Medazzaland

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Medazzaland
Studio album by Duran Duran
Released 14 October 1997 (1997-10-14)
Recorded 1995-1997
Genre New wave, electronica
Length 53:12
Label Capitol/EMI (North America)
Virgin (Argentina/Japan)
Producer TV Mania, Syn Pro Tokyo
Duran Duran chronology
Thank You
(1995)
Medazzaland
(1997)
Night Versions
(1998)
Singles from Medazzaland
  1. "Out of My Mind"
    Released: 27 March 1997 (1997-03-27)
  2. "Electric Barbarella"
    Released: 16 September 1997 (1997-09-16)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B[2]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[3]
Jam! Showbiz 4/5 stars[4]

Medazzaland is the ninth album by British pop rock group Duran Duran. It was released by Capitol Records on 14 October 1997 (1997-10-14) in the U.S., where it reached #58 on the Billboard album chart. It was never officially released in Europe.

The album is the follow-up to the poorly received covers album Thank You, and bassist John Taylor left the band in January 1997 before recording was complete. With only three members remaining – Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon and Warren Cuccurullo – Duran Duran wrote and recorded several new tracks for the album, and re-recorded songs previously done with Taylor. His work remains on only four songs. Cuccurullo later stated that most of the finished album was reworked TV Mania material originally written by himself and Rhodes.

The dismal performance of the album led in part to the dissolution of the band's contract with EMI after almost two decades. EMI gave the band ownership rights and the master tapes to the Medazzaland album, as well as several unreleased audio and videotapes of their 1995 and 1997 concerts. It was rumoured that the band would independently release the album in the UK, but they went on to sign with Hollywood Records and released Pop Trash instead. Medazzaland is only available in Europe as an import or digital download.

Single releases[edit]

"Out of My Mind"[edit]

Prior to the album's release, the band shopped some of the tracks around Hollywood movie studios in an attempt to get some songs onto popular movie soundtrack albums. Paramount Pictures eventually put "Out of My Mind" on the soundtrack for the Val Kilmer film The Saint. The single featured future Medazzaland track "Silva Halo" as a b-side, along with a discarded album track, "Sinner or Saint", the title referencing the movie.

In March 1997, the soundtrack and single for "Out of My Mind" were released internationally on Virgin Records, marking the first time a Duran Duran release had been released on an imprint other than EMI/Parlophone/Capitol. The single peaked at #21 on the UK charts in May.

The music video for "Out of My Mind" was filmed by director Dean Karr at Krumlov Castle in the city of Český Krumlov, in the Czech Republic. [1]

"Electric Barbarella"[edit]

The lead single, "Electric Barbarella," (a nod to the film Barbarella, from which the band took their name) was released on 16 September in the United States, and peaked at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 1 November.

It was touted as the first ever song available for digital purchase/download on the internet, and a handful of different mixes were created for the song. An 'exclusive' Dom T remix was made available for download in the US for 99 cents by the company Liquid Audio. However, this pioneering move annoyed many American retailers as they saw it as infringing on their retail territory and they either refused to stock the album or provided little to no promotion of the disc.

The music video, directed by Ellen Von Unwerth, involved a robot sex doll and had to be mildly censored before receiving airplay on MTV or VH1; by the time the modified video was delivered, the song had already fallen off the charts.

Album release[edit]

The album was eventually released on 14 October 1997, in North America and Japan. Due to poor sales, plans for a UK release were pushed back, and, later, shelved indefinitely. It has since never been physically released in any other area of the world, although in July 2008, the album was made available to buy digitally through iTunes Store in Europe and the US.[5]

This album was also available in Mexico, (both in CD and cassette formats), Brazil, and Argentina.

The album's title was inspired by Le Bon's treatment with the mind-altering drug midazolam during dental surgery, leaving him in a disconnected state for some time afterwards.

The music varies widely, from the sleazy bounce of "Electric Barbarella" and the dissonant "Big Bang Generation", to the bitter austerity of "Silva Halo" and the simple acoustic sweetness of "Michael You've Got a Lot to Answer For", concluding with the self-deprecating swagger of "Undergoing Treatment". Overall, the album has a heavily layered, processed feel, with clear influences from the electronica genre of the late 1990s. The back of the album cover features a defaced version of the iconic Rio album sleeve.

Other notable songs on the album include "Medazzaland", the first Duran Duran song to feature Nick Rhodes, not Simon Le Bon, on vocals, and "So Long Suicide", a reaction to the death of Kurt Cobain, among other things. The song "Buried in the Sand", with lyrics by Rhodes, was written about John Taylor's departure from the group. Le Bon has said that the song "Michael You've Got a Lot to Answer For", was written for his good friend Michael Hutchence, former lead singer of the band INXS. Hutchence died just a month after the album's release.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Nick Rhodes, Warren Cuccurullo and Simon Le Bon, except where noted. 

American release
No. Title Length
1. "Medazzaland" (Rhodes, Cuccurullo, Le Bon, John Taylor) 3:53
2. "Big Bang Generation" (Rhodes, Cuccurullo, Le Bon, Taylor) 4:44
3. "Electric Barbarella"   5:19
4. "Out of My Mind"   4:20
5. "Who Do You Think You Are?"   3:27
6. "Silva Halo"   2:28
7. "Be My Icon"   5:15
8. "Buried in the Sand"   4:19
9. "Michael You've Got a Lot to Answer For"   4:09
10. "Midnight Sun" (Rhodes, Cuccurullo, Le Bon, Taylor) 3:41
11. "So Long Suicide"   4:39
12. "Undergoing Treatment"   3:05
Japanese release
No. Title Length
12. "Ball and Chain" (Rhodes, Cuccurullo, Le Bon, Taylor) 3:58
13. "Undergoing Treatment"   3:05

Personnel[edit]

Duran Duran are:

  • Nick Rhodes - keyboards, vocals (track 1), synth bass (track 13)
  • Simon Le Bon - vocals
  • Warren Cuccurullo - guitar, bass (tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and "Ball and Chain"), and synth bass (track 13)

Other credits[edit]

  • John Taylor - bass (tracks 1, 2, 7, and 11)
  • Steve Alexander - live drums (tracks 1, 2, 5, 7, and "Ball and Chain")
  • Anthony J. Resta - live drums (tracks 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13), additional production, mixing and programming
  • Dave DiCenso - live drums (track 4)
  • Tim Garland - treated soprano sax solo (track 9)
  • Talvin Singh - tabla and santoor (track 4)
  • Jake Shapiro - cello (track 10)
  • Sally Stapleton - background vocals (track 2)
  • Madeleine Farley - background vocals (track 6)
  • Mayko Cuccurullo - ultra high vocal fx (track 1)

References[edit]