Thursday, November 21, 2013

seven and the ragged tiger

Duran Duran became tax exiles during the recording of this tumultuous adventure story.  After the success of their eponymous debut and 'Rio', the band moved to a châlet near Cannes in the south of France with producer Ian Little to write and record demos for their third album.  When it came time to record, they relocated to George Martin's Air Studios on the Caribbean island of Montserrat joined by producer Alex Sadkin.  The sessions would later move to 301 Studios in Sydney, Australia after the band became fed up with the island life.  'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' features Nick Rhodes on keyboards, Simon Le Bon on vocals, John Taylor on bass guitar, Roger Taylor on drums, and Andy Taylor on guitars,  with Andy Hamilton on soprano and tenor saxophone, Raphael DeJesus and Mark Kennedy on percussion, and Michelle Cobbs and BJ Nelson providing additional vocals.  The band co-produced the album with Sadkin and Little.  

Rhodes recalls:   "We felt that we didn't take a large enough step away from the first LP with Rio.  It was too timid, although it did work very well for us.  With your third album it's easy to get stuck in a rut, which we had no intention of doing."

John Taylor says:   “It was a difficult album. The third album was difficult because we stressed having to pace ourselves. We had a lot of hits. The vultures were circling. They are expecting you to lose it. We changed our producer for the third album. We started that album in France and we couldn’t get our groove on. From there, we went to the West Indies to a studio. I lived in Montserrat."

Roger Taylor remembers:   "We were all just going stir crazy. We were supposed to be there for months, it was bonkers. And John came in one day and said: 'I’ve had enough of this, it’s driving me f---ing nuts.' It was literally like being marooned on an island. We had all the success and all the trappings had started to come in, and we were stuck on Montserrat – and there was nothing there!  So John said: 'l’ve heard that Australia is really happening at moment, let’s go to Sydney.'  Such was the speed and ridiculousness of our existence."

LeBon called the album "an adventure story about a little commando team. 'The Seven' is for us — the five band members and the two managers — and 'the Ragged Tiger' is success. Seven people running after success. It's ambition. That's what it's about."

Andy Taylor looks back:     “We had a huge audience, we sold truck loads of albums, so if we do something that's cool, people will listen to it. If we don't, then we would be selling people short.  The five of us don't know how to exist in any other way. We are an ambitious bunch I guess.  And five very different people.  Everyone has a different angle, we mix it up in the middle and somehow it works.”

'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' became a worldwide smash hit, going to number twenty in France; seventeen in Germany; sixteen in Switzerland; twelve in Italy; eight in the US; seven in Canada; two in Australia; and number one in the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK.  It has been certified gold in Finland, platinum in the UK, double platinum in the US, and triple platinum in Canada.

"The Reflex" became the band's first number one hit in the US.  John Taylor reveals:  "Actually, that track—it was my birthday. It was June. That’s when we came up with the groove. It was that song. I mean typically we write from sort of the tempo up. We liked to jam. We sort of came up with a groove that we liked. Simon, he’s just in there man. He’s just wailing away just like everybody else is. Just trying to find a few words that he likes. That he likes the melody. That he likes the phrasing. And you know, he had a very distinct style as a lyricist in the early 80s. He was quite unusual.  We were talking about ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’—what was ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ about? Well, I really don’t know. I just assume that it was about meeting girls. And ‘The Reflex,’ that’s even darker, really, as a subject. It immediately asks the question to the listener I think in a way that is interesting. When you hear that song you think, ‘What’s that about?’ It sort of draws you in. It doesn’t give away much of itself. Maybe that’s a sort of early ‘80s kind of style. Lyrics were quite oblique in that day. I think Simon was a real pioneer of that kind. It’s quite a paranoid song, actually.”

"New Moon on Monday" 
Simon says:   "It's about outlasting the competition, about confidence and patience through frustration.  The guy's been at this party for two days and he knows that the girl wants him; but she won't come off the dance floor.  So he goes outside for a party in the moon in anticipation of triumph."

"Union of the Snake"

"Tiger Tiger"

"The Seventh Stranger"

"Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)"

'Secret Oktober'

'Faith in this Colour'

'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' song demo

'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' 
full album:

All songs written and composed by Duran Duran.

"The Reflex" – 5:29
"New Moon on Monday" – 4:16
"(I'm Looking For) Cracks in the Pavement" – 3:38
"I Take the Dice" – 3:18
"Of Crime and Passion" – 3:50
"Union of the Snake" – 4:20
"Shadows on Your Side" – 4:03
"Tiger Tiger" – 3:20
"The Seventh Stranger" – 5:24

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