VINYL of the Week :: Rio (1982) :: Duran Duran
The first “issue” for the VINYL of the Week just had to be a Duran Duran LP. My first band, my first music-fandom (before “fandom” was a thing), my first band-love, and a whole lot of other firsts, the copy I have of this album is VERY scratched up and more than a lot used, but I love it. It was given to me by my best friend as a birthday present, and though I’ve bought a different copy since (as this one really does not play well anymore), I could never give this one up.
Duran Duran was everything to teenage me. I spent COUNTLESS hours listening to their music, watching their videos, paging through music and teen magazines, tearing out posters and pin-ups, cutting out pictures and articles, filling pages of scrapbooks and photo albums. I haunted record stores and swap meets for imported singles and 12 inches, and those hard-to-find tour and fan books. My friends and I talked about them obsessively, and we all had our favorites.
Mine was Nick Rhodes.
I loved this band so much that my mother still refers to them as “your boys” if she sees them on TV. I’ll get a random text reading “I saw your boys today” and she doesn’t need to explain.
They will always be my boys. Yes, yes, they will.
A Little History:
Rio is the second studio album by Duran Duran, originally released worldwide on May 10, 1982. The album reached # 2 in the UK and # 1 in Australia.
The album was re-released in the United States in November 1982. It earned a Gold disc on March 1, 1983, and went Platinum on April 26, 1983, eventually reaching Double Platinum status. It peaked at # 6 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US on March 12, 1983, and remained on the chart for 129 weeks.
The first song to be recorded for Rio was “My Own Way”, written and recorded in October 1981, and released as a single in November 1981. The rest of the album was recorded in the early months of 1982 at Air Studios in London, with producer and engineer Colin Thurston. “My Own Way” was re-recorded for the album and the newer version is significantly different from the 1981 single version.
The second single, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, was released in the UK on May 4, 1982. It peaked at # 5 in the charts on June 26, 1982.
The Rio album was first released worldwide on May 10, 1982, peaking at # 2 in the UK in its second week of release. The image on the album’s distinctive purple cover was painted by artist Patrick Nagel. The cover itself was designed by Malcolm Garrett.
John Taylor takes credit for the title. “[It] was something I had thrown into the mix,” he recalled in 2012. He was particularly fascinated with the idea of Brazil, and “Rio, to me, was shorthand for the truly foreign, the exotic, a cornucopia of earthly delights, a party that would never stop.”
The band had their own plans and ambitions for promotion. They reunited with director Russell Mulcahy (who had directed the music video for their first single, “Planet Earth”), and planned the release of a full length video album—eleven videos for the best songs off of the Duran Duran and Rio albums. The band travelled to Sri Lanka and Antigua between tour dates to film the memorable videos for the singles “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Save a Prayer”, as well as the lesser-known “Lonely in Your Nightmare” and “Nightboat” — the latter video being a creepy zombiefest set on a deserted island.
While filming the videos, guitarist Andy Taylor contracted a tropical virus and was hospitalized on his return to England. This forced the delay of the band’s European tour, and the record company decided to hold the release of the third single until the band was ready to promote it again.
“Save a Prayer” was finally released on August 9, 1982, and peaked at # 2 on the UK charts in mid September 1982. On November 1, 1982, the “Rio” single was released worldwide. It peaked at # 9 in the UK in December 1982.
Listening this morning I was somewhat amazed at how the music still holds up, and how their sound and style still pops up in current bands (latest album by The Temper Trap anyone? That first album by the Killers? I could go on…). The bass — oh my stars, John Taylor on the bass — and the keyboard — Nick Nick Nick — still is quintessential, unique and amazing. And Simon, his poetic and literary referential lyrics, sigh…
When “New Religion” starts up, that slow build of keyboards, and the bass coming in, still sends all over body chills to me. It is almost orgasmic, and that is not the fangirl in me talking…or maybe it is. All the same, though, it does it for me…big time.
Strong opening song, “Rio” is not just the title track, but a surefire, meant-to-be hit that is catchy and timeless, and even though it is such a song from the 80’s, I do think it transcends the sound trends of the time, while still being of that time.
And the rest, all of the songs really, they hit me on so many levels. This band, they were such an important piece of my coming-of-age, so much a part of my sexuality, and my self-regard, and so much of the girl I am. These songs, some of them make me tear up hearing them, and others make me just scream-sing-a-long.
Something I wrote about Duran Duran awhile back…seems fitting to put it here:
One could blame Duran Duran for the woman I am today, though I am not sure blame is the right word. For me, I am grateful, more so than I often give sufficient thought, nor credit to. The band was this enormous part of my adolescence, in some ways the band was my adolescence, and though I still carry a never-ending love for them, and their music, I will be the first to admit that I take Duran Duran for granted, and I often under-appreciate them to a huge degree.
Let’s start with sexuality. Prior to their music, and images, hitting my day-to-day, I did all I could to keep sexuality buried deep within me. Learning too early on about sex from abuse was not the kind of education that my friends had received, at least not that I knew of. The realization would come years later that more than I knew of my cohorts and companions had been through the nightmares, too. But, at this juncture of my coming of age I thought I was alone in all of it, and I ran from thoughts of sex as fast as I could.
Then along came this band and I had to stop running. I pretty much had no choice, it was like being smacked in the face, and well, everywhere else, with desire. Whether it be the heart thump and vibration of the bass line, the seduction of the poetic lyrical refrains, or that they were quite beautiful to look at, I was helpless to escape. Nearly every fantasy, every lustful feeling, every personal exploration and vibration beneath the bed sheets was either about, or to the soundtrack of, Duran Duran. My first orgasm was with the lights off, in my bedroom alone, with The Chauffer playing (yes, of course I remember).
A few years later, the boy who I would later share my virginity with, would also share a Duran Duran related “meet-cute” with me. It went something like this: I saw him at a movie theater before the lights went down, he was wearing a John Taylor style of hat that along with one hell of a smile, got my attention. After the movie we ran into each other again at a late night diner and when he asked my friends and I to join he and his friends I made mention of his hat and he smiled that smile again, adding a wink to the mix, and said “John Taylor approved.”
I have been known to say that that boy knew something that a lot of the boys I went to high school did not. They all made fun of the band, mocked the music, the looks, throwing sexuality accusations and dismissing any talent or merit they had because of their predominate female fan-base. These same teenage boys would grow up to be men who would later admit to liking their music in secret, a confession I have heard from many men I have come in contact with, and each time I end up laughing and shaking my head at them. When asked why it amuses me so I always say that if they had been that exception, and if they were interested in girls, they could have had it all over the other boys, a space next to us at concerts and an invitation into the conversation, and the strung up and out desire we were all pulsing with.
It was more than what the music did to our sexy bits though, much more actually. As I consumed their music, and every article and interview I could get my hands on, I started to learn about their musical influences. Without a doubt, I can directly credit the members of Duran Duran for introducing me to Roxy Music, The Velvet Underground, Chic, Joy Division, early David Bowie, Japan and T-Rex. I was also moved and inspired to write more. Lyrically, the majority of their music reads like poetry intermixed with passionate proclamations and a little bit of wonder. These were not the simple pop infused love song trope of so much of the other music that hit the radio stations, this was something more, and it had me writing up a storm. Sometimes what I wrote was about them (yes, this was my first venture into fan fiction), but most of the time it was creations all of my own, written with their music blaring in the background.
They gave me big dreams, too. Their videos, all shot in far off and exotic locations, made the world seem so much bigger than my tiny life was. When things were horrible at home and I found myself questioning my existence, and at more than a few low moments, questioning my life, it was their big lives, or the perception of their big lives, that kept me going. I thought there was so much more to see, to do, to be that I just had to hang on longer. I could not help but believe in the mystery. I wanted to believe. And, well, I thought I might just someday run off and marry Nick Rhodes. A teenage girl can dream, can’t she?
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
1. Save a Prayer
“Some people call it a one-night stand,
but we can call it
2. New Religion
“‘Cause sometimes people stare,
and steaming crowds they gather and they shout.”
3. Hold Back the Rain
“We’re miles away from nowhere,
and the wind doesn’t have a name,
so call it what you want to call it –
it still blows down the lane.”
4. Lonely in Your Nightmare
“Because there’s heat beneath your winter,
let me in.”
5. The Chauffer
“And the sun drips down,
bedding heavy behind,
the front of your dress,
all shadowy lined,
and the droning engine throbs in time,
with your beating heart.”