Sunday, February 12, 2017

Duran Duran - Medazzaland - 1997

This was a very unique and interesting time in the history of what was called "Duran Duran".  Yes, it had two of the original members, but it was closer in membership to Arcadia than Duran2, and the sound was way the fuck off.  Way off. 

I remember I was traveling for a restaurant chain between locations as a trouble shooter.  I would go to various chain locations and "fix" their problems and move on to the next local.  I was in Ames Iowa when this one came out.  I remember getting the CD single from EB and being somewhat baffled.  Shortly after, I got the album, and took several months memorizing and analyzing it from the various first note to the last beat, every second of every song.

At this time, the USA was knee deep in the remnants of grunge, and hip deep in this American "Alternative" music with bands that all sounded the same.  You also had Electronica exploding all over the place, and RnB Hip Hop everywhere.  Where was Duran2 to go?  What were they to do?  The music scene at the time was why we got an album like Medazzaland.  They really didn't know who they were and were starting to imitate the music of the time, rather than defining it, like they did in the eighties.

There's really nothing wrong with the album.  It's actually a very good album.  It's just not Duran Duran.  It's not Arcadia.  It's not Powerstation or Missing Persons.  I really don't know what it is.  It's just not Duran Duran!!!

From the album proper, only two of the songs are worthless.  The very first track, Medazzaland, and the last track, Undergoing Treatment.  Can't stand either one of those.  As for the rest of the songs on the album, they are all very solid, well written and well produced.  Big Bang Generation and Electric Barbarella stand out as two of the better "fast" or "non-ballad" tracks.  As for the ballads, you've got Out Of My Mind, Michael, Silva Halo, Midnight Sun and So Long Suicide that I really like.  All in all, every song has it's own qualities that make it good.

As for the cover art, I vote this one as the WORST Duran2 cover ever, followed closely by Paper Gods.  The artwork is atrocious.  Absolutely appalling.  Even though I am including material for two discs, I've only made a cover for the first main disc.  I didn't have enough artwork that was reasonable to even make a cover for the second disc.  Plus, the second disc is really a mish-mash of tracks left over from the main album.  Some of them weren't good enough to put on the first album, like P.L.You and Plastic Girl.  Most of the mixes really didn't mix well together, and really didn't match the style of the rest of the album.  The demos and alternates are MEH, with the exception of So Long Suicide, which I liked better than the original.  And then you have Niles and Simon with Do That Dance.  O.  M.  G.  No way that was going on the main disc.  It's almost a joke.

Anyway, if you like Duran2 and haven't listened to this album, or haven't listened to it in a while, it's a nice little break from what you normally hear from them.  It's different and unique, and worth the time.


  1. This was the anti-Duran Duran record. May be more a a TV Mania record. I know Nick Rhodes was making headway to becoming a producer, recording (still unreleased) material with Blondie before this came out. I know Capitol hated the record, and didn't even get a UK release.

  2. It's great hearing all this Duran Duran stuff, and the critique of it, from a true fan. Good job you're not a Bowie fan, e.g. "Tin Machine? Pah! Rubbish" etc.

    Side note, who last had a UK No. 1 single? Bowie or Rod Stewart? Yeah, Bowie fans. Go on. Write in...

    1. Bowie fan here. And while he may not have had as many "hits" as some other artists who are considered his contemporaries, he influenced many, many artists and he was a unique and always interesting artist himself. Long may his music shine on.

  3. While I don't want to argue with Bowie's legacy and influence on others, Bowie fans themselves really have to admit that after 1984 he didn't do anything approaching, well, anything he did previously. Like Paul McCartney in fact.

    On topic, this isn't a bad album at all. Sure, it doesn't sound like D2 but can't see why it didn't get a UK release.

    1. Neville, I personally think that Bowie only did two albums after 1984 that were really great, "Earthling" (I know most people don't like it, but it's one of my guilty pleasures), and "Outside." The latter is one of his oddest albums, but I think that's what makes it such an interesting record. So much of it is so out in left field that I can't help but like it, just for the sheer audacity he had in throwing such a curve ball.

      And I honestly think that "Blackstar" is an AMAZING album. He left us with an absolute stunner of a record -- only Bowie could manage to turn his demise into such an enduring piece of art. It was a goodbye gift to his fans, and to the world. And it will always be one of my favorite albums of his, just because it's so poignant to think that he KNEW he was dying while he was making the album and yet he managed to make it so uplifting and full of hope.