books, Lancient History, music, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Reading John and Feeling Groovy

Groovy and quite pleasurable.

I really didn’t expect much from John Taylor’s memoir.  Maybe it was because Andy Taylor had already dished all the dirt in his tell-all, a couple of years ago.  Maybe it was because having been a long time, fairly well plugged-in stan, I didn’t think there was much John could tell me that I hadn’t already heard.  Maybe it was because I’m still mad at him for not coming to sign me out of 9th grade Algebra, saving me from the fate of Mrs. Potts and all that x+y=wtf tosh she was trying to stuff into my head. 


I can tell you exactly what I expected from In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran.  I expected to read about John’s childhood, with some minor foreshadowing of what would turn him to drug use, then abuse.  I expected him to talk about the fun of the band (Duran Duran, in case you were born post-1990), the excesses of the band, and how much for granted he took their success.  I expected him to talk about hitting rock bottom, finding The Process, trusting it, and then getting a second chance at the brass ring.  I expected him to talk about deferred gratitude and his current, happy life.  


I was exactly right.  He covered all that, and no more.  But, I had expected it to be only moderately readable, full of navel gazing and platitudes. I was exactly wrong there.  It was an easy, enjoyable read and turned out to be introspective, and interesting. I did not expect the book to be so thoughtful, sweet, and kind. 


Where Andy’s book was lighting people on fire and daring them to stop, drop, and roll, John’s book was gentle with the lives that touched his.  Where Andy’s book was about how awesome he was, John’s book was about how hard he worked, and how fortunate he was to connect with wonderful, like-minded workers.  Where Andy’s book blamed the world, John’s book accepted responsibility for his own behavior. 


I told a friend, after reading the first few chapters, that it was “a lovely book.”  It really is.  It is a book that his daughter should be proud to read, that his various exes can read without worry, that his current wife can read with delight, that his coworkers and friends can read and smile, and that a longtime fan can read and enjoy as though they were finally getting that sit-down with the Bass God that they’d always wanted. 


What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in lyrical quality.  It isn’t about facts and figures, so much as it is about overall impressions.  John gives you a feeling for the times, writes you into the atmosphere of the clubs, the craziness, and the driving work.  When he has to talk about people, he finds their best. 


Like I said, it is a kind work. My favorite things about the book are the way he gives insight into the mind of a success.  No room for failure, only plans to succeed.  I enjoyed reading about how he approached relationships (if you’d like a peek into the mind of how men look at romance…) and I loved how respectfully he treated his daughter’s mother. 


I would liked to have read more about the lean years between Medazzaland and Astronaut.  I’d like to have read about his foray into film and television.  I’d like to have read more about his time as a solo artist, the process that went into writing his solo albums and how that changed him as a group-based artist. 


As a memoir for Duran Duran fans, it is a great, nostalgic read.  I couldn’t help thinking, “Oh, that was the year Jamie and I were junior counselors.”  “Hey, Karen bought me that for Christmas one year!”  “I still remember the first time I heard that on the radio.” 


As a memoir for John Taylor fans, I feel like it could have been twice as long.  I’d like to have read more about the sober artist, feeling his way around himself and the world, finding ways to create and contribute, and be relevant as an adult, than the Tiger Beat, Brummie born boy with burgundy bangs.  I am especially interested in that now, having read how sweetly he wrote this book. 


If Andy’s book was a Screamo song, shouted at the Duranies, John’s is a lullabye sung to us. 


4 out of 5 stars if you’re a Duranie


3 out of 5 if you’re not

songs to learn and sing

Album Review: All You Need Is Now

I thought about kicking it old school and writing as serious a review as I would have when I was getting paid to listen to music I got for free, but I am too lazy to do it just now, and I will forget later. I’ll just give you the rundown as I hear it.

Much has been made of All You Need Is Now being Duran Duran’s comeback album. Quite honestly, I didn’t think the album could live up to the hype. Mark Ronson. Kelis. Ana Matronic. It sounded like it was going to be overkill to me. After the disappointingly average (thought not bad at all) collaboration with Timbaland, I was hoping the Durans would scrap producers altogether and just let John Taylor play the fooking bass. And, after hearing a couple of leaked tracks, I was less than underwhelmed. But…

Once the album dropped on iTunes, I found myself grooving along to several of the tracks on first listen. Without even a second go, I had a couple of them stuck in pleasant head-loops. I started to get excited. I hadn’t felt this way about their music in, well, decades. I liked it well enough to go see them live, something I hadn’t done in 22 years, and then I watched their live stream, David Lynch produced concert from The Mayan. And I loved every second of it.

Today, I went out and bought the Deluxe Edition CD for the extra tracks. I didn’t want to stop my car! I’ve been listening to this on my computer, and there was a huge difference in sound in my car. I was excited. I was elated. I was fourteen again. The Man Who Stole a Leopard came on, and it was the same feeling I used to get in my chest when I would listen to The Chauffer or Secret Oktober.

Look, I am an old school, diehard Duran Duran fan. I will argue the merits of their music against any hall of famers, any day. With the exception of the execrable Pop Trash, I have found something to enjoy on every album. My favorites of theirs are from the very lean years, Big Thing and Liberty, with their first album and the Wedding Album tying for third. So, you see, it isn’t like I’m someone who loved Rio and hasn’t looked back since Andy left the band. I haven’t been wondering where Duran Duran has been all these years. I know exactly where they’ve been, and I’ve been right there to listen, hoping to love what I heard.

This album…this…this is the album I’ve been waiting for all this time. This is the album that makes me feel something when I listen to it, and there are precious few of those: Molly’s Yes (Wonderland), Fiona Apple (When the Pawn), Arcadia (So Red the Rose), Erasure (The Innocents), Loreena Mckennit (Book of Secrets…!!!!), Duran Duran (The Wedding Album). This is the album I will be listening to for a long, long time.

Yeah, they were quite right. All I needed was now.

Lancient History

Little Girls Understand

Because some things are too funny not to share…

Of course, you have to have been a child who was as invested in writing stories as I was. And I was. I wrote my first fanfiction in early elementary school. It was a crossover between Battlestar Gallactica and Star Blazers. Starbuck (original Starbuck–the male version) was going to marry Trelaina of Star Blazers. I had just read Forever, by Judy Blume, and I made sure to include a blow job. That’s right. I was writing smut as an eight-year-old. My older friend ratted me out, concerned that I might have been heading down (ha-ha, head-ing!) the wrong path, so I kept my fic to myself until junior high, when a friend and I used to write Duran Duran fanfiction back and forth for each other.

You see, I would write out her scenarios with Nick Rhodes, and she would write out my scenarios with everyone else, and sometimes Nick. I was an equal opportunity fan. I have had a crush on every member of that band, for at least five minutes. The Warren crush lasted five minutes. I announced I had it, Kim sent me a picture of him with his hand down his pants, and that was that. I went back to lusting for Billy Bob Thornton, who seemed the cleaner choice.

Most of our fiction was very, very dramatic and usually involved at least one, if not three, near death scenes, and even a gang fight. We were both into Westside Story and The Outsiders. Now try to imagine John Taylor in a gang fight. Now come back to me. Stop laughing.

Oh, and we always wrote ourselves as being 21…because that was OLD and WORLDLY.

Darice, who is going to have to do a WWK Q&A soon, and I were laughing about our fourteen-year-old selves, and I shared the former information with her. Not five minutes later, this is in my mailbox:

LANE: “I’m… dying….” ::coughcough::

JOHN: No! Lane, don’t… you can’t die!

SIMON: We haven’t fulfilled our love yet!

NICK: Well, I did —

SIMON: — you what??

JOHN: But she’s mine!

ANDY: What about me?


LANE: ::coughcough:: now, boys… you mustn’t… fight about me… ::coughcoughLaTraviatacough::

ROGER: Oh, Lane, we’re sorry… at a time like this!

::everyone gathers around Lane’s bed. Except Andy::

LANE: That’s more like it… 😉

It’s as if she had access to my old Composition notebook. And I laughed so hard that B came in and insisted to know what was so funny. I tried to explain that he wouldn’t find it so amusing, and he was very disappointed. But as Darice quoted Jim Morrison, “The men don’t know, but the little girls understand.”

If I were 14 right now, I would probably be writing Beiber fic. He would cut his hair for me, in the only act that could save my life, showing his true love.

Friends of Mine, Women Worth Knowing

Friends of Mine

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been editing and reliving my youth.

Me singing along to Friends of Mine--shouting along, really.
A bunch of my girlfriends and I hauled ourselves up to Oklahoma to see Duran Duran play at the Winstar Casino on Friday night. As I’ve said, I haven’t been to a Duran Duran show since 1989, so I was pretty excited. Excited enough that I dodged a barricade and got right up against the stage, where I commenced to bopping around like the person I thought I was too cool to be when I was 17. Pffff. I’m not cool and no one cares anyway. I’m going to dance and sing along!

I did. In 5″ heels.

The show was great. The band sounded fantastic, and looked better than they have in years. There wasn’t a lot of audience engagement or excitement from the band (until the encore), which made it feel a bit like watching a pre-taped show, but the band had also just come from SXSW and had apparently had a miserable struggle against traffic to make it to the OK venue. The sound was good enough that the rest really didn’t matter. I am so glad I did it! So glad I went.

In general, I dislike live shows. They don’t usually sound as good as I want them to, and I also dislike being shoved and battered by overzealous fans. You have to be polite people. John Taylor doesn’t want to marry you now. He especially won’t if you have blood all over your shoes and pants legs after trampling half of Dallas to get to him. Not a good look.

I made it half the show up at the stage, got all the photos I wanted, then enjoyed the expressions of surprise as I salmoned my way away from the band and back to where most of my friends were sitting. I spent the last half of the show dancing with my girlfriends and having more fun than I’ve had in ages. I know some delightful girls.

Some photos for you:

I tried to get everyone, but the drums and keyboards are backlit half the time, so it’s very difficult to get any good shots of Roger or Nick. And Roger’s hidden anyway. But those are nice, and I did have a great time. Did I mention the great time?

Saturday morning was the Women Worth Knowing event, and you can find video of Charlcye’s fantastic session over on the brand spanking new More to come on that site as I am able to edit old content into the new digs.

Saturday evening, I met up with girlfriends again to have dinner at Palomino’s. I’d never been there before, but was very impressed. The food was lovely.

Now, I am recuperating from the festivities, having gotten home between midnight and 2am all weekend.

Back to regular blogging next week. Hope your weekend was as much fun as mine!

songs to learn and sing

The Wedding Album

I wouldn’t call myself a music buff at all. I know what I know, and I like what I like, and that’s that. I couldn’t tell you Green Day from that band that sang the song about the old people disappearing without their car–apparently I can’t tell you they are either. Some baseball reference. I dunno. I can tell you all about James Bond, if you are interested, but I can only tell you about music as it relates to me. And since this is my blog…

There are songs and whole albums which have made great impressions and impacts on my life. Some albums carried me through heartbreak. Some songs became my theme songs in my personal soundtrack. I play certain music to help me get into certain characters. Listen, I have been cranky as a bear all morning (ask Amy), and I started playing Chic and now I’m just back to normal. Happy. Bouncy. Shaking my booty.

You know that Dance Like No One is Watching thing? My motto is Dance Like No One is Laughing. I don’t care if you watch, or if you like what you see. I’m not dancing for you. I’m dancing for me!

Since I’ve told you some of my New York story, I’ll tell you the album I relate to it.

Before heading up to the Big Apple for the first time, a friend passed along a bootleg copy of an album that would become Duran Duran’s Wedding Album. At the time, it was under the working title Four on the Floor. It ranks in my top 3 of their albums, and you all know they are in my top 3 favorite bands of all time. You’ve all heard Ordinary World and Come Undone, but that album also offered Love Voodoo, which is such a dirty groove…lol. Another one of my favorites.

I can listen to that album on repeat with no issue. It is a lovely, lovely and also a dirty, dirty funk album, with some grit to it. It’s like a Ducati. It’s sleek, and it’s dangerous, you want to get on it and fly, and when you get off, you’re going to be a little grimy, but you don’t care. It is worth every bug in your teeth. It is the absolute antithesis of Pop Trash, which is probably one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time in NYC, sitting on a fire escape, listening to the pre-cursor to this album. Ordinary World comes on, and I am transported. I had some Chanel liquid liner, and a bottle of Revlon’s Raven Red nail varnish. I would sit on the fire escape painting my nails and trying to accomplish the perfect cat eye, and I would watch the street go by below me. The weather was awful. It was hot, and humid, and the sky was always kind of gray. And I was in love with a city for the first time in my life.

The Wedding Album is married to NYC in my mind, and when I was up there in January, all I could hear was Breath after Breath. And I was happy.