Skin Trade (song)

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"Skin Trade"
Single by Duran Duran
from the album Notorious
B-side "We Need You"
Released 31 January 1987 (US)
Recorded London, Jun-Sep 1986
Genre Rock, new wave
Length 5:57
Label EMI, Capitol - TRADE 1
Writer(s) Duran Duran
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers
Duran Duran singles chronology
"Notorious"
(1986)
"Skin Trade"
(1987)
"Meet El Presidente"
(1987)
Alternative cover
Cover of the original banned Skin Trade single

"Skin Trade" is the second single from Duran Duran's Notorious album, and the band's 15th single in total. It was released in January 1987, reached #22 on the UK Singles Chart, and barely nudged into the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

About the song[edit]

The music for "Skin Trade" was written long before Simon LeBon finally finished the lyrics. The title for the song was derived from the Dylan Thomas book Adventures in the Skin Trade which John Taylor had on him during recording of the album. It was shortened to "Skin Trade" and LeBon eventually wrote the melody and lyrics for the track while spending an evening in Taylor's Upper West Side Manhattan apartment. The lyrics reflect on how everyone is selling themselves, and "there's a little hooker in each of us".[1]

The single was quite a departure for the band. Not only was Simon LeBon singing in a Prince-style falsetto, but a horn section played a prominent role in the track, as played by The Borneo Horns. The band persevered with the single and many aspects of their future business took inspiration from "Skin Trade". They called their publishing company Skin Trade Music Ltd. and the Notorious tour was called the "Strange Behaviour Tour". Likewise, a 1987 remix EP and a 1999 double CD collection of remixes were also called Strange Behaviour.

In a retrospective review of the single, Allmusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco praised the song. He wrote: "The music lends contrast to the angry tone of the lyrics by creating a sultry, mellow melody that juxtaposes verses with a soft, hypnotic ebb and flow with an ever-ascending chorus that revs up the song's inherent drama."[2]

Music video[edit]

The "Skin Trade" video was the second filmed for the band by directors Peter Kagan and Paula Greif, after "Notorious". Film of band members performing was treated with a rotoscope-like effect, adding vivid colors to details like a person's eyes or jewelry. Like so many other Duran Duran videos, "Skin Trade" included a beautiful woman - in this case German supermodel Tatjana Patitz. Her image was rotoscoped for some scenes as well, and her dancing figure was superimposed on several different vividly colored abstract backgrounds.

Session guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, who would later become a full member of the band, appears in the video, although his face is not often seen. Cuccurullo also contributed the power chords and harmony parts on the bridges of the album track, with Nile Rodgers playing the others.

"Skin Trade" was nominated for Best Special Effects in a Video and Best Cinematography in a Video at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and Robbie Nevil's "C'est La Vie", respectively.

B-sides and remixes[edit]

The b-side to "Skin Trade" was the only original b-side released during the Notorious era. Entitled "We Need You", it was written and recorded in 1986 while the band awaited the return of Andy Taylor for a recording session. It was the first recording to feature just the three remaining members of Duran Duran - Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Simon LeBon.

Two further mixes of "Skin Trade" were completed, but not released commercially during the "Skin Trade" release cycle. They appeared on a US promo 12" backed with remixes of the next single "Meet El Presidente". The Parisian Mix was also released on the promo-only Master Mixes EP.

The Parisian Mix was finally released commercially first in the UK on the "All She Wants Is" (1989) 3" CD and in the US on the "Come Undone" (1993) CD single.

In total, there are five official remixes of "Skin Trade":

  • Album Version 5:58 - original mix
  • 7"/Radio Cut 4:29
  • Stretch Mix 7:45
  • Parisian Mix 8:10
  • S.O.S. Dub 7:16

Covers, samples, & media references[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

"Skin Trade" was the first chart disappointment in the band's career. Not only did it fail to repeat the huge success of "Notorious" but it failed to get the top 20 on either side of the Atlantic, and that was a first for the band since their very earliest releases. "Skin Trade" later grew to become a fan favourite, but the change of style and direction were shocking at the time.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

All release details pertain to the UK only.

7": EMI TRADE 1[edit]

  1. "Skin Trade [Radio Cut]" (4:26)
  2. "We Need You" (2:49)

12": EMI 12 TRADE 1[edit]

  1. "Skin Trade [Stretch mix]" (7:36)
  2. "Skin Trade [Album cut]" (5:58)
  3. "We Need You" (2:49)
  • Stretch Mix was remixed by famed producer Larry Levan
  • These tracks were also released on cassette (TC TRADE 1) in a video style box with the banned bum cover.

CD: Part of "Singles Box Set 1986-1995" boxset[edit]

  1. "Skin Trade [Radio cut]" (4:25)
  2. "We Need You" (2:49)
  3. "Skin Trade [Stretch mix]" (7:36)
  4. "Skin Trade [Album cut]" (5:58)

Other appearances[edit]

Apart from the single, "Skin Trade" has also appeared on:

Albums:

Singles:

Personnel[edit]

Duran Duran are:

With:

Production:

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ From an interview for SkyArts' Songbook series
  2. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/song/skin-trade-mt0000421493