When my friend Andrew (“Durandy”) Golub first told me he was publishing a book showcasing selected posters from his magnificent Duran Duran collection, I thought he was referring to the 24x36-inch posters that covered the cream walls of my bedroom throughout the eighties—any leftover space was taken up by magazine pinups and centerfolds. I thought I had amassed a decent collection of those myself, so I looked forward to seeing what had been missing from my walls all those years.
I soon found out that in Andy’s context, “poster” referred to advertisements and promotional materials for new albums, videos, and concert events around the world. Put another way, those things whose existence I took for granted. It had never occurred to me, for instance, to acquire the promotional posters for the concerts I attended at Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Jones Beach Theatre, Koko Booth Ampitheatre, and Durham Performing Arts Center, to name a few. It had never occurred to me to acquire promotional posters announcing the release of The Wedding Album hanging in record stores (a name becoming obsolete at the time—stores had switched over to CDs and tape cassettes whose quality matched that of someone using a chainsaw to play a violin), or Arena, or Astronaut or All You Need is Now, or any of their thirteen (soon to be fourteen) albums. Hell, I barely noticed them. Kind of like passing the same coffee shop on your way to work every day and never stopping in, and then finding out how good the coffee is when you finally do.
As Andy teased his loyal followers with snapshots of the book in the printing process, I could already tell we were going to get something special. What I didn’t expect was to encounter the band from an entirely new lens and walk away from it changed. After thirty years, I didn’t think that was possible.
Yesterday, Andy posted this Francis Bacon quote: "Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly." Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran is unequivocally one of those books. I was still digesting it when I posted my first two-sentence review a few days ago: “This isn’t a fan book. It’s an art book.” I was still too full, too speechless, to come up with anything else. Having fully digested it now (and ready for a second helping), I can elaborate a bit more.
Perhaps I should start with the superficial and work my way in. This is a bona fide coffee table book, weighing four-to-five pounds, complete with dust jacket, the primary title embossed in red, and a cover image of a wall saturated with Duran Duran posters—an apt metaphor and a glimpse into the lives of those die-hard Duranies who have saturated their lives with all things Duran Duran (see photo below). Between the covers are 260 glossy pages of posters and commentary, with an introduction by keyboardist Nick Rhodes to kick things off.
The book itself is multi-faceted. It is more than a biography of a band’s celebrated career; it is an artistic, romantic, and human narrative.
For starters, Golub, with the assistance of his life partner, Christine Born, has presented a history of Duran Duran in posters—beginning with the very first black, red, and white posters hand-made by bassist John Taylor while he was still in art college—spanning across three decades of lineup changes, logos, hairstyles, fashion, and technology—and ending with the band’s final tour stops in 2012 (one of which just so happened to be a show I attended at Durham Performing Arts Center in North Carolina; I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d just been waved at when I saw the poster from that memorable August night).
The visual history is astounding, especially since it includes posters from all over the world, reminding me that this post-punk Birmingham band is beloved by generations of all races, religions, languages, and lifestyles.
Page after page, poster after poster, we witness the evolution of Duran Duran: new romantics to pin-up pop stars to spin-off bands to a restricted lineup with an identity crisis to a group of musicians with a keen design sense to a reunited, re-charged, reincarnation of our beloved band fully assimilated in the new millennium. Equally impressive is the impeccable detail and wealth of knowledge that accompanies each photo—historical accounts, identification of dates, designers, original locations, and more. Andy has done his homework, and then some. For those Duranies who think they know everything about their favorite band, think again—I was struck by how much I didn’t know, and I was delighted to learn. I was equally mesmerized by images I’d never seen, never knew existed.
Most of all, this book is a work of art about an art form that hides in plain sight, and a band who are artists, stylists, and designers as much as they are musicians. In his introduction, Nick Rhodes says: “To this day, [John Taylor] and I still agonize over images, colour schemes, typefaces, and stylization relating to every aspect of our band’s visual presentation.” In turn, we get to reap the rewards of that agony and, for art/design aficionados, to debate and discuss, analyze and apply them.
The book is priced at $75.00—while this may seem steep, compare it to renowned rock photographer Denis O’Regan’s new book Careless Memories (documenting photos he took during the band’s Sing Blue Silver tour in 1984), which runs anywhere from £250 to £2500. Beautiful Colors tells a different story, from a different perspective, but is of no less value than O’Regan’s narrative when it comes to the fan experience. For some, it might even be richer.
Some might grumble about the shipping costs, especially overseas. And while this is understandable, Andy is committed to finding more feasible solutions. His mission is to bring his book to those who want it, and he is working tirelessly to do so. To know Andy is to know he is passionate, dedicated, and devoted to the collection he’s spent a lifetime nurturing. For him, and those who proudly covet a copy, this book has always been more than a product or a publication. It was a labor of love.
Overall, I argue that Beautiful Colors is a book for the Duran Duran Elite. It is also for design students, pop culture enthusiasts, time capsule historians, and, perhaps most of all, collectors.
Buy it for yourself. Or buy it for the Duranie in your life.
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I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.