"Remember This?" is a new feature on HuffPost Entertainment resurrecting pop-cultural artifacts that haven't enjoyed the spotlight for quite some time. For the inaugural edition, Mike Ryan writes about Duran Duran's third album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger. If there's a topic you want us to cover, let us know in the comments.
Lost in the annals of current Duran Duran chatter (if that exists) is the first album of theirs that I owned, Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Sure, everyone remembers Rio because, well, it had the songs "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf" among its tracks. Seven and the Ragged Tiger actually produced the band's
only first No. 1 hit (well, sort of; we'll get to that -- "A View to a Kill" being the only other) and is the last gleaming light of a band that was at the height of its powers. (Yes, I'm being serious.)
Look, I know, we're talking about Duran Duran. And I know that the mention of Duran Duran's name tends to arouse something close to nostalgic indifference, but the music does hold up. (If you don't believe me, listen to "The Chauffeur" off of Rio or "Anyone Out There" from the self-titled Duran Duran.)
(Warning, the video for "The Chauffeur" isn't exactly safe for work.)
Seven and the Ragged Tiger was released in 1983, a year when the majority of music I listened to fell into the country genre, for no other reason than I had little to no authority over the dial of the radio in the family Chrysler Cordoba. (I use "family" lightly, since I'm an only child and we're only talking about three people.) My father enjoyed the musical stylings of Lee Greenwood and the Oak Ridge Boys. (OK, I'll admit, "Elvira" is catchy.)
It didn't help that we resided in the very small town of Eldon, Missouri. It was certainly a nice place to live and to own a pet chicken. (True story: in Eldon, infant chickens were sold at the local Wal-Mart as Easter presents and I wanted one. Did I mention that I'm an only child?) But it wasn't a great place to be exposed to anything you might call culturally significant.
In early 1984, the second single from Seven and the Ragged Tiger, "New Moon on Monday," was released to heavy radio airplay. On the 30-mile drive from Eldon to Jefferson City (this was a big deal because Jefferson City had a shopping mall) my father, in the process of switching radio stations, accidentally stopped on "New Moon on Monday." For whatever reason, the first line of the song -- "Shake up the picture/the lizard mixture" -- is sung by Simon LeBon in something approaching a country twang. At least, my father thought so long enough to keep the song playing. And that's the first time I ever remember hearing a Duran Duran song.
I can vividly remember dancing around my bedroom (OK, making my G.I. Joe action figures dance around my bedroom, because, even alone, I was too shy to do such a thing) to what sounded like a rally cry: "I light my torch and wave it for the ... new moon on Monday." (My enjoyment was lessened only slightly by the fact that I had recorded the song off the radio using a cassette player strategically placed near a speaker, which explains why, a little over two minutes in, my mother could be heard telling me to clean my room.)
The video was ... bizarre. First, it's very long. And it's partly in French. Actually, the song itself doesn't start until after 90 seconds of nonsense. Or high art. It could be either, really.
Thankfully, my mother thought the third single from the album, "The Reflex," was catchy, so she agreed to purchase the album for me. Yeah, so, about "The Reflex" ...
"The Reflex" is Duran Duran's first
and only No. 1 single. (Again, "A View to a Kill," from the James Bond film of the same name, hit No. 1, too.) Here's what confused the nine-year-old me: The version of "The Reflex" on Seven and the Ragged Tiger sounded absolutely nothing like the version that was so popular on the radio. This was infuriating. As it turns out, Nile Rodgers had remixed the song for its release as a single, but that isn't exactly easy information to come by for a nine-year-old boy living in Missouri. Here, for example, is the music video, set to the version played on the radio.
Compare that to this version, which a sad me was forced to listen to on the album.
Seven and the Ragged Tiger, as far as I'm concerned, is the final Duran Duran album and it completes the trilogy. It's the Return of the Jedi of Duran Duran albums. In other words: it's certainly not the best of the three, that would be Rio. Nor does it have the raw uniqueness of Duran Duran, which featured songs like "Girls on Film," "Sound of Thunder" and (added to the album later) "Is There Something I Should Know." But it deserves to be discussed more than it is, and it exhibits an interesting level of confidence not found on the other albums. That confidence comes across quite positively in the tracks "Of Crime and Passion" and "The Seventh Stranger," but it begins to feel indulgent on the instrumental track "Tiger Tiger."
Duran Duran's next album was Arena -- a mostly live album that's best known for spawning "Wild Boys," its lone studio track. After Arena, guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor left the band. Other albums were released under the Duran Duran title, but they were never the same. (The original lineup of the band would not reunite until 2001.)
Seven and the Ragged Tiger wasn't the first album that I owned (that would be Michael Jackson's Thriller), but it played an unnaturally large role in my admittedly unhealthy interest in popular culture. On Saturday night, I was on my way home from a birthday party and "New Moon on Monday" started playing on my iPhone. It made me so happy that I tweeted the lyrics (something I apparently do only under the influence of alcohol and extreme happiness, which, now, I have experienced exactly once). I added a disclaimer, hoping I wasn't the only person who remembered that song. Only one person replied that he did -- and that made me sad.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He eventually received Rio as a birthday present. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.