“It’s so hard to cover a song that you love,” admits Blake Robin, the raffish frontman of Luxxury, a DJ-band hybrid that comprises Robin and longtime producer and co-writer Billy Caruso. The track in question is Duran Duran’s 1981 debut single, the New Romantic and highly self-aware electro-synth ballad, “Planet Earth.” Robin was personally selected by Duran Duran’s bassist and co-founder John Taylor to cover the track for the new LP Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran, due out on Modern Records July 15. The collection promises to feature 20 tracks curated by Manimal Vinyl for the benefit of the global human rights organization Amnesty International. Highlights include two distinctive versions of “Rio” by Moby, a heartfelt take on the Simon Le Bon poem “The Chauffeur” by Warpaint, a stab at “Girls on Film” by Soko, and Little Dragon’s “Save a Prayer,” among others. Manimal has previously co-produced several similarly ambitious tribute albums to date, including collaborations with The Cure, Madonna, and David Bowie, each for various charitable organizations such as War Child and Invisible Children.
After speaking extensively with Taylor about the state of pop music and the merit of the project, Robin soon discovered that for the most part, he had the pick of the litter. “I should have chosen something that I didn’t know or like so much. It was very hard to find my way into the cover. I probably sat there for three months staring at a computer screen before I recorded the first note. It was definitely a challenge.”
Despite being a lifelong fan, Robin claims that his personal relationship with Duran Duran began when he was still going by his somewhat tongue-in-cheek alter ego, the presumably Jim Thirlwell-inspired Baron Von Luxxury. “I think in the past, I hid behind humor more than I want to now,” Robin offers. At the witching hour of the 2012 calendar year, John Taylor posted his annual and always eclectic list of his favorite books (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), films (Flight), events (Nick Rhodes’ 50th birthday party in London), and TV shows (Nashville) from the previous year on Duran Duran’s official website. One of the 21 songs Taylor chose was “The Lovely Theresa,” from the Baron Von Luxxury album The Last Seduction. Weeks later Taylor reached out personally to offer praise and advice on how to outline a model for longevity as a young, promising, and ever-evolving musical act.
Though the social report between Luxxury and Duran Duran has reached a place of mutual support and admiration, Robin has the humility to admit that he feels a certain amount of pressure. “My first responsibility is to not make Duran Duran vomit. They’re my childhood heroes. I would prefer they adore it. It would be great if they like it or even love it.”
MAKING PATTERNS RHYME: A TRIBUTE TO DURAN DURAN IS OUT JULY 15. FOR MORE ON LUXXURY, PLEASE VISIT THE BAND’S WEBSITE.