How many of you out there are holding the Duran Duran Budokan vinyl in your hands from this year’s Record Store Day? I am! Have you all taken a look at it? Listened to it? I’m listening to it as I type this blog! I will do my best to offer my thoughts about this lovely little release.
Before I ponder the merits of this piece of vinyl, I have to share a little about my Record Store Day experience. First off, I was not sure if I was going to make this year’s event. It has been one of those weeks in which some other aspect of my life sucks up the vast majority of my attention and time. In this case, my week was all about a day of action on Friday on gun reform with some political action surrounding sexual assault earlier in the week. By the time, I arrived home on Friday night I was so tired that I almost could not stand up. Therefore, the idea of getting up early to head to the record store made me cringe. I needed sleep, but I also knew that I would kick myself later if I wasn’t able to get my copy. So I set the alarm and hoped that the seven hours of sleep would be enough to function.
At 8:15, I left the house to head to the record store which had opened at 7. Needless to say, there was quite a line by the time I arrived. A kid around at the age of 9 or so counted the people at one point and declared that there were 70 people in line. So I took a deep breath and thanked the lucky stars that I brought coffee with me. Soon enough, though, I discovered that I would have been okay as a local coffee shop was supplying free cups of coffee and chocolate covered bacon (which I declined as a vegetarian). By 9:30, the freebies also included free beer. Well then. My tired self drank my coffee and tried not to think about the fact that my feet were absolutely freezing and that my feet, legs and back were screaming at me for standing outside three days in a row for hours on end. Finally, I was allowed in and found what I had come for in a matter of minutes. Success!
After that, I grabbed breakfast out with my parents, took a nap, and made my enormous list of things to do, anxious to get back to the music. Finally, I had the chance to open my prized possession and really look at it. The cover is a fascinating piece of art by Japanese artist, Tadanori Yokoo. The SFMOMA describes his work in the following way, “Electrified by Pop art and American graphic design, Tadanori Yokoo has always delighted in the violation of visual taboos. Mixing traditional Japanese pictorial methods with Western representational motifs, Yokoo — an illustrator, graphic designer, printmaker, and painter — forges visual relationships among images originally rooted in seemingly disparate worlds.” (https://www.sfmoma.org/artist/Tadanori_Yokoo)
This description makes perfect sense to me as the cover features not only a picture of the band but also plenty of other images that do not seem to go together at all, but keeps you looking and thinking about why those images as well as their placement within the work. The back cover features the same images but instead of a red focus it is more of a blue with the sense of overexposure of photos. Fascinating.
Of course, John Warwicker also added to the overall feel of the release by adding his graphic design on the sleeve. My reaction to it? The use of colors along with the combination of geometric images really catches my attention. What really interests me is the way Duran Duran and Budokan are written. In the case of Duran, both the R and the A are only written once but big. Why? It certainly draws my eyes to that part of the name. (For the record, I’m personally a fan of the letters “R” and “A”!) Budokan also features those enlarged letters but then also has tiny u, d and o. I so wish I could get inside of the head of an artist to figure out how they come up with elements like this. It certainly makes a unique and clever logo.
So what about the album itself? My initial reaction is a simple one. It brought me right back to the Paper Gods Tour and how I felt at the shows I was lucky enough to attend. Some songs, in particular, transported me back, including Paper Gods, Pressure Off, Hold Back the Rain and Sunrise/New Moon on Monday. I swear that as I was listening, I could picture the trees shown in the background of Paper Gods or the confetti pouring over the crowd in Pressure Off. The song that really made me stop, though, due to the goose bumps that popped up on my skin was the New Moon on Monday part of Sunrise. While obviously not a new song, it captures a feeling I had a lot during this tour, which was acceptance. During Astronaut, everything expressed newness of the reunion whereas as Red Carpet Massacre felt so divisive that it was all about holding on. All You Need Is Now, on the other hand, seemed to be about proving oneself, at least for me because the blog was much newer. Now, with Paper Gods, I have accepted where the band is and where I am in terms of my fandom. I waved my torch for Duran a long time ago and won’t ever stop.
My only question is why include the old songs that they did. I get Save a Prayer since it was connected to the Universe Alone. Hold Back the Rain returned after not having been played for a long time. But why A View to a Kill? Why I Don’t Want Your Love? I’m not sure what I would have put in their places, but I did wonder why.
So, what did the rest of you think?