How are U2 and Duran Duran similar? In the sound, very little; in the theme of the lyrics, nothing; in the image that both bands projected over time, less. It would even be difficult to find fans who are from both bands. How are they similar then? In its history, in its journey along similar paths throughout its extensive career.
Let's break down from the beginning:
Both bands were born in medium-sized cities: Dublin, Ireland, in the case of U2; Birmingham, England, in the case of Duran Duran.
Both bands were formed after one of its members put a notice in music newspapers to select the rest of the members. Larry Mullen Jr chose The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bono, among many other musicians who showed up at his request. In the case of Duran Duran, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor, schoolmates, selected Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor, and Simon Le Bon.
They did not start playing at the same time but they were not very far either: U2 in 1976, Duran Duran in 1978.
The release of his debut album was on very close dates. "Boy" appeared in October of 1980, and the album "Duran Duran" in February of 1981.
Both bands had a great success with their first three albums in their respective countries, but did not achieve much impact at the international level until then.
The fourth album of both bands is a live recording. "Under a blood red sky" in November of 1983, and "Arena" in November of 1984.
That live album allows U2 for the first time to reach the top charts in the United States and the same goes for Duran Duran. The phenomenon is similar in the rest of the world. It would be fair to say, that in the case of U2, the global explosion after "Under a blood red sky" is much more sudden and notorious than that of Duran Duran after Arena, which had already had a relative success worldwide with its second and third album.
The success of their live discs was not fortuitous, both bands were famous from their beginnings for giving good concerts, it is enough to see today the videos of those shows to prove it.
In 1985, the paths of both bands distance themselves. Duran Duran implodes after an endless world tour that leaves its members tired of seeing each other's faces. The band would record another album in 1986 with only three of its original members. The compositional downturn is "Notorious" as the name of that record, and the band enters a period that I, as a self-confessed fan, dare to say was a decline.
After his live album U2 goes inside to record his precious album "The unforgettable fire".
When I was fourteen years old I had the fortunate idea of buying it on vinyl, I still keep it, and sometimes I fantasize about buying a cartridge for the turntable to listen it again with the frying, although it does not have much because it is impeccable. The funny thing is that after taking out this album at the end of 1984 there was a long space of two and a half years until the next. It is almost obvious that in U2 there was also some kind of implosion at this time, although its members knew how to cope with it and continue with the ship afloat without major breakdowns. With the release in 1987 of "The Josua Three", U2 entered a level that Duran Duran never reached: make songs that would sing to my grandmother. They transcended the rock band to become icons of popular music. And then they continued with a strong career to this day.
Duran Duran resurfaced from the ashes in 1993, surprising with an out of the ordinary album that is "Duran Duran", known as "The wedding album" to differentiate it from the first album of 1981. In it we heard the essence of the first Duran Duran but also a new band as good as the first. In a run of good health they managed to spin that record with another of covers: "Thank you", not very successful, but an authentic jewel with several memorable versions and a delicate and spectacular sound. Then came the ups and downs, but the greatest virtue since that was to keep the band to this day, with the profitable and definitive recovery of the original drummer Roger Taylor, and releasing two albums more than decent in 2011 and 2015. With new compositions, something that almost no band (except U2) that has been giving war since 1978 can do. In 2016, Billboard magazine titled:
"Duran Duran, the last band on foot"
I recently heard say to a person who knows a lot, but a lot of music: "It's so good the last U2 album" which led him to meditate if U2 would not be the best band of all time. I ask the other way around: If I take out U2, to which one I would postulate as the best band of all time. I can think of six or seven, but when I put them next to the 14 albums of U2, I immediately discard five and in my humble opinion, only The Beatles remain in a comparison impossible to do in totally different contexts.
14 U2 albums
14 Duran Duran albums
No collections, no reversals. Not old men playing songs from thirty years ago.
Thanks to you, thanks for everything.
Fernando Fontenla Felipetti - July 7, 2019