Whether you liked it or not, in 1983 the pop world was in thrall to the New Romantics, who looked highly ridiculous with their ruffs, pointy hair and stupid tippy-toe dancing but who also sold millions of records in a short period of time. Who knows why we were suckered in? Perhaps the musicians were just too pretty to ignore, and the prettiest of all were undoubtedly Duran Duran, a Birmingham outfit who combined their love of American disco with punk and the fledgling synth-pop scene.
Duran Duran’s second album, Rio (1982), may be their best-known thanks to the shiny suits the band wore in the videos, but the following year’s Seven & The Ragged Tiger is a deeper, more mature work. Of course, ‘mature’ is a relative term given the ludicrous antics the young band got up to, but in terms of musicianship and songwriting the members of Duran were frighteningly evolved for their age. Prominent among them was bassist John Taylor, who laid down some irritatingly catchy lines alongside the two other unrelated Taylors Andy (guitar) and Roger (drums), as well as keyboard player Nick Rhodes and singer Simon Le Bon.
Bernard Edwards of Chic was Taylor’s biggest influence, and the funky, staccato fingerstyle which John used on this album stood proudly out of the mix – which was just as well, as his bass parts were a huge part of the songs’ appeal. Duran’s sound always focused more on Rhodes’ synth hooks and the rhythm section than the guitars, leaving Taylor plenty of room for octave pops and slides. A noticeable element of his bass-lines is how he builds them from verse to verse, where a simple line might evolve into a fuller figure by the song’s end. He was a master of the fretless too, all of which makes him one of the 80s’ most valuable bass players.