Duran Duran

[Music] The Catch and Release #3

The Catch and Release showcases a choice sample of recently acquired music to my collection; some of these albums that I’ve “caught” will happily be part of my collection forever. But, there are albums that I acquired on a lark, that upon a listen or two have not resounded with me, which I have chosen to release back in the wild.

The Catch

54-40 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret (1994) & Since When (1998)

Winner Winner! I loved Canadian band 54-40 back in the day, and had Fight For Love on cassette; even saw them in concert in 1989! But, that was a long time ago. Since then, I had their compilation, Sweeter Things, which has all their top ten hits from the 80s. I didn’t get much more than that which was a complete oversiiiiight! Thanks to a contest I won on KeepsMeAlive, I acquired Dear Dear (a fantastic album). Since then, I found two more 54-40 albums out in the wild, and both are great. Each has a hit played on the radio, and the rest is pretty darned awesome. I am back on the 54-40 bandwagon!

Duran Duran – Astronaut (2004)

Back in 2004, DD were planning a comeback with all five members of the band back at the helm; something fans had been waiting for since 1985. I had heard their new song, “Reach Up For the Sunrise” from Astronaut, and thought it sounded pretty catchy, but never got the gumption to purchase a copy.

I found Astronaut used at my local Care and Share, and I have to say – impressive! It’s a Duran record, for sure: cleanly produced, thoughtful and professional. But, most of all, listenable! A keeper!

Letters to Cleo  – Aurora Gory Alice (1993)

I picked this one up for a song at VV…Being a frequent listener of Radio Western’s College Radio CHRW 94.9 FM back in ’93, I remember Letters to Cleo getting some love on there quite a bit with their hit “Here and Now”. I am very impressed with this album – every song is awesome! And, a female lead, for the win!

Chalk Circle – Mending Wall (1987)

In case this band breezes past you, Chalk Circle is a Canadian band best known for such hits from the 80s as “April Fool,” “Me, Myself and I,” and “This Mourning.” Mending Wall was one of those albums that my 12-year-old self could never afford to buy, but wanted to; at least my sis and I could afford the 45s of some of their hits. This album has “This Mourning” and the lesser known adult contemporary hit, “N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Back Yard)”; the rest in between totally brings me back to 1987. Just good rough bass, some haunting guitar and a lead singer whose voice cuts through it all. I am very happy I found this one.

Melissa Etheridge – Melissa Etheridge (1988)

I took a chance on Melissa Etheridge, and I’m glad I did! Every single song on this debut album sits well. Good rockin’ tunes, and that voice! Hits from this album include “Similar Features,” “Like the Way I Do,” and the very popular “Somebody Bring Me Some Water.” Not much else to say here – no wonder she got some attention when this was released.

The Release

Toronto – Lookin’ For Trouble (1980)

I am only familiar with this Toronto band from their one hit in Canada, “Your Daddy Don’t Know” from 1982, which earned them a Juno award for best song and best songwriting. That song is catchy, and unfortunately not on this album. “Lookin’ For Trouble” was Toronto’s first release, and I can see how they were trying to get their feet wet, but it really didn’t do anything for my ears. This album has two recognizable cover songs: “You Better Run”, a Young Rascals tune done better by Pat Benatar and “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” which was better done by its creator the Rolling Stones.

Erasure – Pop! Their First 20 Hits (1992)

Erasure were well-known back in the 80s for their synth pop tunes. I don’t mean to be mean, but no way does Erasure have 20 Hits. I could have sworn they had more likeable tunes in their catalogue than just “Chains of Love,” “A Little Respect”, and “Stop!” It’s ok, I got this for $1…

Metric – Fantasies (2009)

Metric has gotten a lot of love out there – including a Juno for this album, Fantasies. This one does tick some of the new wave synth pop boxes…However, I couldn’t help but turn to the hubs whilst listening to the first track and say, “Y’know, I’ve heard this before on TV…” As I continued to listen, I recognized a lot of this album, but couldn’t quite place where.

Sure enough, the media loves Metric, using their songs in everything from commercials, to video games, to the Toronto Blue Jays, to TV shows; most namely Grey’s Anatomy, a show that has used the first song from Fantasies, “Help I’m Alive,” multiple times! I’ve spun this CD several times in an effort to get into it, and I think I’m good to let this one go. I’ll just listen to Metric’s next album on this up-coming season of Grey’s!

The Gandharvas – A Soap Bubble and Inertia (1994)

More uni stories for ya: The year was 1994. My sister got a cassette sampler from a freebie table on campus during the first week of classes. The sampler was promoting the newest affordable car for students, the Dodge Neon (remember those?) and on it was a bunch of Canadian artists. I recall I Mother Earth was on it…and so was “The First Day of Spring” by the Gandharvas, a London, Ontario band who are really only known for this one song. Pretty much, they tried their best to be Canada’s answer to Blind Melon. They are not even close to Blind Melon.

I got their album, Soap Bubble and Inertia, for free on cassette a long time ago at a summer festival in London. I remember that day vividly – it was August, it was 38 C, and probably the worst bathroom experience I have ever had with an upset stomach standing in a 30 deep lineup for an already over-full porta-potty. Man alive! Probably due to trauma, I never did listen to that Gandharvas cassette.

Recently, when I picked up Soap Bubble and Inertia for $1 at my local thrift shop, I wondered if it was worth the time. This album is terrible. Really really terrible. There really isn’t much more to say about it.

Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams (2005)

I have had this CD since June 2014, when my colleague and friend, Mary Jo Morris, was about to embark on her retirement. She was cleaning out her office and handed off two CDs to me – Dr. John’s Gumbo by Dr. John (1972) and Jack Johnson’s In Between Dreams. Random, right? Where the heck had she gotten them? She said from students. She didn’t want them. They were stuffed in a drawer in my office, and I finally got around to bringing them home.

I don’t know too much about Jack Johnson, but if I were a betting woman, I’d think he had the curb on the commercial jingles market. Seriously. Music in commercials these days grate on me. Take an out of tune piano, an acoustic guitar, a ukelele, a xylophone and soft singing voices, and you have captured 95% of the music in commercials these days, and what Jack Johnson’s album In Between Dreams is about. Sorry, Mary Jo, I did not like this either. Hard pass. Dr. John is a keeper though!

More to come…Thanks for reading!

Just When I Thought I Was Out, The Music Pulls Me Back In…

I have had a hankering to listen to some tunes from my collection of CDs for a long while now. I never realized it would be such a big deal, but when you store your collection in large Rubbermaid containers, it can become a pain. To pull out the ol’ bin from the dark corner of the basement seemed like a very daunting task. Overwhelming, in fact:

So much good music in this bin, but it weighs a ton…and…oh man, forget it. I’ll just listen to music on YouTube…

When my iPod went belly-up two years ago, at the time I said to myself I was going to do something with those CDs once and for all. Rip ’em onto the terabyte so I could reacquaint myself with them. Well, it hasn’t happened, folks. For years, we have been concentrating on gaming and house renos – putting the CDs away, favouring instead other avenues to get music – Sirius Satellite radio, online streaming services like Google, Groove Music and Accuradio – and plain ol’ .mp3s fulfilled the need. Whenever I’d think of reacquainting myself with the CDs, the thought of moving around furniture again to make room to display them seemed impossible.

It was one Sunday in August when the hubs and I were at the mall on the hunt for the game Spot It (highly recommend!) when he said he wanted to go into Sunrise Records. Understand, we don’t do the mall. The last time we stepped foot in a mall was back in March when coincidentally, HMV, the only record store for miles was closing its doors. Sunrise has since opened in its place, and this August was the first time we checked it out. I haven’t bought physical music in a long while (I purchased Man Machine Poem by the Tragically Hip last fall).

Honestly, I have been out of the CD-buying game for a LONG TIME! I have been gleefully watching from the sidelines as Mike, Bop, Aaron, Geoff, Deke, 1537, J., JHubner73 (see blogroll for a who’s who), and the rest of you great music bloggers search, buy and review music. I haven’t bought music on a regular basis in years, partly because of my own self-imposed austerity, partly because of gaming, partly because of the wave of digital media, and well, I seem to get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that accumulates versus the lack of time and energy to enjoy it. I have written on this blog how music changes my mood; it inspires, it entertains! And I have been feeling like I need to connect with my music again! So when we set foot into Sunrise, I found myself perusing the racks. And you wouldn’t believe what I found:

What?! U2’s The Joshua Tree, remastered!?!

I was in awe. The hubs said, “Well, that’s it, I don’t care what you say, we’re buying it.” Boy, am I glad we did.

The reissue was crisp-sounding, and since I hadn’t heard the Joshua Tree album in a long while, it was fun getting reacquainted with all of those songs. It brought me back to 1987 when Where The Streets Have No Name was hitting the charts. The first half of the album is well known to radio, while it’s also the last half – Trip Through Your Wires, In God’s Country, One Tree Hill, Mothers of the Disappeared – that I love the most. Yes, this is good! Yes, it inspired me.

Following that trip, the hubs and I have since pulled out our three bins of CDs, alphabetized them, and catalogued them using Discogs. Now, I am looking at my current collection more critically.

Lotsa CD-Rs…

Not so amazingly, when we went through the collection, we discovered at least 1/3 of it is burned CDs created from downloading! Looking back, I can’t believe how much effort went into downloading, printing covers and burning the CDs – a whole large Rubbermaid container full! Granted, some of the music were bootlegs or hard-to-find collections, but certainly not all of it! I couldn’t help but feel a bit of guilt.

I have started to legitimize my collection by acquiring the actual physical media of my favourite albums. My preference in media is for the CD (more accessible to me – I can listen to it in the car!), while the hubs is getting the vinyl fever (natch!). Regardless, if there is a remaster available on an album of interest, I will certainly consider that purchase. The ones I have purchased lately have been worth it.

The Majesty!

This newfound interest in my music collection has led me to explore some albums that eluded me back in the day. While I can freely peruse the stacks at Sunrise, the thriftin’ bug also catches my attention. What with CDs as little as $0.50 to $2.99 at the junk shops and used media stores, I have managed to gain some headway on this front, quite cheaply. Many people are dumping out of their physical media, which works out great for me. I’ve been using my two-hour daily commute to my advantage too, by taking my music spoils for a spin in the car and have discovered some really awesome new-to-me albums…and I have also found some no-so-great albums…which I can cast aside, guilt free!

I hope to talk more about my love for the tunes here on the blog. For now, I am just really enjoying this experience.

At Last! The Duran Duran Interview I Get to See 29 Years Later

The other night, while searching on YouTube, I happened upon a video of something I was dying to watch when I was twelve, but because of a series of unfortunate events, was never able to.

That video was of an interview with Duran Duran, one time when they stopped in to MuchMusic in Toronto for a 20-minute impromptu chat. When it aired I caught the last 5 minutes of it – long enough to remember seeing Simon LeBon’s frosted tips, but short enough to think maybe I dreamt it…except, my actions following that brief glimpse as a kid tell me for sure it happened, and thanks to YouTube, I certainly have proof!

In November 1986, Duran Duran were touring the media outlets to promote the release of their Notorious album. MuchMusic, Canada’s answer to MTV was still considered fairly new, and at the time the town I was from, Sudbury, ON, only had the channel available on pay TV.

Thanks to my Step-Dad’s love of TV, he paid for access to MuchMusic. My sis and I loved that channel and would watch it whenever my Mom would loosen her grip on the dial. It was not uncommon for us to tape the channel during the day while we were at school to see if perhaps we would catch the latest videos from our favourite bands.

One Saturday afternoon that November, while my Step-Dad was flipping through the channels, I caught a glimpse of Duran Duran being interviewed by VJ, Erica Ehm…WHAT! Hello! What IS THIS!! I was obsessed with this band. Back then, stars popping by MuchMusic were never advertised in the TV Guide – black limos would breeze in, the bands would get interviewed on their way back from a photo shoot, and then get whisked away to the airport.  I was so ecstatic to see Simon LeBon on screen. Sadly, what I saw of the interview was very brief but I saw enough to know I wanted to see the entire thing!

Back then, there was no Vevo to watch videos. There was no downloading or streaming. PVRs? Forget it. You had to put up with waiting for your choice video to air on MuchMusic. If you were lucky, you would have a VCR to tape the videos so you could watch them again. MuchMusic itself aired 24 hours a day, and would repeat the programming that aired the day before overnight. Maybe I could catch the interview if it re-airs? I figured out in my own head that the interview was going to air again at 1 AM. Time to cook up a plan. I want to see this interview!

No matter which way I sliced it, I was going to encounter barriers. After all, I was twelve, living in 1986.

First barrier: My mother. This one was gonna be a doozy.

Second barrier: figuring out the best way to watch this interview.  The interview aired again late on MuchMusic. I knew there was no way my mom would let me stay up to watch it. Never mind, I had enough wherewithal to know I would not be awake at 1 AM. I was a twelve-year-old who happened to always be sensible about sleep. I loved my bed, and enjoyed sleeping. 1 AM? No way. Mom was a barrier, sleep was an even larger one.

Third barrier: the damn VCR. Since staying up past midnight was out of the question, this made me think of using the VCR to tape the show.  Our beast of a VCR would suit this purpose, but didn’t have a programmable timer that would signal it to record a show at a certain time. This was a big barrier! I then thought that an alarm clock waking me up at 1 AM to press record on the VCR was one damn good work-around. Yeah, that’s a good idea!

I don’t know how I did it, but I somehow managed to get my mom to agree to let me sleep in the rec room. My plan was to set an alarm clock to go off at 1 AM, so that I would be able to press record on the VCR.  My mom lent me an old mini travel wind-up alarm to help me wake up.

Well, the plan didn’t pan as expected.

Truthfully, I have no idea if the alarm went off or not. All I remember was I woke up with a start, totally disoriented at 4 AM. I missed taping the damn interview. And as much as I willed MuchMusic to re-air the segment with repeated tiny bedtime prayers, I never saw this interview air again. And then I watched it on YouTube the other night. Huzzah!

YouTube happens to be a treasure trove of awesome new-to-me Duran Duran interviews and clips from a bygone era. It’s awesome that there are music fans out there digitizing their VHS tapes of old interviews from the 80s and 90s and posting them to the internet. Thankfully today, technology has advanced to such a degree I won’t have to wait for an interview or music video to air again, and I can stay up as late as I want (not that I would…). How far we have come.

The interview itself was great, by the way. This was around the time everyone in Duran Duran was getting married and having kids – far removed from my Archie Comics headspace at twelve…They talked about very adult business – Andy Taylor screwing them over by leaving mid-way through recording their album, and Roger Taylor’s quiet retirement from the entertainment business. It was very interesting. The three band-members that were left – Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor – were on their way to a photo shoot and were dressed up for the occasion. Erica Ehm looked very 80s. Check it out:


[Book] In the Pleasure Groove / John Taylor #TBR20

In the Pleasure Groove
is my third book read for the #TBR20 challenge!

Ask me in 1987 who my favourite band was, and I would say, hands down, Duran Duran. In fact, the years 1984 to 1987, I was in the throes of Duranmania.

Over the years, I sort of kept Duran Duran on my radar, “checking in” every once in awhile to see what the band were up to, even though my last purchased album of theirs was their 1988 album, Big Thing. At any rate, the story of their success – their humble beginnings in Birmingham, UK at the Rum Runner bar, their huge successes with their eponymous album, Rio and later Seven and the Ragged Tiger, the band’s hiatus and side projects, Arcadia and the Power Station, and their struggle to come back and get an audience with their fourth studio album, Notorious is one I have memorized. I bore witness to their successes, and their struggles via the media, video and the radio.

So when I discovered John Taylor’s book, In the Pleasure Groove in the remainder bin at Chapters recently, I thought it would be cool to relive those times from the perspective of a bandmember I didn’t pay much attention to. As good-looking as John Taylor was, the only member of the band I paid any attention to was Simon Le Bon; John was my sister’s favourite.

In the Pleasure Groove is told in John’s voice, delving into John’s upbringing, his close relationship to his parents, his budding interest in music, and childhood friendship with fellow Duran bandmate Nick Rhodes. He talks about how he and Nick created Duran Duran. In reading this book, I learned so much more about this band I hadn’t known before; details like the fact that Duran Duran was mostly John’s idea. John also deals with his very personal struggles with addiction to drugs and alcohol, as well as his side projects, including his time performing in Neurotic Outsiders with former Guns and Roses bassist Duff McKagan, and guitarist Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols.

Although I braced for a salacious tell-all, In the Pleasure Groove  was a passionate and engrossing read that is very balanced, and never puts anyone against the ropes (including Andy Taylor, former guitarist who really didn’t leave the band on decent terms). It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend it!

In the Pleasure Groove
John Taylor


#TBR20 Project Participant!!

The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at evastalker.com. The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.

Dusting Off the iPod Nano

19908 songs. 57.9 days to play through ’em all.

photo: apple-history.com

That’s how many MP3s I have – at least that’s what my iTunes* library is telling me.

The hubs is loading music onto my ancient iPod nano (iOS -0.5 gen, probably…). I called her BEANS back in the day. Apparently she’s still good enough to use connected to the Xbox 360 to play music in the background while playing racing games.

He pointed out that I have Gowan’s greatest hits in the iTunes library, and whilst listening to Cee Lo Green belting, “Does that make me craaay-zaaaaa?”  he emphatically gestured to me and said lovingly, “Yes, yes you are.”

The next song up is Iron Maiden’s Rainmaker.

Gowan^. Cee Lo and Iron Maiden. Duran Duran, Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles. Megadeth. And Gowan.

What? I have eclectic taste in music.

Does that make me crazy? Possibly. But, I’ll never change.

*I hate iTunes, but seems to be a necessary evil when I use an iTouch in the car (and can’t use my Android cell for musak and comply with the handsfree device laws on Ontario roads – another lovely story for another time…)

^That’s THE Lawrence Gowan, who had such Canadian radio hits as “Awake the Giant,” “A Criminal Mind”, “Cosmetics” and of course, “You’re a Strange Animal.” He’s an acquired taste.