Arcadia were a pop group formed in 1985 by Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran, as a side project during a break in that band's schedule. The project was active for just one album, So Red the Rose, which was certified Platinum in the United States and included the hit single "Election Day". Drummer Roger Taylor appeared in only a few band photographs and in none of the music videos, and stated he was only to be involved in the recording side of the project (he also had minor involvement in The Power Station, the other Duran Duran splinter group formed by Duran Duran members Andy and John Taylor alongside Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson of Chic).
The name of the band was reportedly inspired by the Nicolas Poussin painting Et in Arcadia ego (also known as "The Arcadian Shepherds"). At the same time that So Red the Rose was in production, Asia were recording their third album, also tentatively titled "Arcadia". Prior to release, Asia renamed their project "Astra" to avoid confusion.
So Red the Rose (1985):
The group recorded just one album, the platinum-selling So Red the Rose. It peaked at Number 30 in the UK and Number 23 in the US, and featured the UK/US Top 10 single "Election Day," as well as the top 40 hits "The Promise" and "Goodbye Is Forever". It also contains the single "The Flame" and the promo-singles "Missing", "El Diablo" and "Keep Me in the Dark".
Simon Le Bon described So Red the Rose as "the most pretentious album ever made," while AllMusic called it "the best album Duran Duran never made". Musicians who contributed to the album included guitarists David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Carlos Alomar, pianist Herbie Hancock, Sting (who provided backing vocals on "The Promise"), Grace Jones (who provided the spoken-word interlude on "Election Day"), bass player Mark Egan of the Pat Metheny Group (whose distinctive fretless sound can be recognised in "The Promise", "El Diablo" and "Lady Ice") and David Van Tieghem, a percussionist from New York.
A video collection was also released which featured music videos for the singles directed by Roger Christian, Marcelo Anciano, Russell Mulcahy and Dean Chamberlain. The band also recorded and released the standalone single "Say the Word" for the Playing for Keeps movie soundtrack, which was not included on So Red The Rose.
EMI re-released the album as a three disc box set in April 2010. This remastered collected all permutations and remixes of tracks released by the band. The third disc comprised the video collection on DVD, but it does not include the video for "Say the Word".
Arcadia continued the Duran Duran tradition of a slick image. For the Arcadia incarnation of their ever-changing band aesthetic, Le Bon, Rhodes, and Roger Taylor donned an upmarket 'gothic' look of black tuxedos, vintage formal wear, and bow ties. The three also dyed their hair black, as seen when they performed (as Duran Duran, with Andy and John Taylor) at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Philadelphia. Although by the time the video for their single "The Flame" was made in early 1986 (in which, John Taylor made a cameo), Rhodes had changed his hair colour to golden blond and Le Bon returned to his regular highlighted hairstyle.
The group did a variety of promotional appearances on television, but never toured. When Duran Duran released their Notorious album and toured, "Election Day" was included as part of the set as well as "Some Like it Hot" from the Power Station record. Drummer Roger Taylor retired from the music business for 15 years after the release of the Arcadia album, but returned to rejoin the original Duran Duran line-up in 2001.
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