(Eagle Vision; 127 minutes)
Throughout most of their career, from their beginnings even
through to the present day, Duran Duran found themselves labeled with the
notion that they were nothing more than a teen sensation, a pop band whose
music was undermined by their model-perfect looks, an impeccable sense of
fashion and an unbridled optimism that radiated from the dark core of Margaret
Thatcher’s chokehold on the U.K.. Yet,
anyone who gives closer examination of the band’s earliest albums will likely
come away with a greater appreciation for the flawless craft and solid sense of
style that they imbued in each effort.
Ultimately, the appeal boils down to the songs themselves, ringing with
the instantly infectious choruses that became a rallying cry for the uncertain
Consequently, a re-examination of their landmark album Rio seems all
the more appropriate, given the 25 years since its release and the undue
dismissal some still shrug in their direction.
And in the setting of the Classic
Albums DVD series initiated by Eagle Entertainment a few years back,
there’s no better venue for giving it its due.
The usual cast of talking heads offer their evaluation – the band
members themselves, aged but no less photogenic (although the absence of
guitarist Andy Taylor suggests there’s still resentment in the ranks), producer
David Kershenbaum (looking strangely like an android), various managers,
A&R types, a journalist here, a designer there, and fellow Brit-rocker Bob
Geldof who offers heaps of praise tinged perhaps with a wee bit of jealousy, if
for no other reason than he hasn’t weathered nearly as well.
Still, it’s the dissection of the disc itself that provides
the most convincing case as to why this album still serves them so well. With the band members peeling back the
various textures and isolating the individual instruments, it becomes increasingly
evident that beneath the unabashed exhilaration of songs like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” there was a specific
craft and genuine emphasis on creativity undermining it all. Even in the context of a slower song like
“Save a Prayer,” the absorption of early influences – in this case Roxy Music –
only enhances their credibility as artists who took their music far more
seriously than some might have otherwise suspected.
Nevertheless, what sold them to the masses were their
stunning videos – mini-epochs actually – driven by the ambitions of both the
band and their cinematographers. And
while in a certain respect they served to undercut the group’s credibility as
musicians – in one particular aside, singer Simon Le Bon notes that he couldn’t
even tap his feet in time – they served to reinforce the effusive energy and
glamour so integral to their success.
Finally, if there’s still any doubt lingering as to their abilities,
five songs recently recorded live on a soundstage in Boston with four of the
original members demonstrate that a quarter century on, Duran Duran may be more
mature but their music’s no less embracing.
Special Features: Brand
new session performances filmed in Boston
especially for this DVD of: 1) Save A Prayer 2) The Chauffeur 3) New Religion
4) Hungry Like The Wolf 5) Rio. Additional
interviews and demonstrations not included in the broadcast version. LEE