Duran Duran: Rio (2009 Collector’s Edition)

The story of the release of Duran Duran’s Rio in the United States is circuitous. If you were a preteen in 1983 — like myself — this story would not reveal itself till the advent of the compact disc.

When I cross-graded my copy of Rio from vinyl (and cassette) to CD in 1992, I was shocked and dismayed by the music that came out of the speakers. It was not the one I spent my junior high school years spinning endlessly.

The arrangements of the side one tracks were thinner, and many of them were shorter. Surely, this mistake was made at the pressing plant? Actually, it wasn’t. (Ed note: And don’t call me Shirley.)

Capitol Records told Duran Duran the album had to be remixed to make it marketable to American audiences. For the CD reissue, the band opted to use the original UK mix instead. Over time, I would get accustomed to the original mixes, but they didn’t hold a candle to the album I studied at great length.

Today, I’m old enough to be a sucker for the reissue market, and yet again, I repurchased Rio, this time with the remixes I know and love.

Some of the changes in the remixed tracks are subtle. The opening of "Rio" has a bigger drum sound, and a counter rhythm in the synth answers Andy Taylor’s sliding intro. An extra drum thump confounds the opening of "Hungry Like the Wolf", which feels more in-your-face than its UK counterpart.

(My vinyl copy included the longer Night Version mix of "Hungry Like the Wolf", which I prefer over the US single mix.)

Other songs were totally reworked. The US version of "My Own Way" is far richer than its UK ancestor, and "Hold Back the Rain" is many times more rocking.

The extra choruses and more vibrant guitar hook on "Lonely in Your Nightmare" makes a subtle but huge difference.

The CD tacks these mixes at the end of disc one as extra tracks, but Capitol assumed people would rip, mix and match to suit their needs, which I have done.

Hearing the album with which I grew up sufficed, but the label sweetens the set by including demos of "Last Chance on the Stairway", "New Religion", "Like an Angel" and "My Own Way". These recordings are pretty punchy, and they mirror the final versions pretty closely. Duran Duran sweated the details even during the writing stage.

The collection is rounded out by 7-inch and 12-inch single mixes, which would be redundant for anyone who already owns various extended mix compilations and the early singles boxed set. The US mixes and the demos more than make up for the redundant material.

I hadn’t intended to get the Hammersmith ’82! live DVD, but it included the Rio-era music videos, most notably "Lonely in Your Nightmare". I would still love to see a reissue of the original Duran Duran video album, and the cut of the video on this DVD is remarkably different from the one on said video album. I couldn’t find an easter egg to reveal whether this cut was on the DVD.

Hammersmith ’82! also comes with a CD of the concert, which can get a bit spotty with the sound. Poor Andy Hamilton’s sax solo on "Rio" gets totally washed out.

Duran Duran plans more collector’s editions in March 2010, and they’re gearing up to be just as illuminating as this one.