Duranalysis Book Report: Andrew Golub’s Beautiful Colors

Last month I received an email from Andrew Golub, wondering if I’d consider Duranalyzing his book, Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran. This was the best idea I’d heard in a very long time.

Andy—well-known in Duran fandom by the irresistible portmanteau “Durandy”—is the world’s leading archivist of Duran Duran memorabilia: posters, photos, books, magazines, press materials, you name it. Much has been written about his collection in publications like The Stranger and The Examiner; I don’t really have a good way to wrap my head around the vastness of his personal archive, but from what I understand, storage lockers are involved. Durandy collects Duran Duran memorabilia the way Nick Rhodes collects art, or Simon Le Bon collects fine wine, or Andy Taylor collects grudges. In other words, it’s a serious business.

Beautiful Colors made waves upon its release in late 2013 for obvious reasons: It’s gorgeous. It’s a heavy, glossy, 260-page hardcover book, impeccably designed and filled with hundreds of full-color images. It’s my new favorite thing in the world.

And yes, the band members are fans, as well they should be:

(As an aside, Durandy—seen below supervising the production of Beautiful Colors at the printing press—is a delightful and charming human being. Not only is he one of the foremost Duran experts out there, he’s also funny, generous, and kind. In short, Durandy rocks. I’m a fan.)

Beautiful Colors is structured chronologically, beginning with the band’s earliest gigs at Birmingham Polytechnic in 1979 where John Taylor was enrolled as an art major and continuing all the way through 2012’s All You Need Is Now tour. The images are interspersed with useful snippets of information, which means the book pulls double duty: It’s a comprehensive portfolio of Duran Duran’s visual library, and it’s also a de facto biography of the band.

I’m going to take a quick look at a few of the images found in Beautiful Colors, reprinted here by kind permission of Durandy. First up is this Japanese promotional poster from 1981. Note the silhouetted figures at the bottom, which provide the steps for learning the bizarre New Romantic dance featured in the “Planet Earth” video. 1981 was a crucial year for the band, both for how it burst onto the public stage in a big way (Duran Duran’s self-titled debut album, which spawned two big hits with “Planet Earth” and “Girls on Film”, was released in June) and for the way the band members began to develop and refine their soon-to-be iconic personal style. As you can see from this poster, they’re not quite there yet—they’re still dressing like cast members in Birmingham Community Theatre’s production of The Pirates of Penzance—but they’re already moving toward the polished, glamorous image they’d perfect by the following year.

There are two utterly bizarre things going on in the above photo:
1.  It’s difficult to tell Andy and Nick apart.
2.  Andy’s hairstyle is more flattering and stylish than Nick’s.
After 1981, neither of these statements will ever be true again.

Here’s a Malcolm Garrett-designed 1982 poster promoting the Rio tour, which features a snippet from the Patrick Nagel painting featured on the Rio album cover. The current whereabouts of that very famous painting, by the way, are unknown—or, more to the point, they’re known only to Simon, Nick, John, and Roger. The painting used to hang in the office of the band’s then-manager, Paul Berrow, until the band members absconded with it. Andy Taylor ruminated on the topic in his memoir: “I haven’t got a clue where it is at the moment, although I wish I knew because as a piece of pop art it must be worth millions—and I still own one-fifth of it.” Let me don my amateur detective hat right now and clear that mystery up for you, Andy: Nick has it. Obviously Nick has it. I mean, I don’t know that for a concrete fact, but he’s far and away the likeliest culprit: He’s the owner of a world-class art collection, and as the band’s resident control freak, he’d make sure that painting was securely in his dainty and well-moisturized hands. There’s nowhere else it could be.

Shameless corporate promotion! In 1984, the boys shilled for Whisky Q from Japan’s Suntory distillery. In addition to print ads, the band’s Whisky Q campaign also included some deliriously entertaining and surreal commercials; you should probably stop whatever you’re doing and watch them, right now. Click here and here.

Your life is better for having watched those, right? Yep. Mine, too.

Beautiful Colors also features other endorsement efforts, such as an ad for Korg keyboards starring Nick (tagline: The Greatest Artist Plays the Best!), and John and Nick looking totally jazzed about that Yamaha music sequencer in the image below. Over the past three and half decades, the band’s been pretty choosy about the products linked to its name and reputation. A minor kerfuffle arose in 2014 after the band members discovered “Hungry Like the Wolf” had been licensed without their permission for use in a Yoplait commercial; some cried hypocrisy about the band’s firm anti-yogurt stance—after all, at the same time, Duran Duran songs were being used in commercials for both Dior Addict (“All You Need is Now”) and Michael Kors (“Girls On Film”)—but I’m totally Team Duran on this one. Maintaining a consistent brand identity is an important thing, and Duran Duran is not a mass-market yogurt kind of band. $35-per-tube high-end lipstick? Sure. Yogurt? Not so much.

Ah, now we have a jewelry-bedecked Nick, looking stern and glacially beautiful in an Italian poster for the 1987 Strange Behaviour tour. It’s a familiar image; I’m pretty sure that photo is featured somewhere in the pages of my collection of era-appropriate issues of Bop! and Tiger Beat. Which reminds me: Durandy’s website features hundreds of images from his archive. Need an awesome way to kill some time? Click through his gallery of vintage teen-magazine pinups of the boys, which run the gamut from gorgeous to hilarious. Sometimes you want to see Duran Duran looking their dreamy, well-coiffed best, and sometimes you want to see them looking like a gaggle of dorks.

So in 1988, while touring to promote the Big Thing album, Duran Duran played a surprise show in London, hiding the Duran Duran name and billing themselves as the Krush Brothers to, as Durandy puts it, “…maintain initial anonymity and allow people to sample the new material with an objective ear.” This is a cool idea!

Er… was the above “Krush Brothers” poster—you know, the one featuring the very beautiful, very famous, very recognizable faces of John, Nick, and Simon—actually used to advertise the concert? Because if so… you all see where I’m going with this, right?

Here’s a poster promoting a televised musical festival in Argentina. This was part of the Astronaut tour, which featured Duran Duran’s full original lineup—hi, Roger and Andy!—reunited at last. It’s a really beautiful image: great color, great composition, and the Durans all look gorgeous and glamorous and appropriately decadent.

Only… let’s look a little closer at the boys:

Ah. Yeah. It’s the ongoing Astronaut problem, the gloomy sunglasses-wearing elephant in the room. Serious question: Has anyone, anywhere, at any time, seen an official Astronaut-era photo or poster or flyer where Andy doesn’t look like he’s waiting to stand before a firing squad? This poster is from 2005; Andy quit the band for the second and presumably final time in 2006, and honestly, I’m surprised he lasted that long.

This is a poster from the 2007 Red Carpet Massacre tour, and that’s Paris Hilton, which: Sigh. This is exactly the same sort of impulse that led Duran Duran to invite Lindsay Lohan to perform on “Danceophobia” on the Paper Gods album. I get it: The boys have a soft spot for attractive pop-culture train wrecks, and while I don’t share their Hilton-Lohan fascination, I suppose it stems from the same place that leads me to binge-watch seasons of America’s Next Top Model. Therefore, I won’t judge. (I will point out, though, that “Danceophobia” would be a vastly improved song minus the weird Lohan spoken-word contribution. That’s just a fact.)

As I alluded to above, the band members are supporters of Durandy’s work. Here’s a photo of John, Simon and Roger looking over Beautiful Colors backstage after a concert (Simon always has the best t-shirts). Fun fact: Shortly after this photo was taken, the guys all joined in to help Durandy propose to his partner, photographer Christine  Born, who photographed all the images from Durandy’s archives that were included in the book. There’s a video of the proposal at his website. It’s all very surreal and wonderful, with Simon stepping forward to hand over the ring, and it sets the bar for this sort of thing very high; in the event anyone ever proposes to me, I want to have Nick Rhodes hovering right there at my elbow, looking sleek and posh and terribly invested in whether I’m going to say yes.

Beautiful Colors is available at Amazon from various third-party sellers, including Andy Golub himself, who is selling new copies for $75.00. Or you can buy a used copy from an ambitious seller for, ahem, $2,392.77, but $75.00 seems like the better deal.

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Anonymous said…
firefox crashed and ate my original comment, waah. as i was saying, you were right, this is really cool! much like the collection of duran duran videos on youtube, the amount of posters is staggering. collecting posters must have a similar exploring-a-bottomless-pit feeling to trying to watch all the videos. there's always one more that hasn't been seen...

does roger know where the rio painting is? do the trio who took it back from the berrows (plus bodyguard) keep its exact location in nick's house a secret even now? or did they relent once it became clear that roger was in it for the long haul this time? if they ever make anything out of that highly-embellished movie idea, this is the kind of important question i'd like them to answer.

the suntory whiskey campaign! japan has the best ads (other personal favorites: the coffee commercials with tommy lee jones, most things with kyary in them). though, hey, their heads look strangely regular-sized in that poster... i like how simon is so stiffly posed in it, he looks like an action figure that's still in the box.

i had almost managed to forget about the yoplait thing. there was a recent interview where i think simon said they'd just turned down burger king? they seem to really, really hate the idea of "hungry like the wolf" being associated with food, which is understandable.

the krush brothers and astronaut posters, when seen one after the other, seem to provide evidence that somebody really likes magenta pixelated lettering, maybe the same somebody who really likes magenta in general.

poor andy. poor everyone else who had to deal with andy. (you were right in that previous row of comments, i can try to relate his behavior to me and attempt to understand it all i want, but it falls apart once i take the other side into account. i even came up with a new reunion incident, where he mentions how he's rubbing it in the others' faces after astronaut didn't do as well as they wanted... i get it, dude, you're depressed and misery loves company, but that doesn't put you in the right!) it doesn't help that you can't see his eyes, but the body language isn't too positive either. to seriously answer your serious question, i remember seeing at least one early 2000s picture of all of them smiling. definitely nothing after the album was released, though. depending on your definition of where the astronaut era begins and ends, it could be that no smiling pictures count.

on a non-andy note, i like how simon is wearing lands' end moccasins or something along similar lines. moccasins: they're comfortable, but more presentable than crocs

aw, but the "danceophobia" spoken-word has the best of homage intentions! maybe you should imagine vincent price saying it instead. does that help, or does that just seem really silly? i just tried it and it seems very silly to me, and i'm the one who thought of it, so maybe it's just silly and not helpful.

huh, this second iteration of the comment turned out really random! oh well, off it goes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Mintycake said…
The whiskey ads were disturbing and yet awesome at the same time! What a wonderful post, and now I am going to be $75 US poorer because of it (that's $125 Canadian for me! Bah!)

Durandy's pinup gallery is something to be enjoyed on a slow evening with a glass of wine. I took a brief view...oh so many memories of my bedroom walls as I had some of these!

Yes Simon's shirt is fantastic! LOL.

Looking forward to the "Vegas City of Dreams" review!
Morgan Richter said…
So this post has kinda blown up over the past few days -- Duran Duran said nice things about it on Facebook and Twitter, and the fabulous Martha Quinn picked up on it on Twitter just today. All of this really says more about Durandy's sterling reputation in the community than it does about Duranalysis, but the attention is nice.

Anonymous, your suggestion about Vincent Price on Danceophobia is an instant vast improvement! In general, I *like* weird spoken-word bits in songs -- in Duran terms, I think it worked really well on "Blame the Machines" -- but the Lohan bit always drags me right out of "Danceophobia." Vincent Price, on the other hand...

And good point -- I assume Roger has been drawn fully into the inner sanctum by now and thus knows of the location of the Rio poster, but you never know.

As for Andy... Yeah. My secret thrill at Durandy's online archive is finding photos of View To A Kill-era Nick and Andy hanging out together, looking like besties. Check it here and here.

Nothing is better than those Japanese whisky ads. Nothing.

Mintycakes -- I know! The pinup gallery has afforded me hours of entertainment already. Durandy has provided the internet with a very, very valuable resource. And his book is just marvelous -- there's something so satisfying about sitting down with a big, heavy, glossy book of photos of Duran Duran.
mousie mouse said…
wow, that's awesome that martha quinn retweeted you! i used to work somewhere that piped sirius's 80s channel through the store, and they played the ident with simon talking about her panties all the time. it was kind of funny to be going about my business and then suddenly panties in the middle of the hobby store.

it's definitely more entertaining to imagine vincent price saying, "i may have to work on you throughout the night. we have to trust each other."

as my understanding of the andy-nick friendship evolves its ending just gets sadder and sadder. they look so happy in those ;_;

i'm afraid that if i delve deep into another gallery i may never emerge. those early days of finding references by scrolling endlessly down tumblr and dragging the best faces to my desktop were both long and heady ones. ("another post of john making silly faces! and there're new ones! YES.") but i did have a lot of trouble finding a variety of good andy pictures, so i may give into temptation.
Kate Crisp said…
Fabulous as always. I very much enjoyed your reference to nick's 'dainty well moisturized hands' yes-indeedy. I had heard of Andy's book but didn't realize there was such a plethora of delight on his website...
Morgan Richter said…
Someone needs to find a Vincent Price impersonator to record a version of the Danceophobia spoken-word part. Because that's a change that must be made.

Kate and Anonymous: The galleries on his site are a time-killing rabbit hole. So many gorgeous photos to browse through! And it never ends: Durandy has a second book coming out shortly (I have an early version of it in my grubby hands, because Durandy is awesome), which features even more goodness.
Anonymous said…
i am still working on my essay about how, controversially, thrush may be more competent than u.n.c.l.e., but in the meantime i was wondering if you'd seen this yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL8GViqSB8U and figured it'd be better to put that question in the comments for a duran duran post instead of an u.n.c.l.e. post.
Morgan Richter said…
I had not seen that! Thanks, Anonymous! This is very important.

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