Original Duran Duran Reunites on Record
NEW YORK (Billboard) - It may have taken 21 years to get a new album from Duran Duran's original lineup, but it took the five members only 24 hours to decide to get back together.
Duran Duran's new album, "Astronaut," which Epic Records/Sony Music will release Oct. 12 in North America and Oct. 11 in other territories, is the first studio album from the original lineup since 1983's "Seven and the Ragged Tiger."
"Astronaut" reunites lead singer Simon LeBon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor. (The Taylors are unrelated.)
Roger and Andy Taylor quit the band in the mid-1980s; John Taylor exited in 1997. Although LeBon and Rhodes continued Duran Duran with various lineups, the question always remained: Would the original members ever get back together?
That question was answered in 2000, when the BBC aired the documentary "Wild Boys: The Story of Duran Duran."
Andy Taylor tells Billboard, "Within a couple of weeks after this documentary being on the BBC, John Taylor called me, and within 24 hours everyone in (the original lineup of) Duran Duran had agreed to get back together. Everyone was in the right frame of mind to say yes."
LeBon admits the Duran Duran reunion happened because "we realized that this lineup represented the best we'd ever been. No one really convinced anyone else to get back together. Time did the convincing."
The reunited members began writing and recording new songs, and they launched a tour in 2003. Earlier this year, Duran Duran signed a four-album worldwide deal with Sony.
The band previously spent most of its career on Capitol/EMI, with whom it experienced its greatest success. The first half of the '80s saw a string of Duran Duran hits, including "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Is There Something I Should Know," "The Reflex" and "A View to a Kill."
Duran Duran has sold 70 million albums worldwide, according to Sony.
Sony will release two versions of "Astronaut": a CD-only version and a limited-edition CD/DVD package. The one-hour DVD includes footage from the band's sold-out stint at London's Wembley Arena in April.
For the "Astronaut" album, the reunited lineup learned how to experiment more, LeBon says. "There's less manic fighting for air time on this album."
The set stays true to Duran Duran's style of mixing rock, dance and pop, from the sci-fi atmospheric title track to the carefree "Taste the Summer" and the hopeful "What Happens Tomorrow." The first single is the anthemic "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise."
In Japan, the "Astronaut" album will include a Jason Nevins remix of "Virus."
Andy Taylor says the biggest differences between Duran Duran now and when he was in the band in the 1980s are "the pace and balance. When we were younger, we didn't have time to sit back and really enjoy our success. Now we know how to handle it better."
The band's 2003-04 world tour sold out virtually every venue and helped build consumer anticipation for the new album.
RIDING THE WAVE
EMI has also gotten in on the wave of Duran Duran nostalgia. Since 2001, the label has released remastered CDs of the band's 1980s albums. Last year, EMI began issuing for the first time DVDs of Duran Duran's home-video releases.
On Nov. 2, EMI will release Duran Duran's "Singles Box, Vol. 2 (1986-1995)," a boxed set of 14 CD singles in individual cardboard sleeves with replicated original artwork. Last year, EMI released Duran Duran's "Singles Box, Vol. 1 (1981-1985)" with similar packaging.
A Nevins remix of "Sunrise" appeared on the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" soundtrack, released in February on Capitol. The remix received some airplay.
Hoping to continue the momentum, Epic chose the album version of "Sunrise" as the first single. The song is No. 23 this week on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart.
"Sunrise" has become a top 30 hit on the U.K. radio airplay chart; that marks the first time a Duran Duran single has cracked the chart's top 50 since the band's 1995 cover of "White Lines."
Duran Duran launches a world tour in February 2005 in support of "Astronaut." It is expected to start in Miami.
-Carla Hay/Lars Brandle in London
Article courtesy Billboard Magazine