Today we celebrate the birthday of Andy Taylor, whose guitar work was one of the key elements that helped make Duran Duran one of the biggest bands of the ‘80s...and it didn’t do too shabbily for The Power Station, either! But, no, we’re not here to talk about the work Andy and John Taylor did alongside Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson. We’re here to talk specifically about some of the most shining moments that Andy contributed to Duran Duran’s catalog... 7½ of them, to be specific.
Don’t worry about how we ended up with a half-song in the mix. Trust us, we’ll get to that. Just go ahead and start reading about our man Andy.
1. “Girls on Film” (from Duran Duran, 1981)
In truth, the songs where Andy really gets a chance to shine as a guitarist in an overt way aren’t generally the singles, but there’s no denying that he plays a pivotal part in what makes this song one of the band’s early classics and why it remains a favorite of even the most casual fans.
2. “Tel Aviv” (AIR Studio Version) (bonus track from Duran Duran Collector's Edition, 2010)
If the only version of this song that you’ve ever heard is the one that’s included on the band’s debut album, then prepare yourself for a completely different listening experience, one which includes some major shredding from Andy. This is definitely not the “Tel Aviv” you’re used to hearing...not that there’s anything wrong with that.
3. “Last Chance on the Stairway” (from Rio, 1982)
As guitar solos go, this one isn’t going to give “Freebird” a run for its money in terms of its length, but brevity doesn’t really matter if you’re still delivering something that causes you to prick up your ears and say, “Damn, Andy!”
4. “My Own Way” (Carnival Remix) (from Carnival, 1982)
While the album version of this song doesn’t offer as much hot Andy action as one might prefer, that problem was fixed quite nicely when the tune was remixed by David Kirschenbaum for the band’s Carnival EP.
5. “Of Crime and Passion” (from Seven and the Ragged Tiger, 1983)
Although we decided that it wouldn’t really be fair to include any songs from The Power Station in this piece, if you go listen to the self-titled album by that particular Duran Duran side project and then go back and listen to this song - which really isn’t like anything else on the LP - you can absolutely see the writing on the wall in terms of Andy being fully prepared to rock out a bit more in the near future.
6. “The Seventh Stranger” (from Seven and the Ragged Tiger, 1983)
All things being equal, this might well be Andy Taylor’s most shining moment during his career in Duran Duran...and having said as much, this is probably as good a place as any to mention - and please hold your tongue, hardcore fans, because of course you already know this - that the reason this honor doesn’t go to the undeniably phenomenal guitar solo on “Ordinary World” is because that wasn’t Andy Taylor, it was Warren Cuccurullo.
Having said that, Andy’s work on “The Seventh Stranger” has been much vaunted by old-school Duran Duran fans for years. Indeed, Jason Lent of the fansite Cherry Lipstick does a top-shelf job of succinctly summing up why the song is so great: “After the synth interlude mid-song, Andy delivers one of his most memorable solos. Right there, you have the balance of Duran Duran: the beautiful atmosphere of Nick Rhodes and the emotional pull of Andy’s guitar work.”
7. “Nice” (from Astronaut, 2004)
If you weren’t a Duran Duran fan in the ‘80s, you just can’t understand how completely insane it was to find out that the original five members of the band had decided to reunite and not only record a new album but also tour behind it. Of course, it was a reunion that wasn’t destined to last, with Andy departing the band again for a multitude of reasons, among them (per his memoir, Wild Boy) infighting amongst the members, depression over the death of his father, and “administrative failures by the band’s management” which led the expiration of his U.S. work visa. On top of that, the band actually recorded a follow-up to Astronaut which was rejected by their label for lack of an obvious first single and...
Ah, but that’s a story for another time. For now, all you need to know is that this song is another one of those perfect-balance Duran Duran songs, one which reminded fans that when all the stars are aligned just so, these five guys can make some amazing music together.
7½. “American Science” (from Notorious, 1986)
Unless you’re a diehard Duranie, we’d understand if you were currently scratching your head and wondering, “Why is this song 7½ rather than 8?” Well, for one thing, calling it No. 8 would kill the whole 7½ and the Ragged Tiger joke, which kills at the band’s fan conventions. But the other reason: Andy offers a great solo early in the song, but the second guitar solo? That’s Warren Cuccurullo...and we know it’s Warren Cuccurullo because Cuccurullo himself confirmed it in a 2004 interview.