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So Red The Rose - Arcadia

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Genre: Indie Rock & Punk - New Wave & Post-punk / Artist: Arcadia / Audio CD released 1993-08-16 at EMI

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      25.01.2008 17:06
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      Arcadia's only album (1987).

      'So Red the Rose' was the sole, and rather successful release of Duran Duran side-project Arcadia, seemingly intended to explore a more artistic and atmospheric direction free from the pressures and expectations of the group's primary career. As I don't really have the slightest clue about Duran Duran (and enjoy not knowing), I didn't have any expectations of what this should or shouldn't sound like, aside from a general impression that it was a little bit experimental which it turns out isn't completely true. While this isn't exactly in line with the early eighties pop that I'm guessing was Duran Duran's style (I dunno), it's still accessible enough for a mainstream crowd in a home listening environment as opposed to a disco or wherever it was that people went in 1985 (I was only two months old when this was released, give me a break) and mixes mainstream ballads with ever-so-slight eccentricity that I enjoy.

      Simon Le Bon is most entertaining in his more energetic vocal performances in 'Election Day' and 'The Flame,' sounding similar to in-character David Bowie, but the rest of the time settles for a softer singing tone more in line with the predominantly slow and atmospheric mood of the other songs, reaching a head in the pleasant duet in 'The Promise' which is probably the best song here, and nicely supplemented by guest guitars from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. There's a clear division between the two halves of the album that would have been even more obvious in the days of double-side vinyl, as the first favours shorter songs while the second goes for the slightly more epic length of seven minute averages for the final three after the brief interlude 'Rose Arcana.' Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your view), this doesn't lead to inconsistency and both sides end up sounding more or less the same as the final two songs merely sound like over-stretched versions of the softer songs from side one, with only a couple of nice touches towards the beginning acting as the sole excuse for their somewhat unreasonably extended length.

      Anyone concerned that this album would follow the course of Bowie's 'Low' album will be happy to discover that Nick Rhodes' keyboard theatrics are kept to a minimum and are really no more elaborate on 'Lady Ice' than they were in the otherwise more mainstream 'Keep Me in the Dark,' and commendably the band puts out one of their more unusual songs first, in the form of the sax-heavy 'Election Day' followed later by the even more experimental 'The Promise' opening the second half. There's a slight Oriental theme flowing through some of the keyboards and guitar lines at intermittent points throughout the album that may be mere coincidence, and nice touches like a flatulent bass in 'The Promise' and a folk introduction with violin and flute in 'El Diablo' that then proceeds to adopt a more Latin flavour, but the whole thing is kept firmly in the eighties thanks to the persistent, cold, gothic drums of Roger Taylor, and it's all the better for it. This doesn't border on progressive rock, but for a Duran Duran release it's a commendable artistic statement and one I prefer much more than their customary style. I expect.

      1. Election Day
      2. Keep Me in the Dark
      3. Goodbye is Forever
      4. The Flame
      5. Missing
      6. Rose Arcana
      7. The Promise
      8. El Diablo
      9. Lady Ice

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Election Day
      2 Keep Me In The Dark
      3 Goodbye Is Forever
      4 Flame
      5 Missing
      6 Rose Arcana
      7 Promise
      8 El Diablo
      9 Lady Ice