By, C.K. Shortell
Rhonda and Amanda do a great job of very cleverly tying in the title to their blogs with a Duran song, so of course I followed suit. Any guesses on where today’s title came from? Think remixes…specifically, The Power Mix of Violence of Summer (Love’s Takin Over). (What, this isn’t the first Duran remix that comes to mind?)
Remixes are a central part of Duran’s legacy. I am not a musician and readily admit that my taste in music is narrow, but within those tastes (including REM, U2, Dave Matthews Band, The Police, Steve Winwood), I can’t think of any other band with such a history of tinkering with their music. (U2 has issued their share of remixes as b-sides but mostly for club play). In fact, when I sat down to actually think about which Duran remixes I liked the best, or at least which were most memorable to me, it was a list that kept growing, and it spanned all eras and lineups. Where to begin? Well, why not at the beginning…of the day.
Reach Up For the Sunrise: I am still very much basking the glow of “ADITM” as well as the August 24 show (which as we know ended up being their last on the 2012 tour and one I was lucky enough to attend in my home state of Connecticut). One of the highlights of that show and what inspired me to write this blog is “Sunrise.” I believe that the current live version of Sunrise—based on the Jason Nevins remix—is my favorite remix in the entire catalogue. I love it because I believe I it, more than any other Duran remix, most improved the song from its original version.
Think back to 2003 and those first concerts in Japan with the reunited original lineup. Sunrise was one of the four new songs featured. It was definitely catchy but felt unfinished in places (especially the beginning “la la la la” that seemed forced to me). Fast forward one year: The version that appeared on Astronaut was significantly improved, especially by taking more advantage of Nick’s synths and adding Roger’s GOF-esque drum solo during the bridge. Then came the Jason Nevins remix, which featured Andy’s guitar more prominently and began with Simon singing “The music between us…” which ended up also being the version that opened the Live from London DVD. During the RCM tour, they further improved it, adding in much more guitar to the beginning and a longer solo at the end (thank you, Dom!) Put it all together, and you have an amazing song that is light years better than its original incarnation on the 2003 tour. It has also become a crowd pleaser and quite possibly a staple in the live set for years to come. It’s gratifying to see everyone at a show—hard core and casual fans—all dancing and singing to a song the band wrote in the 2000s! (And if you caught Duran’s appearance on Good Morning America this past June, you’ll note that host George Stephanopoulos introduced “Sunrise” by saying it was “#1 on the charts a few years back.” And he is 100% correct—Sunrise did reach #1 on the Billboard dance chart in 2004. So while it may not have garnered radio play, it certainly is “out there” and can at least be considered as much of a hit as some of the other releases in the catalogue like “All She Wants Is” or “Skin Trade” etc. )
The Reflex: We all know the story on this one. Nile Rodgers took a so-so song and turned it into the band’s first US #1. I have a bootleg from the ’84 tour, when they were performing the album version live, and I think it stands up fairly well. Would the song have had such success had Rodgers not worked his magic? Who knows—it seemed that everything the band touched in their heyday turned to gold, but it’s also undeniable that Rodgers improved the song. As such, it is rightly considered one of the best remixes in the catalogue.
Out of My Mind (Perfecto versions): It’s one thing for a remix to vastly improve a song (Sunrise) or at least make it more palatable to mainstream radio (Reflex), but in this case, they took one of the strongest cuts off Medazzaland and created…another amazing version! Simon’s vocals remain unchanged in the “Perfecto” remixes, but the song is darker and more rock-oriented and the guitar and bass seem more prominent than in the original version (again, disclaimer: I am not a musician so please correct me on this if you disagree). Some of the longer versions also include a brief sample from the “Save a Prayer” synth line which actually works well. During the 1999 Let it Flow tour, they played the Perfecto Version and it was unbelievable—one of the best Duran tracks I’ve ever heard live. If you are even a casual fan of the album version of “Out of my mind” but have not heard the perfecto remixes, you need to get them. Or reach me on Twitter (@poptrashed) and I will burn them for you.
I Don’t Want Your Love (Shep Pettibone 7” mix): Remixes aside, I think this is one of Duran’s most underappreciated singles. I remember the first time I heard it, as a junior in high school in the fall of 1988. I was initially a little shocked—it sounded somewhat like the stuff off Notorious but had more energy, more of an edge…and then I finally bought Big Thing and heard the studio version. Similar to The Reflex, the remix of I Don’t Want Your Love improves what was already a decent song. I think the addition of the horns and the dance section in the bridge is a big improvement. My only quibble is that I love the guitar solo from the album version, and this gets shortened in the remix. (Although we do get more rhythm guitar throughout the remixed track so I guess it’s a wash). I remember this video being all over MTV in late 1988, and this song getting huge airplay. To me, it was evidence that Duran Duran was still relevant and could make music people wanted to hear even though they were already half a decade away from the huge success of Rio andSATRT.
Girls on Film (Night Version): I think we all know the back story on the night versions: that the band needed longer versions of the songs to play live and they actually re-recorded new, longer versions of the songs. Of course, you can find the Night Versions on any number of CDs, including the singles box sets, Night Versions CD released in 1998 or Strange Behavior remix CD released in 1999. I’m not a huge fan of many of these as I don’t think they add or improve upon the original. And for all the hoopla over the band actually recording a new track…it still feels like a lot of filler before getting to the lyrics and chorus. (And I feel much the same way about the latest “night version” from the band for “Other People’s Lives.” However…I am deeply conflicted about that track anyway—I’m usually quick to label it as one of my least favorite on AYNIN and yet often find the chorus in my head. Very disturbing and a topic for another day). The best of the lot is Girls on Film, parts of which the band has incorporated into the live version over the years, with Planet Earth a close second.
Meet El Presidente (7” version): This is my least favorite song on “Notorious” and would not have been my choice for a single or remix. The band took a weak song, remixed it and slightly improved it (added more drums, added a synth line or something—the musicians out there can fill in the blanks here), but unlike The Reflex, still left us with a track that I think is the weakest on the album. I remember the scene from “Three to Get Ready” when the band were listening to the extended 12” version (basically the remixed version but
more torturous just longer); the hope was that this would generate record sales via air play on urban radio. Around that same time they also did a lip synched live version on Soul Train that is also featured on the documentary. Why they didn’t choose any one of the better tracks as a single—Vertigo, So Misled, Proposition—is beyond me.
Skin Trade (Parisian Remix): This showed up as a b-side on one of the CD singles for “Come Undone” in 1993. Like the night versions, it’s long but for some reason it works and is much more high energy than the “stretch mix” that was also released. I can listen to this without getting impatient as I often do when listening to the “Night Versions.”
Too Much Information (Jellybean Mix): This shows up on disc 2 of Strange Behavior. While it treads dangerously close to sounding like C&C Music Factory…it also does a nice job of blending piano with the guitar riff to form a dance version of what’s a rock song at its core. This is my favorite of the many Wedding Albumremixes out there—and there are a ton.
Violence of Summer (Love’s Takin’ Over) (Power Mix): Well, this remix inspired the title for this blog. This remix is a train wreck—I won’t even try to defend it or say it’s good. Violence of Summer is arguably the band’s least popular/worst single (even Simon has criticized it) and the band did a ton of remixes for it that can be found on the Singles Box Set or on the vinyl single released in 1990 which I inexplicably own. And for whatever reason, I simply…love this remix. Even though I know in my heart it’s just awful. Calling this a guilty pleasure would be insulting to guilty pleasures everywhere. But, it’s catchy and for some reason I enjoy it. And since we began with this, I figured we would end with it, too.
This list just scratched the surface…we could have discussed everything from the David Kershenbaum Rio remixes to the recent Steve Aoki version of Hungry Like the Wolf. When you think of Duran’s remixes, which ones stand out for you (for better or worse)?
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.