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

13 thoughts on “Paper Gods: The Bonus Tracks”

  1. You’re NOT alone Rhonda, I’m a BIG fan of the PG bonus tracks as well. And, I think they are even better listening to them on headphones, they scream ‘turn me UP’.

    I hear echoes back to the original album with both Planet Roaring and Northern Lights (which sounds like the long-lost future cousin of Night Boat). Maybe The Wedding Album with Valentine Stones and On Evil Beach. And, I think Cinderella Ride could fit right on Astronaut nicely as well.

    ALL of these Bonus tracks to me are what Duran is all about, the drums, bass and guitar all right there working in great synergy with Nick’s synth work and Simon’s flow. If they’d consider an entire album of songs with this kind of heart and style, well, I think it could be just as good as Paper Gods which is saying something.

    All-in-all, the Paper Gods sessions are a bounty of great music, whether official album or bonus tracks! And, again I hope they keep the flow and momentum going with album #15, whenever that may be. Hopefully sooner than later :))

    Richard

    1. LOL! Pace yourself, Richard. If you are already looking forward to #15, you are in for a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG wait!!! HAHAHAHA! #Durantime. In all seriousness, I do also hope that the seemingly renewed energy and vitality that the band has found in writing this album will carry over. I do think much of this was written and recorded in the last few months of their time in studio. So much of what came before was scrapped. I wonder what will become of all of that. But Maybe somehow, they will find a way to jump forward next time to getting right into making the songs they will ultimately keep from the start rather than going through writing two or three albums’ worth of material. In the meantime, I LOVE this album!! More than the last few, for sure.

  2. From my listening to of “Valentine Stones”, I believe the meaning of term Valentine stones is a reference to the jewelry given to women by men on St. Valentine’s Day.

    1. Interesting. I thought about the gem reference myself yesterday in the car. That could very well be it, I don’t know. -R

  3. The bonus tracks are some of my favorites as well. To me they are pure Duran, managing to sound both classic and modern. At the same time, I understand they aren’t as radio worthy as say Pressure Off or Last Night in the City. (Do people still listen to the radio? Well, hopefully you know what I mean anyway lol) I love that Duran strives to stay current & relevant. Yet at the same time, bonus tracks are like little gifts for us longtime Duranies who maybe aren’t as concerned with modern music as we are with that classic Duran sound.

    1. Are you ladies able to edit my comment? Just realized I wrote “Too me” not “to me” That is going to drive me nuts! Lesson learned in needing to proofread before hitting submit :/

    2. I kind of think you’re right, Taylormaid. They’re not necessarily radio-worthy, but I guess for me that doesn’t matter – I’m a fan (which is why they’re bonus tracks. LOL) But they are definitely gifts for longtime Duranies.

      Apparently my question of why they’re bonus tracks has now been answered. LOL -R

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post!
    Your description of the intro to Northern Lights, you think of hiking, I thought of walking through very cold snow. And your alien ship, I thought of a flare beeing lit in the winter darkness. And he does actually sing about walking in snow somewhere in there… 🙂
    I wonder if Simon or the others ever has seen the Northern Lights?

    1. Therese, I’m going to defer to your description because A. you live much closer to the Northern Lights than I do. B. I think you’re probably right (I didn’t think about the flare at all…that’s really genius, but it still sounds like an ship landing to me…) C. I have never seen the Northern Lights before. 🙂 -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!