The Duran Duran Tribute Album

CD Cover Various Artists
Mojo / Universal

Review by Rodney Gitzel

I suppose it's safe to come clean about this, now. I can be big about it. You see... I was a Duran Duran fan, back in high school. Not overtly, mind you! A closet Duran Duran fan. Yes, I liked -- even owned! -- their first album and thought songs like "Planet Earth," "Is There Something I Should Know" and "A View to a Kill" were cool. But I couldn't let anyone know about it, could I? Oddly, though, whenever I did come clean to someone, they invariably said... "don't tell anyone -- me, too." Go figure, eh?

So, as you might guess, I am not going to slag this CD right off for simply existing -- besides, enough other reviewers have already done that. And, as you might guess, I am going to say I like this CD.

It's actually a great CD. Unlike just about every other compilation/tribute CD, it can actually be listened to in one sitting many times. There are definitely a large handful of songs to stick in the brain, and most of the covers are quite well done (Less Than Jake's "The Reflex" is the only one that sounds particularly forced).

But what is really surprising about the CD is how natural the songs sound when played by these bands. You mean Duran Duran wasn't a ska-punk band? They weren't hanging out with Hüsker Dü in the 80's, or playing little punk shows in Surrey? You wouldn't know if from this disc!

Goldfinger's "Rio" cover is a highlight, of course, and they are the only band that I know for sure regularly plays their contribution; they are also the only ones to really make any changes to their song (morphing the chorus into a bad metal-ish "His name is Dio, Ronnie James Dio"). Reel Big Fish take a swingin' turn on "Hungry Like a Wolf" (complete with sleazy introduction), while Riverfenix ("Ordinary World") and Wise Crack ("Come Undone") make you wonder about Duran Duran's punk-pop connection.

Björn Again and the Wesley Willis Fiasco provide two very different takes on "Girls on Film" (shimmering dance and whacked whined-word). Vancouver's own Gob obliterate chunks of "A View to a Kill" -- but still leave it sounding like both their speed-punk selves and Duran Duran. And the Deftones turn in a very strange version of "The Chauffer" -- strange because it seems a little subdued for them, and in fact sounds just like them trying to copy Duran Duran sound for sound.

This is definitely worth picking up if you can bear to admit you were ever a Duran Duran fan. Actually, looking back, now, though, I have to say it's probably better to listen to this than to any actual Duran Duran disc...

First published in Drop-D Magazine on November 28, 1997

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