THE OLD ROMANTICS

It took them a while — and certainly longer than they’d have liked — but 40 years after the release of the classic album Rio, Duran Duran have forged a legacy that bears comparison with some of their eighties brothers.

Duran Duran in Los Angeles, circa 1980. (Photos by Brad Elterman/FilmMagic via Getty)

On May 10, 1982, Duran Duran released their second album. The thrusting, Thatcherite eighties had barely got going, but Rio already seemed the decade’s aspirational apogee. There was the title, with its whiff of sun-kissed exotica. There was the vivid purple cover, with its study of a slinky siren by the Playboy illustrator Patrick Nagel. And there were the songs, from the title track’s lush carnival hedonism to Hungry Like the Wolf’s unabashed I-want-it-all covetousness. It spawned three monster hit singles and went double platinum in the U.S., making Duran Duran the spearhead of what was swiftly branded the ‘second British invasion’. They had legions of devoted fans, known as Durannies. They had the world at their feet. And yet the press was resolutely unmoved. “Anglodisco at its most solemnly expedient,” thundered The Village Voice. “Bereft of the soul, passion and wit that makes a great record,” declared Record Mirror. Even I, then working for a weekly pop glossy, felt obliged to get in on the act. “Duran could churn out this kind of thing in their sleep,” I snarked of Save a Prayer or possibly Is There Something I Should Know? “Pity they’re not insomniacs.”

Contributor

Stuart Husband

Published

April 2022

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