Category Archives: B-sides

What in the heck is a B-side anyway?

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve completely lost the plot? I’m right there with all of you feeling that way today. Like many, I’ve noticed the stylish instagram pics that DDHQ has posted of Wendy Laister’s (DD’s manager) son and his buddies wearing the “latest in DD fashion”.  I  commented on it before because quite a few fans were upset.  My position is that I don’t care. Sure, if it gets kids interested – by all means, who am I to argue?

That said, sometimes, I really think the message gets lost in translation.

Here’s an example: on one hand, we’ve got the kids wearing the DD gear, and the band seems to enjoy playing festivals. I’m no genius, but I think it’s probably fair to say that those types of things are designed to help to get this band heard by a younger generation….like the generation of my kids.  On the other hand, they’re playing places like Capri for very secretive, very private parties for billionaires.  Nothing like perpetuating that air of exclusivity that I grew up recognizing to be part of Duran Duran. I’m not complaining, either. In fact – that exclusivity was one of the many things that intrigued me about Duran Duran. The idea of jetting off to Sorrento and Capri, the private parties, and even the “untouchableness” (probably not a word, but it is today!!) of this band, were all things that attracted me to this band from day one.  Well, maybe since the Rio video.   These are all things I’ve said on this blog  before, correct?  But does it attract millennials?  Aren’t they all about access (hence social media)?

Here’s the thing – most of this stuff, I’ve decided, doesn’t matter. I mean, singularly, yes – going to Capri to play a private party matters. Wendy’s son and his friends “modeling” t-shirts matters.  Even those festivals matter.  Some people like the ideas, a lot of others don’t, but in the end – these things don ‘t REALLY matter, or probably shouldn’t matter, to fans, unless you’re like Amanda and I and feel it necessary to give commentary.  <wide grin here> All together, these things add up to one band trying to reach a multitude of different people.  Whether that is actually working for or against the band depends upon who you ask, and today – I’m taking a giant step back from that subject because I really don’t know. Does anyone??

What I do know today is that DDHQ posts some sort of an “engagement” type question every day or so on social media. These questions, not entirely unlike what Amanda and I used to post (and still do through our polls), are designed to keep the fan base talking about the band, even when they’re not doing much. Or when they’re traveling from Capri to who-knows-where-before-they-have-to-play-in-Oakland-on-Friday.  Today’s question asked what your favorite B-side or bonus track might be.

Before answering, I thought about the question, because I think it’s really very telling, oddly enough.  I get the point that we have to keep trying to expand our listening audience (there I go, using the word “we” as though I’m somehow “on the team”….but after this many years being a fan, doesn’t it sometimes feel that way??).  The only feasible way to do that is to become relevant to a younger demographic, because the one I belong with is shrinking, both in size and in strength. We don’t buy. (which is part of the reason why they’re trying to market the t-shirts and things to kids to begin with!) But, when they ask questions like this, trying to engage their audience, they’re talking to people like you and I because of one semi-obvious detail:

What’s a B-Side???

Millennials, such as my two older kids, don’t really know what a B-side is. They grew up after vinyl. (Although rest assured my kids know what in the hell a b-side is, even though they think the idea of having to get up and flip a record over is dumb. Too bad for them that Sony has decided to start pressing vinyl again!)  For that matter, kids today don’t really have the same understanding about what a single might be. To them, they’re ALL singles. You go and buy a song on iTunes. Done.  Never mind the bonus tracks!

So, to the young ones that may or may not stumble upon this question and others like it in the future, and may or may not be reading this blog, allow me to help.

Back in MY day, when we trudged through snow, uphill, both ways, to school each day, we had records, which were flat disks with grooves and a hole in the middle. You’d play them on a record player, and a needle would go down into the groove, and as the record spun – music would magically spill out through the speakers.  There were two sides to these records: the A side and the B side.  Now, I can’t speak for all people here, but in my case – I was convinced that the more well-known songs were on the A side, and the stuff I didn’t really know as well would be on the B. I may have developed this theory back when I was a mere child because when I’d buy singles at the record store (they were also called 45s), the song I’d know from the radio would be on the A side, and the back side would have another song I didn’t necessarily know. Duran Duran was famous (infamous?) for putting an entirely different song – one that wasn’t even included on the full album – on that B side.

As I grew up, I realized that the REAL gems on an album were often on those B sides. And bonus tracks?  Well, those are the songs that were so good they couldn’t even put them on the album!! They were like SECRET gems!!  (Just go with it, people)

So for many of us “old folk” (I hear some of you talk about us in GA lines or at shows!), the very best songs in the catalog are the B-sides and bonus tracks that they almost never play. Even better? We’d almost rather hear a concert filled with THOSE songs than the stuff many of you have heard your parents play over the years. Hungry Like the Wolf?  A View to a Kill?  Nah.  We want Late Bar or Secret Oktober, or even Virus!

And I’d fall over in a dead faint if they ever pulled out something like  Cinderella Ride.

But I digress. If anyone needs help understanding what is or is not a B-side or bonus, I’d direct you to the discography section on the DD website as a good place to start!

-R

 

Ultimate Box Set: B-Sides and Demos Results

During the last few weeks, we asked Duranies, Duran fans, our readers to narrow down the entire list of Duran Duran b-sides and demos to just seven.  These seven would be included on our imaginary Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  Which songs were chosen?  What do those say about the Duran fan community?  Before I go into those details, let’s list the entire box set 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

Now, for the results of the b-sides and demos…

B-Sides/Demos:

  1. Secret Oktober
  2. Late Bar
  3. Beautiful Colours
  4. I Believe/All I Need to Know
  5. Salt in the Rainbow
  6. Planet Roaring
  7. Faster Than Light
  8. (Come Up and See Me) Make Me Smile

Analysis:

As soon as I saw the results, I immediately thought about two things.  How many b-sides were chosen vs. demos?  Which eras were these songs from?  Then, of course, what can I learn about our fan community from these results?

You may have noticed that there are 8 songs listed when before there were only 7.  The last two songs (Faster Than Light and Make Me Smile) tied.  I opted to leave both of them in as opposed to having another vote because they are two very different songs.  While both of them are b-sides, (Come Up and See Me) Make Me Smile is a cover song.  Since we don’t have covers in the box set at all, I thought it would be cool to include it.

All of the songs chosen minus two are b-sides.  This fact didn’t shock me, in the least.  After all, these songs are ones that were finished.  The band didn’t need to do anything else to them.  Demos, on the other hand, tend to have some thing that needs to be done or redone on them.  The two demos that were chosen were the two most popular ones from the Astronaut era.  In the case of Beautiful Colours, it was done enough that the band performed it live.  Salt in the Rainbow sounds pretty well done to me so whatever they needed to do would have been minimal.

When I look at the results, I notice that a lot of different eras are represented, including the first album (Late Bar and Faster than Light), Seven and the Ragged Tiger (Secret Oktober and Make Me Smile), Big Thing (I Believe/All I Need to Know), Astronaut (Beautiful Colours and Salt in the Rainbow), and Paper Gods (Planet Roaring).  Looking at that, the fans chose well by having so many different Duran times included.

In looking at these results, what did you notice?  Were you surprised by anything?

For the next few weeks, we are voting on live songs.  To participate in this week’s poll, go here.   After we choose live songs, we will finish up with side/solo projects.  I can’t wait to see the final version of the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set!

-A

Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set: B-Sides and Demos

During the last few weeks, we (the writers and readers) of this little blog have been voting on which possible b-sides and demos should be considered on our Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set.  We consider b-sides to be those songs that were included on the back of singles, back in the day.  Those extra tracks that appear on special versions of an album are also considered b-sides.  They are the modern day version of them!  Demos, of course, are songs that were written and recorded but never released (at least not in that original form).

We narrowed the choices down to 14 b-sides and 7 demos.  You now get to vote on which 7 of those, out of that total 21 should be included in our Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  You may choose all b-sides.  Perhaps, you want to vote for all demos.   Maybe, you want 5 b-sides and 2 demos or vice versa.  It’s all up to you.  Vote how you want!

From here, we have only two categories left–favorite live tracks and side and solo projects.  I’m already starting to think about how in the world we will narrow down those live tracks.  One thought I had included looking to see which songs have been played most on setlist.fm (totally fascinating, by the way!).  We could also ask based on average setlist per year, which that website produces as well!  Maybe, we could ask for your favorites or a combination thereof!  Any thoughts?

On that note, I’ll leave you to voting on which 7 b-sides and demos should be included on a Duran Ultimate Box Set!

-A

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.