November 2, 2009

Arcadia: Maximum big surprise

Twenty four years on, I still love Arcadia's So Red The Rose. Only 8 vocal tracks, nearly flawless, and each simultaneously lush and angular. It was produced in 1985 by the late Alex Sadkin, who also produced Duran's Seven And The Ragged Tiger, and albums by Grace Jones and Thompson Twins.

Rumor has it the album will be re-released in 2010. I hope it contains the extended versions, which are sublime. Almost everything Arcadia did was solid, but everyone mocked it at the time. It's far more ambitious than anything Duran ever attempted and begs the question of why Duran never worked with someone like Trevor Horn. His Grace Jones classic Slave To The Rhythm seems like a template for much of this album mixed with the boys next move, Notorious.

Arcadia Election Day

I remember loving how they went from blond /tan to pale with black hair. Simon looks great and Nick looks like.. a frail British woman man with dyed hair. Only FAIL in the video: the lack of a cameo by Grace. If you're curious about her lines, here they are:

By roads and backways, a lover's chance down wind
Cut open murmurs and sounds. Be calm hands on skin
Carry further ... entangled strands all sing
Saving some time to slip away. We could dance!

Arcadia Goodbye Is Forever

What is it with all the smiling in this video? Nick looks terrible in this and Simon looks like... Rufus Wainwright! I love this song still - it reminds me so much of Christmas time during my junior year. Maybe it's sentimentality that drives it for me? It should be noted that Pink Floyd's David Gilmour plays guitar here.

Arcadia The Promise

The album version, 7:30 long, features Sting on backing vocals. The quasi-political song was a huge musical step for them. It's much more sophisticated than anything Duran had attempted and the song holds up well so many years on. The album also featured Grace Jones, Herbie Hancock, Pink Floyd David Gilmour, and Mark Egan from Pat Metheny's jazz group.

Arcadia The Flame

This absurd thing was directed by
Russell Mulcahy, who did the Simon-dunking Wild Boys.

Fans of Arcadia should be sure to look at Celluloid Dreams: An Arcadia Fan Site. And it wasn't me that told you about this.


John C. Hughes said...

I think I've told this story before, but this album had such an effect on me my junior year in high school, I dyed my hair jet-black to be like the boys, and I did a "dramatic reading" of "El Diablo" in my Drama class.

Yes, I am a homo.

xolondon said...

Did I know that!? I need to see a picture (before and after, that is), John. I wish I'd known you then!

countpopula said...

This album smacks of pretension--the fashion, the artwork, the guest stars...and yet it may be one of my 20 favorite albums of all time. I wouldn't really penalize them for leaving Grace Jones out of the Election Day video, but I will penalize them if Say the Word is not located somewhere on that remaster. It was a great lost song that even a big Duran fan like myself did not know existed until about 10 years ago. Too bad about the unfortunate STW music video and corresponding movie tie-in. I think they blew the video budget on the album tracks. The Election Day clip is still so sleek and provocative. The Flame is just cheeky--Nick goes blonde again...where was Roger...

I don't really need a whole singles box set. I would much rather have the remastered album. Missing is one of Duran's best "moody" ballads, and I love the feel of side 2 (how quaint that I refer to it as "side 2"). We need the FULL LENGTH Rose Arcana (the original is like 6 minutes long--I have a crappy vinyl rip)! At the time, Nick said they had recorded another half-album's worth of material. Maybe that should also appear on the rerelease...Duran from the vaults...yes...

monkeydrum said...

I love this album and I was never even a huge Duran fan. I even liked the album so much, I bought the Japanese laserdisc (that's right, the '8-track' of digital home video) of all the music videos.

Talia said...

I've never heard of this before, but am now listening to it!

xolondon said...

Girl how can that be? it is LUSH!

James Derek Dwyer said...

Say The Word ;-) love love love Arcadia

Michael said...

Great post. Great record.

Super exciting about the possibility of a remastered reissue!

Big huge thanks for link @ end of post!

Phil said...

Late as ever. But I love your passion. Arcadia passed me by because i was too put off by its prententions. But like count popula, I will forgive and forget and probly love it.