"WHAT IS IT? The 20th anniversary reissue of Duran Duran's live CD, digitally remastered and with two bonus tracks: the live versions of "Girls on Film" and "Rio."
THE PROS: Thanks to the remastering, the sound quality is a huge improvement over the original 1984 recording. The bonus tracks, especially the dynamic live version of "Girls on Film," are so good that they're almost worth the price of this CD. It makes you wonder why they weren't included in the first place. And, of course, we have the Nile Rodgers-produced "Wild Boys," a killer studio track that went to Number Two in the fall of 1984.
THE CONS: With a few exceptions, the audience is eliminated from the recording. As a result, you don't really feel a connection between the band and their fans. Also, the live versions are, for the most part, note-for-note replicas of the originals, although the kickass "Careless Memories" is a true standout.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Worth a purchase only for Duran Duran fans, even if they already have the original release. While its flaws remain, the remastering is top-notch, and the two extra tracks are worth checking out."
Better for the bonus tracks, but still a disappointment
Giacomo Holdini | Minneapolis, MN | 06/18/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Arena was a major disappointment in its original incarnation. Duran Duran, one of the world's biggest bands in 1984, had just completed a major world tour, and their fans deserved a proper live album as a representation of the concerts on that tour. Instead, they got Arena, which was mixed and edited much more like a studio album. With a distant audience sound, a recording that sounded more processed than live, and smoothed down fades and edits between songs, Arena actually lent credence to the lie that Duran Duran was nothing more than a studio band. Matters were not helped any by the fact that one of the best tracks on the original release was the studio single, "The Wild Boys." Although it is a terrific song, its inclusion on a live album was, and remains, totally out of place. Subtract "The Wild Boys," and you were left with precisely nine live songs totaling under forty-five minutes in length: hardly a definitive example of what a Duran Duran concert was like in person.This remastered version does little to improve the situation. Although the remastering adds greater clarity, texture and immediacy to the existing sound, the lackluster mix and slick edits are the same, as are the original song selection and order. If anything, the improved sound somehow makes the whole album sound even more sterile, since it clarifies just how much effort was put into making this album as "un-live" as possible.What makes this new disc worth having are the two bonus tracks, totally thrilling live versions of "Girls On Film" and "Rio." These two cuts possess what most of the rest of the album lacks: vigor, vitality, and a genuine interplay between band and audience. Along with "Careless Memories," they indicate just how good Arena could have been if it had been better conceived and executed. Tacked on to the end of the disc, however, these two tracks are true bonuses, doing nothing to improve the main body of the album.Perhaps someday EMI/Capitol will see fit to release a totally new live album documenting Duran Duran's 1984 tour, one that does justice to what the band was actually doing on stage at that time. Arena, simply put, does not. It remains a must-have for die-hard fans only. Everyone else should look elsewhere for their Duran fix."
Worth the wait!
Dorrie Wheeler | 10/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Arena" is the only official U.S. release of a live Duran Duran music. I bought it twenty years ago and I recently purchased the remaster. I have always loved "Arena" for several reasons. For one, Simon's voice sounds awesome live. Two, it is always nice to hear your favorites songs slightly different than the way they sound on the studio albums. My absolute favorite song on the album is "Careless Memories," I love this song live. The addition of "Rio" and "Girls on Film" really make this set complete. I always wondered why they would include lesser known songs like "The Chauffeur" and "The Seventh Stranger" on this set vs. more popular songs, now we have them all. It's just a great album to listen to when driving too."
Duran Duran are an excellent live band
DukesFan01 | United States | 04/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(EDIT: For the definitive live recording of the original lineup of Duran Duran, I would suggest purchasing the LIVE IN LONDON deluxe DVD/CD package available at Amazon. It was recorded at Wembley Arena in 2004 with Simon, Nick, Andy, John and Roger, and it's safe to say that Duran is actually better now than they were in the '80s or '90s. The sound on LIVE IN LONDON and the overall feel is miles ahead of what is found here on ARENA.)
First, a note about the trolls who come in here to post their "reviews"---the general public should ignore such pointless rants. (Why doesn't Amazon do a better job of filtering these?)
Anyway, I'm new to ARENA. I didn't buy it in the '80s, or in the '90s when it was put on CD. But with the recent resurgence of the original lineup of Duran Duran, and after thoroughly being blown away by seeing them live in concert on their 2005 arena tour, I decided to pick this up.
It's interesting---first, I was again impressed by how good of a live band Duran really is, as they are really solid instrumentally, and the hits come off a little 'harder' on this album being in a live setting and what not. Simon's voice sounds a little tired, but I understand the 1984 tour was quite rigorous.
However, where is the crowd? They are almost totally mixed out of the proceedings, which is ashame. You can hear them at the beginning and end of each song (most of the time), but otherwise, nothing!
Highlights: "Union of the Snake" (good on record but much better live, now and then!), "Careless Memories" (rocks!), "The Chauffeur", "Hungry Like the Wolf" (never tire of it), "Planet Earth", "Girls on Film" (wow!) and "Rio". Andy Hamilton on sax is great, and he still appears with the band in its concerts today.
Lowlights: the female background singers that occasionally appear (Andy and John on backing vocals are just as good!).
Also included is the studio version of "The Wild Boys", tacked on to this album and released as a single in 1984, climbing to #2.
The remastered sound is crisp and a hefty booklet accompanies the package.
You like The Killers? You like the rush of "new wave" influenced music currently underway? This is a great place to start to see where it all began.
Also recommended by Duran Duran for modern day "new wave" fans: albums like "Duran Duran" (their debut album), "Rio", "Astronaut", "The Singles 81-85" and "Seven and the Ragged Tiger".
Much better with the additional songs
AUTOHYPNOSIS | USA | 09/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The original version of "Arena" was good, but I always felt like it was lacking something. The addition of the songs "Rio" and "Girls on Film" for this remastered version was a great move, as those are not only two of the band's biggest hits from the early '80s, but they're also two of their most energetic live songs."