Apr 052013

A roadblock in any format.

A roadblock in any format.

Beside demonstrating a lack of exquisite taste and suggesting a need for me, should the girl and I begin dating, to exhibit more tolerance for her tastes in music than I felt capable of exhibiting, a copy of Duran Duran’s Rio signified the girl’s probable identification with the new decade’s mainstream celebration of androgyny and pudgy English singers with bad hair. I sensed that any copy of Duran Duran’s Rio was a sign that I would show up at this girl’s door some day and find her dancing spasmodically to “Hungry Like a Wolf” while sporting a new, unexpected (ie, unapproved) spiky, streaked hairdo and brightly colored high heels. The hippie-loving-yet-desiring-of-traditional-stand-by-your-man-values guy in me couldn’t help but feel this way. I am not exactly proud of sharing this. I was open to many things, but I wasn’t too open to any woman I was dating suddenly showing up like the trendiest character from a John Hughes movie.

Despite the kindness, wisdom, and gentleness that has come with middle age, I maintain a core belief that the ’80s was a frigid period in terms of mainstream cultural signifiers. The Rio album cover heralded the arrival of ’80s Hair Salon Artwork in rock ‘n roll, a visual cue for the late-’80s/early-’90s phenomenon of MTV and VH1-driven Fashion Rock. What follows in this Rock Crimes case against the album cover art for Duran Duran’s Rio might make some of you extremely uncomfortable. Should you choose to stop reading now, the court will put you down for a GUILTY! verdict without further suffering. For those of you with the stomach to move deeper into my ’80s heart of darkness, step right this way.


  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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