British rockers rocket into action

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With new album and concert tour, British rockers rocket into action

Monday, March 28, 2005
By Mark Bialczak

When Duran Duran put out its first CD with the original hit-making, fame-glamorous lineup for the first time in 20 years, of course members of the press came calling.

Billboard magazine charted the course, reviewing the single "Sunrise" last September with these words: " 'Sunrise' is a blast of fresh air. The uptempo dance/rock track has a thrilling, uplifting chorus. . . . Simply put, this is a new day for Duran Duran."

The release of the full disc, "Astronaut," a month later coaxed Rolling Stone magazine to make Duran Duran No. 1 on its Nov. 11 hot list, and declaring ". . . the Fab Five are back with a disc of tantalizing electropop.

More important: Simon, John and Nick still look 'Girls on Film' good."

The Washington Post, meanwhile, dispatched music writer Sean Daly to chronicle Simon LeBon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor signing albums at Times Square's Virgin Megastore.

Where, Daly noted, "A line snaked around a city block and through the store, giddy women dressed to thrill in tight skirts and shirts, plus a few awkward men (sigh: still awkward after all these years) clutching fan magazines."

Duran Duran is back, back, back.

On Wednesday night, the British-born, raised-on-American-pop-culture band hits the stage at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino's Event Center.

And bassist John Taylor says that means it's time for some serious action.

"Now, this is what we do. We go out on the road," Taylor says during a recent phone interview.

"To me, the stage work is what drives me. I love to write and record, but it's the stage work that drives it. You always write songs to play them live. We write songs to perform live. You're building a show," Taylor says.

"I've always loved that. I think that was the impetus for me to get back together with

these guys. I knew if we could get the five original members on stage again, it would be nuts. And it has been."

The Duran Duran mayhem started big in January 1983, when the group, which formed in Birmingham, England, scored big with the new-wave song "Hungry Like the Wolf."

It went to No. 3 on the Billboard pop charts, followed rat-a-tat by "Rio," which went to No. 14 four months later; "Is There Something I Should Know," which went to No. 4 two months after that; "Union of the Snake," which hit No. 3 five months after that; and "New Moon on Monday," which went to No. 10 two months after that.

"The Reflex" landed at No. 1 in April 1984, giving Duran Duran a half-dozen chart-busters in 16 months.

Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor left the band that year. None of the Taylors is related, but fame certainly made all five band members act like jealous siblings at times. Nonetheless, John Taylor says they all remained cordial.

LeBon, Rhodes and John Taylor kept the Duran Duran name alive and even notched hits such as "Notorious," which went to No. 2 in 1986, and "Ordinary World," which made it to No. 3 in 1993.

In 2001, John Taylor was playing in a club in New York City, he recalls, when LeBon showed up and joined him on stage.

"We hadn't played together in five years. It was magic. We tore the roof off. I said, 'I have to get back with this guy. It's been a long time since I've been thinking how great it would be to get Roger and Andy back in the fold.'

"It always worked, that lineup. The stress of fame caused us to fracture. Now we're so much more together, and that keeps us together."

They all agreedto gather in southern France to write and play music. "Astronaut" came together after two years of work.

"I'm thrilled with it," Taylor says of the record. "There are so many albums along the way that you do that you just give up on. I'd guess it's 50-50 on albums that really fulfill their potential.

"Then you have to say, 'This album is a disappointment, and I can't will it to be what I wanted.' We all feel this is the best damn album we've made in our lives."

The goal was simple in some ways yet complicated in others.

Dip a toe into the pool of history, then swim into some deep, new waters.

"I wanted it to sound like Duran Duran," he says, "and to know what time it is today. Not that we're stuck in a time warp, but to know the values of today. Without selling out."

Taylor says the dozen-song collection pays homage to "the technology that drives hip-hop. I'm a rhythm guy. I find a lot of that music cool and exciting," he says. "When you listen to our album, you can tell it's a post hip-hop world Duran Duran."

It's been an exciting new world, Taylor says, dotted with a lot of the fan-crazed touches of the old days.

"We've had some of the most amazing shows of our careers," he says. "The first few shows we did were in Japan, and kids flew to Japan from all over the world. There were banners from Germany and Italy and Britain.

"We started playing in the States, we did a couple of incredible shows in New York and L.A., and celebrities started giving us respect that we didn't expect. We got press that we didn't expect," Taylor says.

Can the rebirth last, or will the new Duran Duran become old and dispensable?

"I always say, the first hit is the easiest," Taylor says. "Then the clock is ticking, and you have to deliver. I think that the clock is ticking on this revival, this reunion," he says. "We don't know how long it will go on."

They'll know when enough is enough.

" I think if we felt there really wasn't a place for us and if we felt that we couldn't create together," Taylor says.

Not yet.

"We deliver," Taylor says.

Courtesy The Post-Standard