Saturday, November 6, 2010

Duran Duran: Rio

I first heard Duran Duran’s “Rio” LP in May 1982 shortly after its release. The local manager of the Record Bar store, Geoff Gardner, had a copy before it was released to radio. Geoff was also a fan of Patrick Nagle who did the cover art for the album and had several Nagel prints decorating his house. I was impressed by what I heard and still believe it is an excellent example of 80s new wave/synth pop the doesn't solely rely upon electronics to make a statement. 

The album was originally released on the Harvest label and by the next year it was remastered and re-released on the Capitol label. It was during this same period that Capitol was rethinking the packaging of their Harvest releases which included “Rio” and Thomas Dolby’s LP “Golden Age of Wireless.”

The albums and their associated singles were repackaged in a variety of formats (LP, EP, and 7 and 12 inch singles). “Rio” also includes a different version of the single “My Own Way.” While it is often considered the first single from “Rio,” it was properly an non-album single.

Hungry like the Wolf

The first single that was released off of “Rio” was “Hungry like the Wolf.” It’s first release in the US in May 1982 failed miserably. The single was later rereleased at the end of the year and charted at #3 in January 1983. The song idea came from the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” and was simultaneously written by lead vocalist Simon Le Bon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes who was fooling around in the studio with a sequencer and his Roland Jupiter 8 keyboard. The video was recorded in Sri Lanka.

Save a Prayer

Although not originally released as a single in the US, it was highest charting song for the band in their native UK charting at #2. A live version from the “Arena” LP was finally released in single form in January 1985. The release of the single was long overdue as it was extremely popular on MTV. Like “Hungry like the Wolf,” it was filmed in Sri Lanka at the ruins of a Buddhist Temple.

I love the synth lick that Nick Rhodes plays on this cut using the pitch bend on his Roland Jupiter 8. In the accompanying live studio recording from 2005, Rhodes is play a Roland V-Synth.


The third UK and second US single was the title cut “Rio.” The song was loosely inspired by the band’s trip to Brazil. The musical hook was created by Rhodes with a Roland Jupiter 4 in arpeggiator mode of a Cm chord. Andy Hamilton was the guest saxophonist. The video was shot in Antigua. The song charted in late 1982 at 9 in Britain and at 14 in the US in late spring 1983.

I had an opportunity to see the band in concert on March 31, 1985.  They put on an excellent show and afterward I got the chance to briefly meet the band.

Simon LeBon, Roger Taylor, & John Taylor of Duran Duran

The Entire Rio Album

Here’s a YouTube playlist featuring the album in its entirety.

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