5 Little-Known Duran Duran Songs Worth Spinning

Duran Duran from the cover of their debut album "Duran Duran" (Pic: EMI)

Duran Duran from the cover of their debut album “Duran Duran” (Pic: EMI)

Yesterday was Duran Duran appreciation day, and to mark it properly, the band took a picture of themselves hard at work on their new album with producers Mark Ronson and their old friend (and guitar demon) Nile Rodgers.

Look, here it is:

We’ve come up with a tribute of our own. Five songs that offer a different view of that familiar Duran sound, but don’t get the same kind of attention as “Hungry Like The Wolf,” “Notorious,” “Ordinary World” or “Rio.”

“Anyone Out There”

They may have claimed to be trying to fuse Chic with the Sex Pistols, but that does Nick Rhodes and his Kraftwerk keyboards a disservice. In fact, as this song from their debut album proves, Duran would possibly have been more accurately described as a fusion of all of David Bowie‘s 1970s albums—Ziggy Stardust guitars plus Young Americans funk and the coldness of Low—into one band.

“Friends of Mine”

Another early delight from their first album, and a song with a typically peculiar Duran lyric. The chorus refers to George Davis, who had been imprisoned wrongly for armed robbery in 1974 and released two years later after a celebrity campaign including support from The Who‘s Roger Daltrey. Had they put in something about a tiger or a wolf, maybe a reference to a hot country or a girl, this would’ve had the makings of another hit single.

“New Religion”

A moodier affair than any of the singles being released from Rio, their second album and the one that broke them worldwide, “New Religion” sees Simon Le Bon having a bash at rapping (something he would pick up again later when the band covered “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and “911 Is A Joke” by Public Enemy) and Andy Taylor deliver haughty monolithic guitar lines like a member of Killing Joke. Despite maintaining their light touch, Duran Duran were always a darker band than anyone remembers.

“Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)”

The B-side to “The Reflex” may appear to be a controversial choice, given the reverence lavished upon Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel‘s original, but you can’t kill a great song by covering it, the original is still there, and this live version—with the lovely slow introduction and off-kilter rhythm—demonstrates just how much the band were influenced by the glam and pop music of their youth.

“The Man Who Stole A Leopard”

Not just an arresting song title, but one of the band’s trademark ballads of creeping doom, like “The Chauffeur,” and with a guest appearance from Kelis. This appeared on 2010′s “All You Need Is Now,” which was also produced by Mark Ronson.

See more:
WATCH: Duran Duran on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’
5 British Music Festivals to Attend if Glastonbury’s Not Your Thing
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Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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