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|Studio album by|
|Released||18 November 1986|
|Duran Duran chronology|
|Singles from Notorious|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Notorious is the fourth studio album by English rock band Duran Duran, released on 18 November 1986 by EMI Records. Produced by the band with Nile Rodgers, the album was recorded between April and October 1986 in several studios in Paris, London, and New York. It is the first album to feature the band as a trio with singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor, as drummer Roger Taylor left due to being weary of the music industry while guitarist Andy Taylor, wanting to start his own solo career, would play on several tracks before leaving after several aborted sessions.
The album was a muscial change for the band, as it focuses on brass heavy numbers and funky Chic inspired dance rock. Lyrically, the songs are more mature and mysterious similar to their previous album Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983). Drummer Steve Ferrone, guitarists Nile Rodgers and Warren Cuccurullo of Chic and Missing Persons would eventually be brought in to finish the album. Cuccurullo would become the band's full time guitarist in 1989 following the tour for their next album Big Thing (1988) until being replaced by Andy Taylor during the band's reunion in 2001.
The album would be ignored by critics and was moderately successful, reaching number 16 on the UK Music Charts and number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, going gold and platinum respectively. While the title track was a commercial success internationally going number 7 in the UK and number 2 in America, subsequent singles such as "Skin Trade" and "Meet El Presidente" would fail to replicate any chart success. Duran Duran would support the album with the critically acclaimed Strange Behaviour Tour.
Notorious would be considered the band's first commercial failure since their early releases as Duran Duran struggled to sustain their earlier success for years to come in subsequent records, until they returned to sudden success with 1993's Wedding Album. In later years, the album has received mostly positive re-evaluation and has became a cult favorite by fans for the band's more mature compositions and sophisticated direction. The album was later reissued by EMI in 2010.
Background, recording, and departure of Andy Taylor
Duran Duran had established themselves as one of the most successful bands of the early 1980s. Despite being ravaged by music journalists, they experienced success having recorded and sold millions of albums, including Rio (1982), Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983), "The Wild Boys" (1984), and the title track of the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985). The band would even go around the world touring, selling out many arenas.
However, the band's excessive touring, lifestyles and recording schedules caused all 5 members to split up for several months after their performance at Live Aid in 1985. Bassist John Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor would form the heavy rock band, the Power Station with singer Robert Palmer and drummer Tony Thompson of Chic, releasing their self-titled debut while lead vocalist Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and drummer Roger Taylor teamed up to create Arcadia, a darker avant-garde project with their only release, So Red the Rose. Both albums would be moderately successful both commercially and critically. The contrasting musical directions would influence the next Duran Duran album.
By the time Duran Duran reconvened in the studio at the beginning of 1986, Roger had grown sick and tired at the band's success and abruptly quit. Rhodes and Andy would meet in late January in Los Angeles to write down several songs, however it became clear that they have grown apart musically. Recording would begin in April in Paris with Rhodes and John, with Le Bon joining the group later. Andy did not show up on any of the early sessions, but the band would compose some songs while they waited for his return. Eventually, the band got word that Andy was in Los Angeles making solo records in a heavier rock sound different to what Duran Duran was making, creating tensions within the four. The recording sessions would be plagued by tense legal battles and Andy would play on several tracks, but was released at last after several sessions which would have little, if any results.
Without a drummer or guitarist, the band hired Steve Ferrone of Scritti Politti fame and Nile Rodgers to help perform on the album. Warren Cuccurullo of Missing Persons, which had broken up in July would find out that Andy would not be returning to Duran after the latter invited several former bandmates to join his solo project and contacted the band for months, only to be frequently rebuffed. Eventually the band met Cuccurullo around October and hired him to help finish the record. John would say in 2016, "Warren kept reaching out to us. When we went to New York, that's where we meet Warren and we liked him immediately and connected over our references. Really, the whole album was pretty much finished, but we found some spots so that Warren could come in so we can introduce him as the new guitar player."
Duran Duran was famous for its romantic synth-pop, teenybopper appeal, and ambitious music videos that frequented both radio and MTV. The first two singles "Notorious" and "Skin Trade" showcased a new Duran Duran focusing on a more mature look, heavy funk bass and guitars, in addition to bouncy brass solos. The three year gap between Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Notorious would prove too much for their fans and critics to handle as the stripped down approach left behind both the hysteria and sound of their initial releases.
The album got off with a promising start as the lead single "Notorious" was a commercial success, reaching number two in the United States and number seven in the United Kingdom. It was the first Duran Duran single to be released with a second remix 12-inch single, led off by a remix by the Latin Rascals. The music video was directed by Peter Kagan and Paula Greif and was released in October 1986, weeks before the album. Filmed on a black and while Super 8, it showcases the trio and Nile Rodgers performing the song on a soundstage with scantily clad dancers choreographed by Paula Abdul along side model Christy Turlington. A shot of the video would be used as the Notorious album cover. The video proved to be very popular and would receive heavy airplay on MTV.
"Skin Trade" which was the second single was an enormous change for the band, as Le Bon sang in a falsetto that pays homage to Prince, James Brown, David Bowie and even Mick Jagger's performance on the Rolling Stones' "Emotional Rescue". Alongside Le Bon's vocals, the song featured the Borneo Horns perform a very heavy brass section and a tight funky groove giving the song a very seductive R&B tone. Sadly, the momentum built with "Notorious" would be revoked as the single became the band's first chart disappointment since their earlier releases, stalling at number 22 in the UK Singles Charts and barely making the American Top 40. It continues to be played on radio and has been adored by fans as a favourite of the band's discography of the late 1980s. A Peter Kagan and Paula Greif directed music video released in February 1987, with the band performing the song and featuring model Tatjana Patitz in a psychedelic rotoscoping style would receive medium rotation on MTV.
By the time the album's third single "Meet El Presidente" was released in April 1987, interest in Notorious had all but waned. Poor record sales caused the single to stall in the UK at number 24. The single also came and went with little fanfare in the US, peaking at number 70.
"A Matter of Feeling" was released in January 1988 as a promotional single in Brazil where it became one of the best selling singles of 1988 in that country.
To drum up further interest in the album, a collection of otherwise unavailable remixes was released on a double promo 12" pack called Master Mixes in Asia, Brazil, Hong Kong and the USA. There are rumours that remixes were commissioned for a possible fourth single (either "Vertigo" or "American Science"), but any plans for said fourth single were shelved following the commercial underperformance of the album and "Skin Trade" failing to chart in the UK Top 20.
All tracks are written by John Taylor, Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon
|4.||"A Matter of Feeling"||5:56|
|6.||"Vertigo (Do the Demolition)"||4:44|
|8.||"Meet El Presidente"||4:19|
|9.||"Winter Marches On"||3:25|
|11.||"We Need You"||2:54|
|12.||"Notorious" (45 mix)||4:01|
|13.||"Skin Trade" (radio cut)||4:28|
|14.||"Meet El Presidente" (7" remix)||3:38|
|1.||"Notorious" (extended mix)||5:18|
|2.||"Meet El Presidente" (Presidential Suite mix)||7:15|
|3.||"Skin Trade" (Parisian mix)||8:08|
|4.||"American Science" (Chemical Reaction mix)||7:45|
|5.||"Vertigo (Do the Demolition)" (Mantronix mix)||6:34|
|6.||"Skin Trade" (Stretch mix)||7:44|
|9.||"Vertigo (Do the Demolition)" (live)||5:28|
|10.||"New Religion" (live)||5:50|
|11.||"American Science" (live)||5:00|
|12.||"Hungry Like the Wolf" (live)||5:07|
|2.||"A View to a Kill"|
|5.||"Vertigo (Do the Demolition)"|
|7.||"Save a Prayer"|
|9.||"Hungry Like the Wolf"|
|14.||"Meet El Presidente"|
2010 digital-only releases
|1.||"Skin Trade" (S.O.S dub)||7:19|
|2.||"Meet El Presidente" (Meet El Beat)||5:33|
|3.||"American Science" (Meltdown dub)||7:29|
|4.||"Vertigo (Do the Demolition)" (B-boy mix)||6:04|
|5.||"Notorious" (Latin Rascals mix)||6:24|
|1.||"Introduction/A View to a Kill"|
|4.||"Union of the Snake"|
|5.||"Vertigo (Do the Demolition)"|
|7.||"Meet El Presidente"|
|9.||"Some Like It Hot"|
|12.||"Hold Me" (incorporating "Dance to the Music")|
|13.||"Is There Something I Should Know?"|
|14.||"Hungry Like the Wolf"|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
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