Timberlake helping Duran Duran get 'sexy back'

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NEW YORK, Nov 3 (Reuters) More than 25 years after the release of its first album, '80s pop group Duran Duran is still learning new tricks -- this time from US hip-hop mogul Timbaland and pop sensation Justin Timberlake.

Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor joined forces with the US stars for their 13th album, ''Red Carpet Massacre,'' due to be released in the United States on November 13 and in Britain on November 19.

''What they taught us was that you had to be quick and that your first ideas are often the best ideas. We have made quite a few albums which were quite long, tortuous processes,'' drummer Roger Taylor told Reuters in an interview.

Former Mouseketeer Timberlake produced and sang on the first single, ''Falling Down,'' while Timothy ''Timbaland'' Mosley produced and is featured on three tracks. Another eight songs were produced by Duran Duran and Nate ''Danja'' Hills, who also worked with pop star Britney Spears on her latest album.

''It's a real collaboration and we haven't really written with that many artists before,'' said keyboardist Rhodes.

Lead singer Simon LeBon said the band -- with each member in his 40s and with more than 85 million albums sold -- is always looking ahead and aware of new music.

''We tend to look at other artists who are happening now and making great records, of which Timbaland and Justin Timberlake have been at the forefront over the past few years,'' he said.

''So as soon as we got the opportunity to work with them it was like 'Yeah, who wouldn't?''' he added.

Not only has Duran Duran been taking notes, so has Timberlake -- who was born the same year Duran Duran released their first album -- says a Billboard review of ''Falling Down.'' ''Duran Duran has remained relevant enough without any outside help through the years; is this kid going to contemporize the band into an object of ridicule?,'' it asked.

''Thankfully, 'Falling' demonstrates surprising versatility from Timberlake. The song is true to Duran Duran's beloved melodic imprint, demonstrating that Timberlake is the one who's learning new tricks here,'' Billboard said.

Nylon magazine described the album as Duran Duran getting its ''sexy back'' in a play on the title of one of Timberlake's hit singles.

Duran Duran initially recorded an album titled ''Reportage'' as a follow-up to 2004's ''Astronaut,'' which was the first album by all the original members -- the current quartet plus Andy Taylor -- since 1983.

Andy Taylor again decided to leave the band last year.

LeBon jokingly described the split as ''dodgy stuff,'' while Rhodes more diplomatically said: ''We just drifted apart; it was a relationship that didn't work anymore. He wanted something a little different then the four of us wanted.'' Taylor's departure turned out to be a catalyst for working with Timbaland, Timberlake and Hills and recording a whole new album, which the band also said was also heavily influenced by ''the tempo of modern life.'' But older fans need not worry about the new collaboration: ''It's very much a Duran Duran album,'' Rhodes said.

REUTERS SKB RN1703

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