Really — there’s not point in reviewing the music on this album.
Rio turns 20 next year, and even mainstream rock music criticism begrudgingly considers this album a classic.
Duran Duran may have been pretty, and Rio is certainly a pretty album. But this music is timeless in the way it dates the 1980s.
As such, Capitol’s reissue of the album is less an attempt to reintroduce new listeners to great (old) music as it is to target the band’s initial demographic, now aging and armed with their own disposable income.
The digitally remastered Rio also contains a lot of CD-ROM extras. It’s those features on which this review will mostly concentrate. And Capitol deserve a few praises.
First off, the CD-ROM designers don’t feel it necessary to hijack a user’s computer. Putting Rio in your drive won’t result in your screen blacking out dramatically while you’re composing that very important piece of e-mail.
Instead, a polite, simple text window pops up giving users an option to listen to the album or explore the CD-ROM. A soft sell — very elegant.
The “index page” of the CD-ROM sports a floating cube that allows users to explore the rest of the disc. Handling it can be difficult, and the lack of labeling on the images doesn’t indicate those are links to the videos. The CD fails in terms of usability in that regard.
But venturing deeper into the extras is incredibly satisfying.
The gallery contains dozens of pictures, a good number of them probably never published till now. A discography section charts the myriad of discs released by the band around the world at that time. The lyric section seems a bit redundant, especially since the album contains a lyric sheet.
The disc includes three full-length videos of the album’s singles. The resolution on the clips look only marginally better than a medium-bandwidth streaming file. You get better viewing from a VHS copy of Greatest.
While the clips look spotty, the accompanying notes that pop up next to them are pretty illuminating. Imagine having to stand barefoot on hot stone, and you get a better appreciation for the ending of “Save a Prayer.”
In short, even the most lapsed Duranie will find the interactive portion of Rio an enjoyable experience.
This particular reissue comes in two covers — a regular jewelbox and a cardboard gatefold. Hardcore fans would be remiss not to get the gatefold sleeve.
Replicating an old album gatefold sleeve, the Rio packaging also includes an alternate cover painted by Patrick Nagel that appeared only in Japan. It’s a beauty. (Although not as impressive as the cloth-bound cover of AJICO’s Fukamidori.)
Capitol has set it sights on making long-time Duranies part with their cash by rehashing old material. Fortunately, this reissue of Rio does its job.