Duran Duran have always been about triumph and tragedy. These two imposters belong together, as one can never be appreciated and understood without the other. And Duran Duran have had their fill of both.
Many of you will recently have read the Cherry Lipstick fanzine that focused on their formative years of 1976-1980. These were majestic, dynamic years as the band formed amidst a clatter of energy, creativity, farce and personality.
But for every ying nature insists on a yang, and this period of growth has its black mirror in the 1994-1997. These were chaotic years as the band collapsed amidst a deluge of criticism, implosion, drug addiction, marital discord and creative burnout. The follow up to the highs of Ordinary World in May 1993, was the long-delayed Thank You album in 1995 (which had basically been completed in 1992).
1996 managed to mirror the crash of 1986 as Duran ended up as a trio. John (rather than Andy) grew fed up and went off to work with two bands (Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders) rather than the new Duran album. Matters came to a head in January 1997 as John quit. Duran carried on to complete their album, Medazzaland, in October.
Which brings us to this Forgotten Horror. Given this tumultuous, tempestuous, tortured and dare I add, traumatic, process, how did our band manage to reflect on this? What poetry flowed to make sense of this sadness?
“Can't say that I was surprised / When you broke the ties.”
So, a shrug of the shoulders. John walks from his band as is met with, “Yeah, thought so.”
“I have realized / It couldn't be the same / ‘Cause everything has changed”
Aka: “Dude, it’s over and I’ve moved on.”
“And still I held out my hand / Tried to pull you back / But you were buried in the sand.”
Aka: “It’s not me, it’s you.”
“I'm glad that you came along”
WTF!?!? ‘Glad’??? I’m ‘glad’ there was an egg sandwich left at the store when I didn’t manage to get out for a lunch break ‘til 3pm. Yeah, I’m glad you bothered to show up for 20 years, John. But, hey, y’know, we’ll get by.
“Here our journey ends / I say goodbye to you.”
I guess that’s that then. We’re not exactly reaching out here.
“Head buried in the sand”
Now I don’t know about you, but that is not a compliment from where I’m from. It’s a person who is stuck in their ways and won’t listen to reason, or want to accept change. Which, when describing a person who is struggling to manage a marriage, fatherhood, addiction and identity seems a tad harsh, uncaring and insensitive.
Simon, John and Nick had every right to continue without John. Elsewhere on the album you can hear Duran express their pain, and attempt to make sense of the mess they were in. This is evident on the title track, Be My Icon, So Long Suicide and Undergoing Treatment. But on Buried In The Sand, Duran manage to be insensitive, crass and thoughtless. I’m ‘glad’ for them all that John returned and is as essential as ever. It wasn’t the same without him. It would have been nice for Medazzaland to have had something left over that captured that more fittingly.