Record Review: Duran Duran – Careless Memories 12

EMI | UK | 12" |1981 | 12 EMI 5168

EMI | UK | 12″ |1981 | 12 EMI 5168

Duran Duran: Careless Memories UK 12″ [1981]

  1. Careless Memories
  2. Fame
  3. Khanada

The second Duran Duran single was something of an anomaly in that it barely scraped into the UK top 40 following the band’s reasonably successful debut single, “Planet Earth.” I’m sure EMI were sending urgent memos right and left in the aftermath, but the fact of the matter was that EMI chose this single, and in a let’s see you do better” moment, let the band pick their third single, “Girls On Film.” The rest is history, but let the record state that I prefer this song by a long shot.

As I recall, I saw this single in the import cutout bins at Record City some time in 1982, and I bought it for around two dollars. I already had the US pressing of the first DD album and the B-sides were calling my name. Shockingly, the urgent A-side is not one of the band’s famous “night versions,” so an opportunity was lost along the way. But it remains Duran Duran’s most high-velocity “rocker” that fairly crackles with an urgency I can’t recall them obtaining ever since. John Taylor’s staccato bassline interlocks adroitly with Nick Rhodes sequencers and Roger Taylor’s precise drums. The early DD era certainly had a tight rhythm section above all else.

In all honesty, the reason why I was attracted to this single was that there seemed to be a cover version of David Bowie’s “Fame” on the B-side. It was there all right! Oh dear. This was an eerie harbinger of the Ghost of Duran Duran Future if ever there were one. The group’s exceedingly clumsy take on “Fame” was 3:11 of sheer embarrassment for all concerned. At the time, it was most leaden Bowie cover I’d ever heard, but the track seemed to presage the mind-searingly awful “Thank You” album that was still fourteen years in the group’s future at this point. No one from the group emerged unscathed, but I lay the bulk of the blame at the feet of LeBon for this epic misfire.

Fortunately, the other B-side, “Khanada” was everything that their massacre of “Fame” wasn’t; subtle, melodic and languid. This song immediately won me over and remains a favorite Duran Duran track to this day. There’s a touch of Bryan Ferry to LeBon’s vocals in the choruses and he manages to evade the long shadow of his own callow youth [just barely] on his delivery of this track. I love the push/pull nature of the melody on this number. EMI wisely included this track as the B-side to the 7″ version of the single; leaving “Fame” as the ill consolation to buyers of this twelve inch single.

– 30 –

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12 Responses to Record Review: Duran Duran – Careless Memories 12

  1. Taffy says:

    Hey Monk, maybe you (or one of your readers) can help identify its origins; I have in my iTunes library a “Night Version” of “Careless Memories” which clocks in at 5:04, about a minute and a quarter longer than the album/single version. I downloaded it from an ’80s music blog maybe two years ago, no idea which one. Perhaps it’s a bootleg, as I didn’t think was ever a proper extended version, but I hadn’t thought about it much til your posting today.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – That sounds strictly fan made. Personally, I shy away from such things since there’s already too much legit stuff in this world to collect! Hey, Tim!! This sounds right up your alley. Do you know about this? Did you remix it?


  2. Tim says:

    That;s not mine, no. I do have some fanmade mixes of DD stuff but I don’t think that there is a Careless Memories in there. If I had to guess I would say that it may have come from one of the versions of “Carnival:” or one of the 12″ sets they’ve done over time.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the a-side but am in total agreement with you on the b’s. I bought it for Khanada and wasn’t let down.

    While on the subject of fanmixes….there are a couple of defunct bloggers out there but this stuff tends to show up in the oddest places if one searches. Dreamtime had some really good stuff but didn’t do a lot of DD. There’s one out there for the Re-Flex where the mixer salvaged the 12” version by eliminating a lot of the really irritating stuff (cue someone saying, “but that’s the whole mix” in 3….2….1……).

    I’ll take a look later on the music drive and see if I can help solve the mystery.


  3. chas_m says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard “Khanada” and I live here now!!


  4. Echorich says:

    Careless Memories is DD’s greatest moment! and Khanada is a classic b-side. I never knew that Careless Memories was considered a mis-step until many years later. It was Girls On Film that I thought was their throwaway moment at the time and that was likely because it was a hit in the US and thus less special to me.
    Khanada is the song we all screamed for when DD first came to NYC…I think John and Simon were very amused because they knew there was no way they would play it.


  5. jsd says:

    I loves me some early Duran, although I never thought Khanada was that great. 3 stars.

    The best way (IMO) to obtain these tracks is the “Singles 81-85” box set. It’s a pretty great collection. Probably the last good DD remastering job, too. All the 2003 remasters are my preferred editions. The 2010 reissue of the first album is a disaster – overcompressed, distorted, and the beginning of Girls On Film is messed up. Wheee!


    • postpunkmonk says:

      jsd – I still need that 1st singles box… Almost any DD CD of the 21st century sounds like garbage! Is that trend played out yet?


      • jsd says:

        As I said, the 2003 remasters are very good. The 2010 versions are a real crapshoot. The first album proper is terrible but the bonus tracks are fine, the ones that are available on the singles box sound identical so they probably didn’t bother remastering them again, although one wonders why they bothered with the album in that case.


        • postpunkmonk says:

          jsd – The labels are getting really cheap in these, the end times. It’s not uncommon to have CDs issued with tracks mastered willy nilly over a period of many years and sounding it! Of course, with brickwalling, the newer stuff generally sounds much worse! When you say the bonus ytracks on the DD DLX RMs sound good, as from the early 2000s, does that mean the canonical B-sides only, or also the previously unreleased material on disc two? I’d be happy to buy the box of DD because all I want it for would be the material on disc two. I’ve shied away from it because of the bad reviews. Can you shed some clarity on it?


  6. Vlad says:

    > the fact of the matter was that EMI chose this single, and in a let’s see you do better” moment, let the band pick their third single, “Girls On Film.” The rest is history

    The same story happened just a bit earlier with Ultravox: reasonably successful Sleepwalk, then (undeserved) flop Passing Strangers, chosen by Chrysalis, and next Vienna, pushed for by the band. What a coincidence!


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