While a number of popular singers—Luther Vandross, Gloria Estefan and Annie Lennox among them—have been cooking up carefully focused cover albums of late, Duran Duran takes the potluck approach. A more gaudy and haphazard collection of borrowed songs would be hard to imagine.
A few of the selections are suited to the group's refined, almost effete British pop style. For instance, vocalists Simon LeBon & Co. offer up an intoxicated version of the Doors' "Crystal Ship" and a cheeky strut through Iggy Pop's "Success." And on the title track, they manage to recapture the kiss-the-sky psychedelia of that Led Zeppelin oddity.
The rest of the album lies beyond the bounds of plausibility. Let's face it: There are few groups that scream "white boys" as loudly as Duran Duran. If their sound was any paler, it would be albino. A powerful soul song like Sly & the Family Stone's "I Wanna Take You Higher" emerges as a flippant, hollow anthem in Duran Duran's hands, and their plastic version of a vehement rap number such as Public Enemy's "911 Is a Joke" sounds so inauthentic that it could pass for a parody. For sheer strangeness, nothing can match their chaotic shredding of the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion." (Even the chorus of nuns in Sister Act 2 brought more street credibility to that song.)
Say this, however: The band attacks all the material with its usual blithe enthusiasm. It makes for interesting listening, even when the results are ludicrous. If this album does well, brace yourself for a flood of incongruous copycats. Is the world ready for Neil Diamond Interprets the Music of Snoop Doggy Dogg? (Capitol)