Almost certainly the quintessential Duran Duran album – well, hey, it sure wasn’t Seven And The Ragged Tiger – and, oddly enough, it’s also my favorite of their output. It’s not often that my favorite album by any given group is also the one most people consider their best work. For example, ELO’s Out Of The Blue seems to be held up most often as the quintessential ELO album, the cream of that band’s crop. But I point to earlier albums Eldorado and A New World Record as better examples of what made ELO unique. The point of that example is that surely everyone remembers Rio, and I’d wager a good lump of money on Rio being the one Duran Duran album most people are likely to own.
They couldn’t pick a better one. Rio is a near-perfect distillation of all of the elements that made Duran Duran listenable…even if some of those things were dated even by the album’s 1981 release date. Prominent on Rio is a lot of very good slap-bass work, a bit of a holdover from the disco era in the early days of new age, but something which always gave Duran Duran a very distinctive sound. Lead singer Simon Le Bon never sounded better than he did here, and even though the songs are occasionally a little thin arrangement-wise, they’re among the best the band ever had to offer. My personal favorite is the ethereal “The Chauffeur”, which drops most of Duran Duran’s dance-beat signature for a nicely-paced, pure new-wave tune with loads of atmosphere. At one point I was crazy about “Save A Prayer”, a lengthy ballad, but today I have to admit it gets on my nerves ever-so-slightly. “Hold Back The Rain” and “Lonely In Your Nightmare” are great hit singles that never were, but should have been. Hit singles from this album include the overplayed “Hungry Like The Wolf” and the title track.
If you’re truly looking for the best of Duran Duran, I’d advise skipping the usual best-of compilations and picking up Rio.
- Rio (5:39)
- My Own Way (4:51)
- Lonely In Your Nightmare (3:50)
- Hungry Like The Wolf (3:41)
- Hold Back The Rain (3:50)
- New Religion (5:33)
- Last Chance On The Stairway (4:21)
- Save A Prayer (5:25)
- The Chauffeur (5:13)
Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1982
Total running time: 42:25