Lost Treasures #5: Someone Else Not Me
Cherry Lipstick is delighted to welcome the renowned writer Quentin Harrison to our pages. Quentin has written extensively for albumism.com - there is more about his work and achievements below. Here he extols the virtues of what can be a lesser appreciated track in the latest of our series on Lost Duran Treasures.
Often, the batch of albums created between the poles of The Wedding Album (1993) and Astronaut (2004) are erroneously castigated by dismissive critics as Duran Duran’s worst efforts. It is true that for Duran Duran, a band constantly on the evolutionary prowl, that not every experiment would be as rapturously received as others. But, no other space in Duran’s discography embraces abstractionism and modernism as unrepentantly as this one does.
In fact, one of Duran Duran’s finest ballads emerged out of this misunderstood era.
One of the central principles shaping this epoch was the ever-shifting interpersonal dynamics of the band itself. With Duran reduced to a trio following John’s departure in early 1997, Medazzaland ended up as their last project to be sanctioned by longtime label host EMI Records. And so, the plotting and planning of their 10th album Pop Trash began tentatively, sans a label deal, in 1998 with producer-engineer Ken Scott in tow at the outset. But, for the most part, the album was a self-contained production on the group’s part.
Still possessed by the writer’s block that had seized his mind on Medazzaland, Le Bon’s creative unrest spilled over into the Pop Trash sessions. Of course, this was problematic for the band; Warren and Nick united to pick up the slack. Yet, the independently financed Pop Trash continued onward. Finally, in the early summer of 1999, Duran Duran secured an unlikely deal with the Disney owned Hollywood Records. Now that a record label was in place, the album pulled into even sharper focus sonically, its gorgeously post-modern glam rock/pop position clear.
With Warren and Nick, in effect, piloting the LP’s core, it added further pressure on Simon to keep pace with the two of them. The Duran frontman was wrestling with his own internal struggles that had not only interrupted his band endeavors, but were beginning to cause unrest in his personal relationships. All of this ended up serving Simon—and the group—as he now had an inspirational impetus for one of Pop Trash's best tracks in “Someone Else Not Me.”
Cast in a similarly oceanic, contemporary AOR vein embodied on many of the downtempos dotting The Wedding Album, “Someone Else Not Me” did differentiate itself with its Rhodesian synth washes and Cuccurullian psychedelic guitar lines. Simon kept the songwriting lockstep with the arrangement’s tide-like ebb by turning in one of his most impassioned vocals to date. On its face, “Someone Else Not Me” is a lovelorn valentine to incompatibility in an adult romance. Further investigative listening may lead one to perhaps view the song as a questioning of Simon’s own commitment to Duran Duran. This is subjective to be sure, but whatever the emotional accelerant was, it was very much present in singer’s performance and made the composition one of Duran Duran’s strongest balladic pieces.
Released on March 13, 2000 with an impressively enterprising Macromedia Flash music video—as created and directed by Fullerene Productions—it was the opening salvo for Pop Trash. The song was a commercial miss and met with mixed critical reception; this same fate awaited its parent long player when it hit record store shelves three months afterward.
What happened in the wake of the commercial fallout from Pop Trash has been well documented (and debated) through the years. Sadly, what has been lost in this discourse is the magic of “Someone Else Not Me” as its own composition.
In a canon already rife with numerously powerful ballads, “Someone Else Not Me” stands out as one of those brief moments when the curtain dropped to offer a rare view on the “behind the scenes” tension within this iconic band. Specifically steered by Simon Le Bon’s own spirit at the time, disenchanted as it was, the artistry of “Someone Else Not Me” is refreshingly vulnerable and that makes it singular within Duran Duran’s awesome catalogue. One can only hope that through a much-needed live interpretation someday soon that “Someone Else Not Me” can reach a wider audience and lead to the rediscovery of this aural gem.
mood board created for Cherry Lipstick by The Paper Goddess
Meet Quentin Harrison:
Quentin Harrison has dedicated his career to bringing critical discourse to the world of popular music. His ardent appreciation and openness to explore a wide array of genres is enriched by a thorough historical acumen, which allows him to reveal connections musically and culturally among a diverse range of artists and styles. He makes these associations with sharp insight and an exuberance that brings the journeys of recording artists to life. It is this holistic and heartfelt approach that has become Harrison’s signature style.
In addition to writing his Record Redux Series, a 14-book set dedicated to resetting the critical narratives of influential (but often misrepresented) women in popular music, Harrison has been an active contributor to various music media outlets. As staff contributor for culture and entertainment site Blogcritics.org, Harrison’s branded feature, Retromodern, lived up to its name. In it, he focused on past recordings that may have fallen in the cracks commercially but warrant a second listen and a renewed appreciation.
In December 2016, Harrison debuted on Albumism.com as a recurring writer. It is an ideal platform for him to connect personally with artists who cross international lines and range from music legends to up-and-coming new voices — resulting in compelling portraits that honor artists, quite simply, by celebrating their music. Harrison has gone on to become one of the most active staff members for Albumism, crafting a range of content for the site that includes retrospective tributes, new album reviews, playlists and more. His interviews for Albumism have included Cindy Herron-Braggs of En Vogue, KT Tunstall, Swing Out Sister, Jody Watley, Lisa Loeb, Bright Light Bright Light and Melanie C.
Quentin's Duran Duran album reviews on Albumism.com:
Rio - 35-year retrospective
The Wedding Album 25-year retrospective
Medazzaland 20-year retrospective
Follow Quention on Twitter