Category Archives: bonus material

Paper Gods: The Bonus Tracks

Like most of our readers, I’ve been settling in with Paper Gods for a couple of weeks now. During that time, I went from not feeling really sure about the album, to finding tracks that I really like, to falling in love with particular songs; and of course, to being able to list favorites. I have also done as Simon asked, and listened to the album the entire way through…. many times now. I have to say, listening to it all in a single sitting is worth the time. Not that the album literally tells a story – I don’t think it’s exactly a concept album in that regard, but I think that it does have its own tale to tell. Paper Gods gives a snapshot of a particular period of time in the lives of the people who created it, and I also think there is much to say about how the album translates to the history of the band in general – but that’s a topic for another time! Today, we’re talking bonus tracks!

For me, my favorites can almost all be found in the bonus tracks – whether we’re talking about the Target version or the Fan Deluxe version (and between them both you have ALL of the available bonus material).  I have to admit that I squealed more than once when I first listened to a couple of the songs, and I’ve really given a lot of thought as to why these songs weren’t included in the regular album.  I love Paper Gods, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t quite hitting all of my buttons, so to speak. I couldn’t put my finger on what was needed, which hindered me from truly embracing the album until I finally just decided it didn’t matter. My ears liked what I was hearing, and I felt like maybe I was just trying to pick out what might be wrong instead of enjoying what was there.

Fast forward to the day I had all of the bonus tracks at hand and sat down in my car to listen to them. The things I felt were missing seemed to be present in these songs, and for me, they round out the album beautifully and tick off all of the boxes that I still felt needed ticking. What was once an album I liked but didn’t love suddenly became an album I completely embraced. And in fairness, I really have thought a lot about why these are just bonus tracks. The truth is, as much as I love them – and they are all great songs on their own – they might not necessarily blend in that well with the album. In my head, the album – the 12 tracks that were released in the standard version of Paper Gods – create a full statement. I suppose in a lot of ways, it’s up to each of us to decide what the full meaning of that statement might be. Perhaps these extra songs, for whatever reason, don’t really add to that statement. Maybe they don’t blend as well as the others… but even so, I can count at least one of them on my “all time favorite songs” list.

Planet Roaring: At first, the song reminds me very much of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” 2015 edition.  The intro grabs your attention, and then suddenly Simon’s voice comes in, and I love the way he sounds. This is a song that, as far as my ears can tell, is meant for fans.  I love the uplifting sound, the words as only a real fan could recognize as our journey with this band.  I would absolutely be bowled over if they played it live – and the die hards would be singing right along, loud and proud.

Valentine Stones: This is a title that I’ve heard floating around for months…and I’m sure I’m not the only fan that thought to myself, “Valentine? That sounds vaguely familiar!” I have no idea what a Valentine Stone is, but I like it. I won’t lie, to me – this is essential Duran Duran. It’s the type of sound I expect, there’s no fancy featured vocalists, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Northern Lights: I have read quite a few comments from people asking what that “walking around” part at the beginning is really about. I must be crazy, because I love it.  It reminds me of hiking, and yeah, I really like it when I’m wearing ear buds and hear it. I’m not super crazy about the beginning synthesizer notes – they remind me of what an alien ship would sound like if it were landing, but the rest of the song more than makes up for it.  THIS song reminds me of what “modern” Duran Duran should sound like.  The softness of the music with just a tinge of…I’m really not sure how to characterize it…darkness maybe(??)…in the vocals…it’s what I would expect Duran circa 2015 to be.

On Evil Beach: This song sounds like it could have been included on the bands very first album, albeit with perhaps a bit more technology involved than what the band may have had at hand back then. The lyrics are fairly simple and short, but the sound is as brand-Duran as anything I’ve heard in the past 37 years….and I like it.

Cinderella Ride: Without giving anything away (ha!)…this is my favorite of the bunch. Any element that I could have possibly missed from Paper Gods, as well as ALL of the elements I love best from a Duran Duran song are represented, along with gorgeous lyrics. I adore the guitar part (is that really a surprise?) and the strength of the drums – THIS is what I have missed.  In a word? Balance…with one of the best choruses I’ve heard since Duran Duran 1981. Modern, without completely losing the soul of what this band was, and is.

The bonus tracks have really filled out this album for me, and I find them playing them endlessly on repeat, going from one to another thinking to myself, “Oh, I love this one!” I can’t imagine I’m alone.

-R

Bonus Tracks

So in the last couple of days I’ve heard a few of the bonus tracks on the album – before someone reports me to the Duran police, I should probably clarify that I only heard short little snippets, not entire tracks.  When I’m listening, I have a really hard time trying not to form an immediate opinion – some people out there are fabulous about that, I’m still working on it.

I remember when I first heard snippets from the original 9-track album – I don’t think anything I heard completely blew me away.  Some things made me want more, other songs made me think “hmm…well, maybe the next one will be better!”   Of course, I didn’t post much of that, because I like living, and because I hadn’t heard the whole song.  It’s a good thing I didn’t post much of it – because oddly enough, the songs I thought I’d love ended up being ones that while I still like, aren’t necessarily my favorites; and vice-versa.

This time around, there is one song in particular that I am interested in listening to in it’s entirety. Not because I love it, but because I was shocked at how much I didn’t love it.  Naturally I’m not saying which one yet.  One other thing that I am really disappointed about are the interludes and the remixes of All You Need Is Now that are being included on the deluxe version.  It’s not that I don’t think the interludes are worthy of being recorded and included – it’s that in my opinion, they should have gone on their own separate EP.  (oh how I miss the days of the 12″ remix single…..)  I don’t think they quite belong on the CD, but that’s just my own quirky opinion.  I guess I should be thankful that Duran Duran is giving us everything on one album.

Oh wait.  They aren’t.  😀  I know they felt they were doing this release as intelligently as possible.  It’s been pointed out to me that they really are learning the way here – it’s a whole new world to release an album in 2011, and I get that.  Learning how to market effectively takes quite a curve.  My entire problem with this…process…so to speak, is that it seems utterly ridiculous to have SO many different versions of the album coming out.  Not only do the versions vary by where you reside in the world, but they also vary by retailer (at least here in the states, if not elsewhere).  I’ve complained about this previously, and Duran Duran so graciously has responded to the questions by trying to clarify – but the real problem is that there are just too many different versions to keep track of.  

That said, I have to wonder if this hasn’t really always been the case to some extent.  Back in the days of vinyl, I recall hunting high and low for the “Harvest” versions of some albums, or the Japanese release of others.  I can remember looking in numerous record stores for Duran Goes Dutch, or countless other things by Duran Duran that may not have even been official releases, but I still wanted them for my collection.  Half the fun in going to a vinyl store these days is when I find a copy of something that I’ve been looking for over the past 25 years.  There are even some Duran Duran albums out there that I didn’t even know existed until rather recently – the bliss of ignorance, I suppose.   Perhaps the only real difference between then and now is that nowadays, we have the tools available to us to know what other countries are actually getting, and what is included on their versions.  Back in the 80’s and even the 90’s, it was much harder to tell.  Ignorance is bliss once again.

I suppose that fans could argue that now, it’s even more difficult to keep track because some retailers want their own exclusive versions of the album – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.  They have to have some way of competing with Amazon and iTunes, and this is the way to do it.  If Best Buy has a different version of the album than everyone else – even if it only includes one or two different songs on it, there’s a reasonable assurance that fans are going to want to buy that version, therefore guaranteeing sales.  In this day and age, where physical CD shelf space is shrinking by the day in stores – Duran Duran is going to do whatever it takes to get their product into that store.  I can’t blame them.  I still think though that fans owe it to themselves to really think back to the day when we didn’t know ANYTHING.  We had no access to information telling us where certain versions were going to be until way after the fact and someone told someone else.  The bottom line is that it’s still up to each and every one of us to make our own choice as to what to buy.  The band is not holding a gun to our heads, much as we might like to characterize them as “forcing us” to love them, and once again – there is NO PRIZE for who has the most at the end.  John Taylor still isn’t going to marry any of us.  😉

 Oh, neither are Roger, Nick or Simon.   😀

-R

Is it March 22nd yet?

Is it just me or does this album release feel like it’s taken 6 months longer than it should have?  It feels like a very long time since I first downloaded the digital copy of All You Need Is Now, that is for sure.  I remember the excitement I had as each little snippet would be uncovered, and the jubilance I felt when I finally was able to buy the download and play the album.  A spirit was uncovered in the band that I never thought would see the light of day again, and I was sure that this was the album that I had been waiting for the band to make since about 1985.  That feeling hasn’t really changed, but I’ll admit that for me, the time between the digital release and now seems to have been dragging by.  I don’t get that same sense of excitement when I hear that a new snippet can be heard on youtube, and although I’m interested to see the artwork, the liner notes and everything else that goes along with a CD, I freely admit that it’s not at the forefront of my thoughts these days.  I wonder if I’m the only one…and I have to wonder why I’m just not feeling it.

First of all, I am positive that the goings-on in my own personal life (and those of friends) has taken some of the fun out of the anticipation.  There’s hardly enough time to talk to friends and catch up on the day to day insanity much less take the time to obsess what every last new music snippet really means for the new album!  I know that as far as I’m concerned, I don’t even spend much time on the message boards anymore – I try to check in when I can, and I miss the times when it took precedence.  I just need more hours added to the day, I think.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, I don’t notice much excitement for the new material even when I *do* visit the message boards.  Most people aren’t talking about the CD release, they’re talking about the tour, or up until recently, the lack of announced tour dates.   I have to say that this reminds me very much of when [Reach up for the] Sunrise was first released.  It was the first new Duran Duran song that was released by the original 5 band members in 20 years, and so it made a huge splash with the fan base.  People were talking about the band and the excitement was infectious within the community.  That first release was on an album soundtrack for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and naturally that was just the first taste of what lay ahead for the fans, and the band.  A few months later, Astronaut was released, and once again, Sunrise was released as a single.  This was a completely different version of Sunrise, but you know – we’d already heard the song.  Sure, it was different, but it was still very much the same.  There wasn’t enough of a difference to make it “brand spanking new”, and I just don’t think the single resonated with the fan base, or the radio, because it felt like more of an afterthought, or a continuation of something we’d already heard once.  As much as I hate to say it, I do have similar concerns for this new album.  Many fans think they’ve already heard most of the album, and the rest of us aren’t really sure what we’re going to be getting!

As far as I understand, there are two versions of the album coming out – the regular CD, and then a deluxe version.  This is where I’m finding confusion because each time I see information listed for the album(s) – it’s a different damn list of songs.  Not only that, but I refer back to an article that quoted Wendy Laister as saying that they were working with retailers to offer different versions to different retailers, which leaves me wondering what in the heck I should be buying.  Do I order the deluxe version through Amazon?  Do I order both the regular and deluxe versions so that way I can have all of the new songs?  Will I get all of the new songs through Amazon or do I need to go hunting to find out who else has different copies?  What about that DVD – what’s going to be on that?  Is it stuff I’ve already seen??  For me, this isn’t about the money – I don’t care about that, but I’m going to be honest – I don’t need 14 copies of the same album.  I’d buy them and never complain if they were all different, but I’m going to be furious if I buy several different copies and find out they’re all pretty much the same….  It’s just very difficult to know what we’re getting, and I think that confusion has added to the lack of excitement in some ways.

Which leads me to something else – why would the band decide to put more than one interlude or remix to All You Need Is Now on the album?  Why not put those out on a separate CD, because not all of us are slaves to the remixes or even love them.  Personally, I like new songs.  I don’t want 4 different versions of the same song on the album.  That said, I have a pretty extensive collection (what Duranie doesn’t???) of night versions and other remixes over the years, and I do like them – just not when an album is being sold to me as all new material when it really isn’t.  Make sense?

Oh sure, I could talk all about the lost momentum with the release being handled like this – but the truth is, I don’t need to do that.  I want this to work out beautifully for the band because they deserve at least that.   I want this album to be fantastic, which I’m sure it will be as soon as March 22nd gets here (for the US – the rest of you will have it a day earlier and yes, I’m envious.), and we’re all listening to songs we haven’t heard before along with 9 songs that have already permanently inked themselves into the soundtrack of my life.  I want to be excited and overjoyed with the idea of getting a new album in just a couple short weeks, it just feels like I’ve already done that for about 4 months now.

-R