By 1983, Duran Duran was well established as an international success and one of the top acts of the era. Their third album spawned several hit singles and sold in great numbers. More than a quarter century later, EMI has remastered and expanded the album as Seven & the Ragged Tiger (Special Edition). The original nine song album is found on the first disc. A second disc loaded with non-album singles, B-sides, and remixes adds another thirteen tracks. Lastly, but surely not least for rabid fans, a lengthy DVD is included as well.
Duran Duran’s music has become badly dated over the years. Their distinctive brand of tough synth pop was arguably over-produced and the busy arrangements often weigh down the music. But by this third album, their hit single sensibility ensured that several of these songs survive beyond mere nostalgia. “The Reflex” remains irresistible as a hooky pop tune with an aggressive beat. “New Moon On Monday” has a sing-along melody that lodges itself in the listener’s brain just as effectively today as all those years ago. Perhaps best of all, “Union Of the Snake” slithers along seductively. However trendy their sound may have been, beneath that heavily layered production were solid songwriting skills.
Most of the other songs are less striking. Some, such as “Tiger Tiger,” are pure filler. The album closer “The Seventh Stranger” is a very dramatic number with a memorable melody. All told, Seven & the Ragged Tiger is now likely to be of most interest to longtime fans. The stand-out tracks, by far, are the hit singles. Duran Duran excelled as a singles band. But the 1980s were a tough time due to the proliferation of synthetic instruments layered thickly on top of each other. The result is very badly dated music.
The second disc begins with several non-album singles and B-sides. The excellent single “Is There Something I Should Know?” kicks things off. Some of these tracks are remixes and live versions, the latter category including takes of “New Religion” and “The Reflex” from an L.A. Forum performance. All of the hit singles are represented by alternate mixes, the best of the bunch being the so-called “Monster Mix” of “Is There Something I Should Know?”
The DVD features a generous selection of material. Fans will be thrilled with the first official home video release of the concert film As the Lights Go Down. The film is divided into a dozen chapters. Featured in the film are a number of songs not found on Seven & the Ragged Tiger, including such signature hits “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The concert film runs for about one hour. Next up is a collection of five music videos. The long “movie version” of “New Moon On Monday” is quite elaborate and ambitious. Concluding the DVD are a pair of British television live performances taken from the show Top Of the Pops.
The remastering on Seven & the Ragged Tiger (Special Edition) leaves something to be desired. There is an overall muddled sound to the main album. The whole thing sounds a bit too bass heavy, without a crisp high end. The album doesn’t sound bad, per se. It just doesn’t leap from the speakers the way a carefully remastered reissue should – especially when it carries a retail price of $34.98. That said, true blue Duran Duran fans will probably want to add it to their collection as it packs a considerable amount of supplemental material.