Arcadia: So Red the Rose – JPN – CD 
- Election Day
- Keep Me In The Dark
- Goodbye Is Forever
- The Flame
- Rose Arcana
- The Promise
- El Diablo
- Lady Ice
As an early adopter, I had gone sour on Duran Duran in 1983 when they had produced the labored and meretricious “Seven + The Ragged Tiger.” I gritted my teeth through the next year or so of the band and when they flew apart following the cash-in live album, “Arena.” I was fascinated as I saw the band fissure into its Dionysian and Apollonian factions with the guitarists teaming up with Robert Palmer and striking first with the Power Station project that scored a pair of top ten US hits. This left the remaining 60% of Duran Duran to push far away from the grit and leather of The Power Station to embrace the fastidious sound that they would explore as the trio Arcadia.
When the first single, “Election Day,” manifested, I was almost impressed by the finely etched results. I was still overly cautions after the fallout from the disastrous Post-“Rio” period. This was obviously a case of Nick Rhodes exercising his inner David Sylvian and making the sort of Art Rock that he’d previously hinted [very strongly, actually] at with “Secret Oktober,” the hastily written and recorded B-side that was somehow vastly superior to anything Duran Duran had recorded between 1983 and 1984. It was some months later when at a Peaches records, that I saw the import 12″ cut out of the 2nd “Cryptic Cut [No Voice]” remix of “Election Say” and felt that it was a safe purchase. For years that was my only Arcadia disc in the Record Cell. Because in 1985, I had transitioned to CD format, and pushed the brakes hard on the notion of buying any albums on LP format.
It wasn’t until 1990 when browsing in an import CD catalog [probably Sound City 2000] that I saw that someone, somewhere, was finally issuing the no-expense-spared “So Red The Rose” album on the preferred silver disc. According to Discogs, the Japanese version I was looking at was the first one in the world. Which was shocking to me, as I probably would have bought a CD of this far earlier. In spite of the platinum status of the album in America, and the essential marketability of Duran Duran, it took years to happen. I suspect that this was down to the scarcity of CD pressing plants [hint: there were three worldwide] in the 1985 landscape. “The Power Station” had two Top Ten singles, so it got the nod for a CD rather quickly. Arcadia managed only one and seemed to fizzle commercially in comparison. 1985-6 were the days when CDs were an afterthought for albums that had already proven themselves since the production facilities to make the discs were so scarce. So in 1990, I ordered my copy and finally had the vaunted object at my disposal.
It began with industrial drums clamoring and hissing amid the hypnotic swirl of vocal soundbites and synthetic horn stabs. The odd guitar lick applied with all the care of a surgeon as the lurching, gangling rhythm track eventually resolved itself into a suitably baroque canvas upon which Simon LeBon could paint this most fantastic of portraits. His insinuatingly louche vocal populating the song like a street pimp from some unauthorized “Blade Runner” sequel.
This was dacadent Art Rock built more for headphones than for the dancefloor. You could dance to it, I suppose, but it more properly functioned as a film on its own with little need of a video. Digital fingersnaps popped in nearly binaural stimulation in the highly percussive mix. The whole shebang sounded like it was trying to give Trevor Horn a run for his money in the cybernetic rock sweepstakes that were exploding by 1985. I can imagine Nick Rhodes and producer Alex Sadkin having two 48-track automated SSL boards and slaving them together to craft this album since 96 tracks would obviously be needed. And that was for “Election Day” alone.
Next: …Flame Job