With my first Duran Duran concert in over twenty years quickly approaching, it's time to re-visit their current release. "All You Need Is Now" was first released, as a download only, in late 2010. The download version only contained nine tracks, but they made for a concise album, with no filler, and the group's best since 1988's "Big Thing". I raved about the download version in my review, with the knowledge the physical release to follow in 2011 would be extended with extra tracks.
Released in March, the CD version of "All You Need Is Now" has 14 tracks in the standard version, 15 in the Deluxe Version and 17 in the Best Buy exclusive version. (For the record, I hate this practice of throwing extra songs on multiple releases, causing a collector or fan to have to buy two or three versions of an album to get all the new songs.) So does it suffer from the extra material or does it still hold together as the solid, cohesive album the original nine track download was?
Although some of the additional tracks are weaker than anything on the download version, "All You Need Is Now" still stands as one of the best albums of Duran Duran's career. Even while incorporating modern twists to it, Mark Ronson has helped bring back the sound that the band became famous with. Ronson's goal was to make the long lost follow-up to "Rio", and he and the band, along with mixer Mark 'Spike' Stent, have overwhelmingly succeeded.
Of the six new tracks on this 'Deluxe Edition', two are short orchestral interludes featuring strings arranged and conducted by Owen Pallett. "Too Bad You're So Beautiful" is the best of the added tracks, another meld of dance and rock that Duran Duran hung their hat on in their heyday. The chorus is a classic Simon Le Bon vocal performance, this is yet another song that sounds like a long lost "Rio" track. "Other People's Lives" is an electronic condemnation of gossip laden tabloid media and the public's obsession with it while "Mediterranea" brings a tropical island feel, basically what you'd expect a song with that title to sound like. The only new song that really doesn't work here is bonus track "Networker Nation". Although it's not bad, it feels like what it is, a bonus track tacked on at the end that was better left as an outtake.
Quickly approaching a year later, the original nine tracks have not lost any of their luster. "The Man Who Stole A Leopard" is still a sinister slice of sexy funk, "Leave A Light On" is still their best ballad since "Save A Prayer", and "Being Followed" still sounds stolen straight from 1982 with John Taylor's bouncing basslines, Nick Rhodes' atmospheric synth and Dom Brown sounding eerily like Andy Taylor with his guitar licks. "Girl Panic!" would have been all over radio back in the 80's, when commercial radio still was even relevant and actually played worthwhile music.
"All You Need Is Now" ranks as one of 2011's pleasant surprises. As other favorites from my formative years (cough, cough PRINCE) continue to flounder with mediocre releases, unsure of what they are supposed to sound like on record anymore, it is nice to see Duran Duran sounding like Duran Duran is supposed to again. A triumphant return."All You Need Is Now" was released on CD in the U.S. March 22, 2011 on S-Curve Records.