After several latest efforts from the vintage bands of the ‘60s and ‘70s, today we have our first new entrant of 1981, the band Duran Duran and their self-titled debut album. Not unlike U2, their music would advance with maturity and experience, but this first effort was a big success, starting primarily in the UK. My first impression of Duran Duran was that they were a pretty boy band with instruments, but it doesn’t take long to realize that yes, they are a handsome bunch, but these guys could really play. John Taylor, who may have been the best looking one of the bunch, was and is a phenomenal bass player. He founded the band with keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and they eventually added Roger Taylor on drums, Andy Taylor on guitar (three Taylors, none of whom are related), and of course, Simon Le Bon on lead vocals.
Duran Duran was one of the primary beneficiaries of the exploding phenomenon of music videos, and the first song on the album, “Girls on Film” is a memorable one. “Planet Earth” is a perfect ‘80s tune, rich on keyboards, another great early track from the band. The other major hit from this record is “Is There Something I Should Know”, a more guitar-centric tune but one that is famously associated with Simon and his charismatic presence in front of the band. They even push the boundaries of a prog rock sound, or at least a more exotic sound, with “Tel Aviv”, an interesting sidestep from the rest of the album. None of the other songs on this album really stand out to me, even after a few listens, but as I mentioned, with Duran Duran, the best is yet to come, and this act was definitely one of the leaders of a new wave of music that was taking hold around the world.