July 28, 2021

40 years after Duran Duran’s debut: from punk to the dance floor

The funk of Chic, the glam of Bowie and the charm of the Sex Pistols coexist in that first album of Duran Duran. A work that marked the beginning of an era, marked by a sound and visual aesthetic. An important influence for other artists like Blur or The Killers.

At the beginning of the ’80s, in England appeared the New Romantics, a musical subgenre that emerged from the British new wave. The followers of this trend were based on the use of synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, which added to the classic rock instruments.

In aesthetics – almost as important as the music – they wore glamorous clothes, modern hairstyles, and makeup. These new romantics had their glory days, with exponents like ABC, Culture Club, Eurythmics, Savage, Talk Talk, Simple Minds, Adam And The Ants y Spandau Ballet, among others. David Bowie and Roxy Music were the influences for these young musicians.

“There was a lot of music going around. We listened to David Bowie, in his days of Heroes. Also, the big bands like Blondie, Japan, Simple Minds sounded. It was a very creative time, it marked the beginning of post punk. Also, we started listening to electronic music like kraftwerk or Giorgio Moroder“John Taylor told him about the early days of the band.

John with ick Rhodes, schoolmates in Birmingham, They formed the band in 1978, with the idea of ​​uniting the energy of the Sex Pistols, the danceable rhythms of Chic, plus the elegance of Bowie and Roxy Music. The name Duran Duran came out of one of the sci-fi movie characters “Barbarella”, Directed by Roger Vadim and starring Jane Fonda.

The first singer was Stephen Duffy, a friend of Rhodes who would soon leave the band to form some projects like Tin Tin and The Lilac Time. He also composed several songs with Robbie Williams, mainly on the disk Intensive Care (2005) with songs like “Tripping”. With John on guitar, Nick on keyboards, and Simon Colley on bass and clarinet, plus the help of a rhythm machine, the story began.

The particular image of the band (Facebook-Duran Duran)

“From a very young age I was interested in music,” John Taylor recalled in an interview with La Viola, “I put aside my homework to go to practice sports or rehearse. I didn’t know how to play an instrument but with the arrival of punk, with bands like the Sex Pistols or The Clash, we realized that it was not necessary to know many chords ”.

“All the boys in the neighborhood wanted to have a group. It was a very interesting time, where you could express yourself freely. The important thing was to achieve good chemistry with your teammates. Music is the most important thing in my life ”, added the artist, who soon put aside the guitar to take care of the bass.

In the early 1980s, after several changes in its line-up, Duran Duran was made up of John, in low, Rhodes on keyboards, Simon le bon, an acting student as a singer, the guitarist Andy Tayor, who responded to an ad in the magazine Melody Maker, and the drummer Roger Taylor.

The first successes

“We want to be the group that be heard to dance when the bomb drops”, Defined Simon Le Bon, in an interview in 1982. Innovative, talented and elegant, the members were clear about their goal and they achieved it.

On June 15, 1981, 40 years ago, Duran Duran presented his debut album. Under the orders of Colin Thurston, the members worked – throughout October and December 1980 – in different studios such as Red Bus Studios, Abbey Road Studio, Utopia Studio and Chipping Norton Studio, with a punctual sound concept, with an interesting fusion of keyboards, sharp basses and sharp guitars.

“It was a great experience. We had already recorded some demos in our city and with very good results. We spent two years working on the design of that album, with a fusion of styles such as rock, punk, disco music and electro pop. All of that marked our first album, ”John described.

The musician also revealed that the task of Thurston was important, who had the ability to bring out the best in these five young people. “It was the best situation we could have, with a major record label like EMI putting us in a great studio and spending a lot of money,” recalled Taylor.

Promotional photo of the group (Photo: Facebook Duran Duran).

Planet Earth” it was the first cut from the self-titled album. “I went out to watch the sunset with the rain. I heard you doing I heard you doing parental rhymes. Like a new romantic looking for sound on television ”, Le Bon sang at the beginning of the song.

With this song began a close relationship with the world of video clips, which would be vital for the MTV blast. The Birmingham boys got together with director Russell Mulcahy (he also featured in clips of “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Save A Prayer”, “Rio”, “Is There Something I Should Know?” Y “The Reflex”, among others), who brought the idea to the screen with a careful image, rare new hairstyles and glamorous clothing. A distinctive feature of Duran Duran.

“Girls on Film”, The track that opens the album, is another of the classics that we can find in the remembered debut. The lyrics were originally written by Andy Wickett, one of the singers before Simon. The original demo is different from the one we all know, except for the chorus that the choruses remained. How about the story that when Wickett left the band, the group bought the song from him for 600 pounds and even made him sign a waiver of the rights to the song.

The hallmark is in the first seconds of the song: the rapid hum of a camera flash. Director Paul Berrow and photographer Andy Earl brought in their cameras to achieve the effect.

Thanks to the good response from the public and the specialized critics, the album reached the first position in the United Kingdom, on June 27, 1981, and stayed in the British charts throughout 118 weeks. After four decades, both “Planet Earth” Y “Girls on Film”Are classics that cannot be absent from the group’s performances. The members shared this special date with a post on their social networks. As they prepare the release of their new album Past Future, in October, Duran Duran remains a pillar within the complex pop architecture.