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CONCERT PREVIEW
Duran Duran

Selected by Dan Grunebaum

' trash' perennials
Zak Corporation

Considering that 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 video.

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 Duran play the Tokyo International Forum on June 17.  See listings for details.


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