Tag Archives: As the Lights Go Down

Awaken All Those Whispers

Dusty shadow of a passing favour

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 (Album)

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 (An Absurd Notion)

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.

As the Lights Go Down (film)

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.

As the Lights Go Down – Digital

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.

As the Lights Go Down – RSD vinyl 2019

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.

-R




I’ve Seen You on TV

Yesterday, as I watched the snow falling, I graded, hoping to get caught up. (No, I did not include a typo in that first sentence. It snowed here yesterday. Yes, it is almost May.) I wanted to finish my grading for a couple of reasons. Progress reports are due on Wednesday. More importantly than that, I wanted to be able to watch the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony without feeling guilty.

There is something special about seeing Duran Duran on TV and there always has been. I remember as a kid getting so excited to see the band on TV. Before we had a VCR, I had to just hope that whatever they were on I would be able to see it. It had to be before my bedtime (gosh I was so young!) but also when I didn’t have to fight my siblings and the parents for the family TV. This was always a struggle but when I was successful, there was nothing better. One appearance from childhood that sticks out is this one from the Bob Hope Birthday Special:

From what I remember, I won the TV (we only had one in color with cable) because my grandma was there and she liked Bob Hope. In fact, she would have taken the time to retell the story for the 10th time or more about seeing Bob Hope perform in person decades earlier.

Sometimes, I didn’t know about a TV appearance but was lucky enough to catch it by changing the channels. Here are two that worked out that way:

Of course, there were times that I knew that Duran was going to be on TV but I couldn’t watch. I felt like someone was trying to torture me when this happened as a kid. Why were my parents so mean, I wondered. The biggest example of this was Live Aid in July 1985. My family was in the process of moving and on that Saturday we were to drive to our new house to drop off some needed items for my dad who was staying there during the week. I have a very clear memory of me begging my mom to let me stay with my best friend as she folded sheets that were going to the new house. No matter how many reasons I gave for needing to stay, she wasn’t having it. No, my help would be needed. Great…That said, we returned home in the evening and I managed to get back in time to see both Power Station and Duran! Even though I didn’t miss any of it, I pouted the entire day and refused to join the family for the Chinese takeout.

Another example of a Duran appearance that I was not able to watch was As the Lights Go Down. In this case, it wasn’t because my parents had plans for me. No, it had to do with the fact that it was airing on Cinemax, a cable channel that we definitely did not have. So what did I do? I did what must have been done and I begged my cousins to record it for me. They agreed but when they returned the videotape, they had missed some songs. I was so annoyed but I knew that I didn’t have the right to be. After all, they had done me a favor. Imagine how excited I was when the concert was included in one of the Seven and the Ragged Tiger special reissued box sets. Now, the band has been releasing some of the songs from it on YouTube after this year’s RSD special vinyl released of it. Here are the tracks they have released so far:

On that note, I might spend a little bit more time today watching some good Duran Duran clips. After all, what gets better than that?!

-A

Record Store Day 2019

How was everyone’s Record Store Day? Did you buy anything? Maybe a certain Duran Duran vinyl? My RSD was…well..interesting and different than previous ones.

The past few years I got up pretty early to get to the largest record store I know in Madison. This, of course, meant waiting in line in what is never a warm spring morning. Then, I would eventually get in to successfully buy whatever Duran Duran album was for sale. This year held some similarities and some major differences but it definitely didn’t go as planned.

My plan was to follow previous years with a couple of what I thought were slight adjustments. Instead of getting up super earlier, I figured it was safe to let myself sleep a little but that I would have no problem buying one for myself and even one for Rhonda. I needed to sleep because I had little sleep over the course of the week as grades were due and I had to drive to pick up my sister and niece from Chicago. So the plan was simple: sleep in a little, pick up the family and head over. We arrived at about noon with my eldest niece joining me as the rest went to a few stores. As normal, there was a line to get in. The wait allowed my niece and I to catch up as I enjoyed the free beer.

After waiting a half hour or so, we got in from the cold and immediately sought out the Record Store Day albums only to come up short. No Duran Duran. I checked a few other sections to make sure that I didn’t miss it. What the heck, I wondered. There were at least five copies of Devo but no Duran Duran. That didn’t make sense so I looked again and again. Finally, I had to give in as the rest of the family was waiting for us. That said, I still felt confident that I would be able to find it at one of the other stores participating in Madison.

The visit to the next store had to wait, though, as we had plans to go take a look at my mom’s latest art show. I tried to be patient as I fretted internally. Would I be able to find it? Why didn’t I ask at the store? Why didn’t I call first? Finally, we headed over to store number two. I silenced my inner voice of negativity and reminded myself that the hunt could be part of the fun. Again, we entered the store and made a beeline to the RSD section. This store had dividers for each artists. Awesome. This would make it easier to….not find it. No Duran Duran divider. No As the Lights Go Down. This time, I asked and received an uncertain response, “Uh…I think we had it.” Really?? Why no divider then? I start swearing to myself and vow to call the third store, which I do after complaining a bunch only to find out that the third store didn’t have it. Well…shit.

So, when I returned home from more errands with the family, I did what I had to do and ordered a copy from eBay, probably paying twice as much as I should. Yet, I would not be defeated. As I tried to move on from my frustration, I had to acknowledge that I made two wrong moves. First, I assumed that the stores would carry it. I’m not certain that they ever did. If I had called ahead of time, I would have known. Second, if the stores had copies, then I should have planned to get there super early. I could have gone back to sleep after. Lesson learned.

While I wished that I could listen to As the Lights Go Down today, I must be happy knowing that my copy will eventually come to me. The anticipation will just increase my enjoyment, right? On that note, how did everyone else do? If you were not successful, did you opt to get it elsewhere like me? If you were, how does it sound?

-A

Hold On To The Memory

Welcome to Wednesday! I don’t have a lot to chat about today, so I’m just going to cover a couple of quickies before closing shop to do some chores around the house. Not fun, but necessary!

Do You Believe In Shame is 30 years old! Stop the madness!!!

On this day in 1989, Do You Believe in Shame was released. This is a song that I never really thought I’d hear live, but it was played in 2009 at The Pearl (Palms Hotel) in Las Vegas. As Simon introduced the song, I remember he mentioned the passing of Michael Jackson.

The song was the third and final single off of Big Thing. The meanings behind the song are fairly universal – meaning just about anyone can understand the place it comes from. At the time Simon wrote it, however, he attributed the meaning to the loss of three friends: Alex Sadkin, Andy Warhol and David Miles. 30 years, really???

As the Lights Go Down on vinyl – get yours this Saturday!

Next up, Record Store Day! Don’t forget that is this Saturday! We Duran fans have a special “hunt” going on – and that is for the vinyl edition of As the Lights Go Down. I don’t think it will be difficult to spot with its pink and blue cover! (although there are only 5500 copies available. Worldwide!) This is a 3-sided pink and blue LP, which admittedly – I’m a sucker for the colored vinyl – the 4th side is etched. The recording is from way back on the Sing Blue Silver tour in 1984. Happy hunting!!

That’s it from me today!

-R

Duran Duran Record Store Day 2019 Press Release: Fluff or Fake News?

By, @duranimaljeff(Twitter)

Did you read the exciting news released by Duran Duran this week?  In case you missed it, Warner is releasing a double LP of live music from “As The Lights Go Down” for Record Store Day 2019.  The special was a TV concert filmed in Oakland, CA for the Sing Blue Silver tour in 1984.  As a collector, this news excites me as I have long yearned for the band/management/record label to release more physical music items.  However, there are a few items in the press release that didn’t sound right to me.  In this era of “Fake News”, I had to wonder how much of this info is “fluff”, and how much is fact.

First, the press release claims that “Duran Duran played three incredible shows to over 150k people at the Oakland Coliseum”.  We all know they were incredible, that’s for sure!  However, I have done some research over the years and I believe the biggest non-festival shows that Duran Duran have played in the United States were at Madison Square Garden in 1984 and the Staples Center in 2005 with both venues having a capacity of 20,000 people for concerts.  Naturally, it seemed incorrect that they played to 150,000 people over three shows in Oakland. 

Some quick research (and the fact that I’m a sports fan) indicates that there are two neighboring properties as part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex, both commonly referred to “Oakland Coliseum”.  First, there is the football and baseball stadium that can hold 50,000 people for concerts.  Second, there is the basketball arena (now called Oracle Arena) that can hold 16,000 for concerts.  Duran Duran played in the arena, as seen in the As The Lights Go Down video, so it is not possible that they played to 150,000 people over those three days.

Second, the press release states that “no official products were ever released”.  Again, I take issue with this statement.  The actual video for “As The Lights Go Down” was released on DVD as part of the 2010 Special Edition CD/DVD box set for “Seven And The Ragged Tiger”.  Also, the live tracks were released as part of an iTunes audio album in 2010.  Even though Itunes is a digital format, it is still considered a product in my book since I had to pay for it!! 

Furthermore, for those that do not know, the live tracks presented on “As The Lights Go Down” are the same live tracks released on the live album “Arena”.  The audio is mixed and edited a bit differently, and the “As The Lights Go Down” version has some of the sound effects from the video incorporated, but the base live tracks are the same recording.  Therefore, I have a hard time believing that “no official products were ever released” with regards to “As The Lights Go Down”.

Third, the last line of the press release states that the release “is available from 13 April 2019 (Record Store Day) in records stores across the country”.  I am not a card-carrying member of the grammar and spelling police, but shouldn’t it read record stores?  Also, which country is being referred to here?  I’m guessing it is referring to the United States, but then why use the European date format?  Fans outside the United States may take offense to this wording.  I believe the record is being released in the U.S. and U.K. 

Finally, all wording issues and “fluff” aside from the press release, am I excited for this release, or am I just a bit triggered about all this?  I’m absolutely very happy!!!  Duran Duran has not participated in Record Store Day every year.  The fact that we have something to buy on this special day in April for the second straight year is step in the right direction! 

The two pink and blue colored vinyls match the gatefold  cover perfectly and also gives a nice nod to the recent Paper Gods era/branding.  The package will also feature photos from Denis O’Regan.  As an audio collector, it will be fantastic to have this recording on a physical format.  There has also been some debate online if Duran Duran are still signed to Warner.  This RSD release confirms there is still some relationship, even though Duran Duran is not currently on the artist roster at warnerbrosrecords.com.

I would like to give Amanda and Rhonda a special thank you for allowing me to write a short piece concerning this press release.  I don’t write a lot, but I think it’s a great outlet to organize and communicate your thoughts, and sometimes it just feels better to “get the words out”!!  Happy Record Store Day 2019 to everyone!

Jeff Bistline has been a dedicated Duranie since 1984. His passions in life are his Duran Duran collection, college basketball, and his boxer dog, Vivi. He is an accountant and lives in Nebraska.


Happy 30th Birthday Arena!

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.

-R