In the 1980s, there were many artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s who experienced a comeback and renaissance in their career. In the 1990s, it doesn’t feel like that happened nearly as often, but one act who came back strong after several years on the back pages was Duran Duran, with their second self-titled album, also referred to by fans as “The Wedding Album”, with wedding photos from band members on the album cover. I always really liked the two big hits from this album, and listening to the rest of it in full, I can say the same about the entire release.
Warren Cuccurullo had replaced Andy Taylor on guitar, and they went with session drummers and programmed percussion, but the band was still essentially the same lineup. The record opens with “Too Much Information”, a simple pop song that sets a great tone. Next comes their first of two major hits from the record, “Ordinary World”. I think this is an outstanding performance by Simon Le Bon on vocals, and just a really well written song. I also really liked the funkier “Love Voodoo” with a great bass line from John Taylor. “Drowning Man”, a dance-club track, doesn’t do quite as much for me, but it was another of the singles released from the album. “Shotgun” is a short, reworked version of a similar song by Jr. Walker and the All Stars.
My definite favorite on this album is their other big hit, “Come Undone”. It has a very familiar percussion beat, and Taylor’s bass weaves in perfectly with Cuccurrollo’s descending riff and Le Bon’s low-key delivery that builds perfectly over the course of the song. Tessa Niles also delivers a very memorable vocal riff on this song, it really is a fantastic production. Like often happens, they came up with this song after they had finished the rest of the album, and scramble to make sure it made it on to the release… good choice.
“Breath after Breath” mixes in vocals from Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento. It has the potential to be a really intriguing song, but it seems a bit out of place with the rest of the vibe. “U.M.F” is a funky track that gives off a Prince feel (as does “Shotgun”, mentioned above), and is another of my favorites on the album.
As I listened to “Femme Fatale”, it sounded oddly familiar and reminded me of the Velvet Underground. That’s because it IS a Velvet Underground song, from their classic album “The Velvet Underground & Nico”. I may not have completely nailed it, but I’m glad I was able to connect the dots. It is a really respectable cover of a classic song, worthy of inclusion here. None of the remaining tracks stand out from the rest, but I like them all.
This proved to be a very successful re-launch for Duran Duran, who continues to perform and record to this day. Even beyond their initial success a decade before, they proved they had the talent and staying power to accomplish much more than many of their ‘80s peers. By definition, I’m NOT a karaoke guy, but if I ever had to perform, my go-to song I have pondered for many years involves a hybrid of material from this album among others. Afraid? You probably should be…