No laughing at the back, please.
I’m deadly serious.
Let’s fact up to the facts, so don’t be nervous and just relax. Duran Duran set out to dominate the music world from the outset. Yes, there had been a few early different incantations of the group with the occasional argument over the shape the sounds should take, but once the five members had been whittled down to Le Bon, Rhodes and Taylors x3, it was a case of signing on the dotted line for one of the biggest labels of the time.
It was the era of style, quite often at the expense of substance and the marketing moguls at EMI knew exactly how best to make the product from their new synth-pop experiment sell by the gazillions.
It was easy to sneer and mock back in 1981, and I most certainly did. The fact they also made exploitative and sexist music promos was another reason to despise everything about them. The only problem was that the songs, well the singles anyway, all sounded fantastic coming out of the radio, or indeed from the speakers in any discos or clubs.
Planet Earth was released in February 1981. Here’s the thing that most folk forget… it wasn’t an immediate smash. It took six weeks before it climbed its way into the Top 20. It was a time when music was only written about in the specialist papers and Duran Duran found themselves roundly ignored by all four. A relatively new kid on the block, Smash Hits, which was aimed at a different market and whose modus operandi was to give more space to photos than words, filled the void. EMI also linked the band to an increasing interest in the culture of the celebrity with the mainstream press, especially the tabloids, and the coverage in such publications tended to be positive and plentiful. The label didn’t care if the readers of NME, Melody Maker, Sounds and Record Mirror were denied coverage – this wasn’t the market they were chasing.
Listen now, without prejudice almost 40 years on. Planet Earth is a sensational sounding 45. One that makes even the most reluctant mover in the room make their way towards the dancefloor. It is Chic meets Japan.
The b-side was a bit different. Not the greatest lyric you’ll ever find, but some fabulous guitar, synth bass work if you can lend the music your ears. A touch of Bowie Scary Monsters-era……
Feel free to disagree.