Christine's take on what was cool in the 80s.

Arcadia

In 1985, supergroup Duran Duran decided to take a year off. Rather than chill out and do nothing, the members split into two different bands: John and Andy formed The Power Station while Simon and Nick formed Arcadia. (The name of the band was inspired by the Nicolas Poussin painting Et in Arcadia ego {also known as The Arcadian Shepherds} [if this seems odd, it's actually not as Nick Rhodes is heavily into art]). Lovely Roger straddled both groups, taking total drum duties for Arcadia but he only did percussion for Power Station.  Wanting to chill and relax, Roger agreed to be in publicity pics for Arcadia but bowed out of videos and live performances.

For both my brother and I, this project was exciting. With the goth look (including jet black hair),  overt art and intriguing numbers rather than writing – what was not to be excited about? It was a complete departure from Duran Duran. By the way, the numbers were code and it was fun figuring it out. eg: Arcadia =16 50 20 16 22 32 16. I remember writing the numbers for John and Arcadia on my schoolbag. Non fans were clueless and intrigued about what it all meant and honestly, it was fun.

When Election Day was released I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was so atmospheric; lyrically intriguing and the bass!! Grace Jones & the muffled voices topped it off and, naturally, as all good Duranies do, both my brother and I sprinted out to get the the variant singles and 12″ as well as the absolutely magnificent album the single was from – So Red The Rose. Simon has said that the album was pretentious but everyone else says it’s the greatest album Duran Duran never made and I totally agree with the latter.

The Greatest Album Duran Never Made: So Red The Rose

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(I really hope you have great speakers for this. Just listen to that bass!)

I also, for the first time, found Simon incredibly hot during his black haired days. Elvis comparisons were made and yeah, I saw it! On another side note; guys were inspired to dye their hair black as well, which was fun – although sometimes elicited quite embarrassing results.

Anyway, Election Day went top 10 in both the US and the UK and needless to say I was delighted. It’s probably my favorite song on the album, actually – which is hard to say because all the songs are excellent!

Election Day still

I feel I should mention that the video to Election Day was simply outstanding! It was directed by Roger Christian and it’s wonderfully surreal and fits the song perfectly. I remember Nick saying he had the image of the bluebird come straight out of a weird dream he had and he thought it’d fit with the video – thus it was inserted. The video also features a cameo by author William S. Burroughs which, if you’ve read the Duran page, you’ll know The Wild Boys was a teaser a movie for one of his books that was unfortunately never made.

The next single, The Promise, didn’t fare as well as Election Day, despite backing vocals from Sting. Neither did the rest of the singles for some reason. Both Goodbye Is Forever and The Flame failed to set the charts alight, despite decent airplay. I honestly couldn’t figure it and it was just another portent for me that Duran’s popularity was not only waning, but waning big time.

On the upside, EMI predictably released a video EP of not only all the songs, but also the making of the videos. It was a joy to watch and I can honestly say we watched it a lot.  A bonus for those of us who loved So Red The Rose was a video to the beautiful single, Missing. The video is equally beautiful and the making of it is interesting and inspiring. The video’s director, Dean Chamberlain, is (now) a famous photographer who specializes in unique lighting effects and extended exposure times. He also directed Duran’s All She Wants Is, for which he won an MTV award (when they meant something).

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[Missing]

By 1986, having released the singles they wanted to and Simon completing his yachting adventures, Arcadia disbanded so that Nick and Simon could reteam with John and start on Duran Duran’s new album.

(more below)

00 = space – 02 = T – 04 = U – 06 = V – 08 = W – 10 = X – 12 = Y – 14 = Z – 16 = A


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The Flame, directed by now very good friend Russell Mulchay, is a comedic homage to the likes of one of my favorite film directors, Alfred Hitchcock and one of my favorite authors, Agatha Christie. The story centers on a geek-like guy (Simon) who, with his girlfriend, stumbles into a large mansion where a dinner party is being hosted by a ‘debonair’ Nick. Nick’s a twisted character in this and gets his kicks from having Simon’s character nearly killed at every point in a variety of ways. To every Duranie’s delight, and mine in particular, John makes a cameo appearance, holding up a contract and a feathered pen to Nick, smiling. Nick takes a  moment to consider signing the contract after closing over the closet door from whenst John appeared. Of course to Duran fans, this was an inside joke as all 3 members of the band were preparing to write Notorious. (It wasn’t lost on us that there was no Andy there).

Lastly, Arcadia also did a song for the film Playing For Keeps called Say The Word. I won’t inflict the video on you – it mixes Arcadia’s videos with bits of the film and they’re completely incongruent – but the song is excellent, although far more poppy than anything on So Red The Rose. The song is included on the 2010 re-issue of the album however.

some photos by Dean Chamberlain