A Duran Duran album not coming out in England sounds like some sort of wacky mistake - but in 1997, it was a hard truth for one of the country's most enduring pop/rock acts. Now, 25 years later and on the eve of their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, that record is finally corrected with a worldwide, physical reissue of the group's misunderstood Medazzaland on October 14.
The '90s found Duran in some of the most whiplash-inducing scenarios of their career. They started the decade with 1990's Liberty, their first as a five-piece in nearly a decade - albeit a new line-up of classic members (singer Simon Le Bon and band founders Nick Rhodes on keyboards and bassist John Taylor), longtime touring members (former Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo) and a new drummer who didn't quite work out (Sterling Campbell, who'd later mesh successfully with David Bowie). After the album stiffed, no one truly expected a comeback, but a 1993 self-titled album (colloquially known as "The Wedding Album" due to its cover art) provided just that, complete with the mellow Top 10 hits "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone." But the momentum was short-lived: their next album, 1995's Thank You, was a baffling affair consisting solely of covers of other artists.
The odds seemed to be stacked against Duran from the time Medazaland started recording. Partway through the sessions, Taylor decided to walk away from the band, who'd continue in his stead as a trio. Lead single "Out of My Mind," released to promote the Val Kilmer-led film version of the '60s TV series The Saint, was the third of Le Bon's meditations on the passing of late friend David Miles (the other two being "Ordinary World" and 1988's "Do You Believe in Shame?") - but it only performed modestly in England.
Despite some atmospheric and deeply felt tracks, from the introductory title track - featuring a spoken vocal by Rhodes inspired by Le Bon's experience with the dental anesthetic midazolam - to the epic "Midnight Sun" and the reflective "Michael You've Got a Lot to Answer For" (dedicated to INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, who'd tragically pass away a month after the album dropped), Medazzaland just didn't jell with audiences the way The Wedding Album did. Single "Electric Barbarella" was dinged by MTV for racy content in its video - hardly the group's first experience there - and minimal radio support was abandoned when the group made the unheard-of decision to release a version of the track as a legal digital download. The final insult to injury was the record failing to release in Europe, owing to EMI's decision to drop the band after more than 15 years together.
After taking the reins and reissuing much of the band's post-EMI output, BMG will now issue Medazzaland on CD and vinyl around the world exactly 25 years after it was first released. While neither physical release will feature bonus material (save the promise of rare and unseen imagery in the booklet and packaging), the announcement did come with the digital delivery of "Ball and Chain," an extra track from the album's Japanese release. Look for it in stores October 14 and pre-order below.
Medazzaland (25th Anniversary Edition) (originally released as Capitol CDP 72438 33876 2 5, 1997 - reissued Tape Modern/BMG 805888 (LP)/805895 (CD), 2022)
- Big Bang Generation
- Electric Barbarella
- Out of My Mind
- Who Do You Think You Are?
- Silva Halo
- Be My Icon
- Buried in the Sand
- Michael You've Got a Lot to Answer For
- Midnight Sun
- So Long Suicide
- Undergoing Treatment