Duran Duran / The Singles Box Set 81-85


Singles Box Set 1981-1985

Singles Box Set 1981-1985 is a box set by Duran Duran. Comprising thirteen CDs, it was released by EMI May 12, 2003 (2003-05-12) and covers the era from Duran Duran (1981) to Arena (1984), as well as non-album single “A View to a Kill” (1985).

Each CD is supposed to be a faithful copy of the UK vinyl single as it was released in the early 1980s, with all of the b-sides and alternate tracks, and each is packaged in a square cardboard sleeve replicating the original artwork. The thirteen cardboard sleeves are then packaged in a heavy-duty card box.[1]

This was the first time many of these tracks, including b-sides and alternate versions, appeared on CD.

The Analysis:—-

CD 1:

Planet Earth—-This first single by the band, delivered what would become a trademark sound for the band. Combining an irresistible mix of actual instruments and great synth lines the band was raised to a whole other level when Simon opened his mouth. Regardless of how you feel about this band, there was a time when these 5 lads were the biggest thing on Planet Earth. This was the beginning of a years long run that catapulted them to incredible heights and brough English Synth Pop to the American mainstream. This is catchy as hell, just different enough to appeal to the underlying fringes of folks looking for something new and the boys were cute enough to have girls swooning everywhere. This still sounds amazing to me.

Late Bar—-This is a pretty great track for a B-side. the track is as accessible as anything the band managed to release…with huge bowie overtones to it to boot. Simon could sing and had a distinctive sound…there was no mistaking his voice and the band managed to also market a trademark sound..on perfect display here.

Planet Earth [Night Version]—-Adding some nice synth lines and more swirls than the original pressing, this was designed to easily extend the original for the dance floor. this is a much beefier version of the classic single mix…adding much more instrumentation that is very easy to mix in and out of. This was the era of extended plays and this fed everyone’s appetite.

CD 2:

Careless Memories—-This was not really a very high charting single from the band in the US, but managed to land in the top 10 in the UK…only elevating the band and delivering more hysteria for the British Press. This has a nice hook to it…driving and accented by the huge vocal from LeBon…this is pretty typical Duran Duran….with trademark synth lines and much more present guitars.

Khanada—-This song begins with so much promise…but the music falls away and becomes much more sedate when the vocal begins. this is a slower paced track that allows the whole band to contribute to the vocals…there are some huge overlays that are remarkable, but all of the things going on at once allows the track to become a bit confusing at times.

Fame—-The band pays homage to the biggest influence in their sound by covering the master…David Bowie. this is an adequate delivery…the sounds the band produces is a bit fresh and interesting. Simon delivers his best Bowie impersonation and manages a pretty good rendition. I had forgotten about this cover…the joys of reviewing long forgotten music. this is pretty stellar!

CD 3:

Girls On Film—-This is, perhaps, my favorite Duran Duran single of all time…and truly one of the songs that really broke them wide open to US audiences…thanks to a video full of scantily clad girls and the pretty boys in the cameras eye. To me, the appeal was the driving synth line that this song managed to produce. This was a wonderment to me…I tried with all of my might not to buy into the hype, but once I heard this track I was won over. This is energetic, fresh and has that remarkable Le Bon double tracking…when he sings in a higher key…addictive as hell.

Faster Than Light—-This was a B-side for a reason…the song is a weak attempt to produce something that never really surfaced. this is a bit uninspired for me and when Le Bon hits that falsetto, I kind of cringe. But, it is a B-side after all….

Girls On Film [Night Version]—-I really have no complaints with this beefed up version of a very favorite track. The added synth lines only add to the appeal that the original had for me. The song goes on forever..a bit too long perhaps, but this is a DJ’s dream…perfect for mixing and keeping a crowd on the floor. When the familiar strains of the song disappear and reappear like magic i just go crazy…this is a pretty high quality remix for the time it was produced.

 CD 4 :

My Own Way—-This is just trademark Duran duran…although i must admit that listening back to the song now, I am surprised at the speed of the song. The synth lines really travelled on this track…surprising me that Le Bon could keep up with the pace of the song. This has, admittedly some nice Disco overtones….I have no complaints…this was yet another stepping stone on the ladder of greatness….and it has stood the test of time remarkably well.

Like An Angel—-This is very nice…delivered with very little synth and an acoustic guitar line that has a nice island flair to it. This is a surprise to me…not sure that I have actually listened to this song before for the whole duration. This is a bit generic as it continues, but it only goes to show the diversity of the band and the remarkable capabilities.

My Own Way [Night Version]—-Again, this is a nice beefed up version of the original. It puts some nice added emphasis on the more stellar synth sounds of the song and plays in headphones incredibly well…allowing the sound to fly from ear to ear at a remarkable pace. I think I much prefer this version over the original…it is much more unique and really accentuates the standout little sounds of the original. This is stellar.

CD 5 :

Hungry Like The Wolf—-This remains one of the songs that elevated this band to SUPER-STARDOM in the US. About the time this single was released, this band was everywhere. the posters were on every girls wall…all the guys swore they hated them and the videos were on constant rotation on MTV. This was the time when the US attention span lasted more than 5 minutes…this began a huge run for the band. This is a stellar track…full of classic 80’s synth lines…nice instrumentation and enough innuendo to send a nun into hiding. This is historic!

Careless Memories [Live]—-Releasing this track as a B-side was perhaps a marketing ploy to get the US audience to pay more attention to the early material of the band. Presented in a live setting, this song is much larger than the original pressing…as well as being much faster and aggressive. I think I much prefer this version over the earlier reviewed version.

Hungry Like The Wolf [Night Version]—-This is a huge remix…the song goes on and on, lasting a full two minutes longer than the original. the trademark synth pop line is accented and seems to be even louder than the original. I love this version…allowing for the masterful instrumentation of the song to really have the spotlight. This was a band at their artistic peak…and it shows..this song is flawless.

CD 6:

Save A Prayer—-This is nice, allowing the band to show a more sedate and introspective side to themselves. This track only served to make the girls scream even louder as Le Bon displayed his more vulnerable side. The vocal is a bit nasally for me, but the harmonies are fantastic and the gentle synth lines…if there is such a thing, really worked well on this track. This is amazing…still after all of these years.

Hold Back The Rain [Remix]—-Full of what had now become trademark synth sounds from the band, this is funny to be listed as a B-side…it seems to me that this song did pretty well on the charts in the US. I love the double tracked vocal from Le Bon…there is something magical when he sings in a lower register and the double track is so much higher…this is the sound that hooked me from the very beginning of the Duran movement…it still gets me everytime I hear it.

Hold Back The Rain [12″ Remix]—-Not sure that a remixed remix is necessary, but you take things as you get them..right? This stays pretty much true to the previous version…only extending the trademark synth sounds and adding some nice breaks in the middle of the song so DJ’s are able to easily mix out of the song. this is a nice piece of history I guess…but a bit indulgent.

CD 7:

Rio—-Another of those singles that really helped to break the band in a big way in the US thanks to a stellar video. there really was a time when MTV really mattered!!! This is classic…but released as a single later in the US and recorded earlier in the bands evolution. You can tell that there is a slight difference in sound…to me, this song was not as polished as the two previously released single. This is a huge slice of pop culture though…remarkable and still contagious.

The Chauffeur [Blue Sliver ]—-This is interesting…stripped down and acoustic…Le Bon only aided my the acoustic guitar and the added vocals from the rest of the band. Although the song does open up a bit, this is a remarkable study of the naked talent of the band…still sounding original and important without all of the synth lines. Nice!

Rio [Pt. 2]—-Is this different from Pt. 1? Well, perhaps it is more instrumental and swirling with more synths…but all in all this is a redux of the original with a lot more sounds thrown in and the same vocal track for the most part…this is in effect just a remixed version of the original….I do love those horns though!!!

My Own Way—-Although this is not credited as being a remix, that is exactly what this is. But not in the expected way…this is perhaps a bit stripped down from the original version. This is still pleasant and trademark….bringing a nice smile to my face…Le bon in the early days had quite the vocal charisma….this is a perfect example.

CD 8:

Is There Something I Should Know—-Right out of the gate, this song had a huge sound that the public on both sides of the ocean ate up. Whether you want to admit it or not, this was one delicious slice of pop perfection. Delivered in the classic Duran style…nice guitars and contagious synth lines, the band proved they were much more than a one hit wonder with the first single from the second proper release. This is nice!!!

Faith In This Colour—-It is still beyond me why this song was never released as a proper single…this has all of the trademark Duran elements to climb the charts and secure yet another top ten for one of the first Boy Bands in the world. This is fantastic…the synths are huge and the rhythms that are produced are addictive as hell…I’m sure Le Bon could have come up with some vocals for this magical track.

Is There Something I Should Know [Monster Mix]—-This remix was tailor-made for 80’s club dance floors. Monster Mix is a pretty damn good description of this mix…the bass hits are monstrous and the synth lines are even more pronounced and delivered with alarming frequency. This has some nice added effects…allowing you to mix in and out with the vocal remix with ease…this is classic stuff…indulgent just as the decade was.

Faith In This Colour [Alternate Slow Mix]—-This is indulgent and unecessary…adding nothing new and lasting way to long..I see no purpose to this…filler remains filler!!!

CD 9:

Union Of The Snake—-By the time that this song was released, it was evident that this band could do no wrong on either side of the ocean. Accompanied by a fantastic video, a more mature sound and an even finer honed vocal from Simon, this song was literally huge. This was heard everywhere, seem everywhere and was a literal masterpiece. Le Bon delivers a vocal whine that is irresistable…how can you not get hooked on this. This has enough synth breaks to make you go mad….

Secret Oktober—-Again surprising everyone and delivering a very sedate B-side, this sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a huge motion picture. Simon delivers a double tracked vocal that is so damn pleasant…I listened to this twice while writing about it…this is a nice deviation form the norm that really works.

Union Of The Snake [The Monkey Mix]—-This is a huge remix…I much prefer it over the original. This brings the synth lines much more to the forefront of the song…the percussion is stellar and the vocal is pretty much true to the original. It is all of the added cow-bell like synth sounds that really beef up the song though…this is a huge excursion into synth indulgence…I will be smiling for days y’all!

CD 10:

New Moon On Monday—-Without a doubt, my favorite Duran song of all time. There is nothing about this song that I can’t find appealing. and when Le Bon does that double track vocal of his, I just about melt with excitement. The synth lines are energetic as hell, all the while there is an irresistible seduction about the song that you can’t escape. I will have this in my brain for days now! Le bon delivers his best Bowie impersonation ever!!!

Tiger Tiger—-This is nice…and indeed it is the B-side to the 45 that I still own of this song. The synth beats are pretty large, but the song never really delivers for me. The empty feeling that it has parlay to the listener as well…this was a slight misstep…but you can’t win them all…right?

New Moon On Monday [Dance Mix]—-This is MARVELOUS!!! Taking every element of the original that I love and magnifying it by 100 makes me one of the happiest people on the face of the earth. For me, this song is all about the vocal…and the vocal is delivered in a magnificent way on this remix. The intro is a bit long, but it is so worth the wait to get to the meat of the song. The Bowie resemblances, the vocal overlays and the harmonies are just magnificent. I could never ask for more from one song..it elevates me and makes me very happy.

CD 11:

The Reflex  [7″ Version]—-This served to elevate this band to an even higher level than ever imaginable. This is a damn catchy and melodic song…but the video only proved to propel sales and popularity through the freakin’ roof. This version is a bit abbreviated, but still contains all of the vocal manipulations and fun that the video included. This is high energy…delivering classic and trademark Duran sounds and still leaving you wanting more. Masterful!

Make Me Smile [Come Up And See Me/Live]—-This is just very odd….this never did anything for me..it falls flat and only seemed to serve as filler. the moist remarkable thing about this is how many screams the band was able to produce from the audience. I swear, some of these girls must have wet themselves. This is interesting…but never really set me on fire.

The Reflex [Dance Mix]—-This is exquisite, huge and never-ending. Delivering every single element of the original and multiplying it by 1000, this is a classic dance mix…the likes of which they just don’t make these days. This is magnificent beyond words…pleasure filled and indulgent…estatic and fresh…and still sounding amazing some 20 years later…and who can forget the video.

CD 12:

The Wild Boys [45]—-One began to wonder, back in the day, if this band could do anything wrong. This single was perhaps even better than anyone anticipated it to be…continuing thew chart and commercial success of the band before it slowly began to implode. Le Bon sounds as good as ever…really stetching his vocal and making me smile at the remarkable strain. This is a darker and more moody track,…missing some of the bright pop elements that many of the earlier singles had…but it was an evolution that fit the time. This is still…stellar!

[I’m Looking For] Cracks In The Pavement—-This is a wonderfully lush and layered piece of pop music that surprisingly was never heard much beyond this B-side. This is nice…filled up with nice backdrop female vocals and aided by trademark Duran synth sounds, this live track is wonderful…huge and overblown…just as you would expect!

The Wild Boys [Wilder than Wild Boys Extended Mix]—-Could you possibly imagine something larger nad more overblown than the original version of this song…well, you have it here. this is nice…concentrating equally on the vocal and the classic trademark sounds that the band produces. This is remarkable…I love how Simon delivers a vocal that has an almost hoarse sound to it…the whine sounds better than ever and the band in the backdrop only serves to make the sound even bigger than ever, This is freakin’ incredible!

CD 13:

A View To A Kill—-This song, written for a James Bond movie…fits the spy mentality to perfection! This has huge, magnificent synth lines and a seductive vocal that fits the 007 moniker perfectly. This is just magnificent…allowing your mind to run wild with the whole mystery of the damn thing. Le bon sounds more driven and practised than ever. The band is stellar…the drums in the song are huge and real…hard to believe that the original line-up of the band was imploding at the same time…none the less, this is a stellar single that kept the ball rolling for a bit longer.

A View To A Kill [That Fatal Kiss]—-Wow….whatever! Really not for me…this orchestration really takes the soundtrack thing to whole different level. this is nice…but wow…not what you would expect at all.

***** out of 5 [!!!!!]

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