In an unprecedented move, I am joining in marriage two of my usual features here and writing about a book that deals with music. Never before has such a thing been done! Sit back and watch as I…
What? I have done this before? Like in the entry prior to this one? Oh. Never mind.
Anyway, it’s actually because of that entry that this entry came about. An author read my review of Mad World, a book about New Wave music, songs, and artists that I absolutely loved, and reached out to me to ask if I would like to review his book. I normally don’t take requests, but he asked so nicely...AND it is a book about one of my all-time favorites, Duran Duran. [Please note: I am receiving no compensation for this review; it is based on the press kit the author sent me, and the words and opinions here are, as always, my own.]
A Seattle resident, Andrew Golub is a long-time fan of Duran Duran, and has amassed a huge collection of memorabilia. Part of his collection is concert posters: some common and some rare, those that saw wide distribution and those that were never released. His book consists of these concert posters, and Beautiful Colors is aptly named.
[click on any picture to embiggenate]
These early posters from 1981 stand in stark contrast to the later image of the band. Duran Duran, perhaps more than any other band, epitomized the color-drenched, lush MTV look. Think of the videos for “Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf.” (A major exception is the video for my favorite song of theirs, “The Chauffeur.” This moody, atmospheric song gets the black and white treatment, and rightly so.) It would seem that the advent of MTV brought about a change in Duran Duran’s concert posters. If a band recognizes a hot commodity, they’d be foolish to not take advantage of that, and their looks were definitely a hot commodity. Photos of the band begin to dominate the posters.
Duran Duran was sometimes seen as a bunch of pretty boys making throwaway pop music. I never felt that was true or fair, and I feel that their music stands the test of time. Yes, they were gorgeous (John Taylor, good heavens...when I was a college coed, I absolutely adored him. Kind of still do, to tell the truth!), and yes, they had some great hits on radio and on MTV. But their talent as musicians and songwriters cannot be denied. They crafted some amazing songs, and they were and are all talented musicians. It is forty years later, and if I hear “The Reflex” or “Wild Boys,” I still shake my groove thang! “Rio” remains in my personal Top Ten albums.
The advent of MTV brought their vibrancy to light, and concert posters of that era showcased that. The colors leap out at you, and their looks are enhanced with makeup and coiffed hair.
And good gawd, that black leather. [fanning myself]
There is an enduring story in my family about Duran Duran. Three of my nieces, maybe around ten years old at the time, told my Beatlemaniac sister that “Duran Duran is going to be bigger than the Beatles.” I haven’t checked album sales, but I’m guessing that has not turned out to be the case. However, Duran Duran left their indelible and colorful stamp on rock and roll history, and continue to do so. Their sound is evocative of a certain time in my life and as I write this, I find that I have a wicked little grin on my face.
Andy’s book beautifully shows this. The transition from traditional graphic posters to those that showcased the band’s glamorous looks is readily apparent, and as some wise person once said, “Sex sells.” Duran Duran also had the music and talent to back up the sex appeal, unlike many others of that era (or of this era, frankly). The posters in this art book show the development of a Birmingham band working the clubs to MTV darlings and arena artists. It is beautifully done, and any fan of Duran Duran would treasure this volume. A forward by Nick Rhodes is icing on the cake.
Check out Andy’s website here. You can buy the book there or here.
In an amazing case of serendipity, as I finished up this entry, the song that came on satellite radio was “Hungry Like The Wolf.” Karma, baby!