Seven and the Ragged Tiger
|Seven and the Ragged Tiger|
|Studio album by|
|Released||21 November 1983|
|Studio||Air Studios, Montserrat|
|Duran Duran chronology|
|Singles from Seven and the Ragged Tiger|
|The Daily Telegraph|||
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||6/10|
|The Village Voice||C+|
Seven and the Ragged Tiger is the third studio album by English new wave band Duran Duran. It was released on 21 November 1983 by EMI. It was the band's first and only number-one album on the UK Albums Chart, and would prove to be the last studio album for the band's most famous line-up until 2004's Astronaut.
Vocalist Simon Le Bon said the album "is an adventure story about a little commando team. 'The Seven' is for us—the five band members and the two managers—and 'the Ragged Tiger' is success. Seven people running after success. It's ambition. That's what it's about."
EMI re-released the album in 2010 in two configurations: a two-disc digipak and a three-disc box set (consisting of two CDs and one DVD). The latter includes on the DVD the first official release of the "As the Lights Go Down" video.
In 1983, Duran Duran intended to spend a year away from the United Kingdom as tax exiles, as their income had increased dramatically after the success of Rio and the reissue of their 1981 debut album Duran Duran the previous year. Thus during May 1983 the band began writing and making demo recordings at a châlet near Cannes in the south of France with producer Ian Little. The band was having some trouble writing material there but still came up with ideas for most of the songs that appeared on the album. Several were completed, including a track called "Seven and the Ragged Tiger", for which the album was named. This song was never officially released, but parts of it would eventually evolve into the track "The Seventh Stranger". A demo version of the original track has since leaked onto the internet, albeit in very rough, warped form. No quality recording of the song is said to exist.
With the songs written during their stay in France, the band started recording at George Martin's Air Studios on the Caribbean island of Montserrat in May. The sessions, which saw producer Ian Little joined by the vastly more experienced Alex Sadkin, would keep Duran Duran in Montserrat for five weeks. During one of these sessions, keyboardist Nick Rhodes collapsed and had to be airlifted to a hospital; newspapers later reported it was due to an episode of paroxysmal tachycardia (abnormally fast heartbeat).
Prior commitments brought the band back to the UK in July 1983, including a charity gig playing in front of Prince Charles and Princess Diana at the Villa Park. It was later revealed that the Irish Republican Army had plotted to plant a bomb at the concert in order to injure Charles and Diana, but the IRA member sent to carry out the plot, Sean O'Callaghan, was in fact an informant working for the Irish Government and successfully helped to pull the plug on the operation.
It was around this time that the Princess of Wales publicly named Duran Duran as her favourite band. During their time in the UK, the band worked on a few more songs in a studio in London, before returning to Montserrat for one final late summer session.
After the island's isolation, the band moved the project to Sydney, Australia at the end of August. Producers Ian Little and Alex Sadkin continued working with the band on the album, now titled Seven and the Ragged Tiger, at 301 Studios. An argument during this period between John Taylor and Alex Sadkin over the prolonged mixing is said to have been the germination of the Power Station side project that happened in 1985, as Taylor contemplated leaving Duran Duran for the first time.
Release, promotion and tour
The band remained in Australia, with their Sing Blue Silver world concert tour due to commence in November 1983 at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Canberra. Beforehand, the band departed for the sands outside of Sydney to film the video for the first single "Union of the Snake" with director Simon Milne. Twenty-four hours before the band were due to deliver the single to EMI, Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon did an all-night session to complete the writing, recording and mixing the B-side "Secret Oktober". In October, the band's record company released the "Union of the Snake" video to MTV a full week before the single was released to radio, at a time when the industry feared video really might kill the radio star.
The simultaneous worldwide release of the album followed a few weeks later on 21 November. The album entered the UK chart at number one (to date, their only number one album there) and achieved platinum status only a week after its release. It also reached #8 in the US and was certified platinum by January 1984, and eventually double platinum.
The next single "New Moon on Monday" was released in January 1984, accompanied by another ambitious video. In February, the band appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and won two Grammy Awards in the new Long Form and Short Form music video categories.
A Nile Rodgers remix of "The Reflex", released in April, became the band's second number one single in the UK (for four weeks) and first number one in the US (two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100).
The world tour for the album played large indoor arenas and continued through the first four months of 1984. A documentary about the tour, Sing Blue Silver, was made by Russell Mulcahy, as was the promo video for "The Reflex", and the concert videos Arena (An Absurd Notion) and As The Lights Go Down. The live album Arena was also recorded during this tour. The live concert video was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance (but lost to Van Halen's "Jump").
After the success of their first two albums, the band had struggled to write and record new material for their third album. In the documentary film Extraordinary World, filmed a decade later, Rhodes described the sound of the album as "barely controlled hysteria, scratching beneath the surface". Contemporary critical reaction was mixed:
"Restores danger and menace to a band that was veering dangerously close to the insipid." (Melody Maker)
"Pathetic, useless, no good. It's pretentious, pompous and possibly the first chapter in their decline." (Record Mirror)
"A sorry collection of half-baked melodies, meaningless lyrics (their earlier work, while not poetry, at least sounded clever) and over-active studio foolishness. Basically, the songs ain't no damn good." (Ira Robbins, Trouser Press)
"As public figures and maybe as people, these imperialist wimps are the most deplorable pop stars of the postpunk if not post-Presley era. Their lyrics are obtuse at best, and if you'd sooner listen to a machine sing than Simon Le Bon, what are you going to do with both? Yet the hit singles which lead off each side are twice as pleasurable as anything Thomas Dolby is synthesizing these days." (Robert Christgau)
A retrospective review noted:
"It's apparent that Seven and the Ragged Tiger's content has the band moving ever so slightly into a dance club arena, with the songs leaning more toward their ability to produce a sexier sound through electronics and instrumentation than through a firm lyrical and musical partnership. Even the unreleased tracks trade Duran Duran's handsome edginess for a shinier sound, heard mainly on "I Take the Dice" and "Cracks in the Pavement." It's here that Le Bon and Taylor's personalities begins to get overshadowed by the demand to produce a more synth-snazzy and fashionable style of music." (Mike DeGagne, Allmusic Review: Seven and the Ragged Tiger)
The variety in musical style was expanded upon in the members' side projects during the band's ensuing hiatus. Le Bon and Rhodes focused on the atmospheric, layered sound found in "Tiger Tiger" in their project, Arcadia, while John and Andy Taylor joined with Robert Palmer and members of Chic to create Power Station, built around the rock sound seen developing in "Of Crime and Passion".
All songs written and composed by Duran Duran.
- Side one
- "The Reflex" – 5:29
- "New Moon on Monday" – 4:16
- "(I'm Looking For) Cracks in the Pavement" – 3:38
- "I Take the Dice" – 3:18
- "Of Crime and Passion" – 3:50
- Side two
- "Union of the Snake" – 4:20
- "Shadows on Your Side" – 4:03
- "Tiger Tiger" – 3:20
- "The Seventh Stranger" – 5:24
- "Is There Something I Should Know?"
- "Faith in This Colour"
- "Faith in This Colour" [Alternate slow mix]
- "Secret Oktober"
- "Tiger Tiger" [Ian Little mix]
- "The Reflex" [Single mix]
- "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" [Live]
- "New Religion" [Live]
- "The Reflex" [Live]
- "Is There Something I Should Know?" [Monster mix]
- "Union of the Snake" [Monkey mix]
- "New Moon on Monday" [Dance mix]
- "The Reflex" [Dance mix]
DVD (As the Lights Go Down)
- Intro: "Tiger Tiger"
- "Is There Something I Should Know?"
- "Hungry Like the Wolf"
- "Union of the Snake"
- "New Religion"
- "Save a Prayer"
- "The Seventh Stranger"
- "The Chauffeur"
- "Planet Earth"
- "Careless Memories"
- "Girls On Film"
- Music videos
- "Is There Something I Should Know?"
- "Union of the Snake"
- "New Moon on Monday" [EP Version]
- "New Moon on Monday" [Movie Version]
- Performance from Top of the Pops
- "Is There Something I Should Know?"
- "Union of the Snake" (October 1983) #3 UK, #3 US
- "New Moon on Monday" (January 1984) #9 UK, #10 US
- "The Reflex" (April 1984) #1 UK, #1 US
- Simon Le Bon – lead vocals
- Nick Rhodes – keyboards
- Andy Taylor – guitars
- John Taylor – bass guitar
- Roger Taylor – drums
- Andy Hamilton – soprano and tenor saxophone
- Raphael DeJesus – percussion
- Mark Kennedy – percussion
- Michelle Cobbs – backing vocals on "Union of the Snake" and "The Reflex"
- BJ Nelson – backing vocals on "Union of the Snake" and "The Reflex"
- Alex Sadkin – producer
- Ian Little – associate producer
- Duran Duran – associate producers
- Phil Thornalley – recording and mixing engineer
- Peter Wade-Schwier – recording engineer
- Jim Taig – tape operator
- Malcolm Garrett – graphic design
- Keith Breeden – illustration
|Canada (Music Canada)||3× Platinum||300,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||2,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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