Confessing that Duran Duran have been my secret guilty pleasure over the years has not given me much cause for regret. I doubt I'm alone in my admiration for a band that provided a bright, optimistic soundtrack to the cold, cynical `80s that were my formative years. With their star once again in the ascendancy, this 1998 retrospective demonstrates the superior quality of their material compared to most of their pop contemporaries.
Duran Duran have not only had their own distinct and evocative sound, but the calibre of their songwriting also impresses. "Save A Prayer" still sounds as rich and luscious as it did in 1982, and it won't surprise a new listener that the poignant and moving "Ordinary World" won an Ivor Novello award for songwriting in 1994.
Listening to "Planet Earth" and "Girls On Film", it's strange to think that chart-busting pop music was once this fresh and versatile. I can also still recall the "night versions" of these tracks - the band were certainly among the first to remix extended versions of their standard tracks. Back then people with dangerously flammable hair danced to them in discos and nightclubs, now the remixes usually are the standards.
Having the videos on the second disc of "Greatest" is fantastic value for money, as the band's videos are some of the most (in)famous in music history and terrific nostalgia. The "Wild Boys", "Girls On Film" and "Rio" videos bring back all sorts of memories and imitating Simon Le Bon's ludicrous dancing on "Planet Earth" with a friend is the most fun I've had in my front room for months.
I had assumed that the more obvious pop anthems such as "The Reflex" and "Wild Boys" would sound much more dated to my 21st century ears than it actually turned out, and more recent material such as "Serious" and "Electric Barbarella" gives you the sense that you really may have missed something when Le Bon and Rhodes soldiered on with the franchise through the 90s.
This really is a terrific collection, great value for money.