The Arcadia Project: Down The Black Lace Rabbit Hole [part 4]

EMI | SPAIN promo | 7″ | 1986 | P-069

[…continued from last post]

There were two violinists credited on “So Red The Rose.” It was that sort of album, so it’s hard to know if both were playing on the one track that featured them prominently or not. We’ll assume that both Jean-Claude Dubois and Pierre Defaye were duetting on the old world intro to “El Diablo.” The song, having a Spanish title, was picked by EMI Spain for a promo single sided 7″ that will cost you dearly, as shown above. Alas, it never made it to sales status. I have to wonder if the nearly six minute track was edited down to something more pliable for radio play.

But the pan pipes [sampled, I hope] were engaged in a tango with the sinuous fretless bass line of Mark Egan. The first verse ended with Andy MacKay’s sax in concert with more violin for a baroque sort of emphasis previously alien to Duran Duran records. As was the Spanish guitar solo in the middle eight. While there was discernible DD DNA throughout the project, most of the filigree here was a deliberate stab at something outside of the DD sandbox. In particular, the long extended songs on side two of this album were the band stretching for the fullest breadth of their ambition, no matter how many session players it took to achieve the result. To the extent that the bill for this one came to a reputed £1M, and Nick Rhodes has said that the band may have never seen a Pound for their efforts.

Arcadia (c) 1985 Dean Chamberlin
Arcadia in peacock mode

It’s amazing. The closing “Lady Ice” opened with the same sibilant seagull sound that The Explorers “Falling For Nightlife” began with on their album… also from 1985. The question arises: who influenced whom? But any resemblances ended there as “Lady Ice” was a darkly cinematic album closer as far removed from the ebullience of “Falling For Nightlife” as possible. The abstract introduction took its good sweet time in coalescing from the disparate threads of melody and percussion that drifted through the long buildup here. I especially liked the sampled sound of sheets of arctic ice falling from glaciers. Leave it to Rhodes to instill the very sound of ice here, among the fog of other atmospheric affects.

Simon did not make an appearance until more than two minutes in as the complex melodic structure was fully content with a vagueness that didn’t get tabled until the appearance of the memorable chorus almost 3:30 into the song. Nick’s solo in the middle eight easily topped the John Barry sound he was legitimately trying for on “A View To A Kill.” And the tenor sax interjections of Andy MacKay achieved a proper “A Song For Europe” gravitas. His oboe solo following the second chorus was heartbreakingly eloquent as it seamlessly mixed with another of Nick’s synth solos. The transition was quite subtle, but subtlety was the Arcadia watchword. Even the curt fadeout on the coda dashed expectations after all of the slow buildup on this climactic song.

In retrospect, considering the expansive and sophisticated sound of this album [where one can hear every Pound spent] it seemed like madness that there was no CD for five years after its initial release! Albums like this one, that sold platinum [1M copies] in America, were built with the CD in mind. I certainly would have bought one much sooner than 1990, as the Arcadia sound was much more appealing to me than the Duran Duran phases that preceded it. It’s a testament to Nick Rhodes aim of making an incredibly beautiful record that it may have cost a small fortune, but they certainly achieved that here.

We’re thankful that Nick Rhodes had this vision of indulging his inner aesthete to the fullest here, as too often he’s slumming in Duran Duran. With just him and LeBon at the wheel, there were a lot fewer compromises than he was probably used to. Musically, it was probably too sophisticated for the Pop crowd that weren’t fully invested in Duran Duran. That the first single sold that well was probably down to pent up Duran Duran demand. But one can clearly discern a thread that wove through tracks earlier like “Tel Aviv”, “The Chauffeur,” and “The Seventh Stranger.” Ultimately leading to this album with artistic momentum carrying through to the Notorious” and “Big Thing” albums with songs like “Winter Marches On” or “Land” all standing apart from the more obvious Duran Duran “rock disco” sound.

EMI | EURO | 2xCD + DVD | 2010 | 50999 606681 2 7

Looking back, I can’t believe that I never sprang for the 2010 DLX RM of “So Red The Rose” with 2xCD + DVD of the original home video. It may have been down to a very well mastered pirate CD called “Heaven’s Eyes” with most of the Arcadia 12″ mixes on it that I bought in the early 90s that stayed my hand, but I would like to have gotten those 7″ mixes which were only on the DLX RM. And “The Promise [instrumental]” seemed to be exclusive to the DLX RM. But all of this is available for surgical download, so I’ll probably investigate at one point.

Toshiba-EMI | JPN | LD | 1987 | TOEMI LaserVision L080-1077

The bigger reason why I should have bought this was that to this day I have managed to find a copy of every Duran Duran related Japanese laserdisc… with the exception of the holy grail “Arcadia” LD. This program was duplicated on NTSC DVD in the package. And now the package is a solid three figures. I only have the DLX RMs of “Rio” and “Notorious” but my esteem for this album should have driven my purchase. Because the days when giants like Imperial Period Duran Duran walked the earth and commanded million pound budgets that saw disparate artists such as David Van Tiegham, David Gilmour, Carlos Alomar, and Masami Tsuchiya rubbing shoulderpads are sadly far behind us.

-30 –

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14 Responses to The Arcadia Project: Down The Black Lace Rabbit Hole [part 4]

  1. Gavin says:

    An excellent review of a superb album.
    I also missed out on the triple disc edition,much to my regret.I only have the original LP and a few extended mixes/bootlegs on download.
    The video for “Missing” remains one of my favourite pieces of film ever.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – I’ve only seen the “big three” videos as seen on MTV. So “Missing” is one that hasn’t crossed my eyeballs…yet! On reflection, I have to admit that the wacky tone of Mulcahy’s video for “The Flame” was seriously at odds with that of the album and I can’t quite endorse it as much as I see a sense of humor as being a normally great thing. I think the time and place for such hijinx was under the main DD umbrella.


      • Gavin says:

        “Missing” is really beautiful-its basically a stop motion film of all Dean Chamberlain long exposures,made into a stunning piece of film making.
        Extremely ethereal and magical,I am always transfixed by it.
        Dean’s long exposure shots of the band are my favourites of them,and he also did the stunning ones of Deborah Harry for the *Debravation” sleeve.


        • postpunkmonk says:

          Gavin – Alas, I much preferred the sleeve to the contents of “Debravation.” I wish I had known about the “Debravation [Director’s Cut]” that Debbie + Chris sold at shows and online briefly in 2009. Only 1000 copies of this one are out there. Not cheaply.

          That was the album the submitted to Sire/Reprise before they made them go back to the studio to make this instead.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Gavin says:

            I have the original promo cassette of that!! It is great,especially Last Date,the duet with REM.
            I do love the released album personally.


            • postpunkmonk says:

              Gavin – I felt that it was a huge comedown from the “Def, Dumb + Blonde” album, which was one of my top four Deborah Harry albums. Along with “Blondie,” Parallel Lines,” and “Eat To The Beat,” since you may ask.


              • Taffy says:

                Of course I bought the Director’s Cut, but for me the regular commercial release is worthy thanks to its two single I quite enjoy (I Can See Clearly, Strike Me Pink). Debravation is not my favorite Debbie solo album (that would be the “controversial” Koo Koo), but it’s OK in my book. Agreed that the cover art is some gorgeous photography.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. jsd says:

    The “pan pipes” on El Diablo are neither pan pipes nor sampled… That’s Simon playing the ocarina!

    I have a 3 disc set and the video album is kind of tough going if I’m being honest. Lots of them standing around on the video shoots, just talking to each other. It’s not even particularly audible. If you really want to see “Missing” it (along with the other clips) is available on DD’s official YouTube channel:


  3. I always preferred Power Station over Arcadia, but that being said, I regret not picking up that deluxe reissue. It’s not lost on me that what could have easily been edited into one decent sized post you managed to layer on enough verbiage to wring four posts out of the topic, much in the same way Nick got to indulge and layer things on for this album.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      postpostmoderndad – Ha! Touché! Good call there, but I write this hastily during my lunch hour at work. That gives me about 35 minutes a post. No time for editing, I’m afraid. It’s eat. Burn rubber on the keyboard, and no time to look back here @ PPM. If I ever get to retire [not looking good there…] I may move to three more well-considered posts a week with the benefit of editing! But the paradox is this… at home I always have other more pressing duties to perform. The time to fritter away on blogging isn’t there for me. The only way I ever came to grips with writing about music online was when I was commenting on my friend’s blog at lunch hour and the 10 watt bulb appeared over my head: I could have my own blog because this is my time when I can’t be doing other things. And here we are.

      And at least the Power Station DLX RM is available pretty cheaply. I should go for it as I’m a Robert Palmer fan and that might be the only DLX RM of any of his albums now that I think about it! [checks] Yep, it’s true. That’s crazy for a guy who had several top selling albums with all manner of extras they could reissue with. I can’t believe that there’s no 2xCD+DVD of “Riptide” as well!


      • RIGHT!? Palmer is an artist who is overdue for some retro love. A bit maligned he has a fantastic catalog that has so many holes to plug.


        • postpunkmonk says:

          postpostmoderndad – I’ve only scratched the surface on collecting his loose bits and remixes for the inevitable BSOG of rarities. I still need his live albums, and “Some People Can Do What They Like” and “Double Fun.”


  4. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,
    Well, as i mentioned in a previous post. There were a few argentian boxsets that came out at this time. One of the had 6 singles+interview. That one had el diablo+interview on the last disc, but it was just the album version.

    I had the other 5 disc version, but i did pick up the standalone CDRs from the same people for ‘keep me in the dark’, and ‘el diablo’, which did have : El Diablo (7″ Edit) 4:27, which might have been made up. I never did check it at the time, guess I’ll go back to it.

    I also did get the deluxe 2cd+DVD set at the time, but looking at prices now, they usually got for $100 for the domestic, and promo, and about $250-up for the japanese release. And they dont
    come up very often unfortunately.

    Lastly, there was an argentinian bootleg 4xcd single boxset for power station, including the murderess promo single, and the track ‘some like it hot(2003)’ on it. which was probably a dj mix.

    i have never seen the arcadia laserdisc for a reasonable price (less than hundreds), so i have never picked that up either. and with the dvd, probably won’t for a long time. I also have a bootleg DVD copy to, that the duran duran fanclub put out before the one on the deluxe version came out.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – I do have the Plum Magazine interview flexi, but have never played it.

      It looks like I was the person who entered that into the Discogs database over a dozen years ago – wasn’t sure. Shortly before I started doing something more productive with my lunch hour!
      I see there are many choices for bootleg Arcadia singles boxes to sate the collector’s sickness. I guess they all got spoiled by the EMI DD single boxes!

      Liked by 1 person

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