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Duran Duran came together in the late 1970s when the band mates were still teenagers, enchanted by Roxy Music’s musical and sartorial style, Chic’s disco-funk, and the nascent British synth-pop movement. Soon they became the house band at the Rum Runner, a dance club that was Birmingham’s answer to London’s New Romantic ground zero, the Blitz. Once singer Simon Le Bon arrived with a notebook stuffed with abstract, earnest lyrics, they developed a formula that got them halfway toward being the dominant dance-pop act of the early 1980s. The other main factor, of course, was MTV. Informed that the new cable channel was tired of rote performance videos, the band delivered ambitious clips filmed in far-flung locales (“Hungry Like the Wolf” in Sri Lanka, “Rio” in Antigua) and became superstars. Multiplatinum success brought them mansions and a glamorous social circle; keyboardist Nick Rhodes became close friends with Andy Warhol. But it also delivered a harsh backlash and cocaine habits that left the band in disarray for years to come. Veteran rock biographer Davis, best known for his 1985 Led Zeppelin biography, Hammer of the Gods, cobbled this book from interviews for a band autobiography that never came together. While he delivers some interesting details about band gossip and chart action, he rarely comes off as enthusiastic about his subject. Aside from some insights into the band’s early songs and perfunctory attempts to braid the band’s rise with Thatcherism, he’s content to chronicle record releases, tours, breakups, and rehab stints, only more speedily after the band’s mid-’80s peak. If the band’s music deserves a critical reassessment, Davis isn’t interested in exploring the matter.

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