Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Influential Albums Day 4

Day 4

This is the fourth post in a series of ten documenting the albums I consider influential. My first post, found here, provides some insight into the rationale behind this journey. The first album I selected was the Soundtrack to "Oliver", which I discovered in 1973 at about age 8. My second choice can be found here and was The Cars Debut album. The third selection was "All the World's A Stage" from Canadian band Rush (found here). I am moving chronologically and this post lands us in the first few years of my most formative decade - The 80's - in which was I was 14-25 years old.

Duran Duran exploded on the scene in early 1983. Their video for “Hungry Like the Wolf” was in constant rotation on every network that showed videos. The band was composed of singers who weren’t handsome - they were "pretty". Resplendent in pastel-coloured, linen suits while sporting make-up and impossible hairstyles - teased and "Ice-Misted" into ridiculous coifs. We were immediately critical - however, we would soon begin emulating these fashionable Brits - desperately hoping to garner some of the same attention and affection that high-school girls were heaping upon them. 

My group of friends and I were confirmed rockers - Rush, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest … pretty much anything that wasn’t the British New Romantic. Duran Duran was a band for girls … or guys whom we stereotyped in a way that I am ashamed to recall.
However, I ended up getting a copy on cassette. A group of teenage ne’er-do-wells had a small industry set-up in the smoking-pit (Yes, those existed in 80's high school) where they would sell cassettes pilfered from the record store (Mister Sound). It wasn’t a sustainable business model, and they would eventually be banned from the mall. However, while it was up and running, I was a regular client. I had a job and a little extra scratch for music purchases. I also had a Walkman...actually, a Sanyo Personal Music Player. So a constant stream of music at all hours (except in class and when I slept) was a vital part of my life.

One day, they were selling 4 cassettes, for a bargain, and Duran Duran's "Rio" was in the mix. I think I probably justified it as a potential gift for a girl...or maybe my sister. However, I gave it a listen.
The opening track hooked me right away. It began with this odd cacophony of sound before exploding with a crunchy, rock-inspired guitar laid over this hypnotic keyboard arpeggio...and then there was this great sax solo in the middle. I was immediately hooked and the cassette remained in my player for weeks.
Needless to say, I kept this information to myself - revealing it to a few close friends and never suggesting that it be played at a basement party. There was this part of my teenage brain that was convinced that this album was important. The writing was fantastic and I think it transcended the dance/boy band category to which I had mistakenly pigeon-holed it.

A quick check on Wikipedia validates me.
  • In 2000, Rio was ranked #98 in Q magazine's "100 Greatest British Albums". 
  • In 2003, it was listed at #65 in the NME "100 Greatest Albums of All Time". 
  • In 2004, CMJ ranked it as #1 in their "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1982". 
  • In 2008 it was ranked 24th best British album of all time and is included in the list 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. 
  • In April 2013 Rio was voted number 3 in BBC Radio 2's Top 100 Favourite Albums of all time.
Hey 17 year old me!… high five … nice call!

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