Duran Duran – “Master Mixes” (1987)

duranduranmastermixesThis is a weirdly packaged release.  Six Duran Duran remixes pressed onto two vinyl records and housed in a gatefold sleeve, but each record is single sided.  And it’s not like there’s any fancy etching on the blank sides.  They’re just blank.  So why the hell not just put this all onto one record in a regular sleeve?  And speaking of the sleeve, what’s up with the cover?  I assume this was all done very intentionally, perhaps to give the whole thing the cachet of some kind of underground DJ white label or something.  Seems like a lot of extra cost and trouble, though.

As for the jams, Duran Duran was one of if not my very first musical guilty pleasure – I had a cassette copy of Seven and the Ragged Tiger that I hid in my room, away from my other tapes so none of my metal loving friends would see it and give me crap.  That’s just sort of how it was then, or at least it seemed that way in my 12-year-old world.  Your musical tastes were one of the things you used to define you, and those tastes legitimately impacted how other kids reacted to and treated you.  Dumb?  Of course.  True?  Definitely.

But I digress.  Duran Duran is one of those bands that lends itself to the remix treatment, and these six cuts sound outstanding on my Rega, clear and bold.  I’m not sure why this thing was put out, but I’m glad it was – if you’re down with 1980s remixes, Master Mixes is definitely for you.

Duran Duran – “Thanksgiving Live – The Ultra Chrome, Latex and Steel Tour” (2018)

This was a Record Store Day impulse buy.  My buddy Travis and I got down to Easy Street Records to queue up about 45 minutes before they opened, both of us with our want lists for the day.  As the initial surge of people funneled through we attempted to go through the RSD bins in alphabetical order, but it quickly devolved into a moderate clusterfuck.  However, as the taller of us I was able to quickly reach over to the B section to grab us both copies of the Baby Huey re-release, and as I was stuck in front of the Ds while trying to make my way down to the Ks to see if The Kills was still available, this Duran Duran double live album caught my eye.  And since Holly is a big Duran Duran fan, I figured why not?

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As I perused the track list while waiting in line to pay for my records I was surprised at how few of these 18 songs I knew, at least by title.  I’m no Duran Duran superfan or anything, but they have a pretty big catalog of hits, and at first glance I only recognized three tracks – “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “A View to a Kill,” and “Rio”.  You could make a greatest hits comp out of what’s missing, songs like “Girls on Film,” “The Reflex,” “New Moon on Monday,” “The Wild Boys,” “Is There Something I Should Know”… I mean, they have a metric ton of hits.  Of course, upon playing Thanksgiving Live there were some things I recognized but simply didn’t know by their title, like “Bib Bang Generation.”  But still.

This show was originally recorded back in 1997 (♠), and I have to give credit where credit is due – it sounds great.  Duran Duran doesn’t try to blow your eardrums out with volume, nor is their range particularly extreme on either the high or low ends, both of which help.  You get a bit of the crowd noise, though at times that almost sounds like it was added afterwards – I can’t be sure, but the audience seems a bit too loud and noticeable at just the right times.  Regardless, it’s an enjoyable listening experience.

(♠) It was originally released on CD in 2017 under the title Thanksgiving Live At Pleasure Island.  It appears that the CD version is missing the track “Buried in the Sand,” which opens Side C of the vinyl.

Duran Duran – “Tiger! Tiger!” (1984)

durandurantigertigerI’m not sure why this 12″ of Duran Duran remixes was only released in Japan.  I’m sure it made its way to various US and European stores as an “import”, but given that Duran Duran was seemingly at the top of the pop world in 1984 this collection seems like it could have moved up the charts itself.  Maybe remixes hadn’t fully penetrated those other markets, I don’t know.

Tiger! Tiger! came out in 1984, with four of its tracks coming off the previous year’s mega-hit Seven And The Ragged Tiger, with the fifth, “Is There Something I Should Know”, a chart-topping non-album single (#1 in the UK, #4 in the US) in 1983 that later appeared on band’s follow-up album Arena.  Duran Duran’s style of New Romanticism was perfectly suited for the remix treatment, and at nearly 30 minutes it’s a dance party reminiscent of some of the Madonna remix collections released around the same time in Japan.  If you’re into Duran Duran, or just into 80s pop in general, you’re going to love it.

Duran Duran – “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” (Sh*t I Play On My Crosley #5) (1983)

My musical awakening happened in 1983, the same year that Seven and the Ragged Tiger came out.  Back then as an insecure middle schooler the kind of music you liked seemed like some incredibly serious business, something along the level of being a Trotskyist versus a Stalinist, or preferring the cop in the Village People to the construction worker.  What you listened to defined who you were as a person and what you were about.  Kind of like being part of a cult.  Even though, of course, that was all bullshit.  But it seemed real at the time, and I chose to define myself as a “rocker” by listening to Ratt and Quiet Riot and Van Halen (including wearing a Van Halen painters hat with VH buttons on it, which just oozed cool at the mall).  There were certain tweener bands an aspiring rocker could still confess to liking, like maybe Big Country or Dexy’s Midnight Runners or Toto.  One of the bands you could not confess to liking was Duran Duran.

I secretly liked Duran Duran.  A lot.

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I could never admit this, of course, because that would have invited ridicule and wedgies.  But to see the “Rio” video on MTV was captivating, and when “The Reflex” came out I just about lost my mind.  Fortunately my mom worked at the mall, so during the summers I’d sometimes go to work with her and hang out there all day by myself, much of which was spent in whatever mall chain record store we had in Columbia, South Carolina at the time. Which gave me the opportunity to secretly buy a copy of Seven and the Ragged Tiger on cassette, a format that was much easier to hide in my room without the risk not of my parents finding it, but one of my friends.  Such things seemed very important back then.

A year or so later we moved from South Carolina to Seattle, which of course could mean only one thing to my parents – road trip.  We drove.  In a van.  With a dog.  It took a few weeks as we made some visits to friends and family along the way.  We went to Canton, Ohio to visit friends and see the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and then made a stop off in St. Louis to visit some other family friends.  Their son Tommy and I had been quite close as little kids when our families both moved to Seattle (my first stint here) at the same time and both families were living in the same hotel for what seemed like forever.  Tommy and I would run up and down the halls between our rooms and trade football cards – he wanted the Cardinals, I wanted the Eagles, and we both agreed that Kenny Stabler was cool.  These are the things upon which friendships are based.

Tommy also had a sister who was a couple of years older, and though I’m not sure how it came up during our visit to St. Louis, she learned I had a copy of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  She also thought she was pretty good at Intellivision baseball, which led to a bet – she put up a dollar against my Duran Duran tape.  I was even more entrenched in my rockism to the point I couldn’t even allow myself the guilty pleasure of “Union of the Snake” any longer.  As I recall I won the game pretty handily, but gave her the tape anyway.  I wonder if she still has it…

This was a no-brainer for a Crosley record – an album so popular that it sold a ba-jillion copies, yet is dated enough to have landed in lots of dollar bins, making it supremely un-rare.  I found a playable copy the other day at Half Price Books and figured “why not” since I had some store credit.  And I’m glad I did.  Because at my age I can admit to liking whatever I want, and as the Beastie Boys said, “and if you don’t like it then hey fuck you.”