Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Duran, Sufjan and Other Releases

Today is shaping up to be a great one for new releases. Let's start with another in a fine line of Duran Duran reissues. There are actually two out today, 'Notorious' and 'Big Thing.' Now, to be honest, the end of the line for me was 'Notorious.' I think the band's first two records are must-haves. A step below those would be the next two, 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' and 'Notorious.' By the time 'Big Thing' hit the shelves in 1988 I had abandoned Duran Duran for much harder stuff. So, I won't write too much about that one except to say it's another blowout two-disc audio set that also includes an 18-song live show from the period, as well as three music videos.

'Notorious' was Duran Duran's triumphant return following a three-year layoff. The band was a trio in 1986, but they got lots of help from producer Nile Rogers. This is most evident on the title track. It's got a wee bit of funk that makes you think of Chic. My guess is the teen gals didn't know what to think of this album, and it showed on the charts. They had no monster bubble-gum hit like 'The Reflex,' but Simon and the boys seemed much cooler to me during this time period. They had style in the way ABC did during the 'Lexicon of Love' phase. They were still miles away from Roxy Music, but I liked the subtle change.

I'm not going to kid you. With these deluxe editions selling for about $40 a pop, you need to be super fan to make these purchases. I bought 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' for my wife's birthday, and I was really impressed with the extras. I'm a real sucker for the band's extended versions and B-sides, and Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! traveled back in time with the live concert she first saw on Cinemax about 25 years ago. Here's a look at the new 'Notorious:'

Disc One
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
11. Notorious (45 mix)
12. Skin Trade (radio cut)
13. We Need You (B-side)
14. Meet El Presidente (7″ remix)

Disc Two
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 -- Strange Behaviour Tour
1. Intro
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 (music video)
13. Skin Trade (music video)
14. Meet El Presidente (music video)
15. Notorious(Top of the Pops, June 11, 1986)

Duran Duran - Skin Trade (Stretch Mix) (mp3)

I wasn't surprised to wake up this morning to see Pitchfork gave its "Best New Music" seal of approval to Sufjan Stevens' 'The Age of Adz.' Stevens has been a darling of the blogosphere for many years, but I'm just now sure if the praise is deserved this time around. I give him high marks for experimentation, but this record is a hard listen to these ears. The songs are often long and moody. You will definitely need to be in a certain frame of mind to listen all of the way through. I don't like my music to be so much work. I enjoy Stevens' back catalog, but 'The Age of Adz' may collect dust on my shelf. To this point, here is my favorite song. Mr. Stevens, I will welcome back the banjos.

Sufjan Stevens - I Walked (mp3)

After five years of silence, Belle & Sebastian's 'Write About Love' is a welcome return to form... if you liked their last couple of albums. If you go back to the band's infancy, you may find the new work pedestrian. As for me, I just plain like all of Belle & Sebastian's albums. Yes, Norah Jones sits in on one of the tunes, and that is a regrettable misstep, but most of the record is worthy of the B&S canon. Having said that, Song, By Toad had a take on the album and the band that, although I don't agree with the sentiment, I found riveting. Fans will enjoy the comments the readers left as well. How are you liking the record?

Belle & Sebastian - I Want the World to Stop (mp3)

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