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Skin Trade
single by Duran Duran
B-side "We Need You"
Released 31 January 1987
Recorded Jun-Sep 1986, London
Format 7", 12"
Genre New wave
Length 4:26 (Radio Cut)
7:36 (Stretch Mix)
5:58 (Album Version)
Label Capitol, EMI
Writer(s) Duran Duran
Producer(s) Duran Duran
Nile Rodgers
Official Video

"Skin Trade" is the fifthteenth single by Duran Duran, released as the second single from the album Notorious by Capitol-EMI on 31 January 1987.

About the song[]

The song reached #22 on the UK Singles Chart, and barely nudged into the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Skin Trade" was quite a departure for the band. Not only was Simon Le Bon singing in a Prince-style falsetto, but a horn section played a prominent role in the track, as played by The Borneo Horns.

The band persevered with the single and many aspects of their future business took inspiration from "Skin Trade". They called their publishing company Skin Trade Music Ltd. and The Notorious Tour was called The Strange Behaviour Tour after song lyrics from "Skin Trade". Likewise, a 1987 remix EP and a 1999 double CD collection of remixes were also called Strange Behaviour.

The title came from the Dylan Thomas book Adventures in the Skin Trade.

Donald A. Guarisco at All Music Guide said:

The lyrics have a surprisingly direct, soul-searching feel to them as they lay out scenarios of people shortchanging their dreams to make money. These moments are followed with the dramatic proclamation that makes up the chorus: "Will someone please explain/The reasons for this strange behavior?/In exploitation's name/We must be working for the skin trade." The music lends contrast to the angry tone of the lyrics by creating a sultry, mellow melody that juxtaposes verses with a soft, hypnotic ebb and flow with an ever-ascending chorus that revs up the song's inherent drama. Duran Duran's recording is fuelled by funky but gently layered guitar textures and subtle drum work that push its groove along, plus some atmospheric synth textures on the chorus. Interestingly, Simon Le Bon uses his normal tenor voice for the choruses but sings much of the verses in a lush, soulful falsetto that led many pop fans to initially mistake "Skin Trade" for a Prince ballad. The result was a perfect blend of slow-dance textures and adult social critique. It didn't do as well as "Notorious," just barely making the Top 40 in the U.S., but it got plenty of radio airplay and is fondly remembered by the group's fans as one of Duran Duran's most mature achievements of the late '80s.

Music video[]

The "Skin Trade" video was the second filmed for the band by directors Peter Kagan and Paula Greif, after "Notorious". Film of band members performing was treated with a rotoscope-like effect, adding vivid colors to details like a person's eyes or jewelry. Like so many other Duran Duran videos, "Skin Trade" included a beautiful woman - in this case German supermodel Tatjana Patitz. Her image was rotoscoped for some scenes as well, and her dancing figure was superimposed on several different vividly colored abstract backgrounds.

Session guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, who would later become a full member of the band, appears in the video, although his face is not often seen.

"Skin Trade" was nominated for Best Special Effects in a Video and Best Cinematography in a Video at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and Robbie Nevil's "C'est La Vie", respectively.

Canadian and French Bum Sleeve[]

281 skin trade song canada B-5670 duran duran band discography discogs wikipedia

The original French and Canadian picture sleeve for "Skin Trade" has the banned "bum sleeve" with gold lettering for the titles. This was the band's intended sleeve design but only Canada and France were able to use it. The sleeve was withdrawn after several dealers refused to restock the item after the first batch had sold out, resulting in the record company changing to a plain red sleeve, and making the original cover a rare collectors item. The serial numbers are - Canada: B-5670, France: 2016187 PM102, and France: PM212 2016216.

B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes[]

The B-side to "Skin Trade" was the only original B-side released during the Notorious era. Entitled "We Need You", it was written and recorded in 1986 while the band awaited the return of Andy Taylor for a recording session. It was the first recording to feature just the three remaining members of Duran Duran - Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Simon Le Bon.

Two further mixes of "Skin Trade" were completed, but not released commercially during the "Skin Trade" release cycle. They appeared on a US promo 12" backed with remixes of the next single "Meet El Presidente". The Parisian Mix was also released on promo-only Master Mixes EP.

The Parisian Mix was finally released commercially first in the UK on the "All She Wants Is" (1989) 3" CD and in the US on the "Come Undone" (1993) CD single.

The S.O.S. Dub still remains commercially unreleased.

  • "Skin Trade" (Parisian Mix) - 8:10
  • "Skin Trade" (S.O.S. Dub) - 7:16

Both tracks were remixed by Daniel Abraham and edited by José "Chep" Nuñez for S.O.S. Productions.

Chart positions[]

"Skin Trade" was actually the first chart disappointment in the Duran Duran career. Not only did it fail to repeat the huge success of "Notorious" but it failed to get into the top 20 on either side of the Atlantic, and that was a first for the band since their very earliest releases.

  • #22 UK Singles Chart
  • #39 Billboard Hot 100
  • #3 Italy

Track listing[]

All release details pertain to the UK only.


  1. "Skin Trade" (Radio Cut) - 4:26
  2. "We Need You" - 2:49

12": EMI 12 TRADE 1

  1. "Skin Trade" (Stretch Mix) - 7:36
  2. "Skin Trade" (Album Cut) - 5:58
  3. "We Need You" - 2:49
  • Stretch Mix was remixed by Larry Levan
  • These tracks were also released on cassette (TC TRADE 1) in a video style box with the banned "bum" cover.

CD: Part of the "Singles Box Set 1986-1995"

  1. "Skin Trade" (Radio Cut) - 4:25
  2. "We Need You" - 2:49
  3. "Skin Trade" (Stretch Mix) - 7:36
  4. "Skin Trade" (Album Cut) - 5:58

Other appearances[]

Apart from the single, "Skin Trade" has also appeared on:


Box sets:



Duran Duran are:



Working on the weekend, baby.
She's working all through the night.
A jump into the deep end gave her
The evidence she required.
Takes five; she's got pearls.
Don't fake it when it comes to making money.
So she smiles. But that's cruel.
If you know what she thinks
If you knew what she was after.

Sometimes she wonders,
And she laughs in her frustration.


Would someone please explain
The reason for this strange behaviour.
In exploitation's name
We must be working for the Skin Trade.

Doctors of the revolution gave us
The medicine we desired.
Besides being absolutely painless
It's a question of compromise.
They got steel.
So cool to get angry at the weekend
And go back to school.
So big deal; it's what rules.
When it comes to making money,
Say yes, please; thank you.

Sometimes you wonder, and ask yourself the question.

[CHORUS (Repeated)]

I know the answer, but I'm asking you the question.

[CHORUS (Repeat for FADE)]

See also[]


Simon Le BonNick RhodesJohn TaylorRoger Taylor
Andy TaylorWarren CuccurulloSterling Campbell

Duran DuranRioSeven and the Ragged TigerArenaNotoriousBig ThingLibertyDuran Duran (The Wedding Album)Thank YouMedazzalandPop TrashAstronautRed Carpet MassacreAll You Need Is NowPaper GodsFuture PastDanse Macabre


CarnivalDecade: Greatest HitsGreatestNight Versions: The Essential Duran DuranStrange BehaviourSingles Box Set 1981-1985Singles Box Set 1986-1995From Mediterranea With Love


"Planet Earth" • "Careless Memories" • "Girls on Film" • "My Own Way" • "Hungry Like the Wolf" • "Save a Prayer" • "Rio"• "Is There Something I Should Know?" • "Union of the Snake" • "New Moon on Monday" • "The Reflex" • "The Wild Boys" • "A View to a Kill" • "Notorious" • "Skin Trade" • "Meet El Presidente" • "I Don't Want Your Love" • "All She Wants Is" • "Do You Believe in Shame?" • "Burning the Ground" • "Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over)" • "Serious" • "Ordinary World" • "Come Undone" • "Too Much Information" • "Perfect Day" • "White Lines" • "Out of My Mind" • "Electric Barbarella" • "Someone Else Not Me" • "(Reach Up for The) Sunrise" • "What Happens Tomorrow" • "Nice" • "Falling Down • "All You Need Is Now • "Girl Panic! • "Leave A Light On • "Pressure Off" • "Five Years" • "Invisible" • "More Joy" • "Anniversary" • "Tonight United" • "Give It All Up " • "Danse Macabre" • "Black Moonlight"

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