By C.K. Shortell
I remember, when Greatest came out in 1998, that I had mixed emotions. I was happy to finally have a complete retrospective of the band’s career that included the 90’s hits. I was also glad that Liberty and Medazzaland were represented, although in the case of the latter, I would have picked “Out of my mind” in lieu of “Electric Barbarella.” But, these feelings aside, I was a little depressed about it. I wondered if the band would ever have another hit again, and I certainly hoped that there were many more Duran albums in the future.
Fifteen years later, and the mixed emotions remain. I’m thrilled that the band continues to write and perform, although I wish more people heard their music! That being said, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at Duran’s body of work since 1998. What if you were tasked with coming up with the track list for a second Greatest compilation? What would you include, and in what order?
Here’s what I came up with:
1. Nice: I wanted to do more than just make a list of my favorite tracks from the last four albums; I felt like this “Greatest II” album should tell a story, and the main story of 2000s Duran Duran is the reunion of the original lineup. “Nice” is not only one of my favorite songs (from any Duran lineup!), but I think it was one of the earliest tracks written for Astronaut. It is – my opinion – the best song on Astronaut, and it certainly was a highlight on the tour. If I were trying to influence a casual fan who had stopped listening to DD in 1985 and get them back into the band, this is the first song I would play.
2. Runway Runaway: In the late April “Take 5 with Elisa Lorello” Daily Duranie blog, she is quoted as describing this song as “musical chocolate”. I couldn’t agree more and I don’t even know how to expand upon that (but I’ll try). This is my favorite song off AYNIN. Its hook is as good as any in the Duran catalogue; it sounds like a lost orphan from Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It eschews the typical pop song structure by sticking the bridge right after the 2nd verse – thus not over-exposing the best part of the song. It also has a subversive quality that reminded me of Big Bang Generation, i.e. a musically upbeat song whose lyrics deal with darker subject matter. If I were trying to convert and/or catch up someone on new Duran, this is where I’d go, right after Nice.
3. Falling Down: I’m going to duck now while you all throw things at me. (Pauses…) What can I say? I love this song. I find myself continually putting it on CD mixes. I don’t like the “beat boxing” or breathing effect or whatever you call it at the beginning, but beyond that, I think it’s very much to 2000s Duran what Ordinary World was to the 90s. I will occasionally hear this on satellite radio in a store and smile, and regret that it didn’t fare better on the charts. As far as RCM goes, this is one of the highlights (in fact, it might actually function better as part of a compliation CD such as this one; it always felt a little forced on RCM, which we know it was, given its late inclusion.).
4. What Happens Tomorrow: I would include the longer version (with the “silent icy river” third verse). A powerful song about hope in the face of adversity – it doesn’t get more Duran than that.
5. Girl Panic: Represents the best of their collaboration with Mark Ronson, and sounds even better live. Will likely be a staple in the live set for years to come as it fits in seamlessly with the older hits.
6. Instant Karma: I know, I know – it’s a cover. How can I included this to the exclusion of so many other songs? For starters, it’s a great coer. It also represents the band’s last officially release work with Andy. But this isn’t about nostalgia; I really do enjoy this song and think it’s catchy enough, and good enough, to include on this list.
7. Pop Trash Movie: One of my all-time favorites. I realize this is a “TV Mania” song (but then again, aren’t most of the songs on Pop Trash and Medazzaland?) but it’s my favorite off Pop Trash and a classic Duran ballad in the tradition of The Seventh Stranger.
8. Leave a Light On: Another beautiful, haunting ballad, clearly influenced by and modeled after Save a Prayer. My favorite slow song off of AYNIN.
9. Beautiful Colours (“New” Track!): Yes, I’m a brat and a hypocrite. I can’t stand “Greatest
compilations that include new material. That being sad…if this is the only way that “Beautiful Colours” sees the light of day, then so be it. I would force them all in the studio, make them “get the lyric right”, fix up the bridge a bit (more guitar,please) and then release this as a single to promote the Greatest II compilation.
10. Tempted: For all the negatives associated with the Red Carpet Massacre album, I vew this song as one of the diamonds in the rough. It’s catchy, upbeat and contemporary, and for some bizarre reason I continue to like it.
11. Someone Else Not Me: When they were promoting Pop trash, Simon described this as “the best song we’ve written in ten years.” Not so sure about that, but it is a very strong Duran ballad. I think Pop Trash should be represented on this compilation and the best two tracks are this one, and as noted earlier, Pop Trash Movie.
12. Mediterranea: From its exotic title, to Dom’s guitar riff that somehow captures the yearning and mournful nature of the lyrics…this is another one of those AYNIN tracks that sounds like it could have come from the Rio sessions. This song transports you to a beach, and I think became and “instant classic” the minute most fans heard it for the first time.
13. Sunrise: I considered making this the first song but wanted to lead off with Nice. This song was not a hit on any mainstream radio charts (at least in the U.S.) but it did get extensive club play (reached #1 on the Billboard Club Chart in 2004), and continues to be in rotation on various satellite radio stations. Most importantly, it is the most recognizable “new” song (i.e. post 1993) at Duran’s live shows.
14. All You Need is Now: What more can I say? This song represents all that is good about the Mark Ronson collaboration, the inclusion of Dom in the songwriting process, and the current state of the band and fan base. I don’t even think it’s the best song on the album, and at times, I’m not convinced that the chorus and verses even belong together (referring to the music, not the lyrics), but…this is Duran and in the second decade of the second millennium. What a fitting way to close out the “Greatest II” compilation.
So what do you think? I know, I know – how could I exclude The Man Who Stole a Leopard? How dare I? Fine.
15. The Man Who Stole a Leopard (Available only on the special Easter Island Limited Edition version of the Greatest II CD): I will try to be objective. What I like about this song. That the band took a risk and decided to do something artsy. I will never object to that. I also like the end of the song when the guitar kicks in. And I do think it’s cool how the crowd gets into it on ADITM. However, I can say that I don’t like the faux news report. It kills me that the same band made me sit through that 25 minute film before the start of the show last summer (all in the name of art) would provide such pointless exposition in the form of that news story gimmic. But to each his or her own. If you live on Easter Island, you get this on your Greatest II compilation.
So…Leopard aside…what do you think? Am I crazy? On crack? Even as I write this I can think of songs that I excluded with bother me – e.g. Playing with Uranium, Being Followed, The Valley…so please, set me straight in the comments section and give me your own take on how a “Greatest II” would look!
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.