The first two cassette tapes that I ever bought were Midnight Madness by Night Ranger and Duran Duran’s Seven and The Ragged Tiger. Two VERY different bands but I’m unashamed to say I loved Duran Duran almost as much as Night Ranger (still do). In 1984, Duran Duran was hitting the peak of popularity and success. Seven and The Ragged Tiger made its debut at the end of 1983 and the band immediately embarked on a lengthy world tour. Over the next six months, the album would spawn three top ten singles. All three singles were hits on MTV, as well, with their elaborate, big budget productions. In fact, he single “New Moon on Monday” actually had two videos. The shorter version was just the song while the longer version, that was only played on MTV, was considered the “movie” version. My favorite song and video from that album was “The Reflex” (the only number one song from that album). Not only did it make me want to see them in concert (sadly, that never happened) but MAN…I wanted Simon Le Bon’s jacket from that video.
On the heels of their mega-successful world tour, the band released a live album, Arena, recorded while on that tour. The album had one new studio track on it, “The Wild Boys”. Fueled by its big-budget video, the song became one of the band’s biggest hits, holding the number one position for four weeks.
Late in 1985, the band released the single “A View to a Kill”, the title song of the new James Bond movie of the same name. It’s the only Bond theme that would ever hit number one.
After performing at Live Aid in Philadelphia later in 1985, the band split up. Eager to branch out from Duran Duran’s synth-heavy pop sound, bassist John Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor teamed up with Robert Plant and Tony Thompson to form The Power Station. Their album spawned three singles, two of which saw relatively good success in the states, “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”.
While John and Andy were working with The Power Station, the rest of the band (Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor) worked on a project named Arcadia. Their sound was very synth heavy (much like Duran Duran) and generated one single that charted, “Election Day”.
Personally, I was a bigger fan of The Power Station than I was of Arcadia (much like Andy Taylor, I had already started developing a taste for music with a harder edge). Duran Duran finally regrouped in 1986 only without guitar Andy Taylor (solo career) and drummer Roger Taylor (exhaustion) this time. The three piece, Le Bon, Rhodes, and John Taylor, produced the album Notorious and release a single by the same name. It would reach number two on the Billboard chart.
During this time, guitarist Andy Taylor had developed a taste for the spotlight and a harder edge to his music so he embarked on his solo career. He produced a single, “Take It Easy”, for the 80’s movie, American Anthem.
The video was as cheesy as the movie but the song was a SOLID rocker and, on a personal note, watch Andy as he starts playing guitar in this video. That little walk back and kick step he does? Yep, I copied it to a “T” when I started playing guitar in bands. He also makes a cameo appearance on the song and in the video for “Mad About You” by Belinda Carlisle. After this, Andy produced his first solo project, Thunder, and it’s single “I Might Lie” which is still one of my favorite songs from my high school years.
Arguably, few bands benefited from the early days of MTV more than Duran Duran. Their slick, big budget videos went along perfectly with their catchy, radio friendly songs. While 1983-1986 were their most successful years, the band has continued to enjoy steady success in the years since. One of my favorite songs from their last three albums is “Reach Up For The Sunrise” from the 2004 album, The Astronaut. While not as slick as their videos from the 80’s, the song is the perfect soundtrack for a summer day. Duran Duran, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy!