Selected by Dan Grunebaum
|' trash' perennials
keyboardist Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran is a sometimes resident of Japan and runs a studio
here, it's only natural that the quintessential '80s band should tour the country. And
what venue could be more appropriate for the shimmering synth-pop of Duran Duran than the
shiny artificial surfaces of the Tokyo International Forum?
Roll back to the early '80s: singer Simon Le Bon and the other members of Duran Duran are
breaking ground in a new media, MTV. Many of the elements that we now think of as
essential to music video - scantily clad models prancing about in "Girls On
Film" for instance - were pioneered in videos produced for Duran Duran. Not only
their visual approach, but also elements such as Duran Duran's precise synthesizer
arrangements and elaborate choreography routines have since become standard for music
In many other ways (not to mention Rhodes' success as a commercial recording artist in
Japan), Duran Duran's influence is still being felt. It will be interesting, then, to see
what Le Bon, Rhodes and the other remaining member, guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, have to
say when they bring their latest album, Pop Trash, to Tokyo in June.
Their tenth album overall and first for the Hollywood label since the end of their
contract with EMI, Pop Trash, released in 2000, was a deliberately self-deprecating
acknowledgement of Duran Duran's place in history. With plenty of pop hooks and undimmed
cynicism, the album pleased diehard fans without perhaps winning them any new ones.
Unlike their previous albums that featured lyrics by Le Bon, Pop Trash was mostly
written by Rhodes. In a July 2000 interview with Wall of Sound, Rhodes explained
what happened: "Le Bon said to me, 'Nick, I just don't feel I'm in the right head
space to be writing lyrics right now. They're not coming from where I want them to. You
seem to be on a roll. Why don't you continue?' I mean, the guy's been writing lyrics for
the last 20 years, after all. It's a real challenge to get your head around that. It made
me appreciate Simon's finer lyrics a lot more. It's a lot to take on board. It really was
quite an experience."
Duran play the Tokyo International Forum on June 17. See listings for details.