Saturday, March 26, 2011

Xanadu and Duran Duran Review

`Lately I have been interested in music from 1979,1980 & 1981.  I even recently saw Xanada the musical because I like the music so much from the movie (Awesome musical by the way it is still on in Australia so see it). ELO have some great albums during the late 1970s and early 80s, where analog synths are in their mightiest glory with analogue-chorusey-phasey-vocals!!!!!!!!

The music at Xanadu was awesome, they played chic and other early 80s music in the beginning before the show.  I spoke to a few ppl about the music, but no one seemed to understand!!!! Would have liked some analogue chorus & phase FX on the vocals during the performance for the ultimate early 80s experience. The aftershow 80s band was good but they only played the most commerical 80s songs so was a little disappointing.

********Videos Recorded with my watch phones spy camera**********

I don't like early 80s music because of the generation or history, I actually like it because the synths are non-digital & analogue, there are generally no drum machines or they are used sparsley, and the vocals are generally recorded in a few takes.  The music sounds live & fresh unlike todays music that is mostly samples, autotune & digital drum beats. Music styles moved quickly in the 80s and by the mid 80s, a synthesized, sampled drum machine sound became prominent and music became very commercial sounding and awful. Analogue synths were forgotten about as they were rare, expensive and got out of tune until they returned with the trance/techno movement in the 90s (heavy metal also abandoned the synth). I remember listening to Standing On A Beach by The Cure as a teenager and was really impressed with A Forest 1980, Primary 1981, Charlotte Sometimes 1981 compared with their later stuff on the album.  Little did I know at that time, the reason why I liked those tracks,was because of the analogue synths in a Forest (perhaps their most famous song) and analogue processing. It was The Walk in 1983 that produced The Cure's first big hit, by utlising the trendy drum machine sound at the time.  A controversial video for The Walk that was banned (Cos Robert Smith & Lol Tolhurst looked extremely gay --catching on to the Culture Club craze perhaps???) also helped.  From their they abandoned their synth sound and became poppy goth.

The New Romantic Sound & Film Clip of The Cure 1981 (wasn't a hit so they abandonded the style :-( and sacked the producer) Click below the first clip for the official vid as I couldnt post the youtube clip on my blog!

So i digress, now I continue with the most famous New Romantic Band

I purchased Duran Duran eponymous CD from JB Hifi online because it was only $8 and the quality is so much better than AAC on itunes.  I will probably trade it in for $2, so in the end it is much cheaper than itunes.  I wish itunes would have lossless copies and also be a little cheaper.  I only purchase from itunes if I am desperate and old stuff is hard to get on torrents to (only 1 or 2 people seed LOL)!!! I prefer albums to greatest hits. I have owned RIO 1982, Decade Greatest Hits and Seven and the Ragged Tiger 1983, so was glad to finally get their eponymous debut Album.

****¼ 1981: Duran Duranaudio
"Duran Duran's self-titled debut effectively established their slick, catchy synth-pop sound. Featuring the decadent 'Girls on Film' and 'Planet Earth,' the album set the pace for scores of new wave bands in the early '80s, which were subsequently dubbed the new romantics. "
-- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

I avoided getting the remaster as I read their were some problems with the original master tapes that affected the sound quality. Plus when you have a really good pair of headphones you want the full dynamic range, remasters can be compressed quite heavily.

The sound is very fresh & transient and sounds like anything from 2011. The first 2 tracks I have heard before on their greatest hits (Girls on Film & Planet Eath) but sound much better. It must have been recorded using better ADC than on their greatest hits album. Girls on Film is one of my all time fav songs so there isnt to much I can say but....

....the  funky disco-new wave bass guitar pumps through my Sennhiser HD650s (I believe it is a Japanese Aria Pro II SB1000), gotta luv the rhythmic drums which have an awesome early 80s phase effect during the tom-tom interludes, funky guitars jangle through and  has some artistic technicality. But then the awesome Analogue synth lines come through which are from a Roland JuPiTer 4 running through an analogue MXR phase unit

One of my fav things about DuranDuran are their music interludes, and Girls On Film doesn't disappoint, their Punchy music interludes are enticing and girls on Film has an excellent analogue synth & tom tom drums bit..

Anyone out there---One of my fav tracks by Duran Duran now!!!!Rocky, Punchy, New Romantic and gotta love the puniky guitars mixed with fresh drums & awesome analogue synths!!!! Wish they kept more of this style

Careless Memories--- I like this Chris Isaak style (even though it was before) with a punky edge and new romantic synth.  Very Cool, once again a style I wish they had kept.

To The Shore--- Opens with a flangey synth, gotta luv that, quite a slow song -nice tune, reminds me a bit of their B side on Make Your Own Way..
Very mellow, another aspect I like about early Duran Duran

Night Boat---Ambient awesomeness, another style I wish they kept as it experimental and has some interesting synths sounds. A lot of music is played which I like, cos they dont always have to sing all the time.  It also has a grungy sound which is 10 years ahead of its time.  Drums sound awesome and punch through.

Sound of Thunder---Very New Romantic 1980-1981 sound, with a strong analogue synth sound and positive upbeat tempo.

Friends Of Mine-- reminds me of Flowers and other New Wave Aussie acts of the 80s.  Very cool.

Tel Aviv--- A filler instrumental track and probably the only let down of the album, but I like the fact that it is experimental and not trying to be commercial.  It doesnt quite work for some reason, maybe it is the strings that just sounds odd, but I like the idea of this track, the interesting synths make up for it. Perhaps if it had an edge like the famous award winning Earth Wind & Fire instrumentals such as runnin' which won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental in 1978'n_All it would have been cool.

All up I love this album and give it 9.5/10. Simon Le Bon's vocals arent whiny on the album & this seemed to happen from 1983 on their slide down from Mega-Awesomeness with their 3rd album 7 and the ragged tiger!!!! If you had to own an album by Duran it would be tough to choose between this Album & Rio.  I would go for this album just because it is more experimental and has an exciting newness about it. I wish Duran Duran kept the same styles of their first two albums and pushed into Progressive Rock, instead of abandoning the analogue synth and going samply,drum machine and poppy.  When The Reflex came out with its sampling that was the start of the end of Duran Duran and they had abandoned their "live professional band feel."

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