Astronaut (album)

Infobox Album | Name = Astronaut
Type = Album
Artist = Duran Duran

Released = October 11, 2004
Recorded = Sphere Studios, London, 2001-2004
Genre = Rock, Alternative, new wave
Length = 49:52
Label = Epic
Producer = Duran Duran, Don Gilmore, Nile Rodgers, Dallas Austin
Reviews =
*Allmusic rating|2.5|5 [ link]
*"" (Favourable) [ link]
*"NME" Rating|5|10 [ link]
*"CD-WOW" (Album of the Week) [ link]
*"Rolling Stone" rating|3|5 [ link]
Last album = "Singles Box Set 1986-1995" (2004)
This album = "Astronaut" (2004)
Next album = "Red Carpet Massacre" (2007)
Misc = Singles
Name = Astronaut
Type = album
single 1 = (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
single 1 date = start_date|2004|10|4
single 2 = What Happens Tomorrow
single 2 date = start_date|2005|1|31
single 3 = Nice
single 3 date = iTunes download
single 4 =
single 4 date =

"Astronaut" is an album by British band Duran Duran, first released on October 11, 2004 (see 2004 in music).

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


Duran Duran made its fame and fortune with its original line-up (singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor, and drummer Roger Taylor) from 1980 to 1985. This "Fab Five" line-up released three studio albums, each with great success. Then Roger retired, and Andy pursued a solo and producing career. The band membership of Simon, Nick, and John with guitarist Warren Cuccurullo remained intact until 1997, when John left Duran Duran. Despite major hits with "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone" in 1993, they were never able to sustain the same level of success as they had achieved as a five-piece band.

The band was signed with Capitol/EMI from 1980 to 1999, and had a brief contract with Hollywood Records in 2000, but entered their reunion phase without a contract.

The making of the album

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 twenty-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 of 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. ("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. 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

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 in June and July. 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 release of the first single, "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise", with more surrounding the release of "Astronaut" in October; in fact, 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

"Astronaut" debuted at #1 on the Internet album chart (that is, physical albums bought through Internet vendors), #3 in the UK album chart, and at #17 in the US Billboard 200 album chart, with similar Top Twenty debuts elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, the CD/DVD set debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Music Video chart.

The album went to #29 in Japan (See Notorious page 276)

The first single, "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" debuted at #5 in the UK singles chart. In late November, it reached #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart.

The second single, "What Happens Tomorrow" was released 31 January 2005. It was not the quick starter that "Sunrise" was, but slowly gained chart position and radio play, 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 LeBon and John Taylor had also appeared in a separate spot for the network. Andy Taylor missed several American dates in February and March to attend his ill father's hospital bed and 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.

As of 2008, "Astronaut" has sold about 260,000 units in the U.S. [Caulfied, Keith. [ "Ask Billboard"] . January 4, 2008.] and about 2 million copies around the world so far.

Embracing new media

On start date|2005|3|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 start date|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

All tracks written by Duran Duran.
#"(Reach Up for The) Sunrise" – 3:27
#"Want You More!" – 3:39
#"What Happens Tomorrow" – 4:11
#"Astronaut" – 3:26
#"Bedroom Toys" – 4:01
#"Nice" – 3:33
#"Taste the Summer" – 3:55
#"Finest Hour" – 4:02
#"Chains" – 4:48
#"One of Those Days" – 3:52
#"Point of No Return" – 4:59
#"Still Breathing" – 5:59Bonus tracks:

  • "Virus" – 4:07 (Japan bonus track)


    * Dallas Austin: Producer, Engineer
    * Bernie Beca: Artwork
    * Sally Boyden: Vocals (bckgr)
    * Francesco Cameli: Assistant Engineer
    * Daniel E. III 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
    * Simon LeBon: Group Member
    * David Massey: A&R
    * Robert McClaugherty: Executive Producer
    * Daniel Mendez: Engineer, Digital Editing
    * Jason Nevins: Programming, Engineer
    * Tessa Niles: Vocals (bckgr)
    * Patty Palazzo: Artwork
    * Nick Rhodes: Group Member
    * Nile Rodgers: Producer, Vocal Producer
    * James A. Salkind: Post Production Supervisor
    * Kristian Schull: Cover Photo
    * Rick Sheppard: Engineer, Digital Editing
    * Sara Syms: Graphic Design
    * Andy Taylor: Vocals (bckgr), Group Member
    * John Taylor: Group Member
    * Roger Taylor: Group Member
    * Mark Tinley: Programming, Engineer, Pre-Production
    * Clarissa Tossin: Artwork
    * Melanie Vaughan: Producer
    * John Warwicker: Creative Director, Graphic Editing
    * Jeremy Wheatley: Mixing
    * Leon Zervos: Mastering


    # "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" (Australia September 20, 2004, UK October 4, 2004) – Charted #5 in the UK on October 10, 2004; Charted #89 in the US on November 13, 2004
    # "What Happens Tomorrow" (January 31, 2005) – Charted #11 in the UK on February 6, 2005
    # "Nice" (European radio release, iTunes download)


    * [ Duran Duran Discography (Adobe PDF file)]

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