Way Back Wednesday: Duran Duran

A look at artists and groups that came up pre-'00s, with lots of video included.

It's mid-week, and that means it's time for another Way Back Wednesday. Let's get to it.

Arguably among everyone's favorite '80s-era bands just released their 14th studio album a few Friday's ago, Paper Gods. I figured this was as good a time as any to take a look back at Duran Duran's illustrious career.

Background: John Taylor and Nick Rhodes formed the group in Birmingham, England in 1978. Drummer Roger Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor and lead singer Simon Le Bon came into the fold a little later. Though Duran Duran went through various line-up changes over the years, none were more successful than the aforementioned quintet. They became an impressive musical force in the U.S., leading the "Second British Invasion" here, not to mention helping spearhead the brief New Romantic pop culture movement in the United Kingdom, which paired flamboyant, eccentric fashion with synthpop sounds. In fact, a big part of DD's appeal was their style and boundary-pushing fashion sense. The musicians worked with numerous designers over the years so that their duds became a prominent element of their overall presentation. All five members were viewed as sex symbols. Often featured on magazine covers, everyone seemed to have a favorite member. DD were also among the first to remix their own material. The songs, dubbed "night versions," were eventually compiled into a proper release in 1999, Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran.

Notable albums: Duran Duran's self-titled debut was released via EMI in 1981. Third single "Girls on Film" proved the Top 10 breakout that put them on the map in the UK, built around a catchy hook and erotic video with topless women mud wrestling amid other blatantly sexual acts; the racy video was originally intended for play at nightclubs, but had to be edited extensively before MTV could air it. One album in, and DD were bona fide rock stars; Duran Duran proved a huge success and was certified platinum by 1985.

Riding some great momentum from their debut, the British outfit was primed and ready to release a sophomore follow-up, Rio, which actually saw two release dates — originally in May of 1982, but due to its poor reception, re-released in the U.S. later that November. Rio is my most-played Duran Duran album and features a few of my favorite singles, the title track and "Hungry Like The Wolf." Probably two of their most well-known songs, but still, so damn good. And apparently its second release worked as intended; Rio was a smash and remained on the Billboard charts for 129 weeks.

Check out a breakdown of other Duran Duran albums released pre-'00s below:

Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) — The last studio album from the original line-up until they reunited in 2004. 
Notorious (1986) — Produced with the legendary Nile Rodgers (INXS, Diana Ross, Madonna).
Big Thing (1988) — An album in part dedicated to Alex Sadkin and Andy Warhol.
Liberty (1990) — John Taylor struggled with drug addiction during the production of this LP. 
Duran Duran (1993) After slipping sales, this LP (also titled The Wedding Album) put Duran Duran back onto U.S. charts with a few Top 10 singles and a few more of my favs, "Ordinary World" and the dreamy "Come Undone."
Thank You (1995) — A covers album featuring re-imaginings of songs by Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Public Enemy, The Doors and many others. 
Medazzaland (1997) —John Taylor left the group early in the recording of this album, leaving only Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes as the remaining  original members.


"Planet Earth"
"Girls On Film"
"Hungry Like The Wolf"
"Say a Prayer"
"Union Of The Snake"
"Ordinary World"
"Come Undone"


What's your favorite jam by Duran Duran? Does "Hungry Like The Wolf" trump them all, or was there a less popular track that grabbed you? Do you feel like the band made an important contribution to the '80s sonicscape, or are you more of a '90s-era Duran Duran fan? Sound off below.

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