Even with an impressive comeback on the books in the '90s, it seemed like Duran Duran were adrift in another decade when the 2000s dawned. Instead, they enjoyed another impressive resurgence and started paving the way for their forthcoming, incredibly deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this year. Today, BMG - the label that currently distributes their new material - will bring four of the group's albums back into print, along with one intriguing and rare side project effort.
The first four Duran albums of the new millennium - Pop Trash (2000), Astronaut (2004), Red Carpet Massacre (2007) and All You Need is Now (2010) - will receive new CD pressings from BMG, along with Bored with Prozac and the Internet?, a long-gestating experimental album by TV Mania, the alter-ego of the band's founding keyboardist Nick Rhodes and former stalwart guitarist Warren Cuccurullo. Two of the albums have bonus tracks: Red Carpet Massacre includes the digital and deluxe edition track "Cry Baby Cry," while All You Need is Now boasts "Networker Nation," a track from that album's original deluxe edition.
After becoming the decade's biggest British musical export in the '80s and even keeping that momentum going with 1993's hits "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone," Duran Duran were reeling by decade's end. The band - Rhodes, Cuccurullo (a touring member since 1986 and a full-timer as of 1990), founding bassist John Taylor and longtime singer Simon Le Bon - was shaken by the sudden departure of Taylor midway through the recording of 1997's Medazzaland, an album that longtime label Capitol elected not to release in England. (The label ultimately dropped the band, giving them the rights back to Medazaland in the process.)
The trio decamped to Disney-owned Hollywood Records, but Pop Trash - which, like Medazzaland, was largely written and produced by Rhodes and Cuccurullo as TV Mania - did not enjoy commercial success, with lead single "Someone Else Not Me" sounding largely like a retread of "Ordinary World." Something had to be done - and that something was to get the old Fab Five back together. Without a label, Rhodes, Le Bon, Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor reformed and tested the waters in concert. Arena gigs in London, Tokyo and elsewhere sold out almost immediately, and the time was right for another Duran renaissance. Astronaut boasted production by the likes of Dallas Austin and old friend Nile Rodgers, and found the group back in the Top 10 of the U.K. albums chart.
The harmony of the quintet was short-lived: a recorded follow-up, the mythical Reportage, was rejected by then-label Epic Records, and Andy Taylor departed shortly after the band announced they were entering the studio with new collaborators: hip-hop producer Timbaland and pop idol Justin Timberlake, hot off the heels of their successful collaborations. The beat-heavy Red Carpet Massacre did not live up to sales expectations, and the quartet again found themselves freed from another label.
But you truly can't keep Duran Duran down. In 2010, All You Need is Now found the band making a spiritual follow-up to Rio with producer Mark Ronson, who championed the group as an influence years before becoming an unlikely hitmaker on his own. The band bounced back critically and commercially, and have enjoyed some degree of success on every endeavor since. Three years later, Rhodes and Cuccurullo reconvened to finally resurrect TV Mania's lost album for Duranies everywhere.
All five CDs are available now, with vinyl expected to follow later. Fans keep hoping that Medazzaland - still unreleased outside of North America - will get reissued by BMG for its 25th anniversary this year; keep it here for more news on that if and when it happens.