Interview

Liberty at 30: In Conversation with Duran Duran producer Chris Kimsey

SDE talks to Chris Kimsey about Duran Duran’s ill-fated 1990 album

“I don’t mind dealing with pressure – I can help people with that pressure –  but I can’t help people write brilliant songs if they’re not there.” – Chris Kimsey

Thirty years ago on this very day, Duran Duran released their sixth studio album, Liberty. It was their first long-player of the 1990s and the first with an official new line-up that saw drummer Sterling Campbell and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo confirmed as full members of the band.

Despite falling album sales (platinum LPs, became gold and then silver) – and a suspicion that perhaps they were now a band out of time – up until that that point Duran Duran had still bullishly managed to deliver a top ten hit from every studio album they had ever released – either in the UK or America. Indeed, when ‘I Don’t Want Your Love’ from 1988’s Big Thing peaked at number four in the USA, but stalled at number 14 in the UK, they didn’t panic and the next single ‘All She Wants Is’ restored some chart credibility and did enter the UK top ten, peaking at number nine.

On the face of it, nothing much seemed ‘wrong’, but the maturity and quality of ‘Do You Believe In Shame?’ (the third and final single from Big Thing) didn’t reach beyond the band’s fanbase (peaking at number 30 in Britain) and the creative mash-up that was ‘Burning The Ground’ (issued to promote the 1989 Decade compilation) stalled at number 31. Ominous signs, perhaps?

Greatest hits were all well and good, but EMI wanted a new studio album – apparently, ready or not – and renowned producer Chris Kimsey was brought in to help deliver this. Kimsey was a very experienced and successful producer, having worked with acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Psychedelic Furs, Killing Joke, Marillion – to name but a few.

The result would be Liberty, a disappointing record artistically, that was also a commercial disaster. It was home to no major hit singles, and even worse, it delivered the first Duran Duran single that wasn’t a top 40 hit in the UK (‘Serious’ peaked at 48). Record company incompetence? Band in crisis? What was going on? Chris Kimsey sat down with SDE at the very spot the album was recorded (Olympic Studios) and explains what went wrong and talks through most of the songs on Liberty…

SDE: Chris, tell me how your career got started?

Chris Kimsey: I’ll give you a little background. During my early years – I started at beginning of ’67 – I wasn’t into any rock, I was into film music and musicals; that’s what I loved the most. I just happened to get a job at Olympic Studios, so I was assistant on a lot of film music, things like Shirley Bassey or The Italian Job. Rock music gradually came along, so I started working as an assistant to [engineer] Glyn Johns a lot. Glyn suffered no fools, and he really only wanted assistants to have everything ready and prepared for him. My love of popular music really kind of grew after that, and Duran Duran were one of the only bands that, when they first came out, I loved their music.

SDE: What did you like about it so much?

Chris Kimsey: There was something about the sound; just something about it all which was really new and different, enlightening and fun. And the videos were cool, you know. They were all good-looking boys, and they were having fun. And Colin Thurston [producer of their 1981 debut] did a remarkable job creating that sound. Nick Rhodes, I think, was also a big part of it, but Colin was the one who went, ‘oh, okay. I think we can do this’. There weren’t many bands that I wanted to work with, but they were one.

SDE: How did you come to be involved with the Liberty album?

Chris Kimsey: I used to go to Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy a lot and Peter Rudge, was a very good friend. I’d met him when he was working with The ‘Stones and we’ve known each other a long time. He was managing Duran Duran at this time – I think he’d just started to manage them, actually – and he asked me what I was doing for the next couple of months and did I want to work with Duran? I went ‘yeah’. But he explained it was a different Duran – because I hadn’t really kept up with them – with a new drummer and a new guitar player, so I said ‘Well, as long as there’s some good songs’. I met up with the boys and went out to see them live. I think I went to Denmark… I went on a couple of gigs with them and went out with Sterling [Campbell], who wasn’t an official full-time member of the band then, but was playing on tour, and we got very drunk! I poured a bottle of Champagne over him and he got really pissed off. I liked him a lot.

SDE: You mentioned that you hadn’t kept up with the band’s trajectory, because there’s an arc to their career and, arguably, they were on a downward trend at that time.

Chris Kimsey: Falling down? Definitely. What was the album before called?

SDE: Big Thing, which wasn’t a massive hit album, but they still had a couple of big hit singles in ‘I Don’t Want Your Love’ and ‘All She Wants Is’. There are some very slow, moody tracks on it, which are very, very good.

Chris Kimsey: Well, that carried on to this album, actually.

SDE: Yes, but not quite in the same way, I don’t think. What I find interesting is that the early hits to me seem very effortless. They were young, they had loads of great ideas, it was Nick Rhodes with two fingers on a synth and it sounds amazing. And then, once that wore off and they started to have to work a bit harder, as the 1980s were turning into the 90s, there was a bit of a question mark over who they were.

Chris Kimsey: Well, they followed fashion, which is a mistake because fashion changes. That’s what fashion is; it comes and it goes away, even musically. But, I’ve got to say, when they worked with Nile [Rodgers, on the Notorious album] that was like magic. After Nile, I think it got lost. And more likely they got lost, because they had been worked to death on the road – this is what normally happens – and had had no time to write. And then band members start abusing themselves or falling out with each other. And then that band changes into something else.

SDE: Between Big Thing and Liberty, they released the Decade compilation album –  a greatest hits. And that signified the closing of a certain chapter, I think. So I’m interested in hearing from a producer’s point of view. Trevor Horn once told me that the trick to having hits, as a producer, is to work with people that have hits! Do you go into a new project thinking, ‘I want to be producer of a worldwide smash’, or are you thinking I just want this to be a really interesting experience?

Chris Kimsey: The only records and people I get involved with are people that I respect as singers and songwriters. That’s the top line. I don’t care if they’ve had hits or not. When I said yes to doing this album, I didn’t know the history and where they were. It was too late, I was already in it, and I realised this was going to be difficult. Not difficult, different. Because, new drummer; new guitar player; John wasn’t in good shape; and Simon lyrically had a bit of writer’s block, I think. He kept writing about summer. Summer, summer, summer! The same thing happened with The Psychedelic Furs, actually, but with Richard [Butler] it was all about angels, angels, angels.

When they got into the studio, I could hear that Sterling was trying to prove himself – maybe too much. He needed to chill out a bit. Warren was amazing. He was as excited about being in Duran Duran as I was about producing Duran Duran. But it was a different Duran Duran. I went down to a rehearsal and heard some songs – there were some, although it was a bit thin on the ground, but there was pressure from the record company to do an album. ‘We need it now!’ I don’t mind dealing with that pressure, I can help people with that pressure, but I can’t help people write brilliant songs if they’re not there.

SDE: As a producer, how much can you push back and say, ‘I think these need a bit more work’?

Chris Kimsey: Oh, well, I did. Definitely with the lyrics, in a constructive way. I like to record everything live, pull everyone together, and then we replace whatever we need to replace afterwards. But I also like to record the vocalist, so the band are playing to the singer. That was a bit difficult because some of the lyrics and other things weren’t quite finished. And these songs hadn’t really been rehearsed enough or played enough for Nick to have his sound for each song. It got to the point where we were spending a week, two weeks, finding that sound and I was going, ‘this is costing a fortune and I’m getting bored’. I told him, that my friend Blue Weaver had a studio in Chiswick – keyboards everywhere – and I suggested he go over there, and do all his keyboards there, and then come back. And that’s what happened. Nick’s a creator. He’s a painter of sounds. But really, a lot of that should have been done before we started the album, so he had a list of the sounds he wanted to use. But he ended up doing that in the studio.

SDE: There’s a great track on Notorious, called ‘Winter Marches On’ and only Simon and Nick have writing credits on it. Simon is singing to this amazing instrumentation which Nick has obviously created and it’s just sublime.

Chris Kimsey: Because they were in the room together doing it…

SDE: It does strike me, listening to the finished album, that they were going a little bit more in a rock direction?

Chris Kimsey: I was getting lots of calls to work with people because of the work I had done with The Rolling Stones, basically. And I did bring a lot to The ’Stones. I mean, with their sound, I brought a huge amount. Because I was left alone to do what I wanted to do, which was great. And also, I was working a lot at Maison Rouge Studios, and I met Chris Potter – who I worked with on a band called The Escape Club who were also on EMI. We recorded four songs, and then a whole new regime came in at EMI and they were going to drop them and I said, ‘there’s a number one record here, mate. If you drop them, you’re stupid’. So, they didn’t drop them. They paid for the rest of the album, but they sold it to Atlantic and it got to number one in America. That’s when I started to use Chris Potter to engineer a lot, so Chris recorded all of Liberty and mixed it. The sessions were really very interesting – there was a tension because the band members weren’t used to playing together. They’d been on the road playing old songs, but there weren’t playing new songs. And it was very tense, like ‘oh, we’re in a recording studio’, which I hate. I don’t like that atmosphere at all.

There’s a funny story which started with Warren who was, very muscular, very fit, and he had his top off, right? So, I said, come on guys, get your tops off. So, they all took their tops off. Next thing, Warren’s butt naked in the studio. That broke the ice very well. But that was good, because all of a sudden it was like, hey, we’re just here making music. So that really helped the group.

SDE: I gather they very much wanted to try to write together, all five of them. But as a writing team, that was an untested situation…

Chris Kimsey: Exactly! It worked on the next album, with songs like ‘Ordinary World’. That song was beginning when we worked on this, but there was just the germ of it and it wasn’t going to be finished in time, unfortunately. But I knew where I was. I knew where they were. It was like, this is going to be difficult. It’s going to be hard for everyone. The songs are okay on Liberty, but ‘Violence of Summer’ should never have been the single. I always said that. ‘Serious’ is one of the best songs. And ‘My Antarctica’.

SDE: ‘My Antarctica’ is my favourite song on the album.

Chris Kimsey: This album reminds me of an album I did with Ash. It was a similar situation. Charlotte Hatherley had just joined the band and they were in a position of not having many songs, but needing an album. Because I got The ’Stones going, I think I got this reputation that I could work miracles like that! But on that Ash album, there are two beautiful ballads. They should have been the singles, but they never were. The same with this. ‘My Antarctica’ and ‘Serious’ should have been the singles. I was in Olympic Studios in 2017 and Laura Mvula’s lot came over, because they were going to do a playback of her album in there. There’s always music playing, even when no one’s in there. And ‘Serious’ came on, and I’m standing there talking to these people, but also listening to what’s being played. And I’m going, ‘that’s nice. Fuck me, that’s really good. That sound is gorgeous’. And I suddenly went, ‘oh my god, it’s ‘Serious’’. And I was so proud of it, and so proud of them too.

It was a really difficult album, but what came out of it is that we stayed friends. Then when I moved to Sphere Studios I became friends with Roger Taylor, their original drummer. He wasn’t in the band by then, but we became friends because our kids went to the same school. And he was doing club stuff and I’ve never done club stuff before so we did some writing together at my place. He was talking about maybe going back in the band. And then, Duran said they needed a space to write, and took a room at Sphere, so I saw them a lot. They’re lovely guys, they really are. A lot of big bands that I’ve worked with just turn into different people. But those guys are the same all the time; I love them to bits.


An extended version of this interview features in a new SDE publication, ‘Duran Duran: Liberty at 30’. More details at the bottom of this page.

SDE: Were you recording to tape with Liberty?

Chris Kimsey: No, it was the first time we used Sony 24-track digital, which must have cost a fortune and it was time-consuming. It sounded great, but you were advised to back it up every day. So you might record two hours of tape, but then you’d have to spend another two hours at the end of the session backing it all up real-time. So god knows how much that album cost.

SDE: And how much interference was coming from the record company during the recording of the album? Were you aware of them wanting to hear stuff?

Chris Kimsey: I don’t think there was any interference. It was more management; the record company were just happy they were making an album [laughs]. That’s my memory of it. The only point was that it was getting slower because Nick wanted more time to experiment, but as I said, he should have been doing that somewhere else.

SDE: So Nick went off to a different studio and…

Chris Kimsey: … And then he brings it all back, and we put it back in, yeah. He had a partner called John Jones and they were almost tied at the hip, but on this album there wasn’t the time, so Nick was having to compromise. I didn’t want to say, ‘sorry mate, you’ve only got 10 minutes’ so that’s why I suggested he went to the cheaper studio. And Nick called me up and said, ‘Mr. K, I love you, but the studio has brown carpet’. He hates brown. He hates anything beige or brown. I said, ‘well, maybe you’ll get it done quicker then!’ [laughs]. Love him to bits.

SDE: It sounds like the album was the product of the pressure that the record company was putting the band under?

Chris Kimsey: Maybe some producers would have said, halfway through, ‘Okay, this is rubbish. You have to go away for another six months and write some more songs’. But there are some good songs on there, it just the record company chose the wrong first single. If ‘Serious’ had come out first, people would have gone, ‘what’s the fuck’s that? That’s Duran Duran?! Wow. I didn’t know they did that.’

SDE: They created loads of remixes of ‘Violence of Summer’ which sounded terrible. Why was the band letting these decisions be made? Did they not have any gut instinct of what they thought was great or not?

Chris Kimsey: No, they didn’t. No. I think maybe they were too close to it. Because they weren’t the original band, that must have been a very different feeling for them. You know, we’re Duran Duran, but we’re not that Duran Duran, we’re a new Duran Duran, so where do we go sound-wise? I think they were after the energy that I captured with The ’Stones. But I could tell you things about how Stones records were made… every record’s different, but it’s all down to the songs. Simon was under the biggest pressure of all, for writing lyrics. I seem to remember that he did go off for a while because of writer’s block.

[Chris listens to some of the title track ‘Liberty’]

SDE: I always thought the title track was pretty good. That could have been a single, easily. You have that little piano riff in it which was reasonably trendy at the time. It’s quite a funky little number. Putting ‘Violence in Summer’ ahead of that is ridiculous.

Chris Kimsey: The pre-chorus break hints a bit of ‘Ordinary World’.  I could remix this now and make it sound so much better. I tell you what I hear now and I’ll be brutally honest; I can hear in Simon’s vocal, the verses; he’s reading it. He hasn’t sung it on stage, he’s doing a great job, but it would be very different if he sang that now. But it’s great. That’s terrific. Actually, you know what? You’ve given me an idea. I’m going to cover some of these [laughs].

SDE: If they ever get around to reissuing this, that would be a good, fun job. Going back and doing a remix.

Chris Kimsey: Yeah, absolutely.

[Chris listens to some of ‘Hothead’]

SDE: Simon’s doing a sort of half-speaking and half-singing thing which he does sometimes.

Chris Kimsey: Yeah, this is an attempt at being cool. That’s more of a jam, that’s not a song. That sounds like it’s left over from something Nile [Rodgers] would have done. Also, I can hear a lot of work has gone into that in mixing. That’s not a case of recording everyone together. Probably just drums and guitar, and then bits added on. And the vocal would have been more like the last thing we did.

[Chris listens to some of ‘Serious’]

SDE: How was it recording Simon’s vocals? On the earlier albums he had that very silky-smooth pleasing-to-the-ear vocal tone. But it’s not so evident on Liberty 

Chris Kimsey: Yeah, when he forces it, he’ll bend his notes. If that happens, I’ll say to the singer, ‘Hey, just chill. Sing it – don’t try and sing it like Paul Rogers, just sing it naturally in your voice rather than push it out.

‘Serious’ is the perfect combination of this Duran Duran; the guitar part is gorgeous, very simple, great sound. Warren is great, as is Nick, with the piano part and the breaks. I think this is the one we did when we were semi-naked, actually. I’m sure it was. [Listening to the keyboard textures] So Nick would have gone away and come back with that sound. He would have searched a long time for that one. I absolutely love it. Gorgeous. Really gorgeous. And from my part as the producer, as I said, I like capture it live and build it from there. I’m trying to put that into this music. It works on this track.

[Chris listens to some of ‘My Antarctica’]

Chris Kimsey: If you took all the crap off this album and had an EP, it would have been huge. It would have been massive. Because the songs that we’re talking about and we know are good and that we like, that was the true meeting of Warren and Sterling and the other stuff was, like, panic, pressure. ‘Oh shit, let’s just bang this out’.

SDE:  You could tell they were proud of this, because when ‘Ordinary World’ came out ‘My Antarctica’ was one of the extra tracks on the CD single. And they are really good lyrics, as well.

Chris Kimsey: Beautiful lyrics. Amazing. One of his better lyrics. There’s this beautiful tenderness with Simon, in his songwriting – and him as a person. And when you get that mix with those big soaring melodies, it’s like, wow. This is a tricky melody, too and no auto-tuning in those days! I’d love to get in touch and re-mix it and put it out as an EP or something. I mean, everyone else is doing it. Marillion did their 40th Misplaced Childhood.

SDE: I don’t know the state of relationship between Duran Duran and Warners at this time. The Wedding Album was due a reissue a while back and it got shelved.

Chris Kimsey: Oh, okay. Yeah, that’s what I hate about record companies. If you’re really into Misplaced Childhood, that was recorded on analogue 24-track at Hansa. And Hansa got in touch with the band seven years ago and said, ‘we have all your masters here; would you like them?’ EMI hadn’t even picked them up! So the band said, ‘yes please’. So the band got all of the multi-track masters, made digital copies of them, and then EMI found out. I’ve got multi-track versions. I could remix that. I’ve got a few other things. I wouldn’t want any ’Stones stuff, I’ve got enough Stones outtakes to last me a lifetime!

[Chris listens to some of  ‘First Impression’]

SDE: The second side of the album is rather weak, in my opinion, because they go into rock mode. With ‘First Impression’, the melodies and chorus are a bit forced.

Chris Kimsey: It doesn’t even sound like Simon singing. He’s not singing that well at all. Sorry, Simon!

SDE: It’s sort of shouty mode.

Chris Kimsey: Yeah, it doesn’t work. Simon doesn’t shout well! [listening to the guitars] So this is Warren now, trying to bring rock into it, okay? See, this is the dilemma right here. It’s like ‘we’ve got this new guitar player who can do all this shit, so maybe we should do that, let’s go rock’. You can’t say [to Warren], ‘no, we’re not doing any of your stuff’, you can’t do that. But after this album, the relationship between Warren and Simon and the rest, they really gelled.

[Chris listens to some of ‘Read My Lips’ and ‘Can You Deal With It”]

SDE: ‘Can You Deal With It’ does have a nice catchy piano riff in it, but the chorus isn’t the best.

Chris Kimsey: Those sounds [in ‘Read My Lips’] are so unlike me. The vocals in ‘Can You Deal With It’ are mixed way down… He’s trying to sing like someone else. I don’t know who it is, but it’s not him.

[Chris listens to some of ‘Venice Drowning”]

SDE: And then there’s a couple of weirder ones at the end, such as ‘Venice Drowning’.

Chris Kimsey: I like this. I do like this.

SDE: It has a very interesting atmosphere to it, although it hasn’t really got a chorus…

Chris Kimsey: I thought lyrically it was really interesting as well. There are three songs on this album where he’s really singing at the lowest of his range… but it kind of works. With this album, I think I remember John was not really involved much.

SDE: John said about Liberty, ‘I can definitely remember smoking hash oil. That’s all I can really remember about making that album’. How were you dealing with all that in a studio environment?

Chris Kimsey: He did a bunch of takes and then we’d mix them together to make one acceptable take. It’d be interesting to see how long this album took and how much it cost. Interestingly enough, going back to Marillion, Misplaced Childhood is the cheapest album they ever made, and their biggest-selling one. They played half that record live, before they’d recorded it, and also, I didn’t tell the record company that it was going to be a concept album. If I had, they would have stopped it. We went off to Berlin and did that and I kept the record company away until they wanted a single. We had ‘Kayleigh’ kind of finished, but we hadn’t finished the album. And I think ‘Kayleigh’ was a great song so I sent it to them, and they said, ‘are you serious?’ And I said, ‘yeah, that’s the first single’. And then of course it was huge.

SDE: But that’s what needed to happen with Liberty. You clearly didn’t have the same channels of communication or influence. Sounds like the record label said ‘thanks very much, we’ll take it from here’

Chris Kimsey: Exactly! That’s exactly what they did. The marketing [team] came in with that mentality of ‘oh, Duran Duran, that’s what they do. They do ‘Violence of Summer’, that’s them’. It’s like ‘er, no. You’re not listening’.

SDE: Choosing a single can have an enormous impact on any record. And like you say, it’s someone in marketing who effectively has a massive impact on someone’s career.

Chris Kimsey: You know, historically, most big singles are on the B-sides, or are the songs that were put onto the album at the last minute. ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ was the last thing to be recorded, because there wasn’t much else on the record. And that came from Trevor Rabin having just two bits of it on a cassette. He played it to Trevor Horn and Trevor said, ‘oh, that’s interesting. Let’s work on that’. And after spending two and a half years making that album, at the end it was just, ‘oh, we’ll try that’. Bang, bingo! ‘Ordinary World’ should have been on this album! [laughs].

SDE: You mentioned it was it part-written. Do you recall hearing it then?

Chris Kimsey: I heard a few bits of it, but it was Warren. It wasn’t anything from anyone else in the band. Because Warren was really developing his sound, he was amazing, he had great guitar tech. And he was the first guitar player I’d worked with who had a digital mixing board. Instead of stamping on all the pedals, he just pressed a preset on the mixer and it changed his sound. It was like, wow, that’s pretty damn cool.

SDE: For the next album [‘The Wedding Album’] they didn’t do the big expensive studio. They went to Warren’s place in Battersea!

Chris Kimsey: That’s right, yeah. They got in a room, which is great. If you’re a band, when you get in a room together, that’s when the magic happens. And when you’re all kind of split up it’s harder. Liberty was an awkward album, awkward is the word. Not difficult, but awkward. Disappointing for me, because in one way, well, I won’t say I let them down, because I didn’t let them down – I finished the album. If I’d have turned round and said you’ve only got three songs, then god knows what would have happened to their career. At least they made the album.

SDE: The record company might have dropped them?

Chris Kimsey: Exactly. At least they made that album. Wasn’t a very good album, there were three [good] songs on there, and it was a lesson learned. Also, it bonded Warren into the band, and they all got together in a better place too.

SDE: When the album came out, were you keeping an eye on it?

Chris Kimsey: Well, as soon as ‘Violence of Summer’ was the first single, I knew it was going to flop. I thought, ‘oh fuck’. And then I saw the album cover. I went, ‘oh dear’.

SDE: Did you pick up the phone and speak to anyone at that time?

Chris Kimsey: No, they won’t listen. It’s like The ’Stones. About five or six years ago Some Girls was remastered for the third time…

SDE: Yes, that came out as a big box set.

Chris Kimsey: Yeah, and I got sent a copy after it was already pressed. It wasn’t ‘would you listen to it and say if it’s okay?’. It was just done. When I got it, I called Keith’s manager and Mick’s manager and asked, ‘has anyone listened to this?’. They said, ‘oh, it’s got 5-star reviews from so-and-so’. I said, ‘it’s shit. It’s absolutely awful’. And they didn’t care because a couple of magazines had previewed it. Six months, on Amazon, ‘this is the worst version’; all the punters were giving it one star, two stars. I hate it, but I can’t do anything about it. With The ’Stones – especially, selling [their catalogue] from label to label – every time they remaster it, it gets more compressed; louder – but smaller – and it just sounds like shit.

SDE: Is it hard not to take it a bit personally, if you work on a project and then it basically flops? If it doesn’t get commercial or critical acclaim? Some bands can try to blame the producer.

Chris Kimsey: No, they didn’t blame me. I think we all knew at the time it was a case of we either get in this boat and do it, or the boat’s not going to sail. And we made it; we achieved it. It could have all fallen apart, you know? Trying to introduce two new musical members into the unit with the other two, plus one who’s not coherent – that was a task. Also, when I get told that people are difficult to work with, my experience is that they are often the best to work with. Like Killing Joke – they’re easy to work with.

SDE: Were they all getting on okay? There was no ‘so-and-so’s not talking to so-and-so?’

Chris Kimsey: No, none of that. They’re nice guys, I mean they really are.

SDE: Chris Hughes told me Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ was done very quickly. And that one song changed all their lives. It’s not about how much work or how much money you spend in a studio, is it?

Chris Kimsey: No. See, that’s a thing. I mean Trevor Horn, you mentioned Trevor – well I know Trevor, Gary Langan and Steve Lipson and all those guys – Trevor would spend a week on a hi-hat sound. But it would have been a number one record. Him and Nick Rhodes, if they got together they’d still be making the album now!

SDE: It’s kind of surprising that Duran Duran never worked with someone like Trevor Horn.

Chris Kimsey: Maybe they should!

SDE: Duran Duran seem to be trying to appeal to a new, younger audience.

Chris Kimsey: They’re trying to stay young, so they go to the young producer. But they’re still Duran Duran.They’d be much better to go all the way back. Do an Unplugged,-type album, almost. Not completely unplugged, but something unexpected.

SDE: Their 2011 album was called All  You Need Is Now, and Mark Ronson worked on that. And he was referencing some of the aural pallet of the early days, there are some synths that were very similar to Rio.

Chris Kimsey: Yeah. Well, Nick’s got them all [laughs].

SDE: It sounded great and it was very well received. But it didn’t do as well as it should have done; they’d just signed to some new label and didn’t get the promotion. The same old story.

Chris Kimsey: With classic Duran – as I’ve discovered today when you were playing some tracks – you get that big chorus, and Simon’s voice is like, ‘whoa’. And that was the Duran Duran secret weapon. When they write songs like ‘Hothead’, well they’re not songs, they’re jams. That is not Duran Duran.

SDE: And the other thing is having the confidence to do it by yourself. Duran Duran ‘featuring’ whoever is not necessary. They don’t need anyone else.

Chris Kimsey: Exactly.

SDE: If Duran Duran asked you to come and do an album with them, would you do it?

Chris Kimsey: Of course I would! Absolutely. But we’d have to have the songs written first [laughs]. Actually, no, I wouldn’t do an album. I’d do five tracks with them. I’d like to do four or five songs with them. I’d love to do that. Absolutely love it. And I would remix Liberty. If they got me the tapes, if they got me digital, I can do it at home. It wouldn’t cost a lot…


Thanks to Chris Kimsey who was talking to Paul Sinclair for SDE.


A longer version of this interview features in a new SDE ‘keepsake’ booklet, Duran Duran: Liberty at 30.

Additionally, this 24-page A4 publication features an exclusive in-depth SDE review of the Liberty album by SDE editor Paul Sinclair and a special feature looking at Duran Duran’s road to, and beyond, Liberty.

The spot-varnished front cover features newly commissioned illustrations and is limited to 500 numbered copies. This is number eight in SDE’s continuing booklet series and follows the now sold out McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues. Like that publication,Paul will sign all copies of Liberty at 30.

Pre-order a Liberty at 30 exclusively from the SDE shop via this link, or simply use the button below!

94 responses to Liberty at 30: In Conversation with Duran Duran producer Chris Kimsey

  1. Pingback:Nick Rhodes on what makes a good reissue and a potential ‘Liberty’ redux | superdeluxeedition

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  3. I’m going AGAINST THE GRAIN on the negative view of this album its an underrated one , much like ” MEDDAZALAND ” I think there are mistakes like the closing stages of “Can u Deal With It ” which tails off , and ag “All Along The Water ” is a toss out ; but the title track , Hothead, Serious , Read My Lips, VOS , and Venice Drowning are good tracks ; maybe being black or 4 whatever reason I like the funky element of these tracks , which were better executed than when they worked w/ hip hoppers Timbaland & Nate Hills ; same w/ Dallas Austin on “Astronaut ” they do better funk work on their own + Nile Rodgers , u ‘Red Carpet Massacre” or as I like 2 call it “Red Carpet Disaster” Meantime, Stereling ‘s drum sounds are solid, and Warren’s guitar work on here is also good , which underscores this myth , that the band isn’t the same w/ o Andy Taylor , Warren’s a replacement , and so on ; if anything, getting Cuccurullo was an UPGRADE .. record sales dont reflect whether an album is good ; BILLY IDOL’s album w/ Rebel Yell on it sold millions , but it was a spotty record

  4. Swashbuckler says:

    This was the first album I bought on CD, bought on day of release from the Stevenage (in the UK) Our Price Music Store. I played it loads, loved it, but even back then I knew it wasn’t a ‘great’ album.

    Seems to be a lot of debate about the first single. I would say the problem is that there is no ‘first’ single; VOS, Serious, My Antarctica, they all great (to me) but not lead singles.

    I loved VOS though. And the remixes (especially the one sampling the Barbarella movie and Wild Boys single). And the video. The reason VOS was the first single is, I guess, that it was the most ‘cinematic’ song on the album (with My Antarctica a close second) .

    Duran Duran have always had cinematic sounding songs, Planet Earth (Ray Bradbury style Sci-Fi flick maybe), Girls on Film (Peeping Tom horror, lol, or Porno), Hungry like the Wolf (Action / Adventure), Rio (a Fred Astaire / Ginger Rodgers type movie), Save a Prayer (Brief Encounter?) Wild Boys (Mad Max), A View to a Kill ( Bond, natch), Notorious (Hitchcock) as a few examples, so the VOS video reflects the cinematic qualities of the song (a Rodger Corman style Romeo & Juliet Biker B-movie?).

    My two favourite things from this period are the VOS & Serious 12” vinyl discs, great songs, great remixes and great B-sides (love Yo Bad Azzi, should have been on the album instead of Hothead, but is essentially a ‘jam’) plus they both had posters included, plus the Serious 12” is etched on one side.

    Two things that drive me nuts:

    The album cover shot. Perhaps the worst album cover in Duran history. What is going on. They seem to be going for a high fashion shoot at the fun fair, using photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, and a lot of the photos from this session seem quite nice, colourful, especially the poster with the Serious 12”. The album cover though makes it look like they are in the Cranberries or Blondie, 5 faceless guys with a blondie type singer. Simon’s out of focus, Nick seems to be wearing something from 1986, John has an alien arm grabbing him, and there’s two new guys. Seems like maybe they were going for a Notorious type cover again (remember Christy Turlington was on the back cover of that one, not on the front).

    And the font used for the word ‘Liberty’, what the heck is that. I really like the handwritten font used on the VOS single, why not use the same style again. The lettering is a mess (it may look better on the larger vinyl album, I am looking at the CD cover).

    But without Liberty, maybe no comeback with Ordinary World, no Wedding Album, no Thank You, no Medazzaland, no Pop Trash, no Astronaut, no Red Carpet Massacre, no All You Need is Now, no Paper Gods.

    For the 40th Anniversary I would like see a vinyl box set of all the albums (like the Queen box set maybe). But re-mastered properly.

    • Gareth Pugh says:

      I remember an interview in a mag (I forget the name but it was a short-lived competitor to Record Collector.., ‘Music Collector’ maybe?) Nick Rhodes saying they picked VOS as the lead single because it was coming out in peak Summer and they reckoned ‘no-one wants to hear a dark moody track in summer’, they wanted something fun and up to soundtrack outdoor bars and pool parties, effectively! I actually really like VOS, Serious and My Antarctica but I can’t agree on the mixes – I found them repetitive, samey (basically hybrids and edits of the same core mix by Brown Eyes and repeating the same creative idea used in Burning the Ground only 8 months before) and not terribly good. The turn of the 1990s saw 12”
      culture in general move away from the pop version of a song towards the clubs, sometimes (not always) sacrificing the tune along the way – these were prime examples of that. EMI dropped the ball in postponing the second single by 2 months – they had even placed ads in Smash Hits for an early September release of Serious and then pulling it to mid November – by which time the air was out of the tyres alas. But I loved the Wedding Album which may not have beeen the record it was without this experience first!

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Yes, the remixes are awful. All of them. Indefensible for me. Abysmal.

        • Shaun says:

          There was an obscure VOS remix only on a French promo cassette that is decent – at least compared to the other remixes. It has some annoying vari-speed vocals but at least ups the tempo and is a more recognizable remix of the original track.

          • mike says:

            The French one is a kinda Night Version, I do have it in the cassette box somewhere. I really like the Brown Eyes remixes to be contentious, very 1990 and took VOS/AATW tracks somewhere else – I wont be sharing my 7 mix US promo then!

  5. Tom m hans says:

    Great Interview, playing Thank You as I type this. To my surprise I like it when I ignore the fact that it is a DD album.
    Will play Liberty afterwards to see what it is all about, or better, what it is not.
    Best part of the interview was EMI ignoring the master tapes for Misplaced Childhood.
    Peace.

  6. Colin says:

    The following are some comments from John Taylor regarding the Liberty Demos. He had listened to the original Liberty demo cd – Didn’t Anybody Tell You.

    Basically, all the Liberty Demo cds now that are out there all came from this cd. It had the remastered audience recording of Ordinary World on it from Albert Hall in 91 as well. At the time, I thought this live track seemed out of place on the demo cd. It was there for no other reason than it was a rarity and it was a year out from the Liberty album release. Little did I know Warren had something during the Liberty sessions that turned out to be this song! So it really did belong on this demo cd in retrospect.

    I know CK (the producer of the album) listened to the bootleg as well when it came out. He had heard about it and was looking for it and I was able to track down the cds for him. (A long story…..).

    By the way, a poster here came up with the great title for this demo cd – along with it’s great liner notes!

    I read the great interview. It would probably have been better as an EP. Then talk of remixing it. I think JT’s comments on the bootleg are interesting. Something along the lines of…”what could have been”.

    This was forwarded to me a long time ago by another poster on this thread. Wow – this thread brings back a lot of memories seeing all these familiar names on here! Cheers:)
    ***********************************************************************************
    When asked about the bootleg, John Taylor said, “I like coming across
    > things that I’ve forgotten about. That I’ve forgotten that we recorded.
    > That’s what’s really exciting about the Didn’t Anybody Tell You bootleg,
    > because there’s so many songs on there that never got finished. They
    > just take me back to that moment. Actually, what I like about that album
    > is that the Liberty album – when we were rehearsing it, when we were
    > writing it was gonna be a great album. I really felt it was gonna be a
    > great album. When we got in the studio I fell apart and the production
    > just wasn’t right. It turned out to be a very mediocre album, but at the
    > demo stage, which is what that [bootleg] album is all about, I think
    > there’s a great album in there. Could have been great songs”

  7. Webvan says:

    An excellent read, thanks. I remember buying this album in late August (early September?) at the FNAC Bastille (now closed) in Paris and being pretty excited about it after becoming a huge fan with Notorious and Big Thing (for some reason I didn’t really like them before that although my younger brother had all the LPs) and was VERY underwhelmed !

    Possibly because I had high expectations after these rather two good albums and also because Kimsey was involved (biggest Stones fan here – hey Chris, why don’t you leak these outtakes you mention !). I never got over the really horrible “Violence of Summer”, one of the worst songs ever recorded, really !

    I was glad when they came back with the marvelous “Come Undone” and ‘Ordinary World ” on the “Wedding” album three years later that I had to get on a bootleg tape somewhere in Kuwait or Abu Dhabi at first…

    Think I’m going to order that booklet, too bad I couldn’t combine shipping with Macca’s !

  8. Klaus says:

    Hi Paul.

    Being not exactly keen on Duran Duran this interview reminded me of your “Curated By SDE”-playlist you did with DD-songs on Spotify.

    Have listened to that again and would be really glad if you could repeat that with a subject i care about more…

  9. mike says:

    77 comments and the album isnt even being reissued, shows the interest in Duran. Bizarre that Warners dont seem to see any value in mining the catalogue, I dont hold out much hope for the rumoured DD40 Duranthology either.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think it’s the band, not Warners, to be honest…

      • mike says:

        I think you are right and when you lived in a bubble for 40 years and surrounded by people like Katy Krassner, you probably lose all sense of perspective!

        Ever had much luck with entering Duranworld, Paul?

      • Absolutely correct in not being the label’s decision Paul. I think it’s more down to management AND Duran. They are after all a family now. There’s nobody with knowledge available to give the band a helping hand…and a push. I just couldn’t believe it after they passed on a package for The Wedding Album’s 25th and now even more gobsmacked with absolutely zero for Liberty’s 30th.

        With Katy Krassner more concerned about ‘Orange Man’ with her Twitter rants what chance have DD got for leaving a truly amazing legacy? It’s the same for Magus, the bands management. I don’t believe they have any clout or know-how about how to portray this once, highly respected band.

        It pains me to watch these dramatic and unforgivable failings, knowing there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. Closing the office in Fulham was poor judgement and effectively finished their careers. By all means, move to the USA, but don’t keep all your eggs in one basket!

  10. A. Vogt says:

    Liberty is one of those frustrating albums with great tracks and bad tracks. I would place “Can You Deal With It” among the 5 greats, along with the title track, Serious, Antarctica and Venice Drowning. The rest can take a walk! Other frustrating albums I would compare it to would be George Harrison’s Gone Troppo and B-52’s Bouncing Off The Satellites. Great article and interview, Paul!

  11. Tony says:

    Eden Project, St Austell 2016, magnificent gig, encore Save a Prayer & Rio, too many pasties & too much cider, like a lot of people at the gig me and my family came across this because we happened to be on holiday at the time, so difficult for a big band of the 80’s to keep everyone happy with old & new material , I would buy a career spanning box set, they’ve done well to avoid the 80’s circuit, but come on, a post Covid 19 battle with the bands, Duran vs Spandau at the O2, easy 5 night sell out, along with an accompanying box set from both bands. Can’t remember Liberty at all, must check it out.

  12. adam west says:

    Well for me Liberty is ageing gracefully as Chris is so right about the confusion in direction for the band at the time in 1990 but if you listen to this and the wedding album its a progression of the liberty sound. My friend also likes to do up music so it sounds better because as we know cd mastering is not always the best but we used nero to revamp the cd into 24bit and brought out the sound of the instruments and vocal , mid range bass until it sounded amazing and low behold it does,has a whole new feel much more enjoyable and thats sometimes all it needs to be great. Chris did a great job on this it was all down to marketing and mastering , hd audio is another example of what we should have, volume is key too- not to loud but descent it can be done these days…..this album grows on you ive found and mastering is key. Let Chris Kimsey work his magic again in hd audio 24/32bit it would be amazing i bet.

  13. Gary Taylor says:

    Thank you for the interview, so interesting to delve behind the scenes. It’s always interesting to read other peoples takes on this album. I love VOS, but have never been overly keen on serious,. I always though Liberty would have been the second single, and I do like how you can see it’s connection to ordinary world that came later. My Antarctica should also have been a single, but it didn’t really fit with the music around at the time, but without doubt an underrated track.
    I would love to hear chris’ remix of this album too. It’s definitely something that should happen!

  14. Shaun says:

    That’s why I love this site. Where else are you going to get an interview with the producer of the Liberty album? Maybe next Anthony Resta for Medazzaland?? But please don’t wait until 2027!

  15. Beechlander says:

    Took the “liberty” of listening to Big Thing, liberty and Wedding Album last night. Liberty probably the weakest of the three – apart from My Antarctica which is outstanding the rest is pretty forgettable popfunk-by-numbers. I actually found Venice Drowning to be decent – it’s an unconventional track that breaks the monotony of Side 2 somewhat. Serious and Violence are some of the better tracks but quite bland. Compared to their early 80s pomp when the fast-paced hits were in full flow I find DD’s slower tracks like Ordinary World, Come Undone and Edge of America hit the mark for me in this era.

  16. Donnie Biscuits says:

    SERIOUSLY, I could read one of these for every DD album, and beyond; there is a whole new subset of SDE just wanting to be tapped – a booklet for every interesting album release of the 80s and 90s!
    Just on the DD front, all the albums would have fascinating stories no doubt, including the lost Reportage album.
    Plus, of course, they all need reissuing.

  17. Donnie Biscuits says:

    I must be a dyed in the wool Duranie because I still think Violence was a great single, so catchy. I wish they would play it live instead of Reach Up For The Sunrise. The video is cool, the band look great and if you check out live performances on YouTube they look solid together. Looking forward to getting the booklet, I kind of think reading about a ‘failed’ album like this is more interesting in part than a successful one like say, The Big Chair.
    Incidentally, I always remember Trevor and Simon slagging off ‘Serious’ on going Live or whatever it was, singing ‘Do do d do, doesn’t have to be very good’. Duvet w*nkers!

  18. Kauwgompie says:

    Booklet ordered!
    Paul, this may be your best interview yet. After each answer, I had the next question in my mind and then you would ask that exact question. It also was nice that Chris Kimsey answers your questions directly and when something is bad, he calls it bad. That is refreshing.

    I agree with almost everything you guys said except that First Impression is a bad song. After Serious and My Antartica that is the best song in my opinion. And yes, this album badly needs to be remixed. Violence of Summer has a bridge that should have been the chorus. Hothead, Can You Deal w It, Venice Drowning and All Along The Water should have been left off the album all together. No matter how you remix those, it’s never going to be good. But I would absolutely buy a remix of this album. I’m a huge Duran fan and all their albums, even the bad ones, contain at least a few world class songs. I’m glad Chris calls them genuinely nice guys. Always nice to hear about your favorite band. I’m hoping for more Duran booklets!!

  19. Great interview! While I don’t agree with some of your perspectives expressed on Duran Duran’s latter output – those twists and turns have allowed DD to create quite a varied, vital and rich body of work that eschews nostalgia – I can (and do) appreciate that you’re knowledgeable about the subject and articulate your points well. Robust musical debates always intrigue me, even if I don’t always agree; although, I will say I align with you on “Liberty,” but given how solid the preceding two albums were and what came later, DD were alright to have one miss.

    Cheers!

    PS – I ordered your “Liberty” book. As a music writer/author/critic who has written about DD in the past, I figured this would be a good resource to add to my library. :)

  20. Bruce Lachey says:

    Love the interview, ordered the booklet!

    I really love a lot of Liberty. All Along the Water is PROBABLY my least-liked song, but I quite liked the Water Babies remix.

    And wow – I vividly recall hearing the “remixes” of Violence of Summer for the first time. There seemed to be loads of remixes all starting with the same bland drum sound.

    But back to Liberty – the drums seemed raw and very “un-Duran” in production style, but the synths are digital magic, and Simon’s voice is so great. The Serious keyboard break/”solo” is my favorite keyboard solo of all time by any artist.

    Thanks again for this.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Just to add to EMI’s overall incompetence they put the standard version of All Along The Water on the Serious CD single, not the Water Babies remix as indicated. I was well pissed off when I bought that at the time.

      • Liam says:

        Paul, do you know if this was corrected on the Singles Box Set 1986-1995?

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Yes, I think it was.

          • mike says:

            Pretty rare these days though!

          • Al says:

            I bought the UK CD single at the time and it has the correct Water Babies remix on it. Pretty sure I bought it the week of release but there appear to be two identical looking pressings about.

            The version in the Singles Box Set has both Water Babies and All Along the Water.

      • Tom McClintock says:

        Paul – EMI corrected this issue on the 1990 single. The first pressing has the album version with the second pressing having the Water Babies remix.

        Great interview BTW!

  21. Cory says:

    I still love Liberty to this day as much as when it came out 30 years ago. My Antarctica breaks my heart still and Serious is stunning. I also love the moodiness in the second half. I am all too happy to order this booklet

  22. Schu says:

    Getting behind the scenes information with a detailed question/answer session is always a real treat. Thanks Paul, keep ’em coming!

  23. Aubrey says:

    I didn’t expect to listen to Venice Drowning today so, er, “thanks”?

    But ‘seriously’ (ahem), fascinating article Paul, great work! The band were obviously struggling on a variety of fronts at the time. (Although I always thought VoS could have been a spiritual successor to Notorious if the band had found the chorus.) Dream Nation remains the one that got away…

    I remember reading somewhere that Serious was Robert Palmer’s favorite DD track (btw, whatever happened to the RP Hidden Masters sets?)

    Anyway, I’m off to try and compile a playlist of DD tracks that could have been Arcadia’s 2nd album (would love to see other people’s selections!)

  24. CJ says:

    I’ve always been, at best, a “casual” Duran Duran fan. I have a handful of their albums, but I don’t think I even knew Liberty existed. I’m streaming it right now, and I don’t hate it. It has some moments so far that aren’t great, but it’s not a terrible album. It’s actually making me interested in listening to more of their other work right now. So thank you for turning me on to an album I’d never paid attention to and rekindling some of my Duran Duran interest.

    Seems I’m very late to the party on being able to get any of the expanded editions that came out. I’d love to have them, but not at the prices I’m finding them for. Wonder if maybe they’ll reissue the sets at some point.

  25. Jon says:

    For me “First Impression” is the best song on here. Sad it was disparaged in this interview. I always thought it should have been a single and I include it in all my Duran playlists. I don’t mind “Hothead” as well. I only listen to the tracks from “Liberty” thru “First Impression”. The rest could have been throwaway b-sides. As much as this album is maligned I’d say their worst album, in my opinion, easily is Red Carpet Massacre.

  26. Tish says:

    Never cared much for this album at the time, and I was (and still am!) a die-hard fan since 1983. I remember being so, so disappointed in it, and feeling like the band I grew up with — whose first cracks appeared during the Live Aid performance, then went on to deeper fissures with the departure of two members and the side projects and the albums that were okay, but not dazzling — was finally completely broken beyond repair. 30 years on, I’m grateful to have been wrong. Liberty still isn’t one of my favourites, and likely never will be, but the insight and perspective of what was going on at the time to explain WHY it is the way it is, is really interesting to me, so thank you for this!

    Also, if I can be so bold … as a teen girl in the ’80s, I was mocked mercilessly by almost every boy I knew for liking Duran Duran. It got somewhat better as I got older, but most guys still don’t take them seriously, or have heard *of* them, but don’t know much about them. Imagine my genuine shock and sincere pleasure at reading all these well thought out, respectful, intelligent comments from guy after guy after guy on this thread! I honestly never thought Duran Duran had that many male fans, and again, I’m grateful to be wrong.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Very interesting. Thanks for stopping by and leaving this comment. Us boys aren’t all bad :)

    • Jeff Bertrand says:

      Imagine the abuse *guys* took for being Duranies. It was worse, believe you me!

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for sharing Tish. Where I lived, DD was a popular band and well liked by many. Even some rockers I knew were into them. Now with the benefit of time, I realize how important DD was to my musical world and I still appreciate their long-lasting influence now. I’m glad you didn’t let the opinions of others keep you from carrying the torch!

  27. PdB says:

    You are very good at interviews – as you are passionate about your subjects – so you ask the questions we fans want answers to. Always an enjoyable read.

    I know it has been said repeatedly in the past – but Duran Duran really should consider re-issuing their catalogue beyond the 80’s albums they have done thus far. This album and the Wedding album would be a great start. But also the more obscure ones that followed. DD have a huge following still…..we are poised to purchase (but also to complain about what would be missing …of course!).

    Gotta love this collecting music business…..it’s always fun, sometimes unexpected and mostly appreciated : )

  28. Markyp says:

    There’s nothing wrong with Liberty. Cracking album.
    Love Violence Of Summer

  29. Thomas Hill says:

    Nice interview to get some background and context to this. I was disappointed in this record when it came out. But felt I needed to support them and was happy to buy the CD. I never considered this record, while not great, did the job of bringing Warren into the fold as a writer which did set up the Wedding Album. Great perspective. Of course too bad Kimsey couldn’t have warned them off the covers record which stalled all the momentum TWA had given them.

  30. Neil says:

    Why is everyone obsessed with “remixing” older albums? This one sounds fine as it is

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It really doesn’t…

      • Neil says:

        Remixing albums with the artists input or sign off is OK, but when its not, or that artist has died, remixing their work is a crime.

        I have the vinyl and CD of this album and it sounds fine to my ears.

  31. Trash says:

    I think I must be strange:
    – Beauty Stab is my favourite ABC album
    – Press to Play is my second favourite solo McCartney album (‘McCartney II’ in case you were interested)
    – I prefer Elemental to Sowing the Seeds and The Hurting
    – I prefer Low to Heroes

    and Liberty is one of my favourite Duran albums (with Serious, Hothead and Downtown being my favourite tracks). Serious is (in my opinion) one of their best songs.

    I know the album performed badly but I’m not sure that necessarily means much…

    ..or maybe I just have no taste!

    • Chris Squires says:

      Not strange Trash. Cultured.
      Lionheart is my favourite Kate Bush album.
      Because We Love You is my favourite Stephen Duffy album.
      Voyager is my favourite Mike Oldfield album.
      Disco Very (Sic) is my favourite ELO album.
      Voulez Vouz is my favourite Abba album.
      Abandoned Luncheonette is my favourite Hall and Oates album.
      None of which would get most fans frothing at the mouth in rabid agreement and the critics would just “tut” in snooty derision when the whole canon is considered.
      But taste is taste. We can’t help it if no one else can hear what we hear.

    • Jumbo says:

      Beauty Stab is a masterpiece.

    • Jeff Bertrand says:

      Beauty Stab is great!

    • Tom Walsh says:

      Beauty Stab was/ is fantastic. I remember being shocked when S.O.S. only got to about number 39…to me it was classic ABC.

  32. Don Cooper says:

    The cover always makes me smile.

    I always imagine Nick has just said to the lass on the far left. “You Sir, are a bounder and a scoundrel!”

    Thanks for the interview, Paul.Booklet ordered.

  33. Derek says:

    Interesting interview, not a fan of the album ( never understood the love for Serious). But My Antarctica is an excellent track and Liberty and Hothead are decent enough. I do remember the first time I heard VOS on radio 1- they played the wrong version which was a rap type version.

    There are a bunch of officially unreleased tracks from that period- things like Dreamnation which even in demo form ( and in LQ) sounded better than much of the album. Can you deal with it and Along the water are amongst the worse they’ve done. Still out of this mess came the excellent Wedding Album

  34. Mike Pendlebury says:

    Great interview! I’d love to see a deluxe version of this album come out. “Serious” has been one of my top 5 Duran Duran songs ever since I first heard it.

  35. BSB says:

    Great article, Paul – a very enjoyable read.

    Had never heard ‘Serious’ before this, nor any of this album. Had been aware of the line-up change at the time, and I feel that albums that follow a Best Of can often fall in its shadow. Plus changing tastes and declining sales can position an act as seeming a little tired (and often a little too desperate to reinvent the wheel).

    Will definitely give the album a listen now, even just to hear the couple of tracks which are highlighted as the standouts. Thanks again!

  36. Anthony says:

    I was there during the recording of this record and for the mixing of #BurningtheGround, and the BIG record release party Capitol threw for them in New York…so it’s hard for me to be impartial about it but I did tell Nick at the time I thought Venice Drowning, Downtown (ugh), & All Along the Water were awful songs, the worst they had recorded at the time…He was shocked I was so honest (!) and stood up for them, as he should…Great interview, Paul…I still love & play weekly 5-6 of these songs plus the aforementioned Burning the Ground…special time for me!

    • vikerii says:

      Very cool. But I think Nick was right to defend All Along the Water. That is indeed a very good song!! :)

    • Don Cooper says:

      As a former Rum Runner, Burning the Ground instantly transports me back to mirrored walls and great nights.Timeless remix.ats.

  37. mike says:

    Though common consensus is that ‘Serious’ is one hell of a track, which it is – it wasnt really a good choice for a single in the UK in November 1990. We were all raving, housing, hip-hopping, indieing and sadly a band that the 90s had already earmarked for the dumper, the classic power trio songwriting of Serious wasnt going to restore fortunes. They may well have been better off chartwise with a indie-house remake of Can You Deal With It, as much as that may horrify the cognescenti!

    The interesting thing I believe is First Impression was planned for Jan’91 and Liberty later for the third and fourth singles.

    • Eamonn says:

      Good point. The Human League (whose early producer Colin Thurston impressed DD enough for them to choose him to helm their own debut album), released ‘Heart Like A Wheel’ the same month as Liberty. Immediate synth-pop sound, a return to Martin Rushent’s winning production – a far better lead-single in many ways to their previous one (Human, in 1986 despite that being their second US number one), yet it barely made the top thirty of the singles chart and the album that followed in its wake, Romantic?, bombed completely.

      There seemed to be a rejection of strong hallmark 80s pop-sounds at this time. Pet Shop Boys managed to ride it with enough house/indie influence (i.e Johnny Marr collaborating on the Behaviour album, also from this time) but fashions were clearly changing.

      • David says:

        I actually don’t mind Liberty and I’d rather listen to the period from Notorious-wedding album than any other.I agree that the changing musical landscape had a lot to do with the struggle of 80’s artists.Romantic? Is weak though and I prefer Crash.I liken Crash to Notorious as it was both bands adopting a more American friendly sound and they were both released at the tail end of 86.

  38. RobS says:

    Great article Paul, an immediate order of the booklet from me. Love the site. Best Regards Rob

  39. vikerii says:

    Chris Kimsey to me was the driving force to creating Tattoo You. My favorite album from the Stones. The work he put into that album alone immortalizes him. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    I really do hope they reissue Liberty with bonus tracks (long shot, I know). I bought the album the week it came out, but it was so different and I never gave it enough time to gel with me. Then “Wedding Album” came out and blew me away with its superior songwriting. That really opened my ears to how good this new Duran sound can be. With that in mind, I went back and gave Liberty some more listens and this time quite enjoyed it.

  40. Mike W says:

    I remember being very excited about this post-Big Thing (still their best for me) and being somewhat underwhelmed. Probably listened to it a handful of times since it was released. That said, been listening to it this afternoon while working and rather enjoying most of it. Not sure what that means!

    Totally agree with the consensus that Serious should have been lead single though – what was everyone thinking? Oh and yeah, Venice Drowning is total pants, should have been left off.

  41. Eric says:

    I remember Phil Collins reviewing “Violence of Summer” in the legendary Smash Hits singles page & saying it didn’t sound like them. Brave choice for a single, they had to change the sound & evolve & that they did. I remember them on Wogan too doing it too.

    “Serious” would’ve been a much better choice for 1st single.

  42. It astonishes me to this day that it wasn’t glaringly apparent that “Serious” should have been the lead single. It’s literally a perfect song.

  43. Luke says:

    THANK YOU PAUL ! At least someone remembers the anniversary of this AMAZING album. I don’t care charts or what the band thinks, there are lots of fans who still loves and plays this record !

  44. Ernie says:

    What a fantastic interview!! It’s not their best album but it sure is’nt their worst ( That’s Pop Trash all the way ) but it has some brilliant career high songs on it like “My Antarctica” & “Liberty” but equally some of their worse, “Read My Lips” & “Can you deal with it”. Simon’s lyrics let them down & they don’t even sound like Duran Duran. You can’t blame Chris Kimsey at all for the failure, they were still trying to find a sound, 40% of any band leaving would cause problems so overall they did the best they could, it’s just that the general public had got tired of them. Still though, what sounded good 30 years ago still sounds fantastic today & that’s due to the quality of the songwriting.

    I remember having. the CD single of VOS with “Throb” as an extra track ( really good ) & also the 2 12″‘s with posters.

    I’ll be buying this Paul!

  45. Tom Walsh says:

    Really enjoy how you put the record in context of their past work.I was oblivious to this LP at the time and even though it sounds like it isn’t a classic, you’re interview and the dissection of its production mean that I’m off to give it a listen online. Cheers Paul!

  46. AdamW says:

    Shipping to the US is a killer. Last one I bought (TFF) cost me $21 all in, this one is almost $32. But I did it because I want to support the site and it’s way cheaper than getting a box set mailed from you. :-)

    Honestly, I don’t like this album at all; I don’t even think “Serious” is that great. That said, I liked hearing about the making of an album that didn’t quite work for creative reasons as opposed to interpersonal ones. Chris’s disappointment comes across very well, not as frustration, but as resignation – we did what we could with what we had, I’m proud of a small chunk of it, and hey, it helped set the stage for better days yet to come.

    Great idea to do an interview like this, Paul, thank you.

  47. Fady says:

    Always love your interviews Paul and this another excellent one to add to the list. Agree that Serious and My Antartica are superb and up there with some of DD’s best songs. I’m going to have respectfully disagree about Violence of Summer though. I actually think it’s terrific and always loved that synth/keyboard bit at the start and end of the song. Quite enjoyed the clip as it reflected the energy of the music. But hey, each to their own I suppose :-).

  48. mike says:

    I had a recollection that a number of Liberty tracks were roadtested at the 1989 Summer festival tour (including Skanderborg, Denmark which Chris recollects above). On checking, only three were ever played, Venice Drowning, Yo Bad Azizi (B side to Violence of Summer) and My Family (one of the weakest demos which never made the album).

    I think Chris makes a good point about the songs being undercooked!

  49. Mark R says:

    Great interview and an insight into how the album was made. I’ve ordered the booklet.
    I agree with Chris Kinsey that it would have been better off as an EP. Take Off Hot Head, All Along The Water, First Impression, Read My Lips and Can You Deal With It and you are left with some really good songs. It does need a remix though. Get on it DD!

  50. Craig Hedges says:

    Track by track have just done a podcast on this album too.
    I don’t think anything could have been done promotion wise to help this album, it was completely out of step with what was going on in music at the time. The stone roses were the band of the moment and baggy was in.
    I always think of My Antarctica as an Arcadia track, I put together a cd of all the other Duran tracks which could have been the second Arcadia album.
    Can’t imagine Nick getting his top off lol!

    • Michael says:

      Pop radio had room for Ordinary World and Come Undone a couple years later. Serious and My Antarctica could have gotten play if promoted right. And baggy never took over the U.S. But there is always room for more than one sound anyhow.

    • joel ivins says:

      I’ve seen warren in the nude…that in and of itself should be inspiring enough to get the creative juices flowing…in any group that is going to get closer and closer (hopefully), you have to have that one crazy bonding moment…the idea of putting together a cd of duran tracks that sound like they could have been arcadia tracks sounds like fun…ill have to look into it.

    • Jumbo says:

      I’ve done that as well. So Red the Rose is still stunning album. I would love to compare lists.

  51. Mike N says:

    Thank you for the fantastic interview. It sheds so much light on the creation of Liberty and why the album didn’t work.

    Kimsey also confirms everything that the fans have said for years: Violence of Summer ruined the album’s commercial prospects. Either the title track or Serious should have been the first single. Also, Liberty did give us My Antarctica which remains their quintessential diamond in the rough.

    As a lifelong DD fan, I love reading interviews with the behind the boards talent. Someone get Nate Hills on the phone for a similar interview about Red Carpet Massacre!

  52. Chris Squires says:

    I was reading an article the other day entitled “Terrible tracks on great albums” (it was a poor article) but this is the reverse of that. “Great tracks on terrible albums”.

    One wonders whether having Ordinary World ready earlier for Liberty might have saved the album…. or it might have sunk a great track without trace among the jetsam of Liberty and deprived The Wedding album of any impetus that the brilliant lead single brought it….

    Either way it sank as an album but there are highlights that stand as strong as anything else post 1985. (Big Thing is always the peak as far as I am concerned)

  53. No wonder Chris didn’t get back to me when I asked for an interview! Lol.

    Well done Paul. I’m happy he spoke to somebody about his work on the album – and even happier it was with a fellow Duran Duran fan.

    I enjoyed Chris’s honesty and the fact he’s not afraid to tell Simon if his vocal is not good.

    He’s absolutely 100% correct about Violence of Summer. It’s the joker in the pack. Serious was the nugget of Liberty, along with the title track and My Antartica. Just imagine if Ordinary World had made it in time? What an incredible EP it would have been! I recall the band playing it live for the first time in April 1991 at The Royal Albert Hall, where I was fortunate enough to get tickets for the Jerusalem For Reconciliation charity concert. That was only 8 months after Liberty came out. So close.

    I’m certain it would have provided an extension to their career in the 90’s and given the band some time to recover from the rigours of tour life from the eighties – just a short break from writing…and from themselves. Who’s to know?

    Musically speaking, and from a personal perspective, I do enjoy Liberty as it stands. It just doesn’t get into that elusive 5th gear. It peters out at the end of Side B.. and I’m sorry to say Venice Drowning is bad!

    I’ve ordered the booklet and looking forward to reading the extra Q & A – I just hope it’ll fit nice and snug in any forthcoming Liberty Boxset!

  54. Lee Williams says:

    Great interview Paul. I’ve probBly not listened to it since it came out so will go back when the booklet arrives. My ‘Strictly’ obsessed daughters couldn’t believe it was Tess Daly in the Serious video.

    • Donnie Biscuits says:

      Tess is in the videos for both Violence and Serious, as it happens. Looking distinctly different due to cunning use of wigs! I kind of feel that someone in the band must have been ‘promoting’ her! Bonus points if anyone knows who the model on album cover is?

  55. Eamonn says:

    I love articles like this and I’ve never heard of this album and barely know any Duran hits beyond the hitz (I was made in 1984).

    Any chance of something similar for Behaviour (PSB) or Romantic? (HL) at 30 ?

  56. mike says:

    I think Liberty is a much maligned album and better than its reputation, though most of its problems I think are in the layers of production and mixing – they hide the songs. Its really an album of its time, I remember Simon saying he was very influenced by Pop Will Eat Itself and Public Enemy, which aren’t bad reference points for the album. 1989 was very dance influenced in the UK as we know and that feel colours the album, Can You Deal With It, Liberty as examples. There have been many demos which have circulated for years, which are better than the final album – a reissue of the album, a redux album, demos and remixes would work a treat. I still listen to it over much of their other more ‘classic’ albums and look forward to the full interview in the booklet.

    However, Venice Drowning was and always be – total garbage!

  57. Paul W says:

    Great interview Paul. Kind of sums up my thoughts about the album which, despite it’s flaws, I still have a soft spot for – and Serious will always be one of my Top 5 Duran singles. Booklet ordered!

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