Old Wave

Duran Duran

Duran Duran's catchy brand of synth-pop and its sexy videos made the band's members darlings of the new wave scene in the early '80s. The music and images also sold tons of records: The albums Duran Duran (1981), Rio (1982), and Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) each had several hit singles.

In 1993, another eponymous album (also known as The Wedding Album, for its cover art) spawned a pair of hits. Most of the albums in between offered a decent song or two, but the rest of the fare was, well, a bit ragged. And except for the hit "Electric Barbarella," 1997's Medazzaland didn't do much to dispel the notion that Duran Duran's best days took place more than a decade earlier.

The set list for the group's one-month United States tour -- which stops at Sunrise Musical Theatre August 29 -- is evidence that the band recognizes its best work and isn't ready to quit. "We're probably playing more from the first few albums and the last few and very little from the middle," says Duran keyboardist and founding member Nick Rhodes. "There are about four new songs in the set, but it's a two-hour set."

The new songs come from the forthcoming album Pop Trash, which was put together by Rhodes, original vocalist Simon Le Bon, and Warren Cuccurullo, the former Missing Persons guitarist who's been a member of Duran Duran since 1989 and who doubles on bass. The new music, Rhodes says, occupies "the same sort of area we've always inhabited. There's some electronic stuff; there's some exciting guitar-playing."

A purveyor of synth-pop from the start, Rhodes is not surprised by electronica's current popularity. "I hear some things now and think, 'Wow, we did that,'" he says.

Rhodes is a fan of the Chemical Brothers, Air, and Fatboy Slim. "There's a lot of groovy stuff out there," he says. "That's territory we're very familiar with, and there are songs on this album that I think compete with that…. This is a very modern record."

At least it will be, when it comes out. The band has yet to finalize a multirecord deal with Hollywood Records, and a release date won't be set until the ink dries.

Nonetheless, he says, "We decided to go ahead with the tour, have fun, and preview some songs from the new album." New tunes are plugged in between the big hits, such as "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "The Reflex," and lesser-known early songs have been resurrected. "We're playing 'Friends of Mine' [from the first album]," says Rhodes, "which is turning out to be one of the real crowd pleasers."

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John Ferri