Needle on the Record: Duran Duran, ABBA, Sir Baby Girl and more

Duran Duran

Forty years after their debut, Duran Duran are going strong

Duran Duran | Future Past | ★ ★ ★ ½

Duran Duran have a new album, Future Past, it’s the fifteenth album of their career, a journey that began forty years ago.

This time round their continuing their collaboration with Producer Mark Ronson, who they worked with on their previous two records, but they have also forged new alliances with Erol Alkan and legendary producer Giorgio Moroder.  Blur guitarist Graham Coxton plays on the entire album, and has been involved in writing six of the 12 tracks on the standard version of the album. Plus there are guest appearances from Tove Lo, Ivorian Doll, Japanese band Chai, and pianist Mike Garson.

The album kicks off with Invisible, the single which came out back in May, it’s a laid back and moody number and while similar to many songs in Duran Duran’s long career, it’s not the thing they normally choose for a single. Things quickly pick up with All of You which combines crunchy synths with a solid rock sound, Simon Le Bon’s vocals soaring over the mix.

Give It All Up is a collaboration with Tove Lo, and the combination of vocals is delightful, Anniversary is a thumping tune capturing a classic Duran Duran sound, Future Past is a bid of a dud album filler track, but things pick up again with Beautiful Lies the first of their collaborations with Giorgio Moroder it’s a tune that builds to a crescendo and time travels back to an 80’s disco.

The second Moroder collaboration Tonight United has some great synth sounds and John Taylor’s bass is front and centre. Hammerhead which sees the band teaming up with Ivorian Doll is a moody tunes with the sound of space lasers firing in the background and possibly the first rap sequence in the band’s career, while More Joy! featuring Japanese band Chai is a catchy song that sounds like Miss Pacman was a collaborator – in a good way.      

The album closes with Falling, it opens with a melancholy piano sequence before exploring a jazz and ambient soundscape. It’s a musical adventure. The latest release from the band holds up against the previous work, and if you’ve followed them through their long career, you’ll enjoy another slice of what Duran Duran serves up.

Melbourne’s Bitumen got our attention with ‘Out of Athens’

Post-punk Melbourne band Bitumen have al album coming out this month and the single Out of Athens is very cool. 

The album Cleareye Shining is out 26th November and will features nine tracks. It’s the four-piece’s second album, a follow up to 2018’s Discipline Reaction. 

If the first single is anything to go by the band have explored a cleaner sound than their previous releases, while still sounding distinctly original.


ABBA return with Voyage

ABBA | Voyage | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

ABBA’s new album is here, their absence from the music scene is almost as long as Duran Duran’s lengthy career! It’s been a few years since the band teased they’d recorded two new tunes, which was then rumored to be five new tunes, but nobody was ready for the surprise announcement of an entire album.

The first two tracks released captured the classic ABBA sound. I Still have Faith in You is an emotional ballad, while Don’t Shut Me Down was a disco and reggae infused number with an incredible hook. The third offering from the album was rollicking number originally recorded back in the late 70’s but not released until now. The inclusion of a track recorded back in the 1970’s impressively shows that the magical combination of Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad vocals has not changed in nearly half a century since they first teamed up.

The first three tracks shared are probably the best on the record, but there’s fine fare to be found on the remaining seven tunes. Keep on Eye on Dan is incredibly catchy despite having an odd title and apparently being about babysitting.  It’s filled with layers of synthesizers and deep backing vocals, a lovely surprise comes in the final seconds of the song when it slips into just a few notes from their classic hit S.O.S.

When You Danced With Me is a vast tune that’s reminds us of the sound of ABBA’s Arrival and Super Trooper albums, filled with folky sounds mixed with a good old-fashioned sing-a-long. You suddenly realise that some of ABBA’s previous work sounds very similar to Mike Oldfield’s work.

Christmas themed song Little Things is the tune you’re most likely to skip over on repeat listening, I Can Be That Woman joins Queen’s Delilah and the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber in the specialist category of songs about cats – it’s a bit of a melodrama.          

Bumblebee is filled with those new age sounds of bells, harps and flutes, No Doubt About It is reminiscent of the group’s earliest output, a great mix of rock, early synth sounds and epic vocals. The album’s final track Ode to Freedom sees the band sign off for the final time with a song filled with classical motifs and deep words of wisdom. Who would have ever believed we’d be hearing a new album from ABBA? It’s not perfect, but it’s damn good.

Fresh Tracks: Download these to your music listening device

Belinda Carlisle – Get Together  Belinda returns with a charming take on this 60’s classic originally by The Youngbloods. Primal Scream – Don’t Fight It, Feel It (Isle of Dogs Home Studio) Three decades after the release of their landmark album Screamadelica, Primal Scream have released some embryonic versions of their biggest hits. Lonely Guest, Tricky and Markage Dave – Pay My Taxes This tune is an interesting mix of murky backing sounds, social conscience lyrics and acoustic guitars, then it suddenly changes when the drum beats come in. Liam De Bruin – Lavender wobbly house sounds Snail Mail – Madonna This not a new Madonna song, it’s a new Snail Mail song!  Billy Porter – Children a catchy piece of gospel house with maybe a few too many words Bonobo – Rosewood mellow groover Hammock – Elsewhere ambient beauty to chill out to

Sir Babygirl shares Golden Birthday: The Mixtape

Sir Babygirl | Golden Birthday: The Mixtape | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Sir Babygirl is a musical alias for Kelsie Hogie, who makes pop music encapsulating their non-binary and bisexual experiences and perspectives, Hogue uses both she and he pronouns. His debut album Crush on Me came out back in 2019, her latest release is a mixtape delivered via Bandcamp.

It’s a collection of perfect pop mixed in with thrashy guitars and an indie aesthetic. It has some great lyrics too, Bed asks “Will you lay next to me until I come back to my body?”, while Mascara  is all about remembering someone each time you don make-up.

Things take a turn to a harder sound with Dreamgirl Nightmare while the music goes darker, the vocals are super cheery. There’s an intriguing combination of sounds on 2much a little opera, an electronic choir channeling Phillip Glass, a good does of overwrought emotions – then it suddenly changes into something else, a pop soaked the chorus, before reverting to an avant-garde soundscape., then morphing into a chanting sing-a-long.

An early version of her song Heels which featured on his debut album is included, Wasted Light (Heels 2017 Freeestyle) is distinctly different of the song, sparsely played allowing ample space for every note. Spring Cleaning pulses along, another perfect combination of electronic and guitar sounds.

The collection also includes several covers including Fleetwood Mac’s Never Going Back Again from their Rumours and a take on Joni Mitchell’s Cactus Tree which was the closing track on her 1968 debut. There’s a delightful take on Not My Baby, originally by Canadian band Alvvays.    

HAAi has another amazing tune: Keep on Believing 

HAAi has shared another new composition, Keep on Believing is described as a companion piece to the sombre and atmospheric tones of recent single The Sun Made For A Soft Landing. This new offering sees HAAi effortlessly combine glitchy breaks, thumping techno and punched up basslines.

Donna Summer’s lost album gets a makeover 

Back in 1981 Donna Summer recorded I’m a Rainbow what was intended to be her ninth album. The disco diva had topped the charts from the mid 1970’s with a string of hits, but as the new decade dawned it became clear that disco was falling out of favour. Summer’s previous album The Wanderer had not been a huge success.  

The record company pulled the record and sent Summer back into the studio to make a different record. They teamed her up with Quincy Jones who was one the top of the charts with his collaborations with Michael Jackson. The self-titled album brought the much needed hits, including State of Independence. 

The lost record was her final work with longtime collaborators Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, and it sat on the shelf for decades. A few tracks were released over the years, dropped into film soundtracks and added on to greatest hits collections. Other artists also recorded the tunes marooned on the record, they turned up on albums by ABBA’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad, The Real Thing, Ammi Stewart and Helen St John.  

The album finally got a full release in 1996, fifteen years later and fans got to hear the collection which appeared to have one foot in the land of 70’s disco, and another exploring the new-wave sound coming out of Britain in the early 1980s.  

Now a new version of the album has been assembled. Featuring just of the 10 songs from the sessions each track has been reimagined by a producer. Junior Vasquez, Le Flex, Figo Sound, Jean Tonique, Ladies On Mars and Oliver Nelson have all added their magic to the new version of the album.    

Take a listen to a sample. 

Graeme Watson

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