Retro chart for stowaways – 13 November 2004

Just for a bit of variety, let’s take a look at the albums chart from thirteen years ago this week!

  1. Depeche Mode – Remixes 81-04
  2. Client – City
  3. Dirty Vegas – One
  4. Delerium – The Best of Delerium
  5. Bent – Ariels
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre – Aero
  7. Groove Armada – The Best of
  8. Air – Talkie Walkie
  9. Client – Client
  10. Duran Duran – Astronaut
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Stowaway Heroes – Shep Pettibone

One of the most important names of the 1980s is Shep Pettibone. You’ll know him from multiple remixes and production credits, but there’s a good chance that you don’t actually know anything about him. Me neither, frankly, so let’s start with something we can all agree on – the brilliance of his 1986 remix of Love Comes Quickly, by Pet Shop Boys:

The New York-based DJ would work with Pet Shop Boys a number of times between 1986 and 1988, working on ten tracks in total. But by 1986, Pettibone was already half a decade into his career, having cut his teeth on Afrika Bambaataa‘s Jazzy Sensation in 1981:

His CV for the late 1980s is impressive to say the least, including remixes and production work for Art of NoiseThe B-52sBee GeesBrosDavid BowieDepeche ModeDuran DuranDusty SpringfieldElton JohnErasure, FalcoGeorge MichaelJanet JacksonNew OrderRun DMCWhitney Houston and many others. But his most prolific collaborator seems to have been Madonna, who used his services no less than sixteen times between 1985 and 1993. Here’s Into the Groove:

His mixes were undeniably of their time, with huge drum fills and solos, and a lot of orchestral hits – so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that his remix work dried up somewhat in the 1980s. But if you’re looking for someone who heavily impacted the sound of a particular era, Shep Pettibone should be very high on your list.

Duran Duran – Rio

For something that’s thirty-five years old, Rio sounds pretty good. It starts quietly, but it doesn’t take long to explode in its overproduced wonder. It’s hard to imagine a world where Rio wasn’t a huge hit, a very long time ago.

But that world did exist – and took the first steps towards the one we know today when Duran Duran first appeared in 1981, and gave us a taste of what would become one of the most iconic sounds of the eighties – seemingly overflowing with money and suits with enormous shoulder pads and hair. Or whatever.

Having got the title track out of the way right at the start, that only leaves another eight tracks, a further three of which were singles. My Own Way was the first of them, and actually pretty much everything on here sounds as though it could have been one too. Whether or not it’s actually any good is definitely a matter of perspective, but it’s hard to deny that they were sure of themselves.

Lonely in Your Nightmare is next, definitely one of the weaker moments on here. It’s got a pleasant broken-down chorus half way through, but that’s really about all you can say about it. A little filler here and there is forgiveable, although it is surprising, given how few tracks there are on here.

But on this album you’re never far away from a single, and it’s Hungry Like the Wolf that turns up next. Duran Duran were really at their peak at this time, and this is a fantastic song. But you probably knew that already.

This is not so true for Hold Back the Rain – there’s a decent chorus here, but there’s also a good chance that by this point, half way through the album already, you might be starting to tire of Simon Le Bon‘s inimitable (well, it’s probably very imitable, actually) vocal style.

Side B opens with New Religion, a slightly more subdued piece, which is slightly overshadowed by the other singles on here, but if it hadn’t have been for them, it would have been an entirely competent lead single by itself. I’ve no idea what the lyrics are supposed to be about, but then that’s true for a lot of the songs on here.

Last Chance on the Stairway follows, a catchy album track which surely merits a mention for its xylophone solo at the half way point, if nothing else. And then we’re on to Save a Prayer, which might not be seem quite as enormous as Rio (although it was a much bigger chart hit) but for the first time on here – perhaps the first time ever – Duran Duran really captured a haunting quality with the combination of vocals and synth sounds. When you think what else was floating around on the charts in 1982, this album really was a long way ahead of its time – even if that might have to some degree been the result of money as much as vision.

Then we’re on to the final track already, The Chauffeur, a great song driven by a haunting arpeggio and some very creative percussive synth sounds. You’ll be tapping your feet in no time.

If you’re going to buy a Duran Duran album, this is the one to go for – it’s an accomplished piece of early eighties pop. It has its less good moments, of course, but nearly fifty percent of tracks on here were enormous hit singles, and that wasn’t purely because of the videos or the singers’ good looks or tight clothes. They really had something for a while, and this is the album where they had it.

Various versions of Rio are available, but unless you want endless versions of the same nine tracks, you might as well just go with the remastered original.

Q Awards 2015

So, with only a couple of weeks’ delay, it’s time for us to examine the winners at this year’s Q Awards. Who won the Q Best New Act Who Turned Up in the World Today award, presented by Trebor Extra-Strong Mints? Let’s find out…

Q Best Act in the World Today presented by Queen Bohemian Lager

Nominees:

  • Blur
  • Foals
  • Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
  • Muse
  • Ed Sheeran

Winner: Foals

Q Best Solo Artist presented by Citroën

Nominees:

  • Noel Gallagher
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Sam Smith
  • Taylor Swift
  • Kanye West

Winner: Ed Sheeran

Q Best New Act presented by Orange Amplification

Nominees:

  • Courtney Barnett
  • James Bay
  • The Bohicas
  • Circa Waves
  • Jess Glynne
  • Slaves
  • Soak
  • Songhoy Blues
  • Wolf Alice
  • Years & Years

Winner: James Bay

Q Best Track presented by Absolute Radio

Nominees:

  • Florence + The Machine – What Kind of Man
  • Foals – What Went Down
  • The Libertines – Gunga Din
  • New Order – Restless
  • Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk

Winner: The Libertines

Q Best Album presented by JBL

Nominees:

  • Blur – The Magic Whip
  • Everything Everything – Get to Heaven
  • Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
  • Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday
  • Jamie xx – In Colour

Winner: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Q Hero

Winner: Mark Ronson

Q Best Live Act presented by The Cavern Club

Nominees:

  • Catfish & The Bottlemen
  • The Libertines
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Royal Blood
  • Ed Sheeran

Winner: Royal Blood

Q Classic Song

Winner: Queen, for Bohemian Rhapsody

Q Classic Album

Winner: Soul II Soul, for Club Classics Vol. One

Q Innovation in Sound presented by Sony Xperia

Winner: Gary Numan

Gibson Les Paul Award

Winner: Tony Iommi

Q Outstanding Contribution to Music

Winner: New Order

Q Icon

Winner: Duran Duran

Q Best Video

Nominees:

  • Florence + The Machine – Ship to Wreck
  • Foals – What Went Down
  • Miguel – Coffee
  • Muse – Psycho
  • The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

Winner: Florence + The Machine

Nice to see Gary Numan, Duran Duran, and New Order all honoured in one go. I’m not sure I ever thought I’d see Duran Duran turn up in an “icon” category, but there you are. There’s plenty of excellent bonus coverage on the Q magazine website, including Stephen Morris of New Order pretending to be Alan Partridge, Gary Numan and ze Jean-Michel Jarre talking about their collaboration, and Father Christmas talking about his days in Queen.

Preview – Duran Duran feat. Mr. Hudson

While you weren’t looking, Duran Duran have been collaborating with some interesting individuals. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re any better than they ever have been, but it does at least seem to have led to some interesting results. The new album is called Paper Gods, and this is the title track, with some great production from Mr. Hudson:

Beginner’s guide to Duran Duran

Duran Duran were one of the biggest acts of the eighties, and briefly, the nineties too. But if you haven’t come across them before, where should you begin?

Key moments

Who could forget Rio or A View to a Kill? Or the dreadful Notorious? Perhaps their early nineties comeback with Ordinary World and Come Undone?

Where to start

The compilation Greatest only goes up to 1998, but you don’t really need much of what came after that, and it’s largely comprehensive otherwise. Start there.

What to buy

Rio (1982) is, of course, essential, and there are some nice special editions to consider. Their eponymous debut (1981) is also well regarded, but there’s really nothing else that can be recommended here.

Don’t bother with

Much, actually. Notorious (1986) is largely dreadful apart from Skin Trade. Duran Duran (The Wedding Album) (1993) isn’t that great either – surprisingly, given how good the singles were. And the cover version album Thank You (1995) is every bit as awful as people said at the time.

Hidden treasure

Out of My Mind, their 1998 single from The Saint is brilliant, as was (Reach Up for the) Sunrise, from Astronaut (2004). Regardless of how much you like them, you’ll find hidden delights dotted throughout their career.

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Music for the Masses 30 – 2 February 2005

For the seven-week Spring term of 2005, Music for the Masses returned with a Wednesday slot, and was an entirely relaxed affair, with the presenter sitting back and operating the controls with his legs crossed. Or maybe I was just posing for the webcam – it’s difficult to know for sure.

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Show 30: Wed 2 Feb 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Retrospective of 2004, with predictions for 2005 (no artist of the week).

  • Kings of Convenience – Misread
  • Delerium feat. Zoë Johnston – You & I
  • Goldfrapp – Strict Machine
  • Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence (Ewan Pearson Extended Remix)
  • Dirty Vegas – Human Love
  • Bent – I Can’t Believe it’s Over
  • Air – Another Day
  • Zero 7 – Home
  • Duran Duran – (Reach Up for the) Sunrise
  • Mylo – Drop the Pressure
  • Basement Jaxx – Good Luck
  • Télépopmusik – Love Can Damage Your Health
  • Röyksopp – So Easy
  • Lemon Jelly – Only Time
  • Moby – Lift Me Up
  • Daft Punk – Around the World
  • New Order – Ruined in a Day (K-Klass Remix)
  • Erasure – No Doubt
  • Faithless – Why Go?
  • Client – It’s Rock & Roll
  • Sohodolls – Prince Harry
  • Ladytron – Seventeen
  • Deep Forest – Will You Be Ready?