All babies are not cute, and all Duran Duran songs are not good. As such, I will gladly talk about my least favorite Duran b-side of all time: the dreadful “We Need You”.
I can’t prove this, but I feel like there is a sense of fondness among the fan base for “We Need You,” the lone, true B-side from Notorious. It’s unlike anything on the album, so maybe if the Nile Rodgers / Alfred Hitchcock influenced funk wasn’t your cup of tea, it might hold appeal? Or maybe it applied some lyrical balm to the wounds of Andy and Roger’s departures?
As noted in the excellent review of Notorious posted on this site recently, that album marked the fork in the road for Duran Duran fans. I was in the camp who chose to stay, who embraced the new sound. I loved the funk, the horns, and the guitar. It wasn’t perfect (looking at you, Meet El Presidente!), but it was a damn good “comeback,” the great-grandfather to three decades of comebacks. I think “Notorious” has held up very well (both the album and the title track). I love “Notorious.”
I never even knew that there were B-sides to Notorious until the late 1990s, when I first stumbled across “We Need You” on a compilation CD I had bought on eBay. (This is back when eBay actually had decent bootlegs). I treated it as a curiosity; in fact, I remember thinking it was some kind of unfinished demo that had never seen the light of day. Imagine my horror upon purchasing the singles box set in 2003 and realizing that “We Need You” was the official “B” side to Skin Trade! Duran has a proud history of amazing B-sides; “We Need You” ranks somewhere near the bottom, maybe a notch above “Silent Icy River” but not much higher than that.
Lyrically, it’s been debated whether the song is about the band pleading for Andy’s return, or for the fans to keep the faith. Is either option really that appealing? I don’t want this milquetoast, pleading, weak Duran Duran coming out of my boom box speakers! I love Notorious because it has the exact opposite tone, lyrically and musically, for most of its 46 minutes. It’s funky, it’s fun, and best of all, it’s got lots of guitar.
In a 2003 Ask Katy, John called “We Need You” as the “purest song” of the Notorious sessions, because it was just the three of them. Well, John’s half right. It’s pure…something.