IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (47)

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.

mp3: Duran Duran – Planet Earth

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……

mp3: Duran Duran – Late Bar

Feel free to disagree.

JC

18 thoughts on “IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (47)

  1. I can say with all honesty that I loved Duran Duran from the start. They weren’t on the radio and we didn’t have the same kind of music press the UK does. We Yanks just heard them in the clubs and they were awesome. If there was something to sneer and mock about them we wouldn’t have known. When the band first came to America in October of ’81 I saw them at the Ritz in NYC. (Echorich was probably there.) They had so few songs in their repertoire they had to do a couple of tunes twice. I remember they also played ‘Fame’ by Bowie. They didn’t get irritating until the later albums and MTV. But they were killer the first couple of years.

  2. I loved their early singles and My own way was also fantastic (especially the 12”) and then Rio and a “Wtf happened here” moment . Must admit I also surprised myself by how much I liked and still like their middle aged come back single Ordinary World. Looking back thoroughly their career every now and then a single would come along that I would like and think whose that – do you believe in shame , skin trade , etc

  3. Now I’m happy to say that this is a great record.
    I wouldn’t have said that at the the time

  4. It is like you say to listen without prejudice. ‘Rio’, the album, is a great record – one of the best albums of the 80’s. I think the main reason why we didn’t like them at the time where there were always girls we fancied who fancied John Taylor more than us…

  5. I have always, and still do, have had a place for the first 2 Duran albums (and as FoRW says, the Ordinary World come back single) together with the first Spandau album. By now I guess I can admit to having a brief new romantic period wearing modified tux trousers with a gold chain, white shirt, a red scarf and mascara. Oh those days…

  6. Definitely can add the first two Spandau Ballet lps to the same category – the second diamond is a bit bat shit crazy and then alas Trevor Horn showed them what could happen if they went commercial with the remix of instinction and it was all downhill from there

  7. I believe this is the first time you have written the words Duran Duran on this blog (or your previous incarnation) without the word fucking sandwiched between them. Your therapist is making progress.

  8. What an unexpected but welcome post. A great single that I think of fondly. The first LP is the only one I’ve ever listened to. I agree with Martin re: the Spandau first LP. To my mind both bands had but only one LP in them before succumbing to fame and morphing into completely different, inferior bands.

  9. I wanted not to like Duran Duran too. But the local station in L.A., KROQ, kept playing the singles and I kept not changing the station when they did and instead hummed along. I would never admit in public that I liked the band. Not until “Skin Trade” and “Ordinary World” were out would I publicly proclaim what a great band Duran Duran are, would I go finally back and buy some of the early albums and allow myself to enjoy their music.

  10. Agreed. This is a great record. I love the Rio album too – last time I DJed I played The Chauffer – a brilliant song.

    Maybe someone should do an ICA? Although I expect it will be very singles-heavy!

  11. I had to endure my younger sister playing their stuff constantly, which I think bred some contempt from me. This was indeed a great single (and it was me that tipped my sister off about it…).

    Great shout from Jim2 re The Chauffeur – quality.

  12. With almost 40 years in the rearview mirror, it is interesting and in many ways satisfying to see how easy it is to admit to the pleasure Duran Duran provided in their very early guise.
    The debut album is great. The singles, especially Careless Memories, subscribed to a bright and shiny extension of the more glossy and gauzy sound that Japan was trading on at the time.
    There was a young, energetic bravado about first album era Duran Duran and it was pretty infectious – as many have mentioned – when their songs came blaring out of nightclub speaker systems (there is a post floating around in my head about how Brits call clubs discos and Yanks call them nightclubs).
    To address my BFAM, JTFL, yes I was there in 81, but it were also shows at The Peppermint Lounge and The Savoy Theater in September and October.
    I have a few fun memories of interactions with a couple Taylors and a stray LeBon and Rhodes that involve nightclubs and alcohol…for another time…

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