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Lost Treasures #6: Notoriety

The Power Station’s second album had a long and varied gestation. John first mooted the idea in 1991, but it fell flat. Then, in 1994 recording sessions with the original four members - Taylors John and Andy, Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer, plus producer Bernard Edwards - began. These continued on and off until, in mid-1995, John dropped out, reportedly due to marital issues and drug problems. Recordings continued with Bernard becoming a full band member and re-played all John’s bass parts.

The album was ready to go in 1996, but tragedy struck as Bernard died in the April. The album ‘Living In Fear’ was released in September with The Power Station now a trio of Andy, Tony and Robert.

Power Station ’85 had been an appropriately throwaway concept. The unplanned tour muddied the waters, but as whole the project contained fond memories and a knock-out single in the form of Some Like It Hot. The release of the record had been front-page news. In 1996, even from die-hard Duran fans, it was greeted with all the enthusiasm of a last-minute consolation own goal when you are losing 5-0. Robert's last top 10 hit in the UK had been in 1991, and his previous album (Honey, in 1994) had charted for 4 weeks. Andy’s solo career had stalled in 1990, while Tony had been nursing an injury from a car crash which had left him out of action for most of the ‘90s. This felt like it was just three rich, bored, middle aged blokes attempting to recreate their youth. Maybe the music would do the talking?

It has to be said, there is a fair amount of turgid, earnest, humourless rock abounding on Living In Fear. You are advised to avoid Shut Up, Dope and the title track. Many tracks are about the wicked wiles of women, and one particularly unpleasant lyric on the worst track (Fancy That) is a shocker that shames all those involved:

“You see that teenager with no inhibitions on? She's about to come and test the strength of your resolve and how She's got an ugly friend for insurance in the crowd It's a game, a tease, she'll only sneer if you try a pass”

That is the lowest moment, and sours an album that is generally better than might be feared, especially if it is approached with low expectations and a generous heart.

Which brings us to this Lost Treasure, ‘Notoriety’. It is the opening track and has a rather sweet start with a guitar line reminiscent of Andy's later work on Chains, which is all to the good. A wail of guitar, followed by Thomson’s trademark clatter of drums precedes a classic Palmer vocal. This is all familiar and welcoming. The song then cranks along with a vocal about some femme fatalle, with the lyric chucking in a range of vocabulary (‘reputation’, ‘rumours’, ‘speculate’, 'hearsay', ‘indifference’) that presumably preceded the song and then had the story woven around them.

The swirl of power-synths that pops out throughout the track is most pleasant. The track avoids any obvious chorus, using the music and vocal to build to the punchline of the song's title. The song ends with a cute little playout, and we have a very welcome song to enjoy, which, despite various criticisms from Cherry Lipstick through the years, is not a problem being over 5 minutes long.

The second Power Station album is rather a specialist subject in the Duran world. So, during Duran down-time, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, and consider this a Lost Treasure that is worth further exploration.

And at the very least, who would have thought there would be a second decent song beginning “Notori-“?

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