Duran Duran album review leaves out the music

"The record contains a lot of interesting musical tidbits"


Salon Staff
June 23, 2000 11:42PM (UTC)

Sharps & Flats
BY KEITH HARRIS (06/20/00)

It certainly would've been nice if Keith Harris actually had bothered to review Duran Duran's "Pop Trash" CD in his "review." Instead, we were treated to Harris' apparently long-standing dislike of the band in general, and precious little about the album itself.

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In the one (yes, one) paragraph where Harris actually deigns to speak of the music on "Pop Trash" (rather than venting about 1993's "Ordinary World" or the sexual-identity problems that he seems to associate with the band), he admits that it is catchy and hummable ... the horror! The mind-numbing horror!

On second thought, I'd like to revise my introductory paragraph: It wouldn't have been "nice" for Harris to have actually reviewed the CD ... it would have been JOURNALISM.

Too much to expect?

-- Gareth-Michael Skarka

I, too, wrote a review for "Pop Trash" where I focused on the music aspects of the record (being a music reviewer, after all). The record contains a lot of interesting musical tidbits; like "Last Day On Earth" which is done in the time of 5; or "Starting to Remember" which also has an odd time signature. The subtle harmonies in "Mars Meets Venus" are also interesting, with some fairly unpredictable chord changes. The Zappa influence really shines through on this record, musically. "Someone Else Not Me" actually does contain a real string arrangement, along with several other tracks on the album which successfully adds some depth to the mix.

Harris obviously did not listen to the record, and/or knows nothing about music. I sincerely hope he never writes about my band's records, as he probably would write a four-paragraph article about the photography on the cover and not bother to unwrap the plastic.

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-- Matt Hargett

You said they had "contrived decadence." They married models, had drug addictions, purchased yachts, socialized with royalty and vacationed in exotica. Then they paid for it by losing most of their fan base and being ignored by radio/MTV and yet they continued to play the role of pop stars. This is not real decadence?

Regardless, I think they deserve more credit than you give them. I'm very serious about music (I'm snobby enough to only listen to non-commercial radio and make most of my purchases from reading or friends' recommendations), yet I still count Duran Duran as my favorite band.

Yes, "Someone Else Not Me" seems very much designed to fit into AC radio playlists. However, since they are routinely ignored by the radio, I presume they need to offer fodder to the gods of radio to get the rest of the album heard. (I like to think they put "SENM" as the first song so I can skip it and get to the more interesting songs on the CD -- kidding.)

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What did you think of the other songs? (e.g., "Playing With Uranium," "Starting to Remember," "Pop Trash Movie," "Lady Xanax.") Better, worse, boring, interesting? I feel like you've written off their effort without really listening. Would you do the same for Beck? Sting? (Who seems to sound the same each album, but has none of the "credibility" issues Duran has.) Does their tenacity (20 years) sway you in the least? What kind of album are Duran Duran "allowed" to make, given their history?

FYI: Warren Cuccurullo played on the albums Notorious (1986) and Big Thing (1988) and performed as guitar player on both of those tours before joining the official lineup in 1989 for Liberty (1990) and then for Duran Duran (1993) -- though hardly anyone else gets this right, either.

Andy Taylor left the band on his own in 1986; John Taylor left the band (on good terms) in 1996. Neither was "jettisoned."

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-- David Wishart


Salon Staff

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