EMI defends Duran Duran remasters

Label has 'no plans' to recall CDs after complaints about the sound quality – including those from the band themselves

Duran Duran's recently remastered albums are "not necessarily wrong", EMI said this week, after months of criticism by fans and even the band themselves. Despite admitting at least one audio glitch, the label said it has "received both positive and negative comments about the mastering" and has "no plans" to recall the discs.

This spring, EMI released expanded, remastered versions of two of Duran Duran's early albums: the group's self-titled debut, from 1981, and 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger. But although these reissues included fancy deluxe editions with postcards, DVDs and rarities, there was one nagging problem: the music. Just days after the discs were released, Duranies were filling message-boards with criticism of the mastering, citing audio "level-bouncing" and other problems. "These new remasters have lost all of their dynamic range, have been compressed into a big brick wall of garbage, and the high range/treble's pushed so high that it's literally painful on the ears to listen to," wrote one fan on Amazon. "The special editions' content and packaging promised to be on the level with the well-known Duranies' passion, but it's no less stunning that someone proved so easy in publishing a flawed audio product on an historic album fans know since 1981," complained another, pushing for a full recall of the discs.

Not only were fans disappointed – the band were too. "I don't for one second believe [Duran Duran] would say 'That sounds amazing!!!', and I don't believe for one second that THEY would want their music destroyed like this," suggested one fan. It seems he was correct. On Twitter, Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor slammed the new releases. "Sounds like it was done down the pub," he wrote. "Permission will be buried in a 30-year old contract, but I can express my utter disgust & the remastering's crap." He also condemned EMI's decision to put Duran Duran demos as extras on the reissues. "Shame on all involved," he wrote. "They should be gifting them to fans after 30 years of support."

This week, EMI finally issued a statement addressing the criticism (via Slicing Up Eyeballs). "It has come to our attention that some fans have suggested that the mastering on the recently reissued [albums] is incorrect. Mastering is always subjective, and we acknowledge that the mastering on these versions is different to that of previous remasters, however that does not necessarily make it wrong," the label said. "We will always take on board constructive criticism and act upon it, where we believe it appropriate, and we respect the opinions of the fans."

Although EMI refuses to recall the CDs, it admits that fans have a point: the self-titled album has a definite glitch at the beginning of Girls On Film, which the label blames on "tape deterioration". EMI has also asked fans to stop complaining about the recording engineer who mastered the discs, calling these comments "highly offensive, wholly inappropriate and unjustified". Duran Duran may be asked to sit in the corner.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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