It was at a record show in… well, it feels like 1992, when I came across a dealer with early Duran Duran/Arcadia 12″ singles from the group’s imperial period. I had bought some of these back in the day during my on-again/off-again fandom of the group. Seeing a handful of them going for 2/$5.00 made me pick them all up without too much forethought. I had plenty of money to spend and the singles were beautiful, Malcolm Garrett-designed objects, mostly from the unimpeachably great “Rio” album. I thought to myself, that I should buy some more Duran Duran records. Particularly now that I had “finished” my Ultravox collection.
I can laugh at my naiveté now, but in that barely pre-internet era, deep knowledge of discographical information was a lot harder to come by. Still, those Duran records could be excellent and the group were so heavily marketed, that the nooks and crannies of the body of work would prove fascinating to collect. So I kept my eyes open and picked up things that I came across for the next few months. Then two things I couldn’t have predicted happened, and the Duran Duran collection came to the forefront in a huge way in 1993.
The first of these was that the band bounced back into the top 10 with their excellent “Wedding Album,” which featured two “mid-tempo ballads” that topped the charts all over the place. That saw the band’s stock rise so high, that their world tour lasted all year long. I saw the band three times on two different legs that year. That success completely re-energized the Duran mothership. The second, even stronger controlling factor was that I suddenly became friends that year with a plethora of other Duran Duran collectors. Then I certainly got caught up in the vortex of Duran Collectoritis. I crossed the line and began buying records that I didn’t “need.” Buying records for sleeve variations. Or just because it was “there.”
Prior to this point, I bought records/discs to listen to. If I “collected” a band, I wanted every song/mix/rarity. I was obsessive, yes, but still practical. I bought just the releases necessary to cover the music. By 1993, I was making a surplus of money and it was all too easy to buy these records just to amass a huge collection of Duran Duran records. That attitude spilled over into all bands in short time. It was around this time, that I would hit the amazing 45 bins at Rock & Roll Heaven and buy singles that I already had the music on just for the cover design variations. The more the merrier. Wow! …there’s the US 7″ picture sleeve for “We Live So Fast!” [grab]
Most of the really rare items were only available in the 6 point copy ads in Goldmine magazine. Every two weeks, I’d plow through the latest issue with a highlighter trying to find the records I wanted before other collectors around the globe beat me to the punch. Between 1992 and 1995, I amassed a large collection of Duran Duran before an imminent marriage/home purchase helped me put the brakes on this vinyl fetish. But the records stayed in the Record Cell for nearly two decades. This year, the DD collection is getting whittled down to what it would have been ca. 1992. I’m saving just the releases that offer music I don’t already have on CD elsewhere for listening. That would be about 8% of the late period collection. The rest, as typified by the Italian picture disc variation of the “Strange Behavior” EP [which also got a completely different release …only in Japan] have been on the chopping block.
My big question right now is… how close to the bone do I go? I am inclined to keep a certain amount of the early material. I really like the first two albums. So, those records, at minimum, should stick around. However, Malcolm Garrett designed everything through the “Arena” period, and while the music may be lame, the covers are still some of Garrett’s creme-de-la-creme. The graphic designer in me still wants to hold on to those. I actually enjoy the “Notorious” period a lot; it re-energized my fandom after a few years of avoidance. The Frank Olinsky art is stark and minimal, but it has a certain elegance. Then there’s the issue of the Japanese EPs. Japan got a remix EP for every era through “Notorious” with the “Strange Behavior” EP. These are acmes of Japanese packaging and design. I have to keep those, even though I sold the Italian EP at the head of this post a few days ago. Then there’s collector catnip like the US promo only picture sleeve “Planet Earth” 12″ as shown at left. It’s from the first album period, but it was not designed by Garrett, and yet it’s the sort of release that the collector’s sickness within me inordinately responds to. Should it stay or should it go?
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