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by Katie Walker, Firedancer's Associate Editor
Obsession And Corruption bootleg 2CD pack
In writing this, I am struck by several things. First, how the departure of John from the band has influenced how I look at this particular CD. Second, that this could very well be the last "bootleg" that I will able to review. The first one I will get to later, but let me take a minute to comment on the second.
I don't know how many of you may be aware of this, but recent legislation in the US has made it much easier to prosecute those individuals who manufacture and sell bootlegs. To date, many arrests have been made and a number of bootleg manufactures have been put out of business. One country which has been particularly hit hard has been Luxembourg. Now, Luxembourg might only be a small dot on the map, but in the land of bootlegs, it has been a "super power", especially in the reference to Duran. Just a look, at those CD's that I have accumulated over the years, shows that a majority of them were manufactured in, you guessed it, Luxembourg. All of these facts lead me to believe that any future Duran Duran bootlegs will be few, and those that do pop up will be hard to find. Thus comes my belief that I won't be writing may more reviews.
But enough of that let me get to the good stuff!
"Obsession And Corruption" (I don't know where the name is from. If anyone out there knows, email me. I would be happy to have an explanation.) comes from "The Wedding Album" era of Duran Duran. The CD is actually a two CD set. One CD is mainly composed of rough edits of the songs that would later make it on to TWA. The other is composed of multitude of remixes which would have been intended to support single releases.
"The Remixes" CD, I personally, didn't find that impressive. (But I have to admit that I have never been a great connoisseur of remixes and would be a fairly poor judge of what makes a great remix.) It contains 6 versions of Love Voodoo, 3 of Drowning Man, 3 of Come Undone, and one each of Too Much Information, and None of the Above. All of these tracks were unused and basically forgotten, which is probably where most of them should have been left. I found them just to be generally dull.
Now, the "Album" CD in the set is a totally different story. It is a gem! If the liner notes are to be believed, all of the tracks that appear were scheduled for final mixing at the end of 1991. With this goal in mind, Duran created a rough mix of the album and distributed it amongst family in friends. It is from these early mixes of TWA that the bootleg was created. Since I had the early mixes and the final version, including the released B-sides, I thought that it would be interesting to go through track by track, see how they compared and which I liked better.
UMF. There are three versions of UMF and I really didn't like any of them. They were just missing the flair that was in the final album version.
Mr. Jones (To Whom It May Concern). While I preferred the version that appeared on TWA, I do have to say that the version on O&C has several interesting features. The most obvious feature is the title of the song and the lyrics were changed to reflect the anonymous Mr. Bones instead of the very real Mr. Jones. The song also has an angry edge which it missed on TWA. This is especially easy to note in the opening of the song where Simon practically yells about the need to face reality. Another thing that I found of interest was the guitar work. The O&C version contains much clearer, longer riffs; on TWA, they are mixed down and seem to have been run though a synthesizer once or twice.
Drowning Man. O&C is great here! The rough mix is so much more fun than the final version! Sprinkled throughout the song are call-n-reply segments of "na na na" which give the song a real pizzazz. Unlike the TWA version of the song which contains a prolonged opening interlude to the song, the O&C version grabs the listener and pulls them right into the song. One thing that I noted was the seeming lack of guitar in the O&C track. If it was there, you could have fooled me because I couldn't pick it out at all.
None Of The Above. I couldn't decide which I liked better. The thing to note here is that the lyrics to the chorus changed between the rough mix and final mix. This change gives each version of the song a slightly different feel.
Sin Of The City. For me, the O&C version worked better. The opening keyboard parts were much more dominant than on TWA. I just enjoyed being able to hear them clearly. Also more dominant was the bassline of the song. I just found this to be a striking difference between the two versions.
Ordinary World. Comparing the two versions is like comparing apples to oranges. You just can't do it. The version on O&C is basically the acoustic version of the song which appeared as a B-side while the album version is "plugged-in." I have to say that I liked the O&C version better. Check out the bass part on the O&C version. It is killer.
Breath After Breath. Another tie between the two versions I liked better. For the most part they are almost identical. The only major difference is that the interludes between the verses on O&C are much longer than the final version.
Falling Angel. I will definitely have to go with O&C on this one. After hearing the rough version, the final version just seems to drag on and on. This is due to the fact the released B-side is almost a full minute longer than the O&C version. I also have to note that the rough version had a really cool bongo beat that was missing in the final cut.
Time For Temptation. Once again O&C impressed me with its brevity. Like Fallen Angel, Time for Temptation has close to full minute of additional pointless music. On the final version, most of this time is spent on the opening of the song, which after hearing the shorter version, I could have done without.
Personally, I think that with this configuration you could almost put out 6 or 7 singles from the album. Ordinary World is an obvious choice, but I am not so sure that I would have followed it up with Come Undone. I think that I would have been more in favor of using Love Voodoo as the follow up single. Love Voodoo is one catchy song. Beyond that, I would have selected at least Fallen Angel, Stop Dead, Shelter, None of the Above, and UMF as definite possibilities for further releases. In reserve, I would also have both Drowning Man and Breath After Breath, just in case the album could support a single or two more.
Having gone through both albums with a fairly fine comb, two questions kept coming to mind: Where the hell were the basslines on TWA? and Who thought that it was a good idea to mix in a really loud bass drum on most of the TWA tracks? I know that the basslines existed in most of the songs. They were loud and clear on the O&C, but when the final mixes were created there was this bass drum drowning them out. I found this to be a real shame. The basslines that I heard on the early mixes were great. This was especially true on Fallen Angel and None of the Above, but the one that I found the most striking was Sin of the City.
The first time I heard the track, I just stopped what I was doing and said to myself, "where did that bassline come from? I don't recall it on TWA." Going back to the TWA version, sure enough I found it way in the background, but it was almost obscured by, you guessed it, a bass drum.
This leads me back to something that I first mentioned at the beginning of this article: that I had to look at this album in a post-John Duran. For a lot of people, John's departure from the band seemed sudden, but having the luxury of hindsight, O&C gave me a clear indication that John's departure was a long time in coming. Not only do changes which took place in the mixes show why John might be a bit disgruntled at the direction Duran was heading, but O&C contains 4 short interview clips which also provide a bit of insight into the dynamics of the band. None of the clips contain John, but all of them show how John had moved a way from Nick, Simon, and Warren. I found it sad that I could find evidence of the changes which came earlier this year now so obvious to me on O&C.
rating: Nine Dancing Ferrets - 'Obsession And Corruption' has to be one of the most enjoyable bootlegs I have ever heard. The liner notes are a trivia buffs dream. Just the perspective it gives on Duran makes it well worth the price. Check out the bonus Arcadia picture. What is doing there I don't know, but it is interesting.