Union of the Snake

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"Union of the Snake"
Single by Duran Duran
from the album Seven and the Ragged Tiger
B-side"Secret Oktober"
Released17 October 1983
StudioAIR Studios
(Montserrat Island, West Indies)
Duran Duran singles chronology
"Is There Something I Should Know?"
"Union of the Snake"
"New Moon on Monday"
Music video
"Union of the Snake" on YouTube

"Union of the Snake" is the ninth single by the English new wave band Duran Duran, released on 17 October 1983.

"Union of the Snake" was the lead single from the band's third album Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983), and preceded its release by one month. It was originally titled, "The Union at Stake", when the band were interviewed on The Oxford Road Show in March 1983 before their first performance of "Is there something I should know?" on U.K. television. It became one of Duran Duran's most popular singles, hitting number one on the US Cash Box and peaking at number three on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 at the end of 1983.[1]

Background and writing[edit]

After a songwriting session near Cannes in France, much of the band's third album was recorded at George Martin's AIR Studios on the Caribbean island of Montserrat with producer Alex Sadkin, then mixed at 301 Studios in Sydney. Mixing for "Union of the Snake" was done right up to the last minute before the tapes had to be turned over to EMI for pressing.

Lyricist Simon Le Bon (notoriously reticent about explaining his oblique lyrics) hinted in the Duran Duran lyric book The Book of Words that the borderline might be one between the conscious and subconscious minds. In later interviews, he proclaimed that it was a reference to Tantric sex.

Drummer Roger Taylor stated that the beat and drum track was based upon David Bowie's 1983 single "Let's Dance".

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Union of the Snake" was conceived by Russell Mulcahy, who directed many of the heavy rotation videos for songs from Duran Duran's previous album Rio. However, as Mulcahy was busy preparing to direct the concert film Arena, and the documentary film Sing Blue Silver during the band's world tour, the video for "Union" was actually directed by Simon Milne (who also filmed videos for Kajagoogoo and Missing Persons). There was a bit of controversy surrounding the video as it was released to MTV a whole week before the single was released on radio. Radio stations were anxious at the time because they were concerned that channels like MTV might supplant them in the promotion of singles.

The video, filmed in part in sandhills near Cronulla, features the band being tracked through the Australian desert by a half-man, half-snake creature. They eventually take a lift beneath the sands into what appears to be an underground cathedral, where the snake creature and other bizarre characters interact with vocalist Le Bon. The band's other members make only brief appearances in the video.

The use of expensive sets, costumes and makeup foreshadowed the over-the-top nature of videos to come, including a 17-minute epic video for "New Moon on Monday", the massively expensive video for "The Wild Boys", and the extravagant concept/live film Arena.

B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes[edit]

The B-side to "Union of the Snake" was the atmospheric piece "Secret Oktober". Twenty-four hours before the master tapes of the single were to be delivered to EMI for distribution, singer Simon Le Bon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes wrote and mixed the B-side "Secret Oktober" in an all-night recording session.

Also included on the 12" single was an extended remix of the single, titled "Union of the Snake (Monkey Mix)".

Track listings and formats[edit]

7" single: EMI / EMI 5429 United Kingdom[edit]

  1. "Union of the Snake" – 4:24
  2. "Secret Oktober" – 2:48

12" single: EMI / 12 EMI 5429 United Kingdom[edit]

  1. "Union of the Snake" (Monkey Mix) – 6:27
  2. "Union of the Snake" – 4:24
  3. "Secret Oktober" – 2:48

7" single: Capitol Records / B-5290 United States[edit]

  1. "Union of the Snake" – 4:20
  2. "Secret Oktober" – 2:44

12" single: Capitol Records / 8567 United States[edit]

  1. "Union of the Snake" (Monkey Mix) – 6:22
  2. "Union of the Snake" – 4:20
  3. "Secret Oktober" – 2:44


  • "Union of the Snake" (Monkey Mix) is also known as "Extended Mix" or "Super Mix".

Credits and personnel[edit]

Duran Duran:

Also credited:

  • Alex Sadkin – producer
  • Ian Little – producer
  • Andy Hamilton – soprano and tenor saxophone
  • Raphael Dejesus – percussion
  • Mark Kennedy – percussion
  • Michelle Cobbs – backing vocals
  • B.J. Nelson – backing vocals



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  3. ^ "Song artist 60 - Duran Duran". tsort.info. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  4. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  5. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 June 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1983 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". nztop40.co.nz. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Top 100 1983 - UK Music Charts". uk-charts.top-source.info. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 December 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1984 – Volume 41, No. 17, January 05 1985". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Talent Almanac 1985: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 96 (51): TA-19. 22 December 1984.

External links[edit]