Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Life on Planet Earth - The debut of Duran Duran

Life on Planet Earth - The debut of Duran Duran

Ba Ba baa  Ba  Ba Ba Ba Baa….

To the uninitiated, these words represent nothing more than a simple, catchy vocal riff in an early 80’s pop song. But to the faithful, this ‘hook’ is a New Romantic rally cry of monumental importance as it signaled the arrival of Duran Duran to the world. The line is from the song Planet Earth, the first single that the band released on this very day - February 2 - in 1981. 35 years ago.

Released four months ahead of their debut album, Planet Earth was a resounding success in the U.K, Europe, Japan and Australia. In the U.S, the reaction was a bit muted as the 'New Romantic' movement which Duran Duran were a major part of in the U.K failed to catch fire as it had on their home turf but it little mattered; superstardom was only two years away.

What is remarkable is that all of the benchmarks of the Duran Duran sound were present right from this first single: the slightly disco-fied drum beat, the galloping, midrange heavy bass line, and guitars that were funky one moment and crunching the next. Topped off with keyboards that relied on texture more than technicalities and obtuse, cryptic lyrics and Planet Earth is a fully formed Duran Duran song. The band never really did naive, raw and earnest; they just sounded like Duran Duran.

Parting fact of the day - In the scope of the pop culture landscape, 1981 was a watershed year for the New Wave era. Not only was it the year that Duran Duran emerged, debut albums hit the shelves from the Stray Cats, Thompson Twins and Depeche Mode. Incredibly, the music from these bands is still finding new audiences, constantly growing in their influence. Duran Duran and Depeche Mode especially are active, creative entities who easily sell out arenas all over the world.

“Is there anybody out there trying to get through?”... Indeed there was Simon, indeed there was. Happy Duraniversary!

UK 12" single 
(UK 7" single pictured at top)