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DURAN DURAN – ASTRONAUT - SONY MUSIC
Record Rating: *****

Duran Duran - Astronaut - Sony Music Anyone who was growing up in the early 1980’s will testify, that Duran Duran were literally everywhere. The media compared them to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as hysteria preceded them, both on stage and off. And when you add up their chart successes, the awards, the album and singles sales, the stadiums they filled, the ground-breaking videos they made, and the influence they’ve had on generations of musicians, theirs’ is a story that only a handful of eighties artists, such as U2, Michael Jackson and Madonna can tell. Almost as legendary as the band itself - is their history of wholesale personnel changes. The original lineup boasted John Taylor on bass, drummer Roger Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and charismatic lead singer Simon Le Bon.

Long after they parted company to pursue other projects - 2003 saw Duran Duran celebrated their 25th anniversary and the reunion of the five founding band members with a run of tremendously successful sold out shows. They went back into the studio last year and the end result is - Astronaut - their first new album together since 1983's multi-platinum Seven & the Ragged Tiger. The good news is that it doesn't sound dated by any stretch of the imagination, but instead sounds like a 21st century version of a Duran Duran album - and that's not a bad thing. The first single (Reach Up For The) Sunrise contains a charging backbeat in addition to an emphatically upbeat Simon Le Bon blowing his pipes. With the same undeniable musical chemistry and catchy hooks that propelled them to the top of the charts more than twenty years ago, the twelve tracks are absolutely groovy. Songs like Nice & What Happens Tomorrow are full of those eltro pop twinkly grooves that remind you of such early Duran Duran triumphs like Save A Prayer and Rio. Their last really good effort before this one was in 1993 – when a few members of the band returned from a prolonged hiatus with their 8th album, simply titled Duran Duran. (Fans have come to call this album The Wedding Album, due to the fact that the cover art consists of photos of the band member's parent's weddings) That was a mature, layered record of lite funk and soulful adult contemporary pop - and thanks to great songs like Ordinary World and Come Undone - the album became a surprise hit across the world.

Expect the same to happen here once again with Astronaut. For this album will definitely earn the band some of the better reviews of their career – and might even restore their commercial status as well for a bit – but more importantly, it’ll win them over many new fans who weren’t around to hear the band the first time around. Truth be told - 80’s music is making a comeback – and there are thousands of kids out there at this very moment discovering the band’s earlier stuff. This album is truly better than anyone would have a right to expect. Will be in your CD player for awhile.

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