|unreleased studio album by Duran Duran|
|Recorded||September 2005 - May 2006|
San Francisco, USA and London, UK
|Genres||Rock, New Wave, Indie Rock|
The making of Reportage
According to former band guitarist Andy Taylor, the band first met with producer Martin Glover but ultimately decided to work with producer Michael Patterson. Recording sessions took place between September 2005 and April 2006 at Andre Agassi's estate in Tiburon, California, and in London. In March 2006, drummer Roger Taylor commented that "the record will be in some ways a homage to our roots as a band, more direct and a return to our dance and new wave origins."
Keyboardist Nick Rhodes described the album's edgy approach in an interview with Details magazine: "It was a very angry record for Duran Duran, quite political. We've always reflected what's around us; it's just that we always tried to pick the more uplifting subjects. But there was so much doom and gloom and horror that it had got pretty deep under our skin. There's one track on there called 'Criminals In The Capital,' about our dueling leaders on both sides of the Atlantic... there was one song about a fighter pilot in the Iraq war. There's another song, one of my favourites on the record, actually, about the decay of the world and how we're all ignoring it — a song of desperation."
The Timbaland factor
After submitting a rough mix of Reportage to their record label Sony Music, it was rejected for having no obvious radio singles. Bassist John Taylor complained, "We delivered an album to Sony that was a natural-sounding, almost rock album, and they were like 'We need something a bit pop, do you fancy doing a couple of tracks with Timbaland?'" Singer Simon Le Bon recalled, "When we sat down and listened to what we had done on our own, we didn't feel we had a lead track, so we got in touch with Timbaland, who was the only producer out there that we knew we all liked." Meanwhile, rumours began spreading around Duran Duran fan boards and websites that Andy Taylor was feeling unhappy with the new scenario.
In September 2006, Timbaland joined the band at Manhattan Center Studios in New York for writing and recording sessions, but Andy didn't show up. After a month of speculation, it was announced that he had left the band. Andy later wrote in his 2008 autobiography Wild Boy: My Life In Duran Duran that there had been tension and a lack of direction during the sessions, and that the music had been submitted prematurely to Sony as he thought "the album needed more work" even though he had recorded "three album's worth of guitar tracks".
The band initially planned to incorporate the new Timbaland-produced songs into Reportage. A December 2006 a Billboard Magazine article claimed that "the as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2004's Astronaut will also feature the reggae-tinged "48 Hours Later" and "Transcendental Mental", which Rhodes says takes aim at 'new-age frauds. It's one of the funniest lyrics Simon has written in many years.' Asked if the disparate sounds of the Timbaland tracks compared to the album's more guitar-driven songs may be jarring to the listener, Rhodes says, "With those cuts, you can tell there was another hand in them for sure. Although they are a slight change of direction in that some of the others are a bit more guitar-heavy or indie-sounding, Simon is the glue that holds them all together."
Red Carpet Massacre
Duran Duran eventually decided to abandon all of the Reportage songs and further explore their new musical direction with Timbaland's assistant Danja. John was quoted as saying, "...we were kind of coming to the decision that we were going to let go of all of this music, and we were going to let go of songs that we had been working on for months and months. But there was such a thing that we were moving forward, that we were creating this new identity."
They had written and recorded three songs with Timbaland which became part of an entirely new album titled Red Carpet Massacre, released November 19, 2007 to mixed reviews and disappointing sales (it peaked at no.44 on the UK album chart compared to the no.3 peak position of Astronaut). As a result, the band broke ties with Epic Records and its parent company Sony. Although John Taylor called it "our misunderstood masterpiece", Reportage has not been released, and none of its songs have been performed live. No recordings are known to have leaked, aside from a few brief studio session clips that were posted online.
Songs recorded for Reportage
Simon had this to say about the album: "I would be failing in my duty if I didn't get at least the song "48 Hours Later", which is sublime. It's one of the best Duran Duran songs I've ever heard. And it would work well with what we're doing now. You could easily have it on All You Need Is Now. There's another one called "Transcendental Mental" which sounds great. There's another called "Traumatized" which lyrically isn't as strong, but the melody is great." He also mentioned a song with the working title of "Nobody" in a September 2005 interview on YouTube: "We wanted to recapture the rawness and energy of our first album and I think we've got it with songs like "Traumatized" and "Nobody", which are working titles obviously."
John commented on a song called "Under The Wire" in April 2006: "We have been working on around fifteen songs over the last couple of months... We're mixing today, a song for the new album. It's a noisy one, quite aggressive in places, and Mike Patterson our Engineer/Co-Producer is working several knobs at once so that Simon sounds just the right mixture of nasty and cool. It's new territory for us, this song. It's about alienation…or is it? I have to be careful making assumptions about Simon's lyrics. The chorus line, 'We go under the wire, we go in under fire' ...but this war zone is domestic, a council estate."
Information on another song was provided by the Duranasty news site: "There is one song of Reportage called "Judy, Where Are You". Nick said the song is about their friend in New Orleans who went missing after Hurricane Katrina. Nick also added it's a beautiful song and has got a Kinks influence." Additionally, the song titles "Naomi Tonight" and "You Ain't Foolin' No One" were revealed by music industry insiders on the Velvet Rope message board. The song title "Naomi Tonight" was also registered with ASCAP.
These are the working song titles that have been identified by band members and reliable sources as being part of the Reportage project before it was abandoned:
- "Criminals In The Capitol"
- "48 Hours Later"
- "Transcendental Mental"
- "Judy, Where Are You?"
- "Under The Wire"
- "Naomi Tonight"
- "You Ain't Foolin' No One"
All of the above titles except for "Nobody" have been registered with ASCAP, "Criminals In The Capital" was registered as "Criminals In The Capitol", and "Traumatized" was registered with the American spelling.
These additional working titles have also been confirmed using ASCAP's ACE Title Search engine:
- "Angel Fire"
- "Lions And Wolves"
- "Midnight City"
- "Under Snow"
Based on their songwriting credits and assigned ASCAP Work ID numbers, these titles can all be confirmed as stemming from the Reportage sessions.
The future of Reportage
The members of Duran Duran have discussed an eventual release for Reportage: "And further on the horizon Rhodes says the group hopes to release Reportage, the album it scrapped in favor of Red Carpet Massacre that features the last work original guitarist Andy Taylor did with the band. 'We want it to come out one day,' the keyboardist says. 'It's a really interesting record... more of an edgy, indie rock album, obviously going back to our earlier roots. There are a lot of songs I'm very proud of that I'd like people to hear.'"
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