Friday, March 5, 2010

Notorious Big

With only a couple of weeks before Duran Duran reissue deluxified editions of their debut album and "Seven And The Ragged Tiger", the band just revealed the tracklistings for the remastered versions of "Notorious" and "Big Thing", the first two longplayers from their post quintet output.

"Notorious", their fourth studio album, was produced by Nile Rodgers and released in 1986 after the individual members spent most of the previous year with splinter projects Arcadia and The Power Station.

The newly remastered, special edition of "Notorious" will be released in a variety of funkadelic flavors. For those of us who still worship the physical configuration, there will be a special edition, two disc version as well as a limited edition, three disc set.

The three disc set will include a DVD of live footage, album era videos and a clip from the BBC. The CDs will feature the original album with a wealth of bonus material including single versions, b-sides, remixes and live tracks.

The live tracks are of note as they will be the second official release of "Duran Go Dutch", a bootleg EP that was sort of a pseudo sanctioned document of the band's 1987 "Strange Behaviour" world tour. The first time it appeared on CD was as a bonus disc on the original, Japanese pressing of "Big Thing".

As for the remixes, many of the ones that were commissioned for promotional use will finally see the light of day on a commercial release approved by the band. The bonus DVD will include the original music videos for the three singles that were lifted from the album, a performance of "Notorious" from "Top Of The Pops" plus "Working For The Skin Trade", a live show originally released on VHS.

With the departure of Andy Taylor, due to musical differences, and Roger Taylor, from exhaustion brought on by endless tours and the prying eye of the ever growing media circus around the band, the remainder of the Brummie boys - Simon, Nick and John - were left to soldier on. "Notorious" was a bold move forward for the paired down Duran machine.

Nile Rodgers brought the funk he cultivated in his days with Chic. You can hear them soaking it in. With John arriving fresh from his stint with The Power Station, which included Chic drummer Tony Thompson, it's no wonder "Notorious" is full of funk references. From the slamming title track to Simon's Princely turns on "Skin Trade", the album is slinky, chunky and groovy from beginning to end without ever sounding like a pastiche.

Then there's third single - a high octane remix of "Meet El Presidente" reswizzled by The Latin Rascals. By this time, Duran were settling into more mid-table hits rather than seeing their singles skyrocket to the top of the charts. "Meet El Presidente" should've been a bigger hit, IMHO. And much like "I Don't Want You Love", the first single from "Big Thing", was a nod to "Notorious", "Meet El Presidente" can be thought of as a sonic foreshadowing of "Big Thing".

Crush your toes into the glorious, plush, pile carpeting of the deluxe edition of "Notorious" with a glimpse at the final tracklisting.



Original album:

1. Notorious
2. American Science
3. Skin Trade
4. A Matter Of Feeling
5. Hold Me
6. Vertigo (Do The Demolition)
7. So Misled
8. Meet El Presidente
9. Winter Marches On
10. Proposition

Single versions and b-sides:

11. Notorious (45 Mix)
12. Skin Trade (Radio Cut)
13. We Need You
14. Meet El Presidente (7″ Remix)

CD 2

"Duran Goes Dutch" EP (recorded at the Ahoy, Rotterdam, May 7, 1987):

1. Notorious (Live)
2. Vertigo (Do The Demolition) (Live)
3. New Religion (Live)
4. Hungry Like The Wolf (Live)
5. American Science (Live)


6. Notorious (Extended Mix)
7. Skin Trade (Stretch Mix)
8. Meet El Presidente (Presidential Suite Mix)
9. American Science (Chemical Reaction Mix)
10. Skin Trade (Parisian Mix)
11. Notorious (Latin Rascals Mix)
12. Vertigo (Do The Demolition) (Mantronix Mix)
13. Notoriousaurus Rex


"Working For The Skin Trade":

2. A View To A Kill
3. Notorious
4. New Religion
5. Vertigo
6. The Chauffeur
7. Save A Prayer
8. Skin Trade
9. Hungry Like The Wolf
10. Wild Boys
11. Outro


12. Notorious
13. Skin Trade
14. Meet El Presidente

Top Of The Pops:

15. Notorious (first transmission - November 6, 1986)

"Notorious" will also be released as a limited edition, 180 gram, vinyl LP with a bonus disc of mixes. If you're type that enjoys retrieving your music through a wireless connection, then the deluxe, digital download edition is for you! It will include an exclusive, live set recorded at The Beacon Theater in New York City, August 31, 1987.

Furthermore, the digital configuration will also feature a 4 track EP of mixes which couldn't fit on the CD edition due to time restrictions. The tracks include the following:

1. Skin Trade (S.O.S. Dub)
2. Meet El Presidente (Meet El Beat)
3. American Science (Meltdown Dub)
4. Vertigo (Do The Demolition) (B-boy Mix)

Only two years on from "Notorious", Duran Duran returned with "Big Thing", their fifth longplayer, in the midst of the acid house explosion and the second summer of love. By the way, nobody bought their "name change" to duranduran. That was utter nonsense.

It's clear that "I Don't Want Your Love", the first offering from "Big Thing", was the transition from the funk of the previous album. "Big Thing" was different. Equal parts raved up and blissed out.

"IDWYL", given the Shep Pettibone production treatment, had its eyes on the charts and its heart of the dancefloor. How it only managed to peak at #20 in the UK is beyond comprehension. The US gave the single a more favorable chart placing when it peaked at #4.

The album was also sleazy in spots ("All She Wants Is") while being languid and laced with high grade amphetamines in others ("Palomino", "Too Late Marlene" and "Land"). There was further exploration of sexual innuendo in the title track. Even some of the songs directly referenced not-so-thinly veiled, mind altering substances ("Lake Shore Driving" and "Drug"). And then there is the inclusion of trippy, fruity, fluted interludes. What were they smoking? Or snorting, as the case might be.

"Big Thing" might be one of Duran's most misunderstood albums. But in retrospect, it's a fine example of a band growing older, figuring out where they might fit in, rolling with the times, exploring new sonic territory and bringing old favorites forward without dragging them behind like a ball and chain. All the while they remained dedicated to the highest level of melody and groove. After all, rhythm is the power.

As with the deluxe retooling of "Notorious", "Big Thing" is scheduled to be released in a colorful array of formats. There will be a standard, two disc version as well as a limited edition, three disc set. The limited edition configuration will include the original album neatly slotted next to single versions, b-sides and mixes along with a DVD of album era videos and a rare, live show from their "Big Live Thing" world tour.

Sidenote... I was lucky enough to see DD on the "Big Live Thing" tour when it stopped at a dilapidated, 500 seat theater in the heart of the dirty, seedy streets of downtown Newark, New Jersey. Talk about taking your life in your own hands! I had second row seats. Simon flung his stringy hair around quite a bit and he sprayed me with his sweat many times that evening. You like it hot, but I like it wet! Indeed. But I digress...

Once again, for the vinyl hearted, a limited edition, 180 gram LP will be released with a bonus disc of mixes. A digital download version will be made available as well with an exclusive, live set which was recorded at the Manchester Apollo on April 25, 1989. Additionally, as with its predecessor, a 4 track EP of dub mixes will be available as a digital download from all fine, online music portals.

Some of the interesting tracks on the spruced up, juiced up edition of "Big Thing" include previously, unreleased mixes of the title track which nearly confirms rumors that it was scheduled as a single at the time. Supposedly, it was shelved at the last minute when the content seemed a bit too pervy for radio. What were they on about?

Essentially, with an album that wasn't considered one of their strongest, time has borne that out as a serious misnomer. Five singles could have easily been plucked from it with "Drug (It's Just A State Of Mind)" as the fifth and final release.

Thankfully, "Big Thing" has been expanded to include Simon's two, Jim Morrison-esque spoken word pieces which featured as b-sides to the album's third single, "Do You Believe In Shame?", with "God (London)" being eerily relevant after having been recorded more than 20 years ago.

The only track that doesn't make an appearance is the Daniel Abraham mix of "Drug (It's Just A State Of Mind)" which appeared as a bonus track on various reissues of the CD over the last decade or so. I wonder why they chose to hold that one back?

Without further adieu, cast your eyeballs over the acid tripping tracklisting for the deluxified, modified, fortified and elongated edition of "Big Thing". Please note that the tracks adorned with an asterisk were previously unreleased and mark their first appearance anywhere.

"Big Thing"

CD 1

Original album:

1. Big Thing
2. I Don’t Want Your Love
3. All She Wants Is
4. Too Late Marlene
5. Drug (It’s Just A State Of Mind)
6. Do You Believe In Shame?
7. Palomino
8. Interlude One
9. Land
10. Flute Interlude
11. The Edge Of America
12. Lake Shore Driving

CD 2

Singles and b-sides:

1. I Don’t Want Your Love (7” Mix)
2. All She Wants Is (45 Mix)
3. I Believe All/I Need To Know (Full Version)*
4. The Krush Brothers LSD Edit
5. God (London)
6. This Is How A Road Gets Made
7. Palomino (Edit)
8. Drug (It’s Just A State Of Mind) (Original Version)
9. Big Thing (7” Mix)*


10. I Don’t Want Your Love (Big Mix)
11. All She Wants Is (US Master Mix)
12. Big Thing (12” Mix)*
13. All She Wants Is (Eurohouse Mix)


"Big Live Thing" (recorded live at Palatrussardi in Milan, Italy on December 12, 1988):

1. Introduction/God
2. Big Thing
3. I Don’t Want Your Love
4. Hungry Like The Wolf
5 .Do You Believe In Shame?
6. All She Wants Is/Planet Earth
7. This Is How A Road Gets Made/Winter Marches On
8. Palomino
9. Too Late Marlene
10. Girls On Film
11. Notorious
12. Skin Trade
13. Is There Something I Should Know?
14. The Wild Boys/Drug (It's Just A State Of Mind)
15. Band Introduction/Save A Prayer
16. The Reflex
17. Rio
18. The Edge Of America


1. I Don’t Want You Love
2. All She Wants Is
3. Do You Believe In Shame?

For you dub lovers, the digital download EP of dub mixes will include the following:

1. I Don’t Want Your Love (Dub Mix)
2. All She Wants Is (Euro Dub Mix)
3. All She Wants Is (Eurohouse Dub)
4. All She Wants Is (US Master Dub)

It's clear that Duran Duran are putting a lot of thought, love and care into brushing up their catalog by giving their substantial fan base nearly everything they would want to see and hear from the band. We would expect nothing less from a project curated by Nick Rhodes who is casting a watchful eye over every aspect of the DD deluxe editions.

Can we assume "Liberty" and "The Wedding Album" are in the pipeline?


  1. OMG, 'Liberty' is my favorite Duran album, I'm crossing my fingers!

  2. These look sweet indeed. I've already given up love for Notorious in earlier comments. Nice to see many of the Masterdisk remixes finally digitized for my elation. Of course, I've had the Working For The Skin Trade JPN LD since it came out. And I've also had the Duran Goes Dutch in analog and digital formats for a dog's age. DGD was included in a deluxe JPN 2xCD of Big Thing when it was released. But now cool kids can get it for less than what I paid back in the day. Such is progress.

    Big Thing is painted in my mind as a bit of a mixed bag, but if they had excised the turgid title track, I think it would have stood more properly as one of their stronger albums. Dale Hawkins nonwithstanding. As it is, Big Thing (the track) gets the album off with a thud that seriously impacts the remaining good stuff on offer. True, Do You Believe In Shame amazed me from day one with its brazen cop of "Suzie Q," to the point where Mr. Hawkins now shares writing credit on modern pressings. As it should be. I never bought George Harrison's claim on My Sweet Lord, either.

    But Simon's singing is starting to get pretty good here. Did he finally take lessons? Usually lessons destroy singers I like. (yes I'm talking to you, Belinda Carlisle) And the melodies of Palomino and (especially) Land are among the very best Duran ever offered. I'd be very interested in seeing the live concert from this era, since I missed them back in the day.

    As for the prospect of Liberty given a three disc treatment - I'm no glutton for punishment! I can't imagine anything it would offer that I would want. And let's face it, my 200+ disc Duran collection has it all, anyway! Similarly, I already have about $300 worth of Wedding Album material. Sure, its a fantastic album that rightfully sold bucketloads, but I can't imagine springing for the pittance of material that would fit on 2 CDs and a DVD. ...That I already have on CD since that era was rife with CD promos up the yin/yang. I'd have to buy it for the packaging, really.

  3. @REVO - Thanks for reminding me that "DGD" was included on the bonus CD of "Big Thing" when it was released in Japan. I completely forgot about that. I remember cherishing that edition of the album. Still have it.

    I'm surprised you don't like the title track. I thought "Big Thing" would've made a great single. As you mentioned, there is some wonderful stuff on the album. Both "Notorious" and "Big Thing" could've gone four or five deep, IMHO.

    Although "Liberty" is not their high water mark, it still has the makings of a good album. There are three, solid singles. Even the best acts put a foot wrong from time to time. You never know where inspiration is gonna come from or when it might abandon you.

    And while I have every possible configuration and promo from "The Wedding Album", I'd love to have it all remastered in one place. Remember the double CD edition of the album? It has badly oxidized. I had several copies. I managed to save one before most of them became unreadable to any CD player.

    Looks like we're both members of the laser disc division. I loved collecting those in the short time they were available.

  4. I sent all of my bronzed CDs back to PDO for replenishment a decade ago. Surely you heard about this program, eh laddie?

  5. @REVO - Nope. That one slipped right by me. Didn't know they did that.

  6. Did you say funkadelic flavors!? :) We Need You is actually a track that ends up on my DD mixes and the spoken word b's (I just discovered those in 2009) are faves. Now I need to own these too. Looks like more back alley handjobs to earn the cash. Once a streetwalker...

  7. Holy cow, this is most excellent! I was just speaking with someone the other day about the possibility of more Duran deluxe editions! These both look fantastic. I think I played Big Thing even more than Notorious when it was out, and I saw them on tour at a place called Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas on that tour, only to rival your Newark experience as it felt like we had walked into what used to be cattle stockyards (I would see the B-52's and INXS there as well).

    My Wedding Album import oxidized too! There must have been a manufacturing defect in that pressing. What a shame. They can stop with that one though. I don't think Thank You is really worth revisiting, especially considering the critical response (many lists have named it worst album ever). Medazzaland and Pop Trash aren't bad, but the band was such a shell of itself at that time.

  8. Fabulous... really excellent post!

  9. For my Johnnie Come Lately post, the Wedding album UK 2CD set generally oxidizes because of a weird chemical mis-match between the disc material and the plastic trays in the digipack.

    Anyone have the Marshall Jefferson remixes for 'Drug'?