Astronaut (Duran Duran album)

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Astronaut
Studio album by Duran Duran
Released 11 October 2004
Recorded Sphere Studios, London, 2001-2004
Genre New wave, pop rock, synthpop
Length 49:52
Label Epic
Producer Duran Duran
Daniel E. Catullo III
Nile Rodgers
Dallas Austin
Don Gilmore[1]
Mike Clink
Duran Duran chronology
Singles Box Set 1986–1995
(2004)
Astronaut
(2004)
Reportage
(Unreleased Album)
(2006)
Singles from Astronaut
  1. "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise"
    Released: 4 October 2004 (2004-10-04)
  2. "What Happens Tomorrow"
    Released: 31 January 2005 (2005-01-31)
  3. "Nice"
    Released: iTunes download
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 52/100[2]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[3]
Amazon.com favourable[4]
Entertainment Weekly B[5]
NME 5/10 stars[6]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[7]

Astronaut is the 11th studio album by English pop rock band Duran Duran, first released on 11 October 2004 (see 2004 in music).

This was Duran Duran's first studio album since Pop Trash (2000), and the first (and, to date, last) full album since Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) to be recorded by the original five members of the band (the stand-alone 1985 single "A View to a Kill" was their last studio recording together.)

The making of the album[edit]

Duran Duran originally announced a reunion of the original five members in 2001, and began writing new music together in the south of France. They continued to write and record intermittently, working hard for a few months at a time, throughout 2002 and 2003. The band's friend Nile Rodgers did preliminary production work on several tracks.

Meanwhile, the search for a record label went on, complicated by the band's desire for independence, control, strong promotional support, and a commitment for more than one album, at the same time that the cash-strapped and risk-averse recording industry was unwilling to gamble on the "leftover fame" of a band best known for a series of 20-year-old hits.

The band, frustrated and with nearly thirty new songs approaching completion, set out on a world tour in 2003 to show that the band still had drawing power. The sold-out dates in Japan, America, the United Kingdom and Australia and New Zealand—and the nearly delirious news coverage that followed the reunited band—warmed the record labels to the possibilities. The new songs "Sunrise", "Still Breathing", "Virus", "Beautiful Colours" and "What Happens Tomorrow" were played during these concerts; John Taylor also played a demo recording of "What Happens Tomorrow" on the air at Los Angeles radio station STAR 98.7 in May 2003.

During this period, a "teaser CD" with short demo versions of a few of the unfinished songs (used to demonstrate the new work to potential labels and producers) was leaked to the Internet and quickly copied throughout the band's fan base. The songs were "Virus", "Sunrise", "TV vs. Radio", "Taste the Summer", "Salt in the Rainbow", and "Pretty Ones". The band was very unhappy about the leak, and with the exception of "Sunrise" (which became the first single) and "Taste the Summer", the leaked songs were not included in the final track listing for the album. Jason Nevins also remixed "Virus", which was not released as a single. (The Jason Nevins version of "Virus" later appeared as a bonus track on a Japanese release of Astronaut).

A remix of "Sunrise" by Jason Nevins was included on the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy soundtrack in February; it received a warm reception by DJs anticipating new work from Duran Duran, but the song was not released as a single from the soundtrack. The band always plays the Jason Nevins version live in concert. The main version off the CD incorporates tracks from Jason Nevins production, to which he is credited on the albums liner notes.

In March, the band donated "Beautiful Colours" to FIFA, the international governing body for football, to use as its Centennial song. At the awards ceremony for the FIFA 100, honouring the top living footballers, a video of top moments in the sport was accompanied by the song. However, the song would not be one of those that made the final version of the album.

New deal, new album[edit]

Finally, after lengthy negotiations, the band signed a four-album deal with Epic Records (a subsidiary of Sony BMG Music Entertainment) in June 2004. The songs were given a final polishing with producer Don Gilmore at Sphere Studios in London, and then mixed by Jeremy Wheatley throughout June and July 2004. R&B producer Dallas Austin produced three tracks on the album, and Nile Rodgers' early production work remains on another three.

Limited copies of the new album were released with a bonus DVD which included 45 minutes of live and behind-the-scenes footage from Wembley Arena, recorded in April 2004. The CD/DVD set came in DVD-sized packaging and European copies bore copy protection, a holdover from the BMG days.

A worldwide media tour accompanied the September 2004 release of the first single, "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise", with more surrounding the release of Astronaut in October. The pace became too hectic for guitarist Andy Taylor, and in November Duran Duran announced he was suffering from exhaustion and flu, and would not be participating in band promotion until January 2005. The remaining four members continued with television appearances, and a stand-in guitarist (Dominic Brown) was hired for the scheduled radio station Christmas concerts in December. Subsequently, January concert dates in Japan had to be postponed until the summer, after drummer Roger Taylor broke a bone in his right foot in December.

Chart success[edit]

Astronaut debuted at No. 3 in the UK album chart, and at No. 17 in the US Billboard 200 album chart, with similar Top 20 debuts elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, the CD/DVD set debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Music Video chart. The album peaked at No. 29 in Japan.

The first single, "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" debuted at No. 5 in the UK singles chart. In late November, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Chart.

The second single, "What Happens Tomorrow" was released on 31 January 2005 and entered the UK chart at No. 11 (where it peaked). It slowly gained radio play in the US, supported by a nearly sold-out tour of North American arenas and stadiums, touted as the band's "largest tour ever". Later in 2005, "What Happens Tomorrow" was used in a promotional spot for the U.S. digital cable network Fox Soccer Channel; Simon Le Bon and John Taylor had also appeared in a separate spot for the network. Andy Taylor missed several American dates in February and March to visit his ill father and the subsequent funeral.

Live favourite "Nice" was announced to be the next single in Europe to coincide with the band's tour there. It was believed that the single would not have a commercial release or music video, but would be downloadable. However, "Nice" was only released to radio in Europe, was promoted poorly, and disappeared quickly from the airwaves.

Astronaut has been certified "Gold" in the UK for sales of over 100,000 copies. As of 2008, it has sold around 260,000 units in the U.S.[8] It has so far sold around 1 million copies around the world.[citation needed]

Embracing new media[edit]

On 29 March 2005 (2005-03-29), Sony BMG reissued Astronaut on the burgeoning DualDisc format. This double sided disc included the CD version on one side and a remixed 5.1 DVD-Audio surround mix of the album on the other side. The DVD side also included a 25-minute program with new behind-the-scenes footage.

On 20 December 2005 (2005-12-20), Astronaut was released on the SACD format. Similar to DualDisc, this release featured the album in three formats — multichannel SACD, stereo SACD and stereo CD.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Duran Duran.

  1. "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise" – 3:27
  2. "Want You More!" – 3:39
  3. "What Happens Tomorrow" – 4:11
  4. "Astronaut" – 3:26
  5. "Bedroom Toys" – 4:01
  6. "Nice" – 3:33
  7. "Taste the Summer" – 3:55
  8. "Finest Hour" – 4:02
  9. "Chains" – 4:48
  10. "One of Those Days" – 3:52
  11. "Point of No Return" – 4:59
  12. "Still Breathing" – 5:59

Bonus tracks:

  1. "Virus" – 4:07 (Japan bonus track)

Sunrise Promo "b-side"

  1. "Know It All" – 2:31

Personnel[edit]

Duran Duran
  • Simon LeBon: Vocals
  • Nick Rhodes: Keyboards
  • John Taylor: Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Andy Taylor: Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Roger Taylor: Drums
Additional musicians
Production
  • Dallas Austin: Producer, Engineer
  • Bernie Beca: Artwork
  • Francesco Cameli: Assistant Engineer
  • Daniel Catullo: Producer, Executive Producer
  • Mike Clink: Producer
  • Duran Duran: Producer, Executive Producer
  • Richard Edgeler: Assistant Engineer
  • Guy Farley: String Arrangements
  • Sean Fullan: Editing
  • Tilton Gardner: Executive Producer
  • Don Gilmore: Producer, Engineer
  • David Gray: A&R
  • Richard Haughton: Photography
  • Richard Hilton: Engineer, Digital Editing
  • Sean Hogan: Artwork
  • Heidi Kelso: Producer
  • Wendy Laister: Executive Producer
  • David Massey: A&R
  • Robert McClaugherty: Executive Producer
  • Daniel Mendez: Engineer, Digital Editing
  • Jason Nevins: Programming, Engineer
  • Patty Palazzo: Artwork
  • Nile Rodgers: Producer, Vocal Producer
  • James A. Salkind: Post Production Supervisor
  • Kristian Schull: Cover Photo
  • Rick Sheppard: Engineer, Digital Editing
  • Sara Syms: Graphic Design
  • Mark Tinley: Programming, Engineer, Pre-Production
  • Clarissa Tossin: Artwork
  • Melanie Vaughan: Producer
  • John Warwicker: Creative Director, Graphic Editing
  • Jeremy Wheatley: Mixing
  • Leon Zervos: Mastering

Singles[edit]

  1. "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" (Australia 20 September 2004, UK 4 October 2004) – Charted No. 5 in the UK on 10 October 2004; Charted No. 89 in the US on 13 November 2004
  2. "What Happens Tomorrow" (31 January 2005) – Charted No. 11 in the UK on 6 February 2005
  3. "Nice" (European radio release, iTunes download)
Country Date Label Format Catalog
Europe 11 October 2004 Epic Records LP
CD 5179208
CD/DVD 5179203
United States 12 October 2004 Epic LP (LP was released on 28 September 2004 in US) E2 92900
CD EK 92900
CD/DVD EK 93463
South Korea 15 October 2004 Sony Music Entertainment (Korea) CD CPK 3348 (517920.6)
Compact Cassette CPT-3348 (517920.4)
Japan 20 October 2004 Sony Music Japan CD EICP 426
CD/DVD EICP 424 - EICP 425
United States 29 March 2005 Epic DualDisc EN 93512
United States 20 December 2005 Epic SACD TBC

References[edit]

  1. ^ Don Gilmore credits at Allmusic
  2. ^ "Astronaut Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "Astronaut - Duran Duran". Allmusic. 
  4. ^ "Astronaut: Duran Duran: Music". Amazon.com. 
  5. ^ Brod, Doug (15 October 2004). "Astronaut Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Duran Duran: Astronaut". NME. 
  7. ^ Pratt, Sarah (28 October 2004). "CD Review - Duran Duran - Astronaut". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 4 November 2004. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Caulfied, Keith."Ask Billboard". billboard.com. 4 January 2008.