Yesterday’s winner: As the Lights Go Down
Which video is better: Sing Blue Silver or Arena?
Yesterday’s winner: As the Lights Go Down
Which video is better: Sing Blue Silver or Arena?
62% of our participants do own Arena: An Absurd Notion (DVD) while 39% did not.
What about Three to Get Ready? Here is some information about this DVD:
Directed and produced by award winning filmmakers Carolyn Brooks and David Gasperik, this is a behind the scenes look at Duran Duran. The documentary was filmed entirely in black & white during The Strange Behaviour Tour in 1987.
First shown at film festivals during 1987, the video features footage of Duran Duran travelling on the road, interviews and visits to American TV shows including Soul Train. There are also stage performances of “Notorious“, “Save A Prayer” and “Skin Trade“.
Originally Three To Get Ready was released in Italy as a 75 minute version in 1987. An edited 29 minute version was later released in several countries in 1990. The DD Fan Club have also released an unofficial DVD edition in 2010.
77% of our participants own Sing Blue Silver and 15% do not. 8% used to own it.
What about Arena (An Absurd Notion) (DVD)? Here is how Wikipedia describes it:
Last weekend, I sat down and listened to my vinyl copy of As The Lights Go Down. Without pretense and drama, I’ll just say that I really enjoyed it.
I can’t pretend that I’m an expert with regard to mastering or sound engineering, or any of that. I’m just a listener, period. While I’ve always been interested in the technical side of album production, I really don’t know a lot about it. I just know what I enjoy, and that’s what I’m going to share.
From the conversations I’ve seen on both Twitter and Facebook, there seems to be some confusion about what and where this album is from. Is it the same as Arena? What about the video/dvd/broadcast As The Lights Go Down? Are they all the same? How about the digital version of ATLGD – is it the same as the vinyl?
The answers are no, sort of, and yes. Let me try and sort this out for those who are confused (I was one of them). I’m going to be very, very clear here: in order to try and decipher all of this, I had to research online and take notes. I didn’t automatically “know” any of this. Thank goodness for the internet today. There’s no way I could have kept it all straight otherwise. I missed out on the special “gift” of being that detail oriented!
Arena – the vinyl/CD/etc is a live album that was “recorded around the world” in 1984 that also included the studio recording of “Wild Boys”. I’m pretty sure at least most of us are familiar, right? The complaints about Arena range from the audience sounds being muted to the sound being rather flat. It’s “live”….but not really. Clearly somebody tinkered with the sound, and probably because it was needed, but I really don’t know. Like I said, I’m no expert. Owning Arena was the most exciting thing to happen to me in 1984. I hadn’t ever seen the band live at that point, and listening to that album, at the time,””
Arena also has a slightly more exciting, and possibly evil conjoined twin named Arena (An Absurd Notion). This is a concert film…but as a twist, there’s also a plot! This was filmed in Oakland, California in 1984. The film was released on videotape and broadcast on MTV. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend finding a copy. It’s pretty wild and makes for a great party/drinking game if you’re so inclined.
Then there’s the film version of As The Lights Go Down. Essentially, this is similar to Arena (An Absurd Notion), but with all of the plot elements cut. However, even the live footage is edited differently in spots so it doesn’t seem like it’s exactly the same thing as Arena. So, it’s basically a concert video that is about an hour in length. This too was broadcast – first on Cinemax and later on MTV. I’m reading that there are at least two versions of this film that exist (but I really don’t know the differences). If you have a DVD of this film that you found on an auction site – or something that is a “stand-alone” copy, chances are, if you had it prior to 2010, you own a bootlegged copy. That year, there was an official, bonus disc of it included in the special re-issue of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.
So that leaves the digital version, found on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc. Is it the same as the vinyl released for Record Store Day? Yes, but it is mp3 because it is digital, and was released in 2010. I’ll let your own ears decide if it’s the same.
So what about this vinyl, then? Again, I’m no audiophile. I don’t have the same expectations as someone who is a DJ, or works in the industry. I’m your average listener. I put the needle on the record, and sat down with a glass of wine. While I would say that there still isn’t a lot of difference between the lows and highs (the dynamic ranges), I definitely hear a difference between the vinyl and the mp3 – although it is subtle. Unless you’re listening with quality headphones, it is likely most wouldn’t notice. If you want to compare this album to say, Arena – the differences are night and day in many respects. What I enjoyed most about this album though, was that I could hear many notes, arpeggios, and loops that I couldn’t quite discern before. I loved hearing all of those extra layers that felt very compressed before. Again, I’m not an expert – I just know what I like. It sounds great, and I’m not sorry I bought it.
I know others were disappointed by the track order, but this is where my lack of attention to detail wins every time. It didn’t even occur to me to notice! I just enjoyed each track for what it provided, and didn’t expend a lot of brain waves thinking about why. Taking a trip back through 1984 without being forced to relive my frizzy hair, awkward body, and drama-filled school days worked for me. Listening to the songs I fell in love with at 12 and 13, with my 48-year old ears still fairly intact gave me a chance to fully appreciate the relationship I still have with this band. (however one-sided it may be!)
Overall, I believe many fans truly expect perfection in every single way, 100% of the time. I’m not sure if I reside in that group. I know that at one time, I probably did – but at this moment in my life, I’m willing to give grace and forgive an awful lot just to have a bit of joy. This album delivered, and that’s more than enough for me, in my mostly non-expert, “just a listener”, opinion.
There are some anniversaries that just seem monumental, and this is indeed one of them. Thirty years ago today, Arena was released. We won’t talk about how old (or young) I may have been at the time, but I have distinct memories of Arena’s release. To begin with, I’d heard Wild Boys on the radio. If there was ever a quintessential “Duran Duran sounding” song of that period, Wild Boys surely met the mark. Little did I realize that it would be the last song the “Fab Five” recorded together until the days of Astronaut, but isn’t that always the way it is? You don’t realize something is really over until it just IS. There’s rarely a huge sign waved at you to pay attention and not miss anything – you only see those signs in hindsight as you wonder what could have happened and where everyone went. Laughingly, I remember getting the album and being a little disappointed that it was just live versions aside from Wild Boys – I was young and didn’t quite get it, I suppose. Additionally, I remember reading that the album was recorded “around the world 1984”, and I knew that meant it was recorded on their Sing Blue Silver tour…the tour I had missed due to some overprotective parents and a budget I couldn’t quite understand at the time.
For me, these products: the Arena album, the Sing Blue Silver VHS tape (and now DVD), Into the Arena (board game, which I never owned but had on my Christmas list…), As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album and of course the Arena movie were all symbolic for me. They represented the (then) unattainable dream of getting to see Duran Duran. The band was on a completely different playing field in a completely different stratosphere than I was as a young teen growing up in Covina, California. I didn’t think I had a hope in the world of ever seeing them in concert, much less ever standing in front of them, face to face, having an album signed or being able to tell Roger Taylor that he was in fact, my favorite. I look upon that time and space – the Sing Blue Silver tour – with a great deal of reverence. I built that time up to be so much more in my head. For many years I remained at least partially convinced that had I been to any show on that tour, I may have actually met the band, been invited backstage, and become instant friends. I would have followed through with my own dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor and being principle clarinetist for the LA Philharmonic. All of my hopes and dreams would have been realized had my parents simply bought me a ticket to a show, dammit.
In the decades since, I think I’ve been nearly rehabilitated. I’m at least fifty percent convinced, for instance, that even if I’d gone to the show and stood near my seat (most likely up in nosebleed because I know that at the time my parents had very little “extra” money to speak of), I still wouldn’t have met any of the band members. I doubt my life would have changed much, but there’s still that lingering “What If”.
That “What if” is probably one thing that has continued to drive my fandom for all of the years since Sing Blue Silver. I know that when the original band ceased to exist, and as we went through Warren, Steve, Sterling, Wes…etc… I never once felt that sense of closure or contentment. I felt like I’d missed my chance. A chance at what? I have no idea. I just knew I’d missed out on something amazing. Let’s face it: seeing your favorite band live is something that everyone needs to do at least once (and some of us need it 30,40, 50 times!!). By the time my opportunity arrived in 1989, I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting the consolation prize. Sure, it was great seeing Duran Duran live…but it wasn’t really Duran Duran unless all five of them were there.
When the reunion was announced, I made sure that I wasn’t going to miss out again. I know from reading message boards, Facebook and meeting countless of you along the way – the things I’m writing and sharing today are not new. There were many of us who missed out in the 80’s that have had their chance since. That lack of closure we once had is probably gone now, but we’re still emotionally driven. For many, the band helped to usher in adolescence or the teen years. We were at least as emotional about the band as we were about life. The screaming teenager we thought we’d left behind still shows up every once in a while. None of us want to miss the next show, next appearance, or next meet and greet. Those emotions drive our fandom.
In the thirteen years post-reunion (announcement, in 2001), I’ve been in front of the band long enough to have an album signed AND had nerve enough to tell Roger Taylor that he was always my favorite, and I was really glad he came back. (He responded by saying “That is really sweet, thank you.” with a huge grin….some things you just never forget) I’ve seen quite a few shows, and I’ve been overseas to places I honestly and truly never even dared dream I’d go. I still believe Duran Duran is on a completely different playing field in a stratosphere far, far away from me. Even with social media, they still seem incredibly unattainable or unreachable, and let’s face it – given some of our emotional behavior, that’s probably for the best. I continually marvel at the people who do whatever it takes to get near them, whether it’s getting to know the right people, standing in enough lines, or paying enough money. I can barely manage to get myself to the shows I do without trying to show up every single time there is a possible appearance somewhere, so I applaud those who can make the extra effort. Sing Blue Silver, Into the Arena, As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album, the Arena movie and naturally the Arena album are still somewhat enigmatic to me. They still manage to collectively represent a period of time when much of the world (as well as the band) was a complete mystery. They symbolize a lot of my adolescent hopes and dreams. The memories that come along with Duran Duran, Arena, Sing Blue Silver and other things continue to drive my fandom. I’m not chasing after childhood (or rainbows, as they say…), but I revel in those memories as much as I thoroughly and completely enjoy everything that has come along since. Happy Birthday, Arena.