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Editorial Reviews

Anybody who likes reading about music knows Rob Sheffield. A music journalist for more than 20 years, Sheffield's pop culture musings have consistently been some of the funniest rays of sunshine radiating from every issue of Rolling Stone. His first book, Love Is a Mix Tape, rocketed into best seller territory, and this second effort will follow easily on the heels of its predecessor. Narrating Sheffield's rocky rock and roll journey to the heart of his ‘80s adolescence is Scott Shepard, who stays in step from start to finish.

Sheffield emphasizes that he is hardly a good singer, and Shepard dutifully renders the very many bits of lyrics in the fine tradition of half-speaking-half-singing dudes who argue about music history in bars. Everything Sheffield writes is hilarious, from classifying his mopey Morrissey days to listing his top favorite songs released on ‘cassingle’. Shepard delivers these rapid-fire manifestoes to all that is good and shameful in the ‘80s with the speculatory gusto that they deserve. Any one of the short and mostly chronological chapters, each devoted to memories evoked by a particular song, will feel familiar. After all, who among us does not have something filed away under Tone Loc or Def Leppard, Prince or The Replacements? You will unavoidably succumb to Sheffield’s analysis of the mystical powers of Duran Duran.

Shepard plays to all of Sheffield's various moods. Imagine every character's best rant from the two classic record store films Empire Records and High Fidelity, and then throw in the occasional Irish brogue for when Sheffield is talking about his family. The improbable love child of Henry Rollins and Molly Ringwald, Sheffield's take on the defining milestones of his youth is nothing short of majestic. Scott Shepard does a top-notch job of narrating the voice of a generation. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

The author of the national best seller Love Is a Mix Tape returns, with a different - but equally personal and equally universal - spin on music as memory. Now, in Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, Sheffield shares the soundtrack to his '80s adolescence.

When he turned 13 in 1980, Rob Sheffield had a lot to learn about women, love, music, and himself, and in Talking to Girls About Duran Duran we get a glimpse into his transformation from pasty, geeky "hermit boy" into a young man with his first girlfriend, his first apartment, and a sense of the world. These were the years of MTV and John Hughes movies; the era of big dreams and bigger shoulder pads; and, like any all-American boy, this one was searching for true love and maybe a cooler haircut.

It's all here: Inept flirtations. Dumb crushes. Deplorable fashion choices. Members Only jackets. Girls, every last one of whom seems to be madly in love with the bassist of Duran Duran.

Sheffield's coming-of-age story is one that we all know, with a playlist that any child of the eighties or anyone who just loves music will sing along with. These songs - and Sheffield's writing - will remind readers of that first kiss, that first car, and the moments that shaped their lives.

"If you're going to revisit your youth, let Rob Sheffield be your guide. Nothing compares to him." (Amazon.com)
©2010 Robert Sheffield (P)2010 Penguin Audiobooks

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Before there was Team Edward...there was Team John

I was once a “Duranie.” I spent the early part of my teen years making Duran Duran scrap books with pictures I cut out of magazines like, Teen Beat. The first concert I ever went to was a Duran Duran show at Madison Square Garden when I was 13 years old. Floor seats!

This is what drew me to this audiobook. Sheffield does a great job expressing the nostalgia many of us feel toward our first music loves, and the embarrassment and slight shame our obsessive behavior left us with. This book has actually helped me to come to terms with my Duran Duran past. You’re only 13 once, and the role music takes on for most of us during this time is irreplaceable. Sheffield depicts this relationship with humor and affection which make this book a great listen, and one I would recommend to anyone who grew up in the 80’s.

The narrator does an absolutely terrific job! So much of this book references song lyrics and inside jokes that if read incorrectly would have just ruined the narrative. He obviously had a great understanding of the subject matter, and conveyed the author’s voice perfectly.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jamie
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 09-28-10

Pure 80s Delight!

This was a joy to listen to -- consistently funny, vividly rendered, thoughtful but never self-important, and overall just completely entertaining (and I never even liked Duran Duran!). The laid-back narrator is a perfect match for the self-deprecating humour of the book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fabulous to listen too!

Even though I am older than Rob Sheffield (I was 20 in the 80's), this is still a joy to listen to. It is a wonderful trip through memory lane, with everything from Pretty in Pink to Culture Club. I expected this to be a fun listen, but what I didn't count on was how good of a writer the author is. His vocabulary and flair for words makes this even more enjoyable. I must also give kudos to the narrator, Scott Shepherd, who did a fine job with the various accents and dialect.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Just OK

At first I found the book extremely funny and I loved all the 80s references and music. However, about halfway through the book I seem to hit a wall and just didn't really feel the need to continue. A couple days later, I pushed myself past that wall and finished it. Not really sure what that was about, but overall the book was light, quick, and not awful. Overall disappointing though.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I hate synth, but this book makes me <3 the 80's

Rob Sheffield is the only person in the world who feels about music the way i do. [At least this is how he makes you feel] I can listen to any station and i will relive the moment i first heard that song. He uses the songs we love / loved / loved to hate in order to explain his journey in and out of girl world. We are over a decade apart in age, yet i feel like we've grown up together because of the music in our lives. I recommend this book to anyone with even the leanest knowledge of pop music. It will be a great story for you and an awesome nostalgic trip.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Edward
  • Glenmoore, PA, United States
  • 10-05-10

If you liked 'Hot Tub Time Machine'...

...and you like books, then this one just might be for you.

Having read and enjoyed Sheffield's first book (Love Is a Mixtape), I was excited to see that he had a new book out. While that first book concerned college, marriage, and 90's indie rock, this one is focused on high school and 80's music (with a focus on synth pop and new wave). He's a funny writer, and he trusts his audience to catch the obscure 80's references he drops -- to everything from Roy Parker Jr. lyrics to scenes from ET.

Favorite quote so far: "If you were famous in the Eighties, you will never be not famous. (In theoretical physics, this principle is formally known as the Justine Bateman Constant.) "

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Music and Memoir: Who Could Ask for Anything More?

This audio book is a terrific blend-- part memoir, part music history.

Because many of my own memories of the 80's and 90's are knitted together with the music of that era, I truly appreciated Sheffield's ability to move between telling his own story and it's relationship with the music of that time. Music is the vehicle by which Sheffield can tell his story-- one even suspects that the story wouldn't be a story at all if music weren't part of it.

This is a terrific book for anyone who grew up in the 80's-- particularly those who can hear a song and remember, say, driving in a car up I-95 with 4 other teenage girls screaming the words to "Push it (Real Good)", or walking down the streets of NYC singing "Nothing Compares to YOOOOUUU!" with your BFF, or dancing with a crush to "Crazy For You," or cramming into a recording booth on the Wildwood Boardwalk to sing "Livin' On A Prayer" with your 3 sisters (and one of you still has the cassingle produced from said recording booth... somewhere). These are my own memories, but they might as well be Sheffield's. You'll enjoy every bit of this trip in the way-back machine.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Trip down memory lane

I would probably rate between 3 and 4 stars. Some chapters I loved - other chapters I did not. For example, I was on the edge of my seat with the introductory chapter. Then the chapters dragged a bit. Good memoir. I was growing up around the same time, and I remember some of the exact references the author used.

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  • kathy
  • United States
  • 11-06-15

Much ta-do about nothing

What disappointed you about Talking to Girls About Duran Duran?

I'm a child of the 80's and big fan of the music, but the music alone was not enough to keep me interested. There was little in the drawn-out narrative that was meaningful.

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Brought me back, I loved the narration!

What made the experience of listening to Talking to Girls About Duran Duran the most enjoyable?

Waiting to hear what piece of pop culture he would bring up next, it's great! "Singlets" lol loved that, I totally forgot about those.

Any additional comments?

Two thumbs up, lol that in its self sounds so 80's