Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Duran Duran Rio

Rio has been a part of my life ever since May of 1982 owning it on UK record, cassette, US cassette and 8 track plus a couple of European cds so you could say it's a obsession of mine.
We lived and breathed this album and the band back in high school catching them on Top of the Pops taking in a episode of Fame afterwards, talking about it the next day and spending the weekend spending our allowances on magazines and pictures. Come Monday morning we were exchanging the gossip!
Let's start off by saying thanks to the people responsible for the packaging. If you want people to buy physical product it makes sense to major on it and they've done that here.
It comes in the form of a book with textured card, many photographs complete with a excellent essay by Daryll Easlea who writes for Blues & Soul and Record Collector magazine setting the context of the album with accounts from band members about the making of it.
The two discs are in packets at the front and back. If you're not going to store them separately it makes sense to line with mylar sleeves as they come without any!
To the music. The standard cd version of Rio was 'band approved' in 1985 and roughly follows the UK mixes but with a few changes here and there having had two worldwide masterings (1985 and the 2001 ECD remaster).
This release marks the debut of the full UK album master and was freshly transferred at Abbey Road this year with full mastering credits to Steve Rooke.
Abbey Road has gotten a rough press in the recent past but like with those MopTops discs I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
If you're the kind of person who likes a full sound that allows the vocals to come through not so keen on the boom and tizz (smiley face) sound you'll love this.
I was able to play this quite loud without getting the urge to turn it down. When looking at the peak meters while dubbing to MD, I noticed there was quite a bit more movement in the peaks throughout the program than many contemporary releases. This hasn't been brickwalled.
I was not a fan of the ECD remaster finding it a bit bright and of two other pressings on CD I have I usually play the WG PolyGram for EMI European as it's easier on the ear.
It also was the first Cd I ever brought!

Tracks 10-14 (the Kershenbaum US album mixes) sounded as good as you can expect - on vinyl they never sounded great and compared favourably with my XDR cassette of the US album with the obvious benefits of the cd medium at the frequency extremes. A good job was made of transferring the program and I'm sure this will be appreciated by those brought up on this radically different version of Rio.
Disc two is interesting and here I will say to my ears the non album singles and extended versions do sound appreciably better than transfers for the 81-85 Singles box. Like An Angel has always been a favourite of mine and here it sounds less 'loud'.

Overall I'd say it doesn't replace the 'regular' cd version of Rio - I wouldn't bin that - but is well worth getting either for the bonus tracks or for anyone wishing to explore this album for the first time. It was certainly a great modern mastering.

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