Apr 052013



If you’ve been following Rock Town Hall for even a couple of weeks you probably have an inkling of my severe distaste for the mainstream culture of the 1980s. If you didn’t live through that era and find it “charming” or whatever, I feel slightly worse for the future of humankind. That’s OK, I’m used to feeling that way. What troubles me is how we got to this point considering how great my generation was and how much greater our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were. If we were so great, shouldn’t the youth of today be better?

If you lived through that era and look back on it fondly, I am not-so-secretly jealous of you. I had a lot of youthful energy and love to give to the world at that time, and for all my exquisite taste I would have been happy to spread my energy and love on a mutually appreciative world, as you may have been able to do back then. Bravo, ’80s Mainstream Culture Beneficiaries!

Many of my associations with the ’80s, then and now, were filtered through my not-always exclusive pursuits of rock ‘n roll and girls, as I was young enough to call them through most of the decade. I desired a mastery of both, yet constantly found myself falling short of the mark. Most of the roadblocks encountered were part of my genetic makeup and/or self-erected. I think of all the poor decisions I made and inflexible stances I took owing to my born and bred stubbornness. I did have good taste, however, and I have no regrets about that. The mainstream culture of the 1980s threw its share of roadblocks at me. Perhaps no cultural artifact was a more daunting roadblock than a copy of Duran Duran‘s Rio placed at the front of a stack of albums in a girl’s dorm room or apartment.


  12 Responses to “Rock Crime: The Cover Art for Duran Duran’s Rio Album”

  1. machinery

    And get off of Mr. Mod’s lawn too — you dang kids!!!

  2. I have to admit that I have soft spot for Duran Duran. Great memories of some girls I knew who would put on “Girls on Film” and attack me singing “Girls on Phil.” My first name is Phil.

  3. BigSteve

    The hard-edged portrayal of female sexuality (as opposed to the soft and inviting images you preferred) goes back to the Roxy Music album covers in the 70s, no?

  4. Certainly. I actually looked up to see whether the “best” Roxy album cover, Country Life, was shot by Helmut Newton. It’s verging on that style.

    (It was not shot by him.)

  5. The guy who did “Rio” was Pat Nagel, who was also doing “The Playboy Advisor” illustrations at the time. He’s the Mistral of illustrators. So very 80’s.

  6. Oh man, that’s perfect.

  7. cliff sovinsanity

    Geez, where to begin. You kind of lost me when you started talking about 90’s guys like Marilyn Manson in an 80’s thread.
    I might be echoing a point made by LMK in the 80’s music thread, but I think you’re boiling down a specific point from a vast decade of music and fashion. I tend to view the 80’s as one big progression and not a stagnant rut of synths and pouffy hair-dos. What I recall was that the 80’s started with the new beats of post punk and new wave. Some bands rode the keyboard wave as if that was the instrument of the future. Those bands represent a lot of what sucked about the time. Plus, all those bands died out by the end of the decade.

    Other bands abandoned the MTV sound and pursued their own sound. We’re talking American underground or college. Though not as popular, these bands sold A LOT of records to a teenagers looking for an alternative to the top 40 charts. Most of these bands survived the 80’s and some would achieve success in the early 90’s as part of the alternative movement.

    I was 12-13 years old when I first heard Duran Duran and Rio. I liked it at that time. I also liked the Clash, Devo and Blondie. I still listen to The Clash, Devo, and Blondie but not so much Duran Duran. It’s so inoffensive, that it’s not worth getting so worked up about it. It’s OK if you didn’t get it. You may never. What about Planet Earth? It’s still so damn catchy.

  8. cliff sovinsanity

    BUT, getting back to the point, here is some 80’s RIO era album art you might enjoy..

    Samantha Fox

    Kim Wilde

    are you familiar with the works of Lee Aaron

  9. That’s why I’m surprised at your association given our comparative ages! I think you were supposed to think “Playboy!” and not “hair salon!” when you saw that cover. (Which is dreadful, don’t get me wrong.)

    What I think we learned here is that Mr. Mod’s dad (not to be confused with The Modfather) was more of a Penthouse guy.

  10. misterioso

    Rio for me–at the time–signified The End of any hope that anything cool from New Wave would triumph in the mainstream, top 40 world. It was stupid of me ever to have thought otherwise, I know. I was younger then and was not yet fully aware that it is not the cream that rises to the top but, rather, something else. Anyway, fair or not, I blame Duran Duran for a lot, and that’s without even discussing Power Station. I curse them, bell, book, and candle.

  11. That’s funny. I don’t know what my dad, who left us for good as I entered my awareness of all these things, was into, but I suspect it was something I’m glad I don’t know about:)

  12. I was not familiar with the works of Lee Aaron. Only a small part of me is curious to hear that record!

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