Rio (Duran Duran album)

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Studio album by
Released10 May 1982 (1982-05-10)
RecordedJanuary–February 1982
StudioAIR, London
ProducerColin Thurston
Duran Duran chronology
Duran Duran
Seven and the Ragged Tiger
Alternative cover
2001 European limited edition booklet cover
2001 European limited edition booklet cover
Singles from Rio
  1. "My Own Way"
    Released: 16 November 1981
  2. "Hungry Like the Wolf"
    Released: 4 May 1982
  3. "Save a Prayer"
    Released: 9 August 1982
  4. "Rio"
    Released: 1 November 1982

Rio is the second studio album by English band Duran Duran, originally released worldwide on 10 May 1982.[1] It reached number two in the United Kingdom and number one in Australia and Canada.

The album was remixed and re-released in the United States in November 1982. It peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US on 12 March 1983, and remained on the chart for 129 weeks. It earned a gold disc on 1 March 1983, and was certified platinum on 26 April 1983, eventually reaching double platinum status.


The first songs recorded for Rio were demo recordings of "Last Chance on the Stairway", "My Own Way", "New Religion", "Hungry Like the Wolf", and "Like an Angel", all recorded at EMI's Manchester Square studio in August 1981,[2] along with demos of "The Chauffeur", "Save a Prayer", and "Lonely in Your Nightmare" recorded by engineer Bob Lamb at his home studio. "My Own Way" was originally released as a single in November 1981, with "Like an Angel" as the B-side. The single version had a production influenced by disco and American R&B. It was re-recorded for the album with a significantly different arrangement and production.[2] The rest of the album was recorded in the winter of 1982 at AIR Studios in London with producer and engineer Colin Thurston.[3]

The band experimented with different sounds to record the album. On the song "Lonely in Your Nightmare" John Taylor plays fretless bass to give the bass a more melodic sound. The ballad "Save a Prayer" was built around a delicate and complex sequencer track. "New Religion" has been described as containing "a rapping, schizophrenic Le Bon in conversation with a funky rhythm section". The intense "Hold Back the Rain" was edited down from the original almost ten-minute recording. "The Chauffeur" is an all-electronic piece, aside from ocarina, created by Nick Rhodes with lyrics and vocals by Simon Le Bon.[2]

The recording of the album also included the use of various sound effects such as tapes played in reverse (the opening of "Rio"), the sound of ice cubes dropped into a glass and excerpts from a BBC recording of nature sounds ("The Chauffeur").[4]


John Taylor came up with the album's title in 1981 during the band's non-stop worldwide tour in support of their debut album. Taylor, who had never left England before, was taken by the glamour and excitement of the road which included stops in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin. "It was extraordinary," said Taylor. "And yet when we came back to Birmingham, the idea of exotica—and exotic travel—was Rio." The title is not a literal connection. Rhodes likened the name to Brazilian carnival—colorful, seductive and welcoming–that would become major themes of Rio’s sound and visuals. [note 1][5] [6]


"I think [it] has aged rather beautifully, like the Mona Lisa of the 1980s."

 —Nick Rhodes on the legacy of Patrick Nagel’s cover illustration for Rio[7]

Rio has been acclaimed as one of the greatest album covers of all time. In 2003, VH1 ranked Rio twenty-second on its list of the "50 Greatest Album Covers."[8] In 2020, Billboard magazine ranked it twenty-first.[9]

The cover is best known for the iconic cover illustration by Patrick Nagel of a striking woman in his trademark style—"elegant and sophisticated, alluring but cool, stark but sensual, mysterious, contradictory, and utterly contemporary"—the quintessential 1980s woman.[10]

The band, not the label, had creative control over their brand identity and worked with independent collaborators rather than the EMI label art department to create the distinctive visual style of Rio.[11]


The image on the album's distinctive purple cover was painted by artist Patrick Nagel. Nagel was recommended to the band by co-manager Paul Berrow who discovered Nagel through his regular contributions to Playboy which featured sensual, high-contrast portraits in a trademark style that became known as the "Nagel Woman."[10]

The band hired Nagel to create two portraits as possible covers. The smiling Rio girl was the unanimous choice. "It was love at first sight," said Rhodes. "We all said instantly: Yes, that’s it. That’s the cover." The second Nagel portrait featuring a woman with a flower in her hair debuted on the Japanese single release of "My Own Way," released months ahead of Rio, in a mix-up between the band and the Japanese label. "No one had told the Japanese label that we hadn’t actually bought that one." [12] The flower girl image would later appear officially as the alternate cover on the Rio 2001 remastered edition.


The band does not appear on the sleeve, which was a stylistic departure from Duran Duran's debut album and most albums at the time. Instead, a band portrait appears on the LP liner. Deliberately incongruous to the album title, the band chose to be photographed on the top of the British Petroleum Building, the tallest building in London at the time, against a modern nighttime skyline. "Because their music was so electronic, I wanted to try and create that energy in the picture," said Sussex-born photographer Andy Earl. "Just before the end of the exposure, I kicked the tripod, and that's what gives it this fizzy, electronic and glamorous look. Which, to me, captured the music and what they were all about."[13]

Graphic Design[edit]

The cover itself was designed by Malcolm Garrett. Rather than use the Nagel portrait for the full album cover, Garrett used the sleeve to establish a distinctive system of visual elements that provided "conceptual continuity" across Rio's advertising, tour materials, merchandise and singles, which he also supervised.[11] "What we were doing with music then was always about creating and defining a visual world in which the fans operated and could come to understand."[14]

Initial quantities of the Rio LP featured a band of paper inspired by a cigar band that formed a physical seal that had to be broken before the album could be removed. The cigar band was printed directly onto later versions of the album sleeve.

Promotion and release dates[edit]

The Rio album was first released worldwide on 10 May 1982, peaking at #2 in the UK in its second week of release.

John Taylor takes credit for the title single. "[It] was something I had thrown into the mix," he recalled in 2012. He was particularly fascinated with the idea of Brazil, and "Rio, to me, was shorthand for the truly foreign, the exotic, a cornucopia of earthly delights, a party that would never stop."[15]

The second single, "Hungry Like the Wolf", was released in the UK on 4 May 1982. It peaked at #5 in the charts on 26 June 1982.[16]

The band had their own plans and ambitions for promotion. They reunited with director Russell Mulcahy (who had directed the music video for their first single, "Planet Earth"), and planned the release of a full-length video album—eleven videos for the best songs off of the Duran Duran and Rio albums. The band travelled to Sri Lanka and Antigua between tour dates to film the memorable videos for the singles "Rio", "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Save a Prayer", as well as the lesser-known "Lonely in Your Nightmare" and "Night Boat" — the latter video being a creepy zombiefest set on a deserted island.

While filming the videos, guitarist Andy Taylor contracted a tropical virus and was hospitalised on his return to England.[17] This forced the delay of the band's European tour, and the record company decided to hold the release of the third single until the band was ready to promote it again.

"Save a Prayer" was finally released on 9 August 1982, and peaked at #2 on the UK charts in mid September 1982, becoming the album's biggest hit. On 1 November 1982, the single "Rio" was released worldwide. It peaked at #9 in the UK in December 1982.[16]

US and Canada release[edit]

Duran Duran on stage

The United States and Canada version was first released on Capitol's Harvest Records label and had the same songs and mixes as the UK version, but did not perform well on the US Billboard chart.

Meanwhile, the band had worked with producer David Kershenbaum to create some new dance mixes for their twelve-inch club singles. In September, EMI collected the remixes and released them on an EP called Carnival. It included the songs "Rio", "Hold Back the Rain", "My Own Way", "Hungry Like the Wolf", and "New Religion", and was released in the United States, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan and Taiwan.

Following the success of the Kershenbaum remixes, Capitol changed its marketing strategy, selling Duran Duran in the US no longer as a New Romantic band (a British phenomenon) but instead as a dance band. Frustrated with their lack of success in the US, the band capitalised on the moment and pressed Capitol to allow them to issue a remixed and remastered version of the Rio album in the United States and Canada. The company agreed, and brought Kershenbaum back to remix more songs from the album.[18]

On 3 December 1982, the "Hungry Like the Wolf" 7-inch single was reissued in the US. It contained the US Album Remix of the song, and peaked at #3 in the US on 26 March 1983.

Part of the continued success of the album was due to the very popular videos, in heavy rotation on MTV. The video album Duran Duran was released (on VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc) to coincide with the US re-issue of the 7-inch "Rio" single on 11 March 1983, four months after its original release. This single included the US Single Remix of the song done by Kershenbaum, and peaked at #14 in the US on 14 May 1983.

The Night Versions of "My Own Way", "Hungry Like the Wolf", and "New Religion" (made by Colin Thurston), along with the Carnival remix of "Hold Back the Rain", were later released on the Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran CD compilation in 1998, and the Carnival remix of "My Own Way" was released in the 2003 Singles Box Set 1981–1985.

Versions on CD[edit]

What it boils down to is that there are a number of masters relating to their album, and there was no way of actually finding out which was the original master, because they all seem to have been cut and used at the same time for different territories. It really was an absolute maze, listening to the tapes to try to work out what may or may not have been the original master. In the end, we came to what we believed to be the closest decision. The band were happy with the version we mastered, and that's what came out.

—EMI project coordinator Nigel Reeve on the 2001 Enhanced CD reissue of Rio[19]

Until 2009, all official CD versions of the Rio album were nearly identical to the original LP version, but with different versions of "Lonely in Your Nightmare", "Hold Back the Rain", and "Save a Prayer" from what was on the original LP.

The 2001 reissue contains Enhanced CD material featuring the music videos for "Rio", "Hungry Like the Wolf", and "Save a Prayer", plus memorabilia and a link to the band's official website. The European limited edition booklet cover used an alternate version of the Nagel cover painting, submitted by the artist along with the first when he completed the commission (this image was initially used for the Japanese 7-inch single of "My Own Way"). Despite initial speculation that either the original LP version or the US LP reissue version would be used, the CD album version was used instead. EMI claimed that this was due to master tape research issues as a result of there being multiple different versions of the album.[19]

On 7 April 2009, Duran Duran's official website announced that Rio would be reissued as a 2 CD Collectors Edition on 7 September 2009 (2009-09-07) in the UK, and 6 October 2009 (2009-10-06) in the US. This edition includes the album's original LP release tracks, but adds substantially more to make this a definitive edition (including the US Kershenbaum remixes, along with several other tracks that have either never been released in CD form, or were only available on Singles Box Set 1981–1985). This reissue reached #185 on the UK Albums Chart. In 2015, Parlophone rereleased this edition in digipak packaging, along with a single-disc jewel case version that contains only the contents of disc one.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Contemporary reviews
Review scores
The Village VoiceC−[20]

Rio initially received generally negative reviews from critics. Traditional outlets like the New York Times were especially critical, dismissing the album as soulless, musically derivative[21] and typical of the "frivolous dance-oriented synthesizer pop made by [British] fashion-conscious groups" that MTV had helped to popularize.[22] In a negative review, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice deemed the album "Anglodisco at its most solemnly expedient," feeling that "it lacks even the forced cheerfulness" of Haircut 100, and that "if it had as many hooks as A Flock of Seagulls (not bloody likely) it still wouldn't be silly enough to be any fun."[20] Record Mirror described Rio as "thoroughly competent and yet bereft of the soul, passion and wit that makes a great record."[23]


Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[25]
Record Collector[29]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[30]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[31]

Retrospective reviews have been far more positive, and the album is now considered Duran Duran's magnum opus and a new wave classic. Ned Raggett of Allmusic wrote, "the original Duran Duran's high point, and just as likely the band's as a whole, its fusion of style and substance ensures that even two decades after its release it remains as listenable and danceable as ever."[24] Reviewing the album's 2009 reissue, PopMatters' John Bergstrom observed that "not even nearly 30 years of cultural change have been able to budge the careful juxtaposition between Andy Taylor’s power riffing and Simon LeBon’s willfully artful lyrics and vocals, or the brilliant interplay between the awesome, seriously funky rhythm section of John Taylor and Roger Taylor, and Nick Rhodes’ atmospheric, arpeggiated synthesizer framework. Together, it all created all kinds of energy and just the right amount of camp."[27] Tom Ewing of Pitchfork described Rio as "a romp of a record" and remarked that "[it] isn't just front-loaded with some of the era's most bulldozing hits, it's still Duran's best shot at an artistic legacy."[26]

Three decades later, John Taylor still held the album in high regard. "The writing on Rio is fantastic, all out. Essential Duran Duran," he recalled in his 2012 memoir, In the Pleasure Groove. He also had high praise for the band's musicianship. "Every one of us is performing ... at the absolute peak of our talents," he wrote. "There is no showboating. Every part is thoughtful, considered, part of a greater whole."[33]


Accolades for Rio
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Q UK "100 Greatest British Albums"[citation needed] 2000 98
NME UK "100 Greatest Albums of All Time"[citation needed] 2003 65
CMJ US "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1982"[citation needed] 2004 1
The Word UK "Top 50 British Albums"[34] 2008 24
Pitchfork US "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s"[35] 2002 95
Robert Dimery UK 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[36] 2008 *
BBC Radio 2 UK "Top 100 Favourite Albums of All Time"[37] 2013 3

(*) designates unordered lists.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and arranged by Duran Duran.

Original LP[edit]

Side one
2."My Own Way"4:51
3."Lonely in Your Nightmare"3:50
4."Hungry Like the Wolf"3:41
5."Hold Back the Rain"3:59
Total length:21:14
Side two
6."New Religion"5:31
7."Last Chance on the Stairway"4:21
8."Save a Prayer"5:33
9."The Chauffeur"5:10[note 2]
Total length:20:35

US LP reissue[edit]

Side one
1."Rio" (US Album Remix)5:24
2."My Own Way" (Carnival Remix)4:31
3."Lonely in Your Nightmare" (US Album Remix)4:52
4."Hungry Like the Wolf" (US Album Remix)4:11
5."Hold Back the Rain" (US Album Remix)6:32
Total length:24:50
Side two
6."New Religion"5:31
7."Last Chance on the Stairway"4:21
8."Save a Prayer"5:33
9."The Chauffeur"5:12
Total length:20:37
  • Later pressings of this reissue use the Night Version of "Hungry Like the Wolf", thus giving it a length of 5:14.

CD album version[edit]

2."My Own Way"4:51
3."Lonely in Your Nightmare" (CD Album Version)3:50
4."Hungry Like the Wolf"3:41
5."Hold Back the Rain" (CD Album Version)3:47
6."New Religion"5:31
7."Last Chance on the Stairway"4:21
8."Save a Prayer" (Single Version)5:25
9."The Chauffeur"5:10
Total length:41:29

2 CD Collectors Edition[edit]

Disc one
2."My Own Way"4:51
3."Lonely in Your Nightmare"3:51
4."Hungry Like the Wolf"3:41
5."Hold Back the Rain"3:59
6."New Religion"5:32
7."Last Chance on the Stairway"4:21
8."Save a Prayer"5:33
9."The Chauffeur"5:22
10."Rio" (US album remix)5:24
11."My Own Way" (Carnival remix)4:31
12."Lonely in Your Nightmare" (US album remix)4:52
13."Hungry Like the Wolf" (US album remix)4:11
14."Hold Back the Rain" (US album remix)6:32
Total length:66:53
Disc two
1."Last Chance on the Stairway" (the Manchester Square Demo)5:04
2."My Own Way" (the Manchester Square Demo)4:39
3."New Religion" (the Manchester Square Demo)5:33
4."Like An Angel" (the Manchester Square Demo)5:03
5."My Own Way" (original 7-inch version)3:39
6."Like An Angel"4:43
7."Careless Memories" (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon)4:15
8."The Chauffeur" (Blue Silver) (Early version)3:54
9."My Own Way" (Night version)6:34
10."Hungry Like the Wolf" (Night version)5:14
11."Rio" (Night version)6:40
12."New Religion" (Carnival remix)5:15
13."Hold Back the Rain" (Carnival remix)7:01
Total length:66:54
Digital download/streaming bonus tracks
14."My Own Way" (Instrumental version)6:35
15."Hold Back the Rain" (Alternate remix)6:41
Total length:79:10


Duran Duran

Additional musicians


  • Colin Thurston – production and engineering
  • Renate – technician
  • David Kershenbaum – remixing (tracks 1–5 on US LP reissue)[note 3]
  • Nick Webb – mastering (UK LP)
  • Wally Traugott – mastering (original US LP)
  • Stephen Marcussen – mastering (US LP reissue)
  • Tony Cousins – remastering (2001 Enhanced CD reissue)
  • Steve Rooke – remastering (2009 2 CD Collectors Edition)
  • Malcolm Garrett – sleeve design
  • Patrick Nagel – illustration
  • Andy Earl – photography



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[51] Platinum 50,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[52] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[53] Gold 30,316[53]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[54] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[55] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[56] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Duran Duran first performed in Rio De Janeiro on January 8, 1988, their first Brazilian appearance.
  2. ^ The song fades out slightly later on the US release, giving it a length of 5:12.
  3. ^ Initial pressings of this reissue do not credit Kershenbaum in the liner notes.



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  2. ^ a b c John Taylor In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran" 2012, chapter 33
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  5. ^ "Duran Duran Complete Tour List". Retrieved 31 December 2021. January 8, 1988 - Praca Da Apoteose, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
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  17. ^ Taylor, Andy (2008). Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran. New York: Grand Central Publishing. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-446-50930-5.
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  21. ^ Palmer, Robert (25 December 1983). "Energy and Creativity Added up to Exciting Pop". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2 January 2022. mostly recycled black funk and reggae rhythms
  22. ^ Holden, Stephen (11 September 1983). "Christmas Comes Early in Pop Music". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
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  25. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
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  28. ^ Moody, Paul (2009). "Duran Duran: Rio". Q: 125. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  29. ^ "Duran Duran: Rio". Record Collector: 85. 1982's Rio was and remains one of the 80s' finest pop statements...
  30. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Duran Duran". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 261–62. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
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  53. ^ a b "Duran Duran" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
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  • Zaleski, Annie (6 May 2021). Duran Duran's Rio (33 1/3, 156). Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1501355189.