Sunday, October 11, 2009

DURAN DURAN/Rio (Deluxe 2CD Edition) review

While I was never a hardcore Duran Duran fan, I must admit that their first two albums were (and are) amazing slices of '80s pop.  From Funk-inspired rhythms to soaring melodies, Duran Duran successfully melted their influences (Chic, Roxy Music) into a sound that was unique, glossy and commercial.

Originally part of the New Romantic movement alongside their biggest rivals, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran hit all the right buttons (literally and figuratively) and broke away from the pack with a successful self-titled debut album and a sound that was more instantly loveable than any of their contemporaries.

When the band released Rio in 1982, it became a bigger monster than anyone could ever imagine.  The album single-handedly destroyed the band's link to the New Romantic movement and created something entirely unexpected: Duran Duran as a teenybopper band!  No one was more surprised than the band themselves! They did not, in their wildest dreams, ever imagine that they'd be embraced by a generation of teenage girls who loved their look just as much as the music they created. 

This teenage adulation pretty much killed the band's chances of ever winning over the critics, but then again, they became millionaires almost overnight so they weren't complaining! 

Rio contained a handful of successful singles including "Hungry Like The Wolf", "My Own Way", "Save A Prayer" and "Rio". The rest of the album's tracks also recieved plenty of exposure on radio stations like KROQ (Los Angeles) including "Hold Back The Rain", "Last Chance On The Stairway" and "Lonely In Your Nightmare".  Of all the Duran Duran albums, this is the one that EVERYBODY seemed to own. While the first album was an exciting glimpse inside a new band and a new scene, Rio was a slicker, more confident album that deserved every bit of it's success.

After Rio, everything went downhill. Seven And The Ragged Tiger was a mess and pretty much every album they've released since then has been a missed opportunity: great singles mixed with barely tolerable material. All these years later, they still haven't managed to create a single album that is worthy enough to stand in the same room as Rio...

But that's not so bad, because EMI have chosen to release the ULTIMATE Rio experience with a two CD deluxe edition of the album that not only reminds us of what a great album it is, but also offers up an insider's view of the album by adding remixes, demos, non-album b-sides and so much more.

For 25 years, I was never aware that the US pressing of the album contained alternate mixes to the UK version (but maybe that's because I never owned the import vinyl?)!  Disc One of this set contains the original UK mix of the album (which is way better in my opinion) plus five of the US mixes from the American version of the album. These are the mixes that all of us yanks know backwards and forwards, so it's really exciting to hear the original mixes.  They do sound much better and, while I can still appreciate the US mixes, I'll forever swear by the UK mixes now!

Disc Two features early demos of four tracks plus non album singles/b-sides (including the single version of "My Own Way", which is as close to Disco as the Duran boys ever got) plus extended mixes and more.

If you thought that Rio was perfect already, then prepare to be gobsmacked because this is even better!

Up to this point, no UK band had managed to create an album that summed up the times so perfectly. Ironically, it was their old rivals, Spandau Ballet, who actually bettered the Duranies the following year when they released their classic album, True.

But that's another story....

Disc 1

Original U.K. album mix U.S. album & EP remixes

1. Rio 10. Rio (U.S. album remix)

2. My Own Way 11. My Own Way (Carnival Remix)

3. Lonely In Your Nightmare (U.S. 12” Carnival EP)

4. Hungry Like The Wolf 12. Lonely In Your Nightmare

5. Hold Back The Rain (U.S. album remix)

6. New Religion 13. Hungry Like The Wolf (U.S. album remix)

7. Last Chance On The Stairway 14. Hold Back The Rain (U.S. album remix)

8. Save A Prayer

9. The Chauffeur

Disc 2

Manchester Square demos (recorded August 28, 1981)

1. Last Chance On The Stairway

2. My Own Way

3. New Religion

4. Like An Angel

Non-album U.K. singles & B-sides

5. My Own Way (original 7” version - U.K. single A-side, released Nov. 1981)

6. Like An Angel (U.K. single B-side, released Nov. 1981)

7. Careless Memories (live - U.K. single B-side, released May 1982)8. The Chauffeur (Sing Blue Silver) (U.K. single B-side, released Nov. 1982)

Alternate versions & re-mixes

9. My Own Way (Night Version) (U.K. 12" single A-side, released Nov. 1981)

10. Hungry Like The Wolf (Night Version) (U.K. 12" single A-side, released May 1982)

11. Rio (Night Version) (Dutch 12" Carnival EP, released Sept. 1982)

12. New Religion (Carnival Remix) (Japanese 12" Carnival EP, released Sept. 1982)

13. Hold Back The Rain (Carnival Remix) (U.S. 12" Carnival EP, released Sept. 1982)
Hungry Like The Spaz,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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