For anyone of a certain age, the terrors of the 80s school disco were rarely soothed by the anthemic ballads that would signal the close of the night’s adolescent theatre. Now perhaps somewhat blunted by its regular play on nostalgia stations, few tracks trigger memories of that hormonal rush and self-confidence wobble as vividly as Duran Duran’s 1982 classic Save A Prayer.
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“Every one of us is performing at the peak of our talents”
Issued on 9 August as the third single from the seminal Rio album, Save A Prayer positioned the British five-piece at the front of the pop pack when it made it all the way to No.2 in their homeland, their highest chart position to date. In the US, the song’s promo video, filmed in Sri Lanka earlier that year, would go into heavy rotation on the newly launched MTV, helping to establish the group as the market’s most dynamic new live draw.
“The writing on Rio is fantastic, all out,” bassist John Taylor would conclude in his 2012 autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran. “Every one of us is performing on the Rio album at the absolute peak of our talents… there is no showboating. Every part is thoughtful, considered and part of a greater whole.”
Indicative of this harmonious approach to the material is Taylor’s assessment of how Save A Prayer, demoed at Highbury Studio in Kings Heath, Birmingham, ahead of recording sessions with producer Colin Thurston at London’s AIR Studios, came together. “That song began with Andy [Taylor, guitarist] and Nick [Rhodes, keyboardist], who were probably the farthest apart from each other in musical temperament, picking out chords together, building the most delicate and complex of our sequencer tracks to date. The rest of the song was hung upon that frame.”