By the time Duran Duran recorded Seven and the Ragged Tiger, the band had turned into international superstars. Touring kept them out of the studio, which meant little in the way of archival material.
The special edition of Seven and the Ragged Tiger does not hold any surprises for diligent fans who snatched up the singles boxed set from 2004 or the 12-inch compilations from the late ’90s.
"Is There Something I Should Know?" suffers from something of an identity crisis. US fans probably associate the track with the band’s self-titled debut, which shoe-horned the track in a 1983 reissue that came in the wake of the success of Rio. (I, for one, keep expecting to hear it after "Careless Memories".)
The track appears as a bonus, along with two versions of the B-side "Faith in This Colour". Of course, there’s "Secret Oktober" and the dance mix of "The Reflex", which is far superior than the album mix.
Very familiar territory for the schooled Duranie. That leaves the videos, which is where the true value of this reissue lies.
Back in 2004, EMI released Arena on DVD. This exercise in indulgence expanded the mythos of "The Wild Boys" video and cast Duran Duran as a force to combat an impending apocalypse. (Oh Reagan-era Cold War!) The short film runs on the premise that the band’s energetic live show is enough to beat back the haters. Wow.
Pretty much, director Russell Mulcahy interspersed live show with footage with the "movie". Duranie though I may be, I have my limits, and I let the Arena release pass me by. (The DVD is now out of print. I still have my VHS copy.)
The live show on which Arena was based aired in the US as a precursor to the video tape release, under the title As the Lights Go Down. I’m glad now I didn’t drop the cash for Arena — As the Lights Go Down is a far worthier investment of my time and cash.
Mulcahy stylized filming a live concert, adding extraneous shots, using multiple screens and cropping out the picture at weird angles. He captured the essence of Duran Duran’s live show much more effectively than Hammersmith ’82!
And it’s even better without the distraction of the dubious plot of Arena.
Other video extras include a movie version of "New Moon on Monday". I could have seen this version on the Greatest DVD, which is hidden as an easter egg, but I hadn’t. "New Moon on Monday" makes for a better movie than Arena.
It is, however, fascinating to see how different edits of the same footage can yield different stories.
As with the special edition of the self-titled debut, the remastering on Seven and the Ragged Tiger flattens the sound. The same advice holds true — if you have the 2004 reissue, keep them.
The Seven and the Ragged Tiger special edition offers few surprises in terms of audio content, which leaves the video content to make up for its worth.