Young, Free and Single
I made a throwaway comment in the recent CL column about Duran’s vinyl singles. I said that I was shocked to find out that New Religion wasn’t a single. This got me thinking about other album tracks that maybe should have been singles… which would imply there might have been singles that should have stayed as album tracks.
I’ve always felt that part of Cherry Lipstick’s remit was to tell Duran where they went wrong. So for each album up to and including Thank You (because that’s where the previous article stopped) one single gets the chop and one album track gets promoted.
Duran Duran: Obviously we’re not getting rid of either Planet Earth or Girls on Film. So, sorry Careless Memories, but you have to go. And it’s not just the poor chart position or the homemade video with Simon shooting us with his fingers and mistreating tulips. It was just not as refined as Planet Earth or as fun as Girls on Film. They obviously believed in it though. Nick once said he was amazed by it only getting to #37 because it was “even more to the point” than Planet Earth and they were still playing in 1984. It got onto Arena ahead of The Reflex. Go figure.
So what takes its place? Well, they chose Anyone Out There for the Old Grey Whistle Test, they made a video for Night Boat, but the obvious choice has to be Friends as Mine. It’s upbeat, it’s got a super chorus and if it had been the third single after Planet Earth and Girls On Film, my bet is it would have done better than #37.
Rio: Again, there can be no complaints about HLTW, Save a Prayer or Rio. My Own Way on the other hand has never been a personal favourite. As effectively the lead single off Rio it was not quite up to standard. There's the relatively low chart position, and again the subpar video. John’s art project of the band playing in red and black doesn’t really stand up to playing Indiana Jones in Sri Lanka.
In its place, quite obviously, is New Religion (which was also on Arena, hence my confusion). And it is a super song, carried by JT’s bass line, suitably inscrutable lyrics and the only pop song that I know that has one verse with two different lyrics sung on top of one another. I mean, why not, except that nobody else had done it before - or since.
Seven and the Ragged Tiger: This one is actually more difficult. They did go for the three most obvious choices, even if people didn’t realise it before Nile Rodgers got to work on The Reflex. My vote for the chop goes to New Moon on Monday. Simon once introduced this in concert as “a famous pick up line” – it really isn’t – and even most Duran fans could happily go through the rest of their lives without hearing it again, and even longer without seeing the video. This probably goes for the group as well.
So, I’m sure there are those that would have liked The Seventh Stranger, but they’re not writing this article. I’m very tempted by Cracks in the Pavement, mostly because of the “my head is full of chopsticks” line, but it doesn’t shout single at me. Arguably the best chorus on the album is I Take the Dice. So, the order would need to change. The Reflex as lead single, then Union of the Snake, then I Take the Dice.
Notorious: The lead single and Skin Trade are two of my favourite ever songs. Meet 'el Presidente' isn’t in the top 50. How it reached #24 and Skin Trade only reached #22 (in the UK) is one of those things that I’ll never understand. The video is (sort of) the first one where we see Warren (there is a brief glimpse of his guitar in Skin Trade) and is as poor as all of the 1986/87 efforts. In any case it has to go.
In its place there are a couple of choices. I’m very tempted by Vertigo. Proposition is a great song (which always got chopped off short on my cassette version) but Hold Me is the most Duran sounding single choice. It would probably stay as the third single but might have done better than Skin Trade.
Big Thing: I would have loved Big Thing to have been a single. I played this to a guitar-playing friend who was more Death Metal than Duran and he liked it. Well, “It would have been good if Van Halen has done it’” is what he actually said, but I took this as approval. I have no idea if it would have charted. I could just as easily see it doing well as being a complete flop. It’s rare for an album to be named after a song and for that song not to have been a single. So it gets promoted.
Therefore one of I Don't Want Your Love, All She Wants Is or Do You Believe In Shame has to go. We can’t miss out on a top 10 hit so All She Wants Is stays. Do You Believe In Shame is such a beautiful song, but it did rip off Suzie Q, so that's the one that has to stay as an album track.
(Big Thing 7" single from Spain - thanks to Guille)
Liberty: What to say about Violence of Summer? I might have mentioned that I was not an instant fan of IDWYL but no amount of listening to this made it any better and if anything, watching it with the video made it worse. When Liberty came out, I tried, I mean I really tried to like it, but there was just so much wrong. Serious I could manage, Liberty at a pinch. But the redeeming grace, the pearl on the album is of course My Antarctica. Why couldn’t that be the single? Serious charted at #48. What did they have to lose?
The Wedding Album: How good an album is this really… is possible an article for another day. Ordinary World and Come Undone are now Duran classics (and, for my money, Come Undone is the better song) But Too Much Information was not in the same class and they must have known that. Breath after Breath is too similar for a third single and after that what is there to choose from?
I was never a fan of Love Voodoo. They strangely made a video of Femme Fatale – did they consider this as a single or did they just have time on their hands and money to burn? I like this version even if I’m offended by the pronunciation of “Fem Fettle” but then that’s how Lou Reed sang it too. My vote then has to go to UMF (yes, really) The verse I admit, isn’t really that great but if you stick it out to the chorus, it’s worth it. Would it have done better than TMI? It couldn’t have done much worse.
Thank You: I’m in the (very small) Thank You fan club so this one is difficult for me. I love Perfect Day (and it’s by far and away my wife’s favourite Duran song) and White Lines has its place in Duran’s back catalogue. Are we allowed to add a third single without axing one of these? It’s my game, so I’m saying yes, and that means I choose 911 Is A Joke to be the third single. The critical reception by that point had already been that bad. It might even have worked in their favour.
Special mentions: I would be very much in favour of ditching Electric Barbarella if we could replace it with Who Do You Think You Are? with as many close ups of Warren as they could cram into the video. Starting To Remember from Pop Trash is probably too short at just 2:39 to be a single. Of more recent si
ngles, Runway Runaway is a better single than anything released since they got back together.
When Cherry Lipstick Vol 2 finished as a paper fanzine back in 2001, it felt like a natural end. There was no where else for a fantastic and ultimately successful project to go. Resurrecting it 16 years later as a website was an idea I had without knowing why or what could be done with it. Three years later (and it has gone remarkably quickly) Cherry Lipstick has become so much more than I had ever imagined. Long may it last.