My dedication to Duran Duran is probably far above average compared to the non-Duranie population at large, but I’m friends with Duranies who make my fandom look half-assed.
So I was surprised Duran Duran’s Demo 1979 even existed when I spotted it at Jive Time Records. Of course, I imagined my Duranie friends would have known about this bootleg for decades.
Demo 1979 predates the involvement of Andy Taylor and Simon Le Bon. Andy Wickett’s off-kilter warble places these four tracks closer to the band’s punk roots. The hook for “Girls on Film” was already in place, but the song that would eventually become “Rio” had a completely different melody and went by the title “See Me Repeat Me”.
John Taylor and Roger Taylor hadn’t yet achieved their trademark rhythmic seamlessness, but at that early stage, you could hear it coming together. Nick Rhodes had far more gear to acquire before his portion of the sound could expand.
Back in 2010, Capitol reissued Duran Duran’s early catalog with a number of demos, including a vocal version of “Tel Aviv”. I thought those demos were a great insight to how the band works.
Demo 1979 goes even further. It opens up the idea of an alternate reality where Le Bon never became the band’s singer. Would they have conquered the world with anything other than Fab Five? I hesitate to imagine.