Your Cherry Lipstick team like to come together to have a quick chat about a new Duran Duran song. Unfortunately we could not get together this time, so Bens Vokes and Rawson-Jones, Ruth Galvin, C.K. Shortell and, yours truly, Adam Wilson have written down their views in double-quick time for you on a Friday afternoon / evening.
Hope you enjoy them.
Ben V: Return of the Fab Five? The absolutely Fabulous Five you betcha! Raise you one long-time collaborator in Chic legend Nile Rodgers and we’ve got the Stellar Six & oh boy they be cooking up a Hallowe'en feast that’s gonna have me rolling until beyond New Years.
“He likes things that move fast” our ingenious mad prof Nick Rhodes once said of Charlie. Not surprising then that my drug of choice is playing Duran’s pleasure grooves in the car with the movement all around me as the class-a rhythm section dilates my mind. I’m singing out of tune, but the tempo of Black Moonlight is completely with my heart’s beat in time.
“Have you been drinking sir?”
“No officer, I’m vibing out to Black Moonlight”.
Duran’s most commercial and radio friendly banger since Sunrise, coincidently then or perhaps not that rock guitar demigod Andy Taylor returns for the first time since that era. Nile brings the Daft Punk Get Lucky funk ten years on from that world-wide success & this feels on a par dare I say that (cough BMG!)?! Yes Black Moonlight is Duran on peak form with King of Fucking Bass™ John Taylor twinning with the funky flex of Nile’s dancing guitar on their A-game as is Simon lyrically and performatively, no damage (the damage) going on here. Reminiscent of Jacko’s Thriller this is now Nick Rhodes’ thriller.
I love this track, oh lordy Andy at 1min 40 seconds segue into the middle 8! A middle 8 that gives Simon his most amazing George Michael moment (Take me to the edge of Heaven, tell me that my soul’s forgiven)!* Duran are on procession with the crucial and the wild; our lone wolf original guitarist is back in the pack, & I’m insatiably hungry to experience Black Moonlight at DuranLive. I hope all involved are proud of it. Score: 12 Midnight out of ten.
*This is the first time in 30 years that Cherry Lipstick has published nice things about George Michael. It should also be the last.
C.K.S: When asked about the band’s approach to covering John Lennon’s Instant Karma (in 2005), Andy replied, “Get to the chorus!” This seems to have been the goal nearly two decades later. Hot on the heels of the unique Danse Macabre single, Black Moonlight veers in a completely different, but welcome, direction. Both songs are catchy as hell and fun.
The Hallowe'en connection in Black Moonlight seems tenuous –Nick tries to insert a spooky synth line, but it’s overshadowed by the sheer energy and funk of the track. Black Moonlight also successfully channels the disco/funk vibe of All of You, one of the standout tracks on Future Past. It is an outstanding second single.
While comparisons between the first two releases off Danse Macabre are inevitable, a more interesting comparison is between Black Moonlight and Reachin’ Out To You, an equally brief and funky song on Andy recent solo album. Reachin’ Out to You leans more into electro (ironically, it sounds more like Nick was involved than the Duran song does), even while its guitars are higher in the mix. Meanwhile, Black Moonlight features John’s distinctive bassline.
Every Duran album since the 2001 reunion has been plagued by high expectations and delays. This Hallowe'en project, in contrast, seemingly fell from the sky a few months ago. It has given fan songs that channel Medazzaland / Big Thing a home in Danse Macabre, while the high energy, funky Black Moonlight track could be at home on Paper Gods, Astronaut, or even Seven and the Ragged Tiger. The band seems to be simply having fun. While I still rate Danse Macabre slightly higher, Black Moonlight is excellent and has me excited for the full album next month.
Ruth: Tight, night, light, sight - Tell me are the lyrics shite?
Ever in the quest for deeper lyrical meaning, I googled “Black Moonlight” to see if there was some “come to Jesus” moment but all I found was Nile Rodgers… with guests Duran Duran. Not everything has to be Wordsworth, and his Nileship has validated the track so should be good, yeah? Actually it is.
Like a tin of Ronseal fence life, a Nile Rodgers record does exactly what it says on the tin and is very good at same. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room for his backing band. Duran have thanked him on Twitter for raising their game, yet he never quite returns the compliment without a mirror in hand. This is not a relationship of equal parts, and all parties know it. Long before I heard the track I expected a cousin of Pressure Off, a shiny penny of rhythm guitar and funky bass - I wasn’t disappointed. I always knew, annoyingly, that he would drown the track in his own customized sound but I love disco and will concede he is excellent at what he does.
There is a certain whiff of Club Tropicana in the opening bars but it doesn’t linger. I’ve seen calls for Night Versions but what this song really needs is something more akin to what Ferry Corsten did with Nice - to really turn it into a dance track rather than a dad dance track. When I saw all the Wham references floating around, I was thinking how much I like the 2019 friendly Fires album Inflorescent (very Whammy!) and how well the remixes worked there. The mix in Black Moonlight feels a bit muddy; JT has great bass lines but it hasn’t got the crispness I love of early Duran, e.g. Sound Of Thunder. Here, John's sound acquiesces to Nile's rhythmic lead. The Hallowe'en eerie whistles could have been lifted from an episode of Scooby Doo but they are thankfully few. This is not a scary dance record, they released that one a few weeks ago.
Despite Andy’s functional absence, the sound that Black Moonlight embodies has done a lot to restore the tedious Andy v Warren debates, le sigh! Comparing the two, I far prefer the dungeon atmosphere that Warren creates in Danse Macabre but the verse and vocals make it barely listenable so it fails as a whole. Black Moonlight has more legs beyond the Halloween season and novelty album genre. It will go down very well live and satisfy Duran classicists who feels they have been starved since All You Need is Now.
There is nothing to dislike here. The vocals aren’t too pitchy, the chorus is a joy, it’s fluffy and fun. It comes in at a well-judged 3 mins and 6 seconds and in its current format there isn’t enough sonic diversity to support a longer track.
Now that Andy’s name has done the heavy lifting of publicizing their new album, it is somewhat strange that he is absent on the first track and virtually so on the second. Maybe he has left the band a third time??? The bastard!!! We are told he is on seven tracks on Danse Macabre, but for an Andy fix your time would be far better spent listening to his very solid solo record, Man’s A Wolf To Man. Himself and Graham Coxon should also form a support group, Hidden Guitarists Alone Together. Score: 7 out of 10
Ben R-J: It is what it is. An overused phrase, but one that seems eerily apt for Black Moonlight.
Much time can be spent dissecting what it isn’t – a deep and meaningful song that changes lives, or a guitar orgy foregrounding the return of Andy Taylor. It’s all too easy for new material to crumble under the weight of fan expectation, a self-imposed burden we can all succumb to. What matters is the song that exists not the song that doesn’t.
As for what Black Moonlight is - it’s a funky banger with an infectious groove that’ll make toes tap so hard that podiatrists around the world will be overwhelmed. It’s what one would hope for from a collaboration between Duran Duran and Nile Rodgers.
Black Moonlight also fits in well with the Hallowe'en theme of the Danse Macabre project, with ethereal effects on the vocals in the verse, supernatural references in the lyrics and Mr Rhodes in his element unleashing spooky theremin sounds that belong in one of those Treehouse Of Horror episodes of The Simpsons. The production is superb.
It doesn’t outstay its welcome before scurrying away into the dead of night after lasting just three minutes. (I promise you I’m still talking about Black Moonlight not my love life).
There’s also something eminently forgettable about the song. Its unashamed lack of depth hasn’t forged the connection many songs on Future Past did, for example.
Now I’ve fallen into the trap of talking about what it’s not. Sometimes you just can’t win when being a Duranie.
But this isn’t the brooding, introspective version of the band – it’s very much the Duran Duran who want to make you forget life’s woes and dance like there’s no tomorrow.
Let’s embrace that and hope Black Moonlight blares out from radios everywhere this Hallowe'en. Score: 7 out of 10
Adam: This Hallowe’en thing. What’s that all about? My cultural reference in the UK was that it used to turn up around 29th October. It was for kids who would put on some fake fangs or a witches hat, knock on some doors and be given some sweets or an apple (if you were lucky). Meanwhile, the kids from the rough estate would vandalise cars for 15 minutes. For the adults, the BBC might show a Freddie Kruger film at 11pm. By 1st November it was as if it had never happened.
Us Brits were aware that elsewhere it could be a weirdly big deal. I remember seeing ET way back in 1982 when there was a scene in ET where the kids all go out dressed up like R2D2 and Cinderella. I had no idea why. Over in Mexico they seem to go completely nuts.
In line with how American culture has continued its strangulation of the UK over the last 10-15 years (out go school discos, in comes ‘prom’), Hallowe’en seems to start earlier each year. Future landfill crap* fills our supermarket shelves, and Strictly Come Dancing make it a big deal, emphasising the jokey nature of ghosts, monsters and vampires. Duran Duran, especially Nick, have joined in, with increasingly lavish costumes being paraded.
*Good name for a Greatest Hits album?
Last year Duran took it to another level with the special Vegas show, and now we have Danse Macabre. This has all been very exciting, with new music only two years after Future Past, AND THE RETURN OF ANDY! Expectation management is always a problem for fans (er, and me), which careered to new heights with a spooky teaser clip, a gothic-looking album cover, and then Warren was announced a returning guest!
The track Danse Macabre landed, to me, as an oddity. It involved rapping, Warren’s resurrection was smothered, while the delayed music video* release, despite fab graphics, had no discernible story, or much of the band, and a questionable groping by a skeleton.
Now comes Black Moonlight. With that background, which way was it going to go?
Well, it fits right in with the afore-mentioned disposable Hallowe’en vibe. On the album it will sit comfortably alongside Supernature, Psycho Killer, Super Lonely Freak and Danse Macabre, rather than Nightboat moodiness. Maybe Secret October 31st will have a salsa beat. Maybe Andy will be audible on that.
Already, expectations / desperations (delete as appropriate) turn towards our final new song, Confessions In The Afterlife. Could that be the Arcadia-ish track? Could that avoid the temptation to find a rhyme with knife, Fife and wife?
Turns out Hallowe'en was pop trash all along. Score: 3-and-a-bit minutes out of 10
*For the record, Cherry Lipstick undertook an investigation with ‘young people’ as to whether a reference to a ‘video’ made any sense. The representative sample (one) stated that no one watched them anymore, and that they had no name. Despite prompting that popular ‘videos’ by Harry Styles and Taylor Swift on You Tube had 100s of millions of views, plus numerous comments underneath, this drew dismissive claims that the ‘video’ had not actually been watched. Anyway, the public comments referred to these ‘videos’ as 'Music Videos', or 'MVs'. So now you know.