Few bands defined their times as much as Duran Duran, emerging out of the cold, grey, industrial landscape of seventies Britain, they marked the emergence of a brighter, brasher, trashier and infinitely more fun decade. From the shock of their synthetic pop right to their heavily hairsprayed hair Duran Duran were perfect, a Day-Glo riot of sex, violence and style that is captured perfectly on this two disc DVD collection. For if their music defined the age, it was their videos that surely defined the band.
Planet Earth their first single, a taut sci-fi new wave classic, kicks off the proceedings with the boys hamming it up on what looks like an old Dr. Who set, so far so futuristic. But it's with their video to the perfect pop of Girls on Film that the band really finds their house style. The set up is simple, the execution superb, a succession of scantily clad girls waltz up and down a catwalk, pausing only to mud wrestle, pony ride, or just get covered in cream or water. It made them stars and secured them a devoted fan base of teenage boys.
The trick Duran Duran pulled was to live the pure pop star lifestyle every teenager dreams about and to do it in such a shameless way and to so obviously enjoy it that no one could begrudge them it. Whilst their peers stumbled around Vienna looking miserable, Duran Duran grabbed the loot and jetted off to India to make a series of videos that are the apogee of eighties taste. Hungry Like The Wolf, Save A Prayer and Rio are what Duran Duran are all about. Their music is at its best, simple yet still wonderfully fresh synthesisers, pure pop, that could be released today and wipe the floor with today's pop pretenders.
Here we have everything a boy in the eighties could aspire to, whether it's chasing exotic girls around jungles (Hungry Like The Wolf), looking cool on top of mountainous temples (Save A Prayer) or just simply dicking about the prow of a yacht in a pastel suit (Rio). Who wouldn't want to be Simon Le Bon and his heroically coiffeured chums, something today's 'stars' who feel the need to endlessly parade their tedious problems in front of us should take into serious consideration.
Sadly all good things come to an end and after the solid gold thrills offered by disc 1, we enter the slightly patchier offerings on disc 2. Whilst Notorious, I Don't Want Your Love and Burning The Ground, can just about hold their own, there is an increasing tendency towards 'serious' musicianship and all the horror that that entails, black and white promos of the band playing 'real' instruments, bad jazz-funk bass solos and a distinct lack of naked models cavorting on yachts.
It's not all downhill though - Ordinary World showed that the band could still cut it well into the mid-nineties, and the video to Electric Barbarella is probably as trashy and exploitative as anything in their career. With a recent lifetime achievement award under the belts and a UK tour that sold out in minutes, things are looking good for a rejuvenated Duran Duran and so far they've even managed to avoid the indignity of signing on for one of those vile eighties revival tours.
Worth buying just for the first disc, if only for the View To A Kill video where the bands attempts to look like men of international espionage is hampered by their resemblance to Bangkok ladyboys or in the case of Simon Le Bon a young Frank Spencer.
If you grew up with these videos then there's little more I can add, but if you were unlucky enough not to spend your formative years wearing fluorescent towline socks and dreaming of the day you'd be allowed to backcomb your hair then what you have here a much needed masterclass in what being a pop star should really be about. Either way it's still an essential purchase.