The 'massacre' of the Duran Duran we loved
After listening to Duran Duran's new "Red Carpet Massacre" CD a couple times, I'm forced to make this observation: Now the lads from Birmingham know how KISS felt after making the ill-fated "Dynasty" album back in '79 -- inappropriate, out of place and shameful.
Producers Timbaland and Justin Timberlake have drowned our heroes in a deluge of house-mix techno-horror so thick with computerized beats that it's no wonder guitarist Andy Taylor went sprinting away from this project. (Drummer Roger Taylor should have done the same. You can't make him out on many of the 12 tracks.)
Times pop critic Sean Daly gave "Red Carpet Massacre" a B-minus in his review. My reliable and sexually gregarious podcast co-host admittedly hated the Timbaland influence but still calls it "one of their most interesting" albums, tagging the song "Tempted" as a tune that "would have been a hit back in '85). God, I hope not. (Click here to read his full review.)
Let's start the hating with "The Valley," the first tune on the disc. So evil to the core, the song should be jettisoned into deep space -- with only a nuclear explosion capable of freeing it from an eternal prison. (Just like General Zod and his cronies in Superman II ... or Gil Gerard in Buck Rogers, for that matter.)
It's certainly not the only painful track: the title track is beyond such poetic description, and "Nite Runner" sounds like a B-side from Arcadia or Power Station (which is the closest I can come to damning praise.) "Skin Divers" stinks of circa 1978 disco effects -- were they sampling "I Was Made For Lovin' You"? -- and mid-90s boy-band rap choruses.
The bright moments? Maybe "Falling Down" and "Box Full O' Honey" will make it onto my iPod playlists. And if someone could strip the overproducing from "Tempted," it'd make for a great live song. And in all fairness, Simon Le Bon's voice -- when you can hear it over the robotic thumping -- is near perfect. (Simon, turn "She's Too Much" into an acoustic piece and you're sittin' in butter, my friend.)
I can understand DD's temptation to modernize their sound. But while they were busy surrendering their souls to today's peddlers of monotonous music, the rest of the industry went retro. Come on, guys! Bands like Scorpions, REO Speedwagon and Loverboy are putting out new discs that are true to their roots -- and they sound great.
Duran Duran, you should have done the same.