Album Of The Week - Duran Duran - Rio
Following on from some mid-sixties psychedelia, we move forward sixteen years to find Duran Duran's marvellous second album released in 1982, Rio.
Now, I've always had a fond passion for eighties music and especially the earlier half of the decade with the rise of new-wave acts like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. The ongoing debate was settled a good while ago between some friends and myself as to who was better and we concluded Duran Duran. Whenever we've discussed this era of music, the Rio album has always made its way into conversation. It's one of those era-defining albums and it's a compulsive listen these days to be honest.
Rio is the LP that really cemented Duran Duran within the confines of fame and stardom, featuring fan-favourite tracks like Hungry Like The Wolf and Rio itself. Hungry Like The Wolf features a seething vocal from lead singer Simon Le Bon and I have to say, the song features a shedload of sinister attitude, combining with the exemplary guitar work of Andy Taylor to create something absolutely fantastic. The title track is equally brilliant and is one of those iconic eighties tunes that is hard to escape on older episodes of Top Of The Pops. The bassline is incredible and to be honest, the entire song is arguably one of the best and most-known of the eighties, but that doesn't detract from the fact it goes from strength to strength over its near-five-minute duration. The Chaffeur, most likely Duran Duran's most famous non-single, closes Rio, with a darker sound, combined with something a little more synth-driven and looped, but also features what I perceive to be Le Bon's best vocal of the album. It's got this prog-rock like quality with regards to the backing, but it's prog for a more modern audience, which makes it absolutely brilliant to say the least.
Save A Prayer is probably one of the darker sounding tracks, with Le Bon's slower and lower-tone vocal fitting in perfectly with its subject matter. The song concerns the main speaker as a male prostitute, talking about how he is sinning and being unfaithful in his 'occupation' of sorts. My Own Way is one of the funkiest offerings, with a fabulous bassline and tremendous vocals from Simon Le Bon. The synth work from Nick Rhodes is also absolutely cracking. New Religion is a little more progressive by way of genre, featuring a minute-long introduction and a more conversational vocal from Le Bon, both of which tie in to mark it as a stand-out song overall. It's five minutes of some great production work too, with the overlapping vocals complementing the backing guitar-driven soundscape perfectly.
To conclude, it is fair to say that Rio would act as era-defining album for the eighties and pave the way for other symbolic works through artists like that of Howard Jones and Johnny Hates Jazz. It's a record that I thoroughly recommend to anyone reading and if you're wanting to become accustomed to the sounds of the eighties, look no further than this absolute masterpiece.
More musical magnificence to come next week!