CD Review: Arcadia

Arcadia
So Red the Rose
Capitol/EMI
by David Chiu

When Duran Duran went on a brief hiatus in 1985, it split into two offshoot groups: the Power Station (John Taylor and Andy Taylor) and Arcadia (Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor). Of the two, Arcadia came close to sounding more like the parent group than the hard rock/funk Power Station through its slick synthpop sound and arty lyrics. Arcadia’s only album, So Red the Rose, which has just been reissued, is an underrated gem–All Music Guide’s Kelvin Hayes appropriately called it “the best album Duran never made.” The intro of “Election Day,” the album’s only major U.S. hit single, is divine, and is followed by some other strong tracks such as “The Flame” (the 7-inch single eclipses the original album version) and the funky “Goodbye Is Forever.” So Red the Rose also indulges into some avant garde (progressive pop) sounds such as the ethereal ballad “Missing,” “Lady Ice” and “El Diablo.” The uniqueness of the album is marked by the guest appearances of Herbie Hancock, Sting, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and Grace Jones. There is more to Arcadia and So Red the Rose than just being anomalies in the history of Duran Duran. This new edition of the album, which turns 25 this year, also contains a wealth of remixes, alternate versions of songs as well as a DVD containing the singles’ videos.

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