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.