Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Duran Duran - The Singles 81 - 85 (2003)

13 disc box set

In 1982, if you had asked my who my favorite band was, it's very likely that I would have told you Duran Duran (maybe The Police). As MTV finally made it to Bay City cable TV, I was exposed to a lot of Duran Duran. Each CD is supposed to be a faithful copy of the UK vinyl 12" single as it was released in the early '80s, with all of the B-sides and alternate tracks, and each is packaged in a square cardboard sleeve replicating the original artwork. The thirteen cardboard sleeves are then packaged in a heavy-duty card box. The infamous "Night Versions" are available on some of these CD singles. Early on in their career, DD was known for not being content to simply remix their songs; they recorded entirely new versions for the extended versions.

CD 1 Planet Earth (1981). Includes Late Bar, which I can take or leave, but the Night Version is much better than the single version.
  1. Planet Earth – 4:30
  2. Late Bar – 2:57
  3. Planet Earth (Night Version) – 6:18

CD 2 Careless Memories (1981). Not a very good single. This single stands out as one of the few without a remix included on the 12" single. Maybe it wasn't good enough to earn a Night Version? Khanada is a throwaway, and while I had high hopes for the cover of David Bowie's Fame, this version is just boring.
  1. Careless Memories – 3:44
  2. Khanada – 3:28
  3. Fame – 3:17

CD 3 Girls on Film (1981). I like this song. The video, controversial in '81, probably wouldn't even raise an eyelash these days. The Night Version is OK, but doesn't differ too much from the single version. Faster Than Light is a good song, more New Wave than New Romantic.
  1. Girls on Film – 3:30
  2. Faster Than Light – 4:28
  3. Girls on Film (Night Version) – 5:29

CD 4 My Own Way (1981). This is an interesting single because the single version is very different from the version I first heard on the album Rio. This single version has a faster tempo and a string part being played on a synth. I prefer the album version, but this other version isn't too bad. It sounds like a disco producer got to the master tapes without the band's knowledge. The Night Version keeps the faster tempo and string part. Like an Angel is typical B-side stuff.
  1. My Own Way (Single Version) – 3:42
  2. Like An Angel – 4:47
  3. My Own Way (Night Version) – 6:36

CD 5 Hungry Like the Wolf (1982). I loved this song when I first heard it, but I listened to it so much I think I just got tired of it. I don't listen to it much anymore, but that doesn't mean it isn't an eighties classic. The mix on this CD, however, puts Simon LeBon's vocals way back, enabling you to hear more of what else was going on underneath the lyrics: the bubbly synths and slashing guitar over the slap bass line. Other than an extended intro, the Night Version is almost identical to the single version. The live version of Careless Memories is even worse than the versions on CD 2.
  1. Hungry Like the Wolf – 3:31
  2. Careless Memories (Live Version) – 4:12
  3. Hungry Like the Wolf (Night Version) – 5:11

CD 6 Save A Prayer (1982). Probably my least favorite song on the Rio album. Fortunately, it doesn't get a remix here. However, Hold Back the Rain (a much better song) gets 2 remixes! I give the 12" remix the slight edge over the remix. It occurs to me as I listen to Hold Back the Rain that Michael Jackson shamelessly lifted the guitar part for his song Black or White.
  1. Save A Prayer (7" Edit) – 5:28
  2. Hold Back The Rain (Remix) – 4:01
  3. Hold Back The Rain (12" Remix) – 7:06

CD 7 Rio (1982). One of my favorite songs of the '80s. Both versions here are fantastic with Part Two having extended instrumental sections. The saxophone solo is always the same, which is fine by me; I've always liked the way the solo was shaped. The version of The Chauffeur included here is nothing like the album version. If they had released it in the '90s, they would have called it the "unplugged" version. Both this acoustic version and the electronic album version are equally haunting. The Chauffer is an underrated gem. The CD finishes with yet another mix of My Own Way, different from the two mixes on CD 4.
  1. Rio (Part One) – 5:15
  2. The Chauffeur (Blue Silver) – 3:50
  3. Rio (Part Two) – 5:31
  4. My Own Way – 4:37

CD 8: Is There Something I Should Know? (1983). Originally released as a stand-alone single, this song makes me think of traveling to Austin with Scott, Jack, and Kenneth to attend American Legion Boy's State in June, 1983. It's one of the group's better singles. The Monster Mix is mainly instrumental and really doesn't offer much that listener hasn't heard on the single version. Faith in This Colour is an instrumental that sounds like something Vince Clarke would write, but not a bad B-side. The Alternate Slow Mix included here is just needless and boring.
  1. Is There Something I Should Know? – 4:10
  2. Faith in This Colour – 4:09
  3. Is There Something I Should Know? (Monster Mix) – 6:44
  4. Faith in This Colour (Alternate Slow Mix) – 4:06

CD 9: Union of the Snake (1983). I never understood why this was considered good enough to be released as a single. With a bass line lifted from David Bowie's Let's Dance, it just never seems to get going. I'm surprised it was as popular as it was. Secret Oktober should have remained a secret; it's mercifully brief. Needless to say, this may be the first time this CD was listened to in its entirety.
  1. Union of the Snake – 4:24
  2. Secret Oktober – 2:47
  3. Union of the Snake (The Monkey Mix) – 6:27

CD 10: New Moon on Monday (1984). My youngest son and I both like this song. The echoing keyboard part is almost identical to Is There Something I Should Know? but I liked it there, too. The Dance Mix is simply longer with some instrumental verses and choruses. It makes you long for the days of the Night Version so you could hear something different. Tiger Tiger is a moody instrumental that features John Taylor's bass playing.
  1. New Moon on Monday (Album Version) – 4:18
  2. Tiger Tiger – 3:30
  3. New Moon on Monday (Dance Mix) – 6:03

CD 11: The Reflex (1984). When I graduated from high school in May 1984, this song and The Cars' Hello Again were just about all I played in my car. The Nile Rodgers single remixes are different from the album version (and much better), so this is one of the few 12" singles I actually purchased. I think I may still have it somewhere. The US single, however, had different artwork and didn't contain the live version of Make Me Smile. British musicians of a certain age seem to be fascinated with Steve Harley's Make Me Smile. I've heard a number of cover versions. This one isn't bad, but it's not something I would seek out to listen to. For some reason, the band chose to fade out a live version - that's certainly uncommon, maybe the band didn't like how they ended the song onstage. The Dance Mix of the Reflex is one of the band's more interesting remixes, quite different from the 7" mix.
  1. The Reflex (7" version) – 4:26
  2. Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) (Recorded Live at Hammersmith Odeon) – 4:58
  3. The Reflex (Dance Mix) – 6:34

CD 12: The Wild Boys (1984). This single marks the point when Duran Duran started to become irrelevant to me. I didn't like it then and still don't. So the highlight of this single is the live version of Cracks In The Pavement, not a bad song.
  1. The Wild Boys – 4:18
  2. (I'm Looking For) Cracks In The Pavement ([Live] 1984) – 4:10
  3. The Wild Boys (Wilder Than Wild Boys) Extended Mix – 8:00

CD 13: A View to a Kill (1985). I thought the band was recovering here, but, even though the song is better than the movie, it wasn't good enough for me to purchase. As a single, this is a major disappointment, containing just the single version plus a brief John Barry orchestral version that was used in the movie (which would be of absolutely no interest to the typical DD fan). I remember going to see this movie in the summer of 1985 with a friend of the family, John. A former girlfriend of mine dropped by the house as we were leaving, so she came with us to the movie. Watching John hit on her that night was awkward, to say the least.
  1. A View To A Kill – 3:37
  2. A View To A Kill (That Fatal Kiss) – 2:31

1 comment:

  1. Put me down as liking the ones you like (Night Versions)and also liking the ones you don't like (the shimmering synths of "Save A Prayer" and the thundering drums of "Wild Boys").

    "A View To A Kill" is one of my least favorite Duran Duran tunes and certainly my least favorite Bond, James Bond theme song. The movie ranks as second worst Bond film for me.

    Gratuitous plug for Rob Sheffield's Talking To Girls About Duran Duran - a must read for anyone who ever made a mixtape, had one or more sisters or came of age in the 1980s. I am all three - how 'bout you?