Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do You Need 'All You Need Is Now?'

I purposely put off my list of this year's top albums because I had such high hopes for Duran Duran's latest, 'All You Need Is Now,' out today exclusively on iTunes. I bought it last night the minute it was available and have listened to it several times in the past 24 hours. Sadly, it will not make the cut, but there are a few bright spots on the nine-song download. So, although it's not one of the ten best albums I have heard this year, I do recommend it.

It's clear Mark Ronson, Duran Duran's producer this time around, is a huge fan of the band's heyday, and you can hear several flashes of the band's signature sound, circa 1981-1983. This is particularly true of the opening three songs, the title track, "Blame the Machines" and "Being Followed." This trio is full of thumping dance beats, jangly guitar and cool keyboards that rival the 'Rio' era. Unfortunately, as the tempo slows down, so does my enthusiasm. I get what Ronson and the boys are going for when, for example, they attempt to capture the magic of "Save a Prayer" with "Leave a Light On," but they fall well short of that classic. Duran Duran doesn't spend every moment trying to bring back the past, but the more modern the sound the further the reach. I don't want to leave you thinking there is nothing else here beyond the opening three songs. For example, "Girl Panic!" will have those nostalgic for 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' smiling.

At $1.29 per song, if money means everything, I would say buy the first three songs and 'Girl Panic!' a la carte, but you may as well shell out the relatively paltry $8.99 for the entire album download. It's a better value and, hey, my take on the album, after only a day of listening, is not gospel. I'm a big Duran Duran fan, and at least a couple of the other five songs on 'All You Need Is Now' are bound to grown on me with time. After only a day, however, I can safely say Simon, John, Nick and Roger have managed to make the best Duran Duran album since 'Notorious.'

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