When Duran Duran’s Rio was first released on CD back in the early 90s, U.S. fans introduced to the band after 1983 were in for a shock.
The album on CD sounded nothing like the album on vinyl or cassette. The songs were shorter, and the arrangements weren’t fleshed out.
As it turns out, fans late to the game bought a remixed version of the album that contained many dance mixes of the songs. When it came time to release Rio on CD, the band opted to use its original masters, with shorter songs.
What does this have to do with a remastering of the band’s first self-titled CD? There’s a similar track change on this reissue as well.
Don’t panic — it’s not as drastic as finding out the album you knew and loved didn’t really start out that way.
To capitalize on Duran Duran’s breakthrough in the U.S. during the early ’80s, Capitol reissued the band’s first album, replacing “To the Shore” with a then-new single, “Is There Something I Should Know?”
Guess what? “Is There Something I Should Know?” is nowhere on this remastered issue of Duran Duran, and that’s something of a blessing and a curse.
In terms of mood and temperament, “To the Shore” definitely matched the rest of Duran Duran far better than the highly-glossy “Is There Something I Should Know?” ever did.
At the same time, it isn’t one of the band’s best songs, and Duran Duran was justified in removing it on later pressings. (In fact, the very first issue of the album didn’t contain it.)
As such, it takes some adjustment to consider “Careless Memories” as the conclusion of “side one” after years of conditioning by “Is There Something I Should Know?”
In terms of sound, the difference is magnificent. The remastered version makes full use of stereo, and the overall volume of the album has been greatly boosted. Headphones listening reveals subtle flourishes on “Friends of Mine” and “Night Boat” buried on the original pressing.
Unlike Capitol’s reissue of Rio back in 2001, the remastered Duran Duran has no extras — no photos, no videos. The limited edition gatefold is just fancy packaging, and it doesn’t even contain an inner sleeve to protect the disc from scratches by the cardboard cover.
With the release of The Singles 81-85, Capitol probably hopes the lack of new material on these reissues would force Duranies to get the boxed set. (And damn it — it’s fucking working.)
Still, it’s safe to say this remastered version of Duran Duran is worth the redundancy. Go ahead and sell that old version to a used CD shop.
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.