|album by Duran Duran|
|Released||18 November 1986|
27 September 2010
|Genre||Rock, funk rock, new wave, dance-rock|
About the album
The making of Notorious during 1986 was a difficult time for Duran Duran. The band had planned for a much-needed break after the success of their 1984 world tour, but all of the band members had ended up working on one of two side projects - the hard-rock collective of The Power Station in early 1985, and the atmospheric Arcadia project in late '85/early '86. When it came time to record the new Duran Duran album, they found that drummer Roger Taylor was too exhausted to continue in the music business, while guitarist Andy Taylor had developed taste for the spotlight, as well as for a harder, more guitar-heavy sound than the rest of Duran Duran was prepared to pursue.
During this period, the band also began to act as their own management, having dismissed brothers Paul and Michael Berrow who had shepherded them through their first five years. Arrangements for the forthcoming Strange Behaviour Tour which kicked off in March 1987, as well as the tensions with Taylor, are recounted in the documentary Three To Get Ready.
The band gradually coaxed Andy Taylor back from Los Angeles to the UK in order to begin playing on the album, but personal and creative disputes continued and much of the communication was carried on by lawyers, until Taylor finally withdrew from the band. It is rumoured that Andy went so far as to try and stop the band from continuing with using the Duran Duran name; since that time the band ensured that the name is wholly owned by co-founding member Nick Rhodes.
During this time, Andy began jamming with members of Los Angeles pop band Missing Persons who were in the midst of breaking up. Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, noting that Taylor didn't intend to return to Duran Duran, offered his services to them instead. They hired him as a sessions and tour guitarist; he would later become a full member of the band in 1989.
The remaining three original band members, Rhodes, Le Bon and John Taylor continued working on the new album with Cuccurullo and producer Nile Rodgers (himself a guitarist from his days in Chic) providing the remaining guitar work. Incidentally, with material from three guitarists, the band has since found it difficult to tell what guitarist ended up playing on what finished track. Sessions drummer Steve Ferrone took Roger Taylor's place behind the drum kit.
In light of everything the band had experienced since the release of Seven and the Ragged Tiger, one might say that the development of Notorious' sound was an obvious direction, especially due to the fact that the band's last two hit singles "The Wild Boys" and the James Bond theme "A View to a Kill" were much "heavier" in style but were nevertheless worldwide smash hits. "The Wild Boys" was also produced by Nile Rodgers, who had been a spectator during his long-time production partner Bernard Edwards' work on the brass-heavy Power Station album, as well.
With three years between the release of Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Notorious, the band used the added experience garnered from their work with Arcadia and The Power Station, and the many gifted musicians they had encountered (Edwards, Robert Palmer, Dave Gilmour, etc.).
For a large part of 1986, Arcadia was still very much on the radar for Le Bon and Rhodes as the final single from So Red The Rose, "The Flame" was released in July. The video featured a cameo by John Taylor coming out of a closet with a contract to sign. Fans have debated whether this was a thinly veiled dig at the situation with Andy Taylor at the time.
The Notorious album has a number of tracks titled after Alfred Hitchcock movies. In addition to the album and lead single named for the movie Notorious", there was also "Vertigo" and "Rope", the original title for the demo that became "Hold Me".
Andy Taylor's Participation
According to interviews, Andy Taylor was involved in a lot of early sessions. Although no one remembers which songs feature Andy, a track is available on andytaylor.com, in which Andy plays guitar and sings vocals for "A Matter of Feeling". In an interview with Taylor's replacement Warren Cuccurullo in the 00s, Cucurrullo stated that Taylor played the first guitar solo of 'American Science' with Cuccurullo playing the second making it a unique situation where both guitarists feature on a Duran track.
The album peaked at #16 in the UK and #12 in the US.
The singles "Notorious" and "Skin Trade" demonstrated a Duran Duran reaching for white funk, heavy on bass and brass. The gap between previous efforts and the new one, however, was hard to handle for the greater part of the fan base, since the album left the well-worn path of the successful euro-dance-pop of earlier days.
The album's first single "Notorious" did very well in the US peaking at #2 and on their homeground reaching #7. It was the first single to be released with a second, remix 12" single, led off by a remix by The Latin Rascals.
"Skin Trade" was a Bowie-flavored track notable for Simon singing in a Prince-like falsetto, as well as featuring The Borneo Horns quite heavily, culminating in a very un-Duran Duran sound. John Taylor has since been quoted as saying that his disillusion with the charts began when "Skin Trade" peaked at #22.
"Skin Trade" had its sleeve banned in several countries, as it featured an airbrushed naked female buttock. In the UK, the single was released in a plain red sleeve with the Notorious-era Duran wording along the top. In certain markets, like Canada and France, the bare buttock sleeve was used.
To commemorate the band's 1987 tour, several promo-only remixes were commissioned for "Skin Trade", including the "Parisian Mix" and the "S.O.S. Dub". These were initially released on a US-only promo 12" single with mixes of "Meet El Presidente" on the flip-side.
"Meet El Presidente", released to coincide with the tour in April 1987 reached #24 in the charts. It was their first single to be released on CD (catalogue number CD TOUR 1). The CD single featured all the tracks from the 12".
To drum up further interest in the album, a collection of otherwise unavailable remixes was released on a double promo 12" pack called Master Mixes in Asia, Brazil, Hong Kong and the USA. Rumour has it the remixes were commissioned for a possible fourth single (either "Vertigo" or "American Science"), but this release was shelved as the singles for "Skin Trade" and "Meet El Presidente" didn't do so well in the charts.
All in all, this new funkier sound was not the Duran Duran the public wanted to hear, not to mention the critics which were anything but friendly to the band from the beginning.
- "Notorious" - 4:18
- "American Science" - 4:43
- "Skin Trade" - 5:57
- "A Matter of Feeling" - 5:56
- "Hold Me" - 4:31
- "Vertigo (Do The Demolition)" - 4:44
- "So Misled" - 4:04
- "Meet El Presidente" - 4:19
- "Winter Marches On" - 3:25
- "Proposition" - 4:57
Duran Duran are:
- Warren Cuccurullo - guitar
- Andy Taylor - guitar
- Nile Rodgers - guitar
- The Borneo Horns - horns
- Curtis King Jr. - background vocals
- Brenda White-King - background vocals
- Tessa Niles - background vocals
- Cindy Mizelle - background vocals
- Steve Ferrone - drums
- Jimmy Maelen - percussion
- Producer - Nile Rodgers, Duran Duran
- Engineer, mixer - Daniel Abraham
- Mastering engineer - Bob Ludwig
- Cover photography - John Swannell, Frank Olinsky / Manhattan Design.
- Model (front cover) - Christy Turlington
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