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Duran Duran get hungry like wolves with 'Now'

BY GEORGE LANG glang@opubco.com Published: August 10, 2012
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Trying on hats

Duran Duran bounced back in a big way with 1993's “Duran Duran,” also known as “The Wedding Album,” a platinum seller featuring “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone,” but lost favor again with the poorly received “Thank You,” in which the group delivered covers of songs by Public Enemy, Bob Dylan, Sly and the Family Stone and Led Zeppelin.

“Since the mid-'80s, we've tried on a lot of different hats: house music, rap, grunge,” Taylor said. “You dip your toe in all of those styles. You just do. You'd have to be very puritanical in your leanings not to when you're a band and you're listening to all sorts of things; you just cannot help but be influenced by styles that come along. But along the way, you can sort of lose your identity if you're not careful.”

John Taylor left Duran Duran after “Thank You,” leaving Le Bon and Rhodes to soldier on with former Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo for two albums.

Things reconsidered

Then the original five members reconvened for several reunion dates, culminating in 2004's “Astronaut,” an album that restored luster to the band's name. John Taylor said there was comfort in playing with his mates again — especially Roger Taylor, who spent more than a decade out of the music business.

Not everything about the reunion worked exactly as planned: Andy Taylor left after “Astronaut,” and John Taylor expressed dissatisfaction with “Red Carpet Massacre” — no songs from that 2007 album are on the group's current set list. But “All You Need Is Now” has been a different story, and John Taylor said the response from critics and fans has revitalized Duran Duran.

“We're still on the road 20 months after the release of the album, and the material from the album has definitely energized the live show,” he said. “‘Girl Panic!' and ‘All You Need Is Now' I can definitely see as fixtures on upcoming tours.

Later this year, John Taylor, 52, will publish “In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran,” a memoir that will detail his 33-year history with the group. He said Duran Duran's stratospheric success and the subsequent low points can be instructive for today's pop stars.

“Look, when you've had that kind of phenomenal success, people are going to move on,” Taylor said. “I get that now. There has to be a reaction. And when it goes, it's really going to go, you know? Justin Bieber, look out. It's not like Arcade Fire. That's the thing about being extraordinarily trendy: Everybody leaves.

“We went through the '90s just having to wear this '80s hat,” he said. “That was the one thing people would give us: ‘Oh yeah, you were one of those '80s bands — you were the best band of the '80s.' OK, thanks a lot. In our case, you stick it out and do whatever you've got to do to stay in business.

“And slowly,” Taylor said, “people start reconsidering you.”