Review- In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran


My workmates know me well for my 80’s tragic status and my fandom to all things Duran Duran. They alerted me to this book which was published last year, which is the autobiography of John Taylor, bass player of Duran Duran.

Yes, there are the obligatory photos, but it is much more of a wordy book than I imagined. I had heaps of books about Duran Duran in the 80’s which were really just merchandise/photo albums designed for teenage tastes, so it was a great to hear his voice in the book, albeit a ghost written voice.

The childhood and teenage photos were quite revealing, showing a little boy, growing up into an awkward bespectacled teenager who looked to older cousins and friends,  and of someone who was more comfortable just to the left of the spotlight.

In many ways his story jogged so many half-forgotten memories, of interviews in Smash Hits that I had read over 30 years ago. He changed his name to John from Nigel (Nick Rhodes, was originally Nick Bates), his love of cars (inherited from his father) and the beautiful models/actresses with whom he shared his life.

In other ways, reading the book makes you realise how filtered the message was about your favourite band in the 80s, without the full on glare that is now present with the Internet and social media. Seen through the pages of a magazine, all you saw a bunch of guys living a hectic, hedonistic lifestyle, surrounded by models and driving fast cars.

What you didn’t see was the effects from a jump from unemployed would-be muso still living at home to world famous pop star,  combined with the stress of touring constantly, and recording with a chronic lack of sleep. Taylor’s prodigious consumption of drugs and alcohol and his sex addiction (to deal with loneliness on the road) is documented extensively in this book, as well as his entry into rehab in the United States.

It is an autobiography, but it not a warts and all exposé of his relationship with the other band members. He speaks of them with love and respect, and alludes to periods of strife, but doesn’t go into detail. His marriage with Amanda de Cadenet is dealt with respectfully, yet frankly acknowledging the breakdown of the marriage to a series of factors, including age difference, and his substance abuse.

It’s an enjoyable read, and with its short chapters, you seem to power through it quite easily. Am now off to put Rio on…

My Top 7 moments of 2003

I was having a coffee with a colleague, when I realised I had known this person for 10 YEARS, which meant I had been in my job for 10 YEARS. Somewhat mind-blowing, let me tell you, as it has been the longest I have been in any position. So in resurrecting my top seven series, these are my Top 7 moments from 10 years ago.

In 2003…

1. I left my job at the State Library of Victoria to go to my present position in May. When I announced I had great news, my parents instantly said “You’re pregnant”. They were about a year off :). I was sad to go, but my new job was a promotion in terms of money and also security. I was given a beautiful leather satchel as a leaving present which still gets used today.

2. Mr BG and I bought a house in Mount Waverley in August. It was a 3 bedroom townhouse with three bathrooms, a walk-in wardrobe and walking distance to Syndal station. It was only a few years old and absolutely gorgeous. The house was  just around the corner from our rental house, and we noticed there was a viewing on our way back home one Sunday. We had been planning on visiting it, but the real estate agent we had spoken to on the phone had been quite dismissive and said “You can look, but it’s probably out of your price range anyway.” The agent who showed us around was a different person and very nice. He got the commission!

3. In December I went with the lovely Ms S to Telstra Dome to see Duran Duran play for the very first time. They were supporting Robbie Williams, and by the time we sat down we had missed thier first song Planet Earth. I lost it though when they started the clicking intro to Girls on Film (ie I reverted back to a 14 year who would scream hysterically). Robbie was good too :).

4. Mr BG bought me a Royksopp 12″ remix of Coldplay’s clocks for Christmas, which he then transferred from LP to CD at a friend’s house for me to listen to. Quite different from today where a song can be easily downloaded :).

5. I discovered The White Stripes, with this becoming my favourite song

6. Mr BG and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by going on a romantic weekend away to Castlemaine and stayed in a quiet cottage on a property. In fact it was so quiet, a couple of residents had moved into the cottage. We heard a rustling in the attic space and a whoosh of air around our heads when we went to bed. Turning on the light,  we thought it was a bird that had gotten trapped in the cottage. Whatever it was had gotten a bit scared with the lights and flew around, with one stunning itself against a pillar. When we realised that it was a BAT we were a tad freaked out, and we managed to get it outside. However, when we turned out the lights, the rustling and whooshing around our heads continued and we spent a cramped night in our small car trying to sleep. We left a day early with the apologetic owners refunding our money. ‘I thought we had gotten rid of them!’ was their response.

7. Mr BG danced with me, and I didn’t force him to. This is a man who refused to dance at our own wedding, but he danced with me as this was the only way we could spend 5 minutes together. It was my sister’s wedding day and I was the matron of honour. It was a lovely day, incredibly full-on from 7am when I woke up and went for a walk to 11.30pm when I loaded the car up with wedding presents from the reception, drove back to where we were staying and collapsed into bed! It was the nicest thing I remember about the day.

12 songs that changed my life

(This was to be a post about my day at Sovereign Hill, but the school excursion was cancelled owing to the weather- ie it’s winter with a chance of rain and snow)

So this is a theme I borrowed from Corin’s recent post.

These are 12 songs that changed my life- they’re part of my DNA and shape who I am.

1. Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)- my mum and dad sang this to me as a lullaby when I was little. I was 12 when I found out it was a Beatles song.

2. Mamma Mia (Abba)- Abba was huge in our house. My sister and I had matching Abba tshirts, and

3. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)- one of the first songs I remember from Countdown. It still blows me away every time I hear it. I was probably 5 or 6 when I heard it. I still love the fact that I could watch music shows like this at that age!

4. (I can’t get no) Satisfaction (Rolling Stones)- We had an old record player and I used to go through Dad’s records. He had one Rolling Stones record which was a live recording. Young Keith Richards was so hot !

5. Planet Earth (Duran Duran)- I fell in love with Simon le Bon when I saw this on Countdown. It was the first Duran Duran song which started off a lifelong obsession love affair. (If you want to know more about this obsession, I have written at great length about this here and there :))

6. Tainted Love (Soft Cell)- play, rewind, stop, play, rewind, stop- this was all I did with my mixed tape on my tape player when this song came on. I could not get this out of my head!

7 One Step Ahead (Split Enz)- my favourite Split Enz song (actually a toss up between that and Message to my girl). I think it’s the bass which hooked me, then Neil’s voice.

8 Silent Night (Traditional)- I heard this a lot at midnight mass at Christmas over the years. I was 13 when I first heard it sung in German and marvelled at its beauty.

9. Bizarre Love Triangle (New Order)- this was the first New Order song I remember hearing. I loved it so much it was played at my wedding. I think the fact I had Substance in my CD collection was a plus in my favour according to Mr BG (he was able to overlook the U2 in my collection)

10.Fools Gold (Stone Roses)- Another bass line which hooked me. Another British band in what is shaping up to be a very Brit-list.

11.There she Goes (The La’s)- this 80s song I first remember noticing in the movie So I married an Axe Murderer (amovie also memorable for Mike Myers singing Do ya think I’m sexy in a Scottish accent)

12. Guess how much I love you (The Lucksmiths)- a song much later in my life, when I started going out with Mr BG. He introduced me to some great music and more importantly, some lovely people. This was another song played at my wedding.

Some of these songs have a visual quality which enhanced the music for me, but I can still listen to them and be transported back in time.

Back to the 80s- Music

How do you describe your favourite musical moments of the 1980s, when it feels that all you did in your spare time was listen to music?

If I wasn’t watching Countdown, it was Video Hits. If it wasn’t Video Hits, I was listening to EON-FM’s Top 8 at 8. If I wasn’t listening to it on the radio (and getting into huge arguments with parents about listening to the radio too much), I was reading about it in Smash Hits. If I wasn’t reading about it I was watching movies and videos and loving the soundtracks, largely the John Hughes films (note I don’t make mention of any soundtracks which feature Kenny Loggins).

Most of what I listened to was pop, and most of what I really loved about 80s music was the stuff from the early 80s, and largely British and Australian. Natalie Craig’s article which spoke of her muscial experiences of Bon Jovi, Europe and Poison spoke of the latter period of the 80s. I knew them, but weren’t huge fans of their over the top productions and plastic American smiles. I know Europe are Swedish, but they were trying to be Bon Jovi, and they are NO WAY in the league of Abba, but I digress…

Apart from listening to it on the radio, I listened to music on tape, with a tape player, and on my bright yellow walkman rip-off. I went through so many AA batteries, I’m sure I kept Eveready in business for much of 1985. The tapes were either mixed tapes which I bought, or were Christmas presents, or mixed tapes I had made from taping off the radio. I’m kind of hoping there’s a statute of limitations on copyright violations :).

There was a bit of an obsession with hair in the 80s and the haircut bands I knew and loved were Haircut100, Spandau Ballet, and Wham! but not Pseudo Echo- loathe is not strong enough a word to describe my feelings for them.

I am not going to mention Duran Duran here, as I have pretty much expounded that in a previous post, and another (actually just do a search and you’ll find a few mentions…)

Here are a few of my favourites:

Simple Minds- Lovesong is the first song of theirs I remember after listening to it at camp. and I loved Don’t you forget about me from The Breakfast club

Madness-I remember seeing the House of Fun on Countdown and loving the video. It was only years later that Mr BG told me what it really was about- oh how innocent I was!

The Models-I thought James Freud was a bit of a spunk, but it was a shame that they dumped Andrew Duffield, when they expanded the lineup. Out of Mind Out of Sight was cool, but I Hear Motion was my favourite song of theirs.

Split Enz and Crowded House- given that one of my closest friends was a Frenz of the Enz, it was hard not to get into them. Crowded House were a big part of  my tape collection in the second part of the 80s. I think Neil Finn’s songs in Split Enz were always the ones which applealed to me the most, with One Step Ahead and Message to my Girl being my all time faves.

The Cure kept on popping up on a lot of mixed tapes my sister and I owned. There was a darkness I liked, but they could also write a mean pop song.

New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle  was one of my favourite songs of the decade, and through that song I also discovered Blue Monday. In my ignorance, it was only later that I  discovered their previous incarnation as Joy Division, which happens to be Mr BGs favourite band. *hangs head in shame*

Madonna- I can’t not say anything about her. She was not my favourite artist, but I knew all her songs. She was a shameless rip-off merchant of musical and fashion styles, but her continous evolution made her fascinating. Like a Virgin is her standout song of the 80s for me.

Violent Femmes- Blister in the Sun was played ad nauseum in our classroom at lunchtimes in VCE. I was sick of it by the end of the year, but it was part of my final year at school.

My favourite novelty song is Divine’s You think you’re a man- is hilarious and definitely preferred over It’s Raining Men as a novelty song. I can still sing it word for word 🙂

Oingo Boingo Stay was a weird song that still bounces around in my head.

Towards the end of the 80s I was listening to more U2, The Beatles and The Doors when I started uni (I remember a bit of paisley beginning to creep into my wardrobe around this time). In fact I discovered 60s music in a big way. By the end of the decade, and the start of the 90s, I had gotten a job at the record counter at Myer, helped by an avid interest more kinds of music.

This is just a snippet. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered more bands from the 80s I overlooked at the time, simply because they weren’t on my radar. This is largely in part to Mr BG, who was 5 years older and had different tastes.

So this is one of these half-forgotten songs I was re-introduced to, Golden Brown by The Stranglers.

Girl on Film

Taking inspiration from Jenelle’s post on her love for Iva Davies and Icehouse, INXS and Sally’s Sharp story, I’d like to share with you, dear Reader, a teenage obsession, that looking back was quite scary to my friends and family. I previously mentioned a guilty pleasure in Duran Duran, but from 1981-1986-ish it went a tad overboard…

In 1981, I discovered I  liked boys, and this clip first seen on Countdown was the reason why.

Seeing Simon le Bon shirtless was even better seeing him in a frilly shirt. I got a little knot in my stomach when I saw him and remember thinking- “He’s cute!”

I became a religious watcher of Countdown and got the whole family sitting somewhat reluctantly around the single TV. Luckily the boys from Birmingham knew the power of promo videos and I soon got to see what is still my favourite video of theirs- Rio

By 1984 I had discovered Smash Hits thanks to Bernadette Moloney and the myriad of posters that could be found. For a while, the only place where they could be displayed was a small space of wall beside the wardrobe which could not be seen. Mum had decorated the bedroom I shared with my sister and any posters that could be seen were banned. Then we moved house, and I was given a bit more freedom. This meant every single piece of wall on my side of the room was covered with pictures large and small of Simon, John(who was vying for my affections), Nick, Andy and Roger.

By 1985, I was so obsessed, I could not go an hour at school without talking about Duran Duran. My long-suffering sister Fiona for a Year 7 English project, talked about Duran Duran- as the band she hated the most, but knew the most about. I wore my hair with a floppy fringe, wore a fedora picked up at a local op-shop. I sat up and watched the enitre Live Aid spectacular with my then best friend Brooke just to watch a few minutes of them performing (looking back now- highlights were Queen and U2. Honestly- I have the DVD! If  you’re interested in borrowing it lemme know :)).

And then  the obsession began to fade,  after ‘A view to a kill’ and their Notorious album.

Brooke started liking Pseudo Echo, and I slowly began to realise that there was more to music than Duran Duran. There was also more to life than Duran Duran, like friends and family. Slowly the pictures gave way to posters of other bands, like U2, The Doors and The Beatles.

By nature, I am a chucker, rather than a hoarder, but there are a couple of items I will never part with:

Clipping and pictures of Duran Duran in my scrapbook

Duran Duran Scrapbook

Duran Duran Scrapbook

My collection of tapes (this is just the DD ones)

Duran Duran tapes

Duran Duran tapes

And a collection of badges, which were a wedding anniversary gift from Mr BG

Duran Duran Badges

Duran Duran Badges

In many ways they were like a first love- you never forget them and the bittersweet memories they. I finally got to see them perform in 2003 when they were supporting Robbie Williams and felt like the insecure teenager desperate to fit in that I was over 25 years ago. They’re a part of my past I can never erase. And BTW, they were BRILLIANT and I screamed like a startstruck teenager, when they started playing Girls on Film!

I’ll leave you with my favourite song (as opposed to favourite video)