Category Archives: B-sides

Ultimate Box Set: Demos

I apologize that today’s blog is so late.  My to-do list is pretty overwhelming today and I have been trying to get through my list as quickly as possible.  As I promised yesterday, I will post the poll to allow people to vote on which demos they think should be considered on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  Just a reminder that this box set is just for fun and we have no ability to make it happen (although I wish we did!).  After the poll, I will share the results from last week’s one on b-sides as well as give my thoughts about those results.

On that note, let’s vote on which demos should be considered to be included on Duran’s Ultimate Box Set.  If you need to hear those demos to vote, I refer you to yesterday’s blog here.

B-Side Results Part 2:

The b-sides that people thought should be considered for the box set include:

  1. Planet Roaring
  2. Northern Lights
  3. Virus
  4. Fallen Angel
  5. Cinderella Ride
  6. Cry Baby Cry
  7. Valentine Stones

Last week focused on b-sides from the Wedding Album to the band’s most recent release.  What do I notice about the results?  Most of them are from Paper Gods.  Then, there is one from Red Carpet Massacre and one from Astronaut.  Perhaps, this is an indication of which album is more popular or which era is more of a fan favorite.  It could also be showing that now-a-days those extra tracks are more important than they were during the late 1990s.  What do think of those results?

Next weekend, we will then pick 7 songs from the 14 b-sides people thought should be considered as well as the 7 demos from this week.   Happy Voting!!!

-A

Ultimate Box Set: B-Sides Results Part 1

It is Sunday!  This means that it is time for me to provide a little analysis on last week’s vote about the Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set.  So far, we (the fans) have picked singles and album tracks.  We are working on the 3rd category:  B-Sides/Demos.  I divide the category into three parts:  B-Sides through Liberty, B-Sides after Liberty and Demos.

Here are the results so far:

Singles:

  1. Planet Earth
  2. Save a Prayer
  3. Ordinary World
  4. Girls on Film
  5. Pressure Off
  6. Rio
  7. New Moon on Monday

Album tracks:

  1. New Religion
  2. The Chauffeur
  3. Hold Back the Rain
  4. Friends of Mine
  5. The Man Who Stole a Leopard
  6. The Seventh Stranger
  7. Paper Gods

B-Sides in the running:

  1. Secret Oktober
  2. Late Bar
  3. Faster Than Light
  4. (Come Up and See Me) Make Me Smile
  5. I Believe/All I Need to Know
  6. Khanada
  7. Like an Angel

Analysis:

The first thing I noticed when looking at the results was that every b-side through Liberty was chosen at least once.  That said, the vast majority of votes did not include b-sides from Liberty.  Fans chose mostly b-sides from the early 1980s rather than from the middle to late 1980s.

I’m not surprised by that.  For one thing, I bet more fans are familiar with those b-sides.  How many Duranies don’t know Secret Oktober?  Even if you never bought singles or didn’t buy the box set, most Duranies I know have seen Sing Blue Silver and that song played as the credits rolled.  On the same note, I suspect that there were b-sides from Liberty like Throb that not as many Duranies even know.  It is hard to vote for a song that you don’t even know.

On top of just being more familiar with those early tracks, it seems to me that Duran worried more about the quality of the b-sides in the early 1980s.  They knew that fans might buy singles if the b-side offered something new and fabulous.  By the late 1980s, the industry was changing.  There were far fewer people even buying singles in any format.  Now, of course, b-sides are more like those extra tracks on CDs.  Based on that, I’m willing to bet that next week’s results show this pattern again with the most popular b-sides being the more recent ones released as extra tracks.  Speaking of next week, if you want to vote, then go here!  Happy voting!

-A

Ultimate Box Set: B-Sides Part 2

This weekend, we continue our task to create the ultimate Duran Duran box set.  While Rhonda and I think that we could come up with a pretty great list of songs that fit each category (singles, album tracks, b-sides/demos, live tracks and side/solo projects), we thought it would be more fun to have all the fans participate!  So far, fans chose singles and album tracks.  Last week, we started on b-sides/demos and realized that there were too many to choose from all at once!  Therefore, we split up the b-sides/demos into parts.

We started with the first 18 b-sides.  Today, we will finish with the last 18 b-sides.  Next week, then, we start tackling demos!  After we have decreased the choices to 21, then we vote for 7 total.

Enough of my usual, boring intro.  You all know the drill by now.  It is time to vote!

Ultimate Box Set: B-Sides Part 1

A few months ago, we started a fun little task around here.  We asked that Duranies everywhere vote to develop a Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  This box set will contain 7 singles, 7 album tracks, 7 b-sides/demos, 7 live tracks and 7 side/solo project songs.  Through weeks of voting, the 7 singles have been chosen as have the 7 album tracks.  Now is the time to move on to b-sides and demos.  This section proved a bit more difficult for me to develop.  I’m pretty confident in my Duran knowledge.  Yet, I had to do some additional research to create the complete list of b-sides and demos.  I’m willing to bet that I missed a few (probably MORE than a few!).

In doing my research, I discovered that there are a lot more b-sides than what I originally thought.  Here’s the thing.  Back in the day, as much as I hate that phrase, b-sides were literally located on the back of singles, 45s, whatever you want to call them.  In recent decades, there are no 45s.  Instead, b-sides have morphed into extra tracks.  Therefore, I put all extra songs into the b-side category.  This meant that the b-sides number more than 30.  Wow.  I didn’t think that I could chose just 7 from all of the 30+ b-sides.  Then, if I added demos, the list grows even bigger.  EEK!

Therefore, much like I did with the album tracks, I split the list.  The poll here has about 18 or so b-sides.  Next week, I’ll do a poll of the rest of the b-sides.  Two weeks from now, it will be the demos before I combine the results into one poll.  On that note, here is the poll for half of the b-sides.  Like always, pick 7 of them.  Unlike always, I left an option to add one, in case I forget a song.  That said, generally, these b-sides are from the 80s.  Next week, I’ll ask about the later ones.

On that note, vote away, people!  Have fun!

-A

 

Flip it to the B-Side

Recently, Rhonda and Amanda offered the topic of regret as a one to guest blog about. As I pondered that, I actually thought of two regrets that I think are intertwined. It all begins with a simple question: How often do you listen to music? I mean really listen—put on headphones, close your eyes, and take it all in? 

What has struck me recently is the fact that, as an adult, I never just listen to music. It’s always in conjunction with some other activity. Music is on in the car, or on the iPod while doing yard work, or at work. In fact, the only time in the last ten or so years that I can recall just listening to music would be when I’ve been on an airplane. I can’t count that, though, since when I fly I also try to ward off thoughts of crashing into mountains, engines bursting into flames, etc. (Yes, I hate flying.)

Thirty years ago the opposite was true: I was listening to music, and doing nothing else, all the time. I didn’t get my first walkman until 1986 and the first cassette I popped in was Seven and the Ragged Tiger. I will never forget how blown away I was by the experience. And even without the walkman, I had spent hours listening to all of the early Duran cassettes, as well as So Red the Rose, on my boom box. And then I would make mix tapes and listen to those.  Listening to music was its own activity back then.  

I’ve tried to tell myself that there is not that much of a difference between sitting in a dark room with headphones on versus going for a walk while listening to your iPod, but it still isn’t truly the same. I remember imagining videos for every song on So Red the Rose back in 1985; today, I can easily go for a walk or mow the lawn and completely lose track of the playlist and wonder how I missed certain songs that had played. 

And thus does my first regret spawn a second one: Not only do I miss the days of listening to music for listening’s sake, I miss the distinctive sides that you’d find on a record or cassette.   One of the elements of those childhood and teenage listening sessions was appreciating and analyzing how different each side of the cassette was. It was a different experience listening to the B side of those early Duran albums. You could generally expect to find more of the radio friendly songs on side A, while side B tended toward the slower and darker material. (R.E.M. took this to another level when they used to actually name their sides, e.g. “Memory Side” and “Time Side”).
 
I realize that it’s the songs, and not the format, that make side A differ from side B. And certainly, in the Duran catalogue, the difference is more pronounced on some albums than others (more on that in a second). But there’s nothing like that unmistakable hiss you would hear just as the cassette was about to run out. And that longer delay because you either had to flip it or hit the “reverse” button if you were lucky enough to have a walkman that could do that.  It felt like an intermission…like the band had just rocked out to Hold Back the Rain and were taking a break, and after a moment, were returning as the first haunting notes of New Religion began to play. 

The first song on the B side was always a big deal to me. It set the tone for the second half of the album; it also served as an interesting comparison to the album’s opening track. Night Boat might be the greatest opening track for a B side in the entire catalogue—until New Religion! Of course, even though it’s not officially Duran Duran, Arcadia’s The Promise is another heavyweight track that would seem out of place in any other position on the album.  An exception to this would be Seven and the Ragged Tiger—I think the way side B ends, with Tiger Tiger and The Seventh Stranger, is more distinctive and memorable than how it begins, with Union of the Snake.

The last Duran album I bought on cassette was Big Thing, which is the poster child for albums with disparate sides (even down to the producers—one for each side!). Astronaut, while not completely mirroring the slower tempo and darkness of Big Thing’s B side, probably comes closest of all subsequent Duran albums to offering such a stark contrast between sides. And yet therein lies the problem, for Astronaut is a CD and there are no “sides.” I would assume that Astronaut’s “A” side ends with Nice (track 6)…but that would place “Taste the Summer” as the B side opener. I think Finest Hour is much more appropriate as a “B” side opening track…but without the cassette, who can say for sure? I can’t speak to any aspect of sides or themes when considering The Wedding Album, Thank You or RCM, which seem to all go on and on for one continuous side. Pop Trash Movie serves as a natural breaking point on Pop Trash, and the sequence of slow song/fast song/ slow song that pervades most of the running order is distinctive. Notorious’s two sides represent perfect symmetry: both sides’ lead tracks echo Hitchcock movies; both penultimate tracks are slow; and both final tracks rock the house. Medazzaland actually does have a natural break in the middle with Silva Halo, and the B side gets darker and more experimental (and more awesome…if that’s possible—from the first side. Sorry—I will try to contain my love for that album…!) Likewise, Liberty breaks evenly with its only slow song, My Antarctica, and gets more of an edge on its second side (with a very underrated and solid “Downtown” closing out the proceedings).
 
Which brings us to All You Need is Now. I tend to think of it as Duran’s first three sided album.  Side one ends with Girl Panic; side two ends with Runway Runaway, and side three consists of Before the Rain, Networker Nation, Early Summer Nerves, and Too Close to the Sun.  I’m sure a lot of this is due to the nature of the album’s release (first on iTunes, then the full physical release, then the subsequent “special editions” with more tracks” etc.) It also has to do with how I listened to it—although Before the Rain was part of the iTunes 9 release, I tended to keep replaying Runway Runaway and not really getting into BTR until I had the physical version of the CD with the other material. 

I’m curious what you think—do you find the time to just listen to music? Or is it next to impossible to do so when you’re juggling jobs, families, and other obligations? And when you think about the different sides of Duran Duran albums, what stands out for you? 


C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, both of whom love watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a three year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.   

The Wonderful World of B-Sides

By C.K Shortell
When asked which Duran Duran songs were his favorite, Simon famously compared them to his children, claiming that he simply could not choose one over the others.  While this is both understandable and a little disappointing (You’re sick of Hungry Like the Wolf! Admit it, Simon!), it’s also slightly deceiving. The band does, in fact, pick favorites when it comes to their songs. They choose which songs to include on the album and which to leave for b-sides.  That is the focus of today’s topic: that body of work that falls under the nebulous heading of “non-album” tracks.
I use the term “non-album” to refer to b-sides, demos, leaked songs, and yes, even tracks that appear on special editions of albums. Basically, any song that’s “out there” and not on the physical copy of the basic, non-special edition of the CD is fair game for this analysis. However, I’m going to exclude remixes and live versions – just looking for separate, unique songs that the band decided, for whatever reason, to not include on the CD. To make this more interesting, let’s not only choose a b-side that should have made the final album, but also justify which song it would replace. Rather than go in chronological order, I’ll get us started with some of the most egregious examples of songs that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Beautiful Colours (2004, Astronaut): They say never make assumptions – but I have to assume anyone reading this blog has heard this song. It was leaked with some other demos in 2003, and the band played it live on the 2003-2004 tours. It was the subject of an “Ask Katy” in which Simon testily (if that’s possible to convey via the written word) claimed the song “was unfinished”. In fact, Beautiful Colors has been the subject of several Ask Katy Q&A’s:  http://www.duranduran.com/wordpress/index.php?s=Beautiful+Colours&cat=12
At odds with the band’s insistence that the song is “unfinished” is the announcement that they allowed the song to be used as part of a special video clip at The FIFA 100 Charity Auction & Tribute Ceremony on March 4, 2004:  http://www.duranduran.com/wordpress/page/2/?s=Beautiful+Colours&cat=6
So, in summary: Stop asking Duran about “Beautiful Colours” because it’s not finished, it’s not going to be on the album, but FIFA can use it, and the band will promote the fact that FIFA is using it.  But it’s unfinished.
I’m not trying to pick on the band. Well, maybe a little. I think the song does need some work – the lyrics on the studio version I have and a bootleg from one of the UK shows are different, and the bridge feels like it could use a better guitar solo. But with whatever warts it has, Beautiful Colours is a great piece of music. It’s the perfect marriage of Andy’s guitar and Nick’s synths. The bass and drums powerfully drive the song to that lush chorus. As I always qualify, I’m not a musician so forgive these amateur descriptions.  But if there was a 21st century example of the “powerful dance music” that Duran Duran set out to create in 1981, Beautiful Colours is it.
Most importantly, for the purposes of this discussion, it quite simply is better (in my humble opinion) than most of the songs that made the cut on Astronaut. I would have put it as the opening, or at worst, 2nd track after Sunrise, and bumped everything else down by one, and probably sent Point of No Return into the b-side netherworld.
Salt in the Rainbow (2004, Astronaut): This isn’t a “let’s pick on Astronaut” day at the blog (maybe it should be?) but “Salt in the Rainbow” is a ballad in the classic tradition of Duran’s slower songs that dates back to Save a Prayer and The Seventh Stranger.  As with Beautiful Colours, it too feels unfinished in places. I’m not a fan of that echo effect just before the third verse, and Simon’s voice sounds slightly off during the chorus (nothing that can’t be fixed during production!).  But this is a beautiful song that should have seen the light of day.  to stick to the rules I laid out at the beginning of this blog, I would have included this on Astronaut and dumped….Bedroom Toys. (And thus saved the lives of countless rubber chickens in 2004-05)
Fallen Angel (1993, The Wedding Album): I really liked The Wedding Album (and still do!). And I also enjoyed the concept of a b-side, with the possibility that I could pick up a cassette or CD single and the band would put a really good non-album track on it to make it worth my while. That being said, I need to invoke the most over-used comeback of 2012: Really? (Again, for effect!) Really guys?  You hide this on one of 2 CD singles for “Come Undone”? Fallen Angel is easily better than half of the songs on TWA (specifically: Drowning Man, Shotgun, Sin of the City, To Whom it May Concern, Femme Fatale, UMF, and on certain days, Breath after Breath). I love it on so many levels; it tells a story, it’s very raw – you can actually hear and distinguish every instrument; it has that classic Simon on Simon harmony (“dangle in the blue”).  I almost wonder if it would have been a better 3rd single than Too Much Information?  Regardless, it should have been on The Wedding Album.
 
Secret Oktober (1983, Seven and the Ragged Tiger): I think this is probably one of the most famous Duran Duran b-sides for a number of reasons: It was released on the height of their popularity during the “classic” ’81-’85 era; it’s markedly different from the album it supports (at least superficially – more on that in a minute), and it’s got a cool name. The story behind this song was that the record label needed a b-side for Union of the Snake. Since SATRT only had 4 songs on it, (I kid, I kid – they actually hadn’t finished writing the album yet), Simon and Nick, along with producer Alex Sadkin, had to come up with something new. Secret Oktober was recorded over a 24 hour period, just barely meeting the deadline. (One would have hoped that Mr. Rhodes saw that great music can actually be made when written and recorded quickly….but apparently that wasn’t the case). For a summary of the various Ask Katy’s on Secret Oktober, see the following link:
As noted above, the song’s slower, haunting tempo, driving by Nick’s synths, is in contrast to the largely bubble-gum pop that would occupy much of SATRT. But as Amanda and Rhonda have discussed recently, many of the lyrics on that album are about loneliness, wanting to “get off the ride”, and the band dealing with the pressure of their fame. Simon talks of smiling
“as the butterfly escapes the killing jar”, which is an allusion to both the pressure and public scrutiny facing the band. In this regard then, Secret Oktober is very much in step with the songs on SATRT. (It’s also a precursor to the moody Arcadia project). Rules are meant to be broken, so I’m going to break mine and not swap Secret Oktober with any song on SATRT. Besides, it just feels wrong messing with the early albums. I tend to agree with the band when they say that maybe the song is all the more special because it “escaped” being on the album (see link above for that reference).  Ultimately, if I were to include it on SATRT, I would put it after Crime and Passion, as either the closing song to the A side or the leading song of side B.  (Those pesky cassettes and their running times!)
I Believe/All I Need to Know (1988, Big Thing): Is it me, or do some albums/eras produce a ton of non-album tracks, while others produce very little? This falls into the latter category as the lone b-side from the Big Thing era (the Krush Brothers LSD edit notwithstanding!). One thing I miss about the pre-CD era is the distinctive nature that different sides of albums had (the topic for another blog, come to think of it!).  Nowhere is this more pronounced in the Duran catalogue than on Big Thing, which involved two different producers and, basically, a “fast”, up-tempo dance side and a slower second side. I Believe bridges the gap between these disparate portions of the album – I think it could fit on either side and not feel out of place. Ultimately, though, I know exactly how I would include this: I would eliminate the song Big Thing, bump every other song up one place and put I Believe after Drug. (And thus create 25 years of people trying to figure out why the heck the album was called Big Thing.)
Cry Baby Cry (2007, Red Carpet Massacre): I realize this was not hidden on some CD single, but available to anyone who bought the iTunes version of the album. That being said, my feelings on this song are best expressed via the type of analogy you would find on the SATs: Cry Baby Cry is to Red Carpet Massacre what Fallen Angel is to The Wedding Album.  Or simply put, WTF people?!?!?!? How is this not the 3rd or 4th song on the first side? Or even a single? This one has John written all over it – as if he dragged Roger and Dom and the others into another room and surreptitiously recorded this while Timbaland was trying to figure out the bridge to Nite Runner. Let me give you the songs I think are better than Cry Baby Cry: Falling Down, The Valley (live version only)….Box Full of Honey (only on certain days)…(silence). Maybe She’s Too Much every now and then. (more silence). Did I miss any? This is a great song that I would kill to hear the band play live; I picture John with that rapturous “it’s all about the music” look on his face playing this.
 
My Family (1990, Liberty):  Liberty didn’t have to be the misfire that almost ended the band’s career.  The Liberty Demos bootleg, aptly titled “Didn’t anybody tell you” (after the chorus of “My Family”) reveals an energetic and fun album in the making.  Several tracks failed to make the cut and “My Family” is by far the highlight.  A fun dance song with a catchy chorus, it easily would have been the 3rd or 4th best track on the album.  I’m not saying that it would have completely salvaged “Liberty” but at the very least, “My Family” would be in the same category as “Serious” and “My Antarctica” as great songs on an otherwise disappointing album.
 
This list merely scratched the surface.  What songs do you think the band should have included on various albums?  And what should have been dropped?
C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, one of whom loves watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a two year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.