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NICK RHODES & JOHN TAYLOR PRESENT:
'Only After Dark' is the first compilation to recreate one of the UK's most dynamic and exciting moments in music. The late '70s and dawning '80s period has often been misunderstood and overshadowed by the punk rock era, yet for many it was the point where the most innovative ideas of the 1970s collided to create a new set of possibilities - a fusion of punk, glam, art-rock, disco, synthesizers and DIY experimentalism.
Birmingham teenagers Nick Rhodes and John Taylor were inspired by these ideas as they formed their own band Duran Duran. Their HQ in 1979 was the Rum Runner club in the town centre, a meeting place on Tuesday night for all the local misfits, art students and music fans. Rhodes DJ'd on those evenings, mixing together old glam idols - Bowie, Roxy Music, Mick Ronson - with the Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk and strange post-punk bands such as Magazine and Wire. This was the time when electronic music got into the hands of thin young men from London's squats around Kings Cross, the suburbs and Northern England, namely Ultravox, Tubeway Army and The Human League.
"By putting together this album our intention is to introduce songs by artists who influenced us," explains Rhodes. "As we were developing our own sound, this was the backdrop. John Foxx's Ultravox in particular were important as they were the first to fuse punk with synthesizers and there was a new kind of groove creeping in there too. Bands were moving ever closer to the dance floor."
There have been photographic books about the New Romantics; compilations celebrating early '80s synthesizer pop, and intense, politicised readings of the monochromatic, sloganeering post-punk scene, but as to date none have expressed the real atmosphere of 1978 - 1980. As Rhodes explains, "Everything was at a crossroads. Everything was in flux."
The result was a new wave of artists who reinvented themselves through fashion, graphics, photography, and identity as well as through their music - New ideals that were misinterpreted at the time as a distraction from the songs. The cover art and booklet of 'Only After Dark' uses images from a fascinating new book, 'Duran Duran Unseen …Paul Edmond - Photographs 1979-82'. Edmond documented the Birmingham scene and its more experimental characters: the designers Kahn & Bell, Martin Degville, Fashion and even Boy George a frequent visitor to the city.
As for the music, 'Only After Dark' brings together some of the most inspiring songs and artists of the period. Magazine's 'Shot By Both Sides', Yellow Magic Orchestra's pristine oriental techno, the Psychedelic Furs' first single, Giorgio Moroder's opus with Donna Summer 'I Feel Love', Simple Minds's 'Changeling', and the title track 'Only After Dark' by Mick Ronson. It re-creates a night at the Rum Runner when Bowie, Iggy and Ferry were still leaders in the field, and British synthesizer pop went from the underground to Number 1 with 'Are 'Friends' Electric?'. Punks were tearing up their own rulebook and trying new things, as John Taylor explains: "The gender identity thing was going on around the music: boys looking like girls; girls looking like boys. Everything was in a state of transition. Punk was a drug that everybody had taken and we were all wide awake - eyes dilated and pores open. You're as high as a kite because your senses are alive and you're turned on - it's that moment of possibility which we've tried to bring to life again on this album."