Le Bon sang almost ironically in the chorus, “I only want to be in your record collection and I’d do anything it takes just to get there!” – this collaboration was to prove to be key for both parties…

Available on the MARK RONSON & THE BUSINESS INTL album ‘Record Collection’ via Sony Music

DURAN DURAN The Man Who Stole A Leopard (2011)

Produced by Mark Ronson, the New York based Londoner was keen to see DURAN DURAN reclaim their quintessential sound. Recalling the wonderful ambience of ‘Tel Aviv’ from the first album and the haunting spectre of ‘The Chauffeur’, the moody ‘The Man Who Stole A Leopard’, aided dreamily by songstress Kelis and with string arrangements by Owen Pallett, was just one of the songs which affirmed Nick Rhodes’ assertion that the album ‘All You Need Is Now’ was “undoubtedly one of the strongest of our career”.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘All You Need Is Now’ via Tape Modern

KOISHII & HUSH featuring JOHN TAYLOR C’est Tout Est Noir – Black Night Remix (2013)

‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ by dance duo KOISHII & HUSH featured John Taylor on lead vocals, but its best incarnation came courtesy of Berlin based remixer Mark Reeder who recalled: “At first, I thought he would be playing bass guitar on the track, but then to my surprise he was the vocalist. He has a great voice and I really liked the track. The original is quite trancey and so I wanted to make it more cinematic and add some guitar and extra bass. John loved it…”

Available on the MARK REEDER album ‘Collaborator’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

DURAN DURAN Face For Today (2015)

As in 1995 with the release of the covers turkey ‘Thank You’ to follow-up ‘The Wedding Album’, DURAN DURAN stole defeat from the jaws of victory with the gloriously under par ‘Paper Gods’. In an attempt to get down with Da Kidz, the excruciatingly painful dance anthem ‘Last Night In The City’ was a particular low point. However, at least they proved they still had it with ‘Face For Today’, a catchy synth laden number in the vein of the classic DURAN DURAN people knew and loved.

Available on the DURAN DURAN album ‘Paper Gods’ via Warner Bros Records

DURAN DURAN 2017 live dates include:

Rancho Mirage Agua Caliente Resort (17th-18th March), Dallas Music Hall at Fair Park (21st March), Houston Smart Financial Center at Sugar Land (22nd March), Sao Paulo Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (25th-26th March), Belo Horizonte BH Hall (29th March), Buenos Aires Hippodrome de San Isidro (1st April), Santiago Parque O’ Higgins (2nd April), Florida Hard Rock Live (5th April), Atlanta Chastain Park Amphitheatre (8th April)




Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd February 2017