By Laura Ferreiro
In the 1980s, Duran Duran was one of the biggest bands on the planet, topping charts around the world, changing the face of MTV with their highly stylized videos; their posters adorning the bedroom walls of countless teenage girls.
Truth is, they were often dismissed by critics as pretty boys with angular haircuts, and weren’t given enough credit for their formidable songwriting abilities and serious musicianship – Simon Le Bon’s distinctive voice and poetic lyrics, Nick Rhodes’ experimental keyboard flourishes, John Taylor’s groovy bass lines that combined elements of punk-rock and funk, Andy Taylor’s screeching yet controlled guitars, and Roger Taylor’s drumming – the glue that held the band together.
Now, Duran Duran is getting some much-deserved respect, with several artists including Warpaint, Moby, Little Dragon and Luxxury paying tribute to the British hitmakers on Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran, curated and produced by Manimal Vinyl. What’s more, sales proceeds from the album will benefit Amnesty International, the renowned non-profit organization that works to advance human rights around the world.
Check out the world premiere of Los Angeles band Luxxury’s take on the classic track “Planet Earth” – the song that inspired the album’s title, Making Patterns Rhyme.
“Duran Duran was a massive influence on me because they were the perfect band: basslines from Chic, arpeggiated synths borrowed from Moroder and an overall artfulness borrowed from Japan’s playbook, but with massive populist choruses instead of dreary tunes about Ghosts and China,” Luxxury frontman Blake Robin (a.k.a Baron von Luxxury) tells Music for Good.
“‘Planet Earth’ seemed the least daunting way into trying to live up to their legacy, if only because it’s one of my favorite songs of theirs,” he explains. “But as soon as we started to work on it, I realized the impossibleness of the task. How does one ‘better’ a Duran song as perfect as this? So rather than re-invent the wheel, we re-imagined it as a time machine baby, mixing ’70s Rhodes, acoustic guitars and California vibes with modern sounding samples and vocoders. I decided to sing it as a duet with my friend Ashley [Huizenga] because it felt a bit karaoke of me to try and be Simon by myself!”
Other artists who contributed to Making Patterns Rhyme include Little Dragon, who took on “Save a Prayer,” Soko (“Girls on Film”) and Warpaint (“The Chauffeur”). The full album is due out in late July.
“We wanted to show the kids that Duran Duran are fucking cool,” says Manimal founder Paul Beahan. “They’re just as important as Wire or Gang of Four, and more important because they have longevity.”
Beahan added that Duran Duran had several different charities in mind that they wanted to support with this compilation, but the one they could all agree upon was Amnesty International because of its incredibly important human rights work.
Check out the original version of Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth”.