35 today: The story of Arcadia’s So Red The Rose – In their own words

The story of the album featuring new interviews with Nick Rhodes, Carlos Alomar, Andy MacKay and Mark Egan

Released in November 1985, Arcadia’s only album So Red The Rose is one of the most remarkable side-projects in pop. Created by Duran Duran‘s Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon when they had time on their hands while Andy Taylor and John Taylor were living out their rock star dreams in The Power Station, So Red The Rose is often remembered as “the most pretentious album of all time”. But that’s largely because Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes keep telling people it is.

In reality, Arcadia was ahead of its time – one of the first pop or rock projects to have guest artists at its core, much like Gorillaz 25 years later. Alongside Le Bon and Rhodes – and mostly Roger Taylor, the only member to feature in both Duran spin-offs – were Japanese guitarist Masami Tsuchiya, jazz bassist Mark Egan and leftfield percussionist David Van Tieghem. Then there was a stellar roll call of Eighties talent to rival Band Aid: Grace Jones, David Gilmour, Carlos Alomar, Sting, Andy Mackay and Herbie Hancock.

John Earls speaks to Nick Rhodes and key players Mark Egan, Carlos Alomar and Andy Mackay about one of the most fascinating (and expensive) albums of the decade:

Nick Rhodes: The initial inspiration for Arcadia was the split of Duran Duran. The atom had split when John and Andy were pulling more towards modern rock with The Power Station. That wasn’t something I was interested in, nor was I invited to it anyway. I wanted to make a really beautiful record, something more textured and esoteric.

Newly married to department store heiress Julie Anne Friedman, there was no temptation for Rhodes to enjoy the enforced break.

Nick Rhodes: I don’t see the point in breaks. We’re only here once, so far as we know, and I don’t think a lot happens in a break. It’s nice for a couple of weeks to relax and gather your thoughts, but after that I get very, very bored. When I go on holiday, I have to be somewhere where there’s things to do and see. The idea of somewhere like the Maldives, as beautiful as I’m sure it is, slightly horrifies me. A day trip there would be fine for me.

Simon Le Bon (Interviewed on Canadian music TV show Good Rocking Tonite, 1985): Arcadia is really the fault of the gas meter man. I was already packed, suitcases by my side, ready to go on holiday. I had the plane booked, to go to the sunny Caribbean islands for Christmas. There was a knock on the door – the gas man. After he’d rummaged away and was finally leaving, the phone rang and it was Nick, saying “Don’t go on holiday. Stay here and let’s make a record.”

Nick Rhodes: It’s true that Simon thought he was going on holiday for six months, until I told him “No, no, no.” But I knew Simon would agree to stay. Simon will take any opportunity for sun, sea and piracy, but he really loves to work. He’s a proper artist, who takes things seriously. Simon loves to write music and to do something that other people haven’t done. Simon is excited by things that are unique. It’s why we’ve managed to maintain our creative relationship and why I don’t think it’s suffered over the years.

The Power Station’s success was a motivator for Rhodes and Le Bon. Released in March 1985, their self-titled debut album reached number six in the US and number 12 in the UK, with ‘Some Like It Hot’ and ‘Get It On’ both Top 10 singles in the States.

Nick Rhodes: There was a little unspoken competition between the two bands, but I thought The Power Station did a really good job. I remain a big Robert Palmer fan, as he was an extraordinarily talented singer and writer. John and I had seen him as teenagers at Birmingham Odeon and what Robert did was unlike anyone else at the time. We didn’t think any of the competition was serious, and we were still in touch. Andy had drifted into a different direction, but John and I still spoke all the time. I was 10 and John 12 when we met, so we weren’t going to stop talking. When Russell Mulcahy directed the video for ‘The Flame’, John appeared in it, so he joined our camp. But of course, we wanted to do better than The Power Station and they wanted to do better than us.

Roger Taylor was the only member to play on both The Power Station and Arcadia’s albums, though session drummer Steve Jordan also joined the Arcadia sessions.

Roger Taylor (interviewed in Bass Gear, 2016): I was caught in the middle of two ships sailing in different directions, trying to keep one foot on each vessel. There was no pressure to be involved in either project, but I naturally gravitated towards Arcadia, purely because The Power Station had become a US-based project and already had the mighty Tony Thompson from Chic on board.

Nick Rhodes: We got Steve Jordan in once it became clear that Roger wasn’t going to do the whole record.

Mark Egan: I’d played with Steve since 1976, when we were in The 24th. Street Band. Steve is a great drummer – very creative with great grooves – and he was my first recommendation when Alex Sadkin asked if I could recommend a good drummer. Steve and I had a great rapport and I love his attitude too. Steve’s a real team player.

Working with other musicians was key to Arcadia’s ethos from the start.

Nick Rhodes: Arcadia was chance to open a whole new Pandora’s box for us as musicians. I was 23 and I’d never worked with other musicians, apart from the members of Duran Duran. This wasn’t the time of the ‘featured artist’, so you tended to do your own thing and stay in your own universe. Simon and I were suddenly free with, it has to be said, a fairly substantial budget. We could invite other musicians we admired to work with us, to just make whatever we wanted. Arcadia was the result.

The pair went to Paris to record at Studio Grande Armée. A state-of-the-art complex built in 1972, the studio remains one of the largest in the world.

Nick Rhodes: We ran to Paris to escape the madness of London, where our lives had become a little unmanageable. It was constant hysteria, with people ringing our doorbells every day, night and day, while press hid in the bushes. We knew we didn’t want to work in America, and Paris sounded nice and cosmopolitan. Also, it was close by, so we could easily get back to London whenever we wanted. Studio Grande Armée was fairly central, just past the Arc De Triomphe, and we had friends there. The Rolling Stones were recording Dirty Work, the Thompson Twins were in town. We led a pretty straightforward life, working in the studio for 16 hours a day. But, when we took half-a-day off, I’d walk and walk. Walking around Paris was an inspiration, as it was impressive to young guys from the middle of Britain.

Andy Mackay: I can remember recording specific tracks for Arcadia a little bit, but what I mostly remember it for is how pleasant the sessions were. Thinking of Arcadia takes me back to Paris in the sun. I’m a greedy person who likes traveling around Europe finding nice places to eat. I can’t remember exactly where it was or what we ate, but Arcadia was an excellent dinner. Nick and Simon are very civilised people who enjoy good things.

‘Et in Arcadia ego’ is the painting by Nicolas Poussin (from 1637-38) which gave the band their name

On one of his visits to the Louvre, Rhodes saw Nicolas Poussin’s painting ‘Et in Arcadia ego’ that gave the band its name.

Nick Rhodes: I can’t remember exactly which point in the process it was that I saw Poussin’s painting, wandering around the Louvre. I began looking things up and I liked that it’s tied in with the Knights Templar. I guess the Knights Templar are really like the Freemasons, but I liked that a mystical French secret society was involved. I loved that Jean Cocteau was a Knight Templar, as I was deeply into my Cocteau phase at that point, especially as I was living in Paris. We were all living at Hôtel Plaza Athénée and the bills were getting so huge that I thought “I could have bought an apartment by now.” So I bought an apartment across the street. Once I did that, I began collecting Cocteau drawings and paintings. I love the word ‘arcadia’. It looks right graphically, with the ‘A’ at the beginning and end, and it sounds pleasing.

No other names were considered. Often, there’s a list: we had ‘RAF’ before we got to Duran Duran. With Arcadia, we were looking for something that you couldn’t tie down, something from a different time period. We’d chosen Duran Duran as our name because it could only end up meaning us as a band. Even though we’d taken it from an incredible Sixties science-fiction movie in Barbarella, we felt that was it, that was our name. We didn’t want a name that suggested a specific sound. Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath suggest something musically. The Power Station does for sure too, and that name was spot-on for them at the time, but we didn’t want that. I suppose we wanted Arcadia to suggest something in the mists of the past.

Joining Rhodes and Le Bon as co-producer was Alex Sadkin. The producer of Duran’s previous album Seven And The Ragged Tiger, Sadkin is one of the great forgotten producers of the Eighties, largely as he died young, aged just 38 when he was killed in a car crash in 1987. As well as Duran, Sadkin produced Grace Jones, The Thompson Twins, Robert Palmer and Simply Red.

Mark Egan: Alex was the ideal producer. Firstly, he’d started as a musician, so he understood how the lyrics and sonics worked. Secondly, he was a great engineer with a recording background, so if something wasn’t leaping out of the sound board, Alex could manipulate it. Thirdly, Alex was great in organising sessions to keep them on track. You always felt there was forward motion. That’s a very rare combination. Everything Alex did was thought out and considered. He took input from everyone so that no-one felt forced into doing anything, while keeping the momentum going. Larry Alexander, the engineer, was great too. Whenever Alex said “We have to get this sound,” Larry was right there. Having worked at Power Station studios in New York, Larry was very adept. Like Alex, Larry was always positive. They were always ready with input, there was no complaining, they were just always ready to go.

Andy Mackay: Alex was very good at what he did, but it was Nick and Simon driving it all. It seemed like a self-produced album. It certainly wasn’t like working with Chris Thomas on Roxy Music albums, as Chris was a terrible slavedriver. He’d make me redo takes and say “No, we can do that better.” It was much more relaxed with Arcadia.

Sadkin helped choose the players for the album, with Egan his suggestion as bassist. Egan was mainly known for jazz, previously part of The Pat Metheny Group and playing with David Sanborn.

Nick Rhodes: Mark Egan was a genius suggestion from Alex. John Taylor is a bass player unlike any other, and I wouldn’t swap him for anyone else in the universe. So it was a little odd to have to think “OK, who do we get to play bass?” Alex said: “No, it’s fine. We need this jazz player, Mark Egan. He’s different and you’ll love the way he plays.” Alex said Mark played a lot of fretless bass and was great with harmonics, both of which I loved at the time and still do. When Mark came, he was from another planet.

Mark Egan: Alex was producing ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ for Foreigner at the time. I was on a session at the same studio, Right Track in New York, when I bumped into Alex in the lobby. Alex said “Come on in,” so I met the Foreigner guys and heard a little of them record that classic song. Then Alex said: “Hey, would you be interested in playing on this record with two of the members of Duran Duran?” and I immediately said “Absolutely!” Alex was an old friend from way back. We’d seen each other over the years, and when Alex bumped into me in Right Track he’d sensed that Nick and Simon wanted to do a very different and creative project. I think I just clicked for Alex, as I came from a different angle than maybe a rock player would.

Completing the main core of the session players, Masami Tsuchiya had played with Japan and Ryuichi Sakamoto, while David Van Tieghem had worked with Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson.

Nick Rhodes: Masami was a unique player, whose guitar was a key part of Arcadia. He was so generous with his time, a lovely man. David was so versatile and experimental, a hugely inspiring character, as were Mark and Masami. David had done a lot of experimental percussion pieces and was just wonderful. The cross-section of international musicians who play on So Red The Rose give it an exotic veneer that I don’t really hear on records that often. It’s certainly unique and there’s no other record from that time period which attempted to move in those directions. For that alone, I’m happy that Arcadia exists.

Famously, So Red The Rose eventually cost £1m to record. It’s an album free from time constraints, with The Power Station starting and finishing their tour by the time Arcadia released their album.

Nick Rhodes: Arcadia is the longest we’ve ever consistently spent on one album. Some Duran Duran albums have taken longer, but that’s because we’ll do a week here and a week there. We were pretty much in there for 18 months making Arcadia, because we didn’t know where we were going. We’d paint a canvas one day, then I’d go in the next morning and paint over it again. Then, after painting over it, I’d sometimes think “I wish I hadn’t done that. Let’s go back and listen to that again.” We felt that we were trying to pioneer a new ambient, esoteric art framework. Each drumbeat, each snare sound, every breath in between became a huge focus, to the point of obsession. I can look at it now and say I’m glad that I did it, but I’m also glad that I learned you can’t do it like that all the time.

Just how were Arcadia able to afford such marathon sessions?

Nick Rhodes: We’d made so much money for EMI at that that point, they couldn’t really dictate to us in any way. The one thing we had in Duran Duran’s contract that was in our favour was artistic control over everything. I don’t know how I pulled that off at 17, but I insisted on it and we got it. I wish I’d known a little more about the financial side of the music business, as we definitely didn’t receive that bit, but at least we were able to make whatever we wanted. We had the final say over everything and, yes, Arcadia did cost a lot of money. We didn’t really make much profit – if any – to this day. But I’m not really driven by that.

It’s great to make money and be able to do the nice things in life, but it’s always been about getting to the next project and doing what we want with it. The money we made on Duran Duran’s albums went back into the next one, and if that meant we went over budget on one, we could afford it from the profits of the previous records. Arcadia wasn’t paid for by the record label, it was paid for by Simon and I.

Andy Mackay: Back then, if you were in a successful band, you were able to have a pretty good budget to record and studios were very luxurious. It’s unheard of now to spend the amount of time you did in studios then. There are very few studios left, so it simply doesn’t happen that you’d block book an expensive studio for weeks and only work when you feel like it. Now, you have to already know what you’re doing by the time you get in a studio, but of course you’ll have been able to do most of it on your laptop. It’s not as much fun, I have to say. I can imagine that Arcadia’s album was expensive, as Duran had made so much money that Simon and Nick could enjoy doing that one. Those were the days when you could say “Oh, I think we need a bagpipe here” and fly over a bagpipe player to wherever you were in the world.

Before starting work on the songwriting in earnest, only one song already existed in a nascent form. ‘Missing’ was plundered from the same notebook of Simon Le Bon’s which had offered ‘The Chauffeur’ on Rio.

Nick Rhodes: ‘Missing’ was picked out of Simon’s book, a lyric of his that I particularly liked. It’s a ghost story. I liked to plunder that book of Simon’s, as he went through a period where he really tapped into something. Lyrically, ‘Missing’ is a little surreal and beautifully abstract, yet it’s also relatable. I like that. I’m not a big fan of traditional love songs, lyrically. I prefer things that are a bit vaguer, that leave a little to the imagination. Simon, when he does that well, is as good as anyone. But that was the only song that was written in advance.

Carlos Alomar: When Nick and Simon explained that Duran Duran had segmented into two bands, I had a little trepidation. I’d heard The Power Station and said “Do you want to follow along their lines?” I was friends with Tony Thompson, so I knew what The Power Station were getting themselves into, in New York on Duran’s other side, and I figured if they did want to go down that route, I could offer “How heavy do you want me to be?” They didn’t want that, and they didn’t quite know what they wanted. What they didn’t want was to sound like Duran Duran. I said: “That’s crazy, how could you not want to be Duran Duran when you are Duran Duran?”

The keyboards Nick was laying down were gigantic, with stabbing string sounds coming from his keyboards. That sound was pretty much there already in the demos I heard. What they did want was “Something funky.” So I accented what I heard with all the playing they needed to make it funky. Because those songs were good, but they weren’t funky.

Wanting Arcadia to be a collaborative collective, there were natural nerves as to whether the guest musicians would come through.

Nick Rhodes: We didn’t really know if anyone would actually turn up. We had the core of our initial band in Masami, Mark and David, and we also had Roger, who was between our camp and The Power Station’s, though obviously they also had Tony Thompson, so Roger’s role was limited on their record. But that was it. Then other people started drifting in and out.

Carlos Alomar: When I arrived at Arcadia’s studio, it was like when I met Alicia Keys – Nick and Simon were just as reverent. Nick was so glad I was there, going “The fact you would even consider this…” I was like “Dude! Lighten up man, it’s all good.” He called me “Mr Alomar” at first, which was so respectful, but had to be corrected straight away – “Please, it’s Carlos.” That was very sweet, and they were so kind, so accepting.

Andy Mackay: It’s funny, asking established artists to play with other people. You think it might be quite hard to get them but, if someone asks you, you nearly always say yes. If you’ve got a particular player in mind for a song, you might as well ask them, because they’ll quite likely agree to it. I always enjoyed doing sessions with new bands as well as established artists. I expected people to pay me if they’re earning a lot of money, but if they didn’t, I wouldn’t ask and I didn’t mind. Arcadia would have definitely paid a fee, but I can’t remember what it was. I imagine they would have paid the nice expenses too.

The collaborative nature of So Red The Rose extended to letting the guest musicians be as free as possible in playing what they wanted.

Nick Rhodes: You don’t get great musicians to play on your record and just say to them “Can you play that, please?” That’s limiting their palette and tying one hand behind their back. The great joy of working with these incredible musicians is to see what they do creatively, where they go, to see what sounds and notes they pick.

Carlos Alomar: Some of the music was rather romantic. I’m a chordmeister and the Major 7th makes for very romantic sounds. When they gave me ‘Election Day’ to play on, man, there were a lot of holes – there wasn’t a lot of music in there. But that was great, because I thought “What a wonderful playground to just muck about in!” I tried things out around the Major 7th, wanting to figure out what made Nick and Simon work on an emotional level. I approached it the way I did recording Fame for David – treat the song like four or five guitar players battling for the centre spot. There’d be five snappy guitar styles they could later decide which ones they wanted to leave in and which ones to leave out, or maybe they might want to cut-and-paste from a few things. My main notion was in giving them options. I’m glad they didn’t want heavy, Iggy-and-David type playing, because it would have been unnecessarily harsh for Arcadia’s music. I didn’t do anything harsh on rhythm guitar either. You’ll notice Arcadia doesn’t have a lot of rhythm stuff.

Mark Egan: The demos left me very open to add to the mix. They were basically keyboard-driven loops with some vocals: it was the essence of the songs. ‘Lady Ice’ and ‘Missing’ were especially open and impressionistic, songs where we did a lot of experimenting in the studio with multi-tracks and extended jams before picking out some of those parts and working on them further.

Andy Mackay: I usually do a take from start to finish, playing whatever comes into my head, generally on alto sax first to see how that goes. Then I’ll do a tenor take to see if that fits better and possibly soprano too. Really, I’m happiest playing alto, but on Arcadia I play more tenor than usual – rock & roll sax always sounds better on tenor.

Despite Duran Duran’s megastar status, the players on So Red The Rose recall the sessions as relaxed.

Andy Mackay: Simon and Nick were both very pleasant to work with. Simon knew what he wanted and Nick is very creative. A lot of people used to dismiss Duran Duran and say that Nick wasn’t a technically great keyboard player, but in fact they’re the people who come up with the best ideas: good tunes, good riffs. It was very relaxed in Paris, very pleasant.

Mark Egan: I didn’t feel there was any pressure to make a platinum record. It was just an experimental time, as they’d already had the hits. Duran Duran were a mega, mega band in 1985, just huge, but they wanted to do something a little different. It was the space to make a creative record without that Duran name. The pressure would maybe have been there if it was a Duran Duran record.

Meanwhile, guests continued to arrive in Paris. Grace Jones recorded the spoken middle section for ‘Election Day’.

Nick Rhodes: Grace Jones is so important to Arcadia’s album. She’s one of the most underrated performers of her time. Artistically, Grace was phenomenal. Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing are albums I play more than almost anything else I own. Stylistically, with the help of Jean Paul Goude, Grace paved the way for so many singers. Grace was about a week late getting to the studio, though I soon became aware that in Grace’s world that wasn’t too bad.

Simon Le Bon (Writing on Duranduran.com in 2015): I wrote that middle section from scratch the day Grace came down. She isn’t a lyricist, so I wrote it for her very fast, in that slightly vague style I used to write in. Grace said: “Simon, what the fuck does this mean? What’s it about?”

Sting simply came in to do backing vocals on ‘The Promise’, while Herbie Hancock was also recording at Studio Grande Armée.

Nick Rhodes: Sting just happened to be in Paris and we’d known each other for a while. When we were at Band Aid, I heard Sting and Simon sing together and thought “Oh, there’s something here.” I knew they’d work well and it was great hearing them sing together again. Herbie Hancock was in the studio next door, so getting him was easy. Although Herbie only has a very small cameo, it was wonderful as a keyboard player for me to watch someone of his calibre. Seeing how his hands move over the keyboard and hearing what he played over what we’d already made was just a joy, an experience like I’d never had.

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour was also there, but not all the superstars to visit Studio Grande Armée are on the album.

Nick Rhodes: David Gilmour was a revelation, because I hadn’t grown up as a massive Pink Floyd fan. I was more turned on by glam rock and electronic music but, by my early twenties, I’d discovered Pink Floyd properly. David’s subtlety and choice of melodic notes were compelling. Of course, we had no notion of whether or not he’d be even slightly interested in coming to play on our record. But, once he accepted, he stayed with us for about a week. It was uplifting and exciting to see what David could do. ‘The Promise’ is the song he really shines on for me; the intro is as pure David Gilmour as you can get.

Mark Egan: Paris is such a melting pot and people would come over just to check on what we were doing. Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts came by. I played a jazz groove with Charlie in one of the drum rooms, me on an acoustic bass I’d played on ‘Missing’.

Nick Rhodes: I didn’t ask Mick to be on the album. I have huge admiration for him as an artist, but I didn’t see it particularly for that record. If we’d been making a different sounding record, then of course I’d have asked. We were spending a lot of time together at that point. I hadn’t known the Stones that much before that period, but they were making a record in Paris too, so we’d go to each other’s studios and go out to dinner a lot. We had fun, chasing around Paris together.

With the guests arriving and the core band finding their way, the songs eventually began to fall into place.

Nick Rhodes: ‘Missing’ is pretty much live and its sound probably inspired everything else on the album. Structurally, it’s quite simple, but we wanted to somehow make it sound mystical, magical and unpredictable. At Alex’s suggestion, David, Mark and Masami played live in the studio room, with Simon in the vocal booth: we’d decided we didn’t want a traditional drum track. I was getting my synth sound ready in the control room, readying it to play live, so I couldn’t hear what everyone else was doing. When I was ready, I asked Alex to check everyone else was ready. He pushed the faders up… and I’d never heard a sound like it in my life. It was so beautifully alien. I was virtually speechless, which doesn’t happen often. It was almost unbelievable, how they’d found this sound within the notes and chord structures we’d set forward as ‘Missing’’s track. It was extraordinary and I now knew there was a way to make the painting different.

Carlos Alomar: Nick was very helpful in suggesting “Yeah, that’s cool” or “Do that other thing you did”. Arcadia’s sound was rather pristine and Nick would say “Be two thoroughly different guitar players, one for the left side of the speakers and one for the right.” Those differences become ear candy when you put on headphones. If you play the same thing for both speakers, it just becomes massive stereo. Doing it so differently made for better ear candy, almost like I was playing call-and-response. It also allowed Nick to have more space in the middle of the sound to add his gigantic keyboards.

Mark Egan: I don’t believe there were any pre-existing basslines. As Roger and Steve started to play with those grooves, it dictated the basslines I was going to play. We’d come up with a bassline inspired by the drums and whatever Simon was singing.

Carlos Alomar: Simon helped a lot on ‘Goodbye Is Forever’. He and Nick had a thing about sustaining sounds to make it dance-y. I did more rhythm playing on Goodbye Is Forever, but it was too much. Simon pointed that out, going “No, no, just play it a little tighter.” On most of the songs, there’s a lot of space in the finished version.

Although Roger Taylor plays the final versions of most songs, ‘Lady Ice’ excepted, he and Steve Jordan swapped around on the drum stool during the album sessions.

Roger Taylor (speaking in Bass Gear): Arcadia was all about being free and shedding the chains of the previous few years. Steve did an amazing job on ‘Lady Ice’, playing something so extraordinary that I could never have imagined playing myself.

Mark Egan: We traded off on different things between Roger and Steve, but in the end Roger played on most of the songs. Roger came from more of a rock/pop/funk playing and is so solid. We hooked up immediately with the groove, I felt a kinship with him straight away. He was a great partner to play with.

Because each guest musician played so many different alternative suggestions, there is a lot of unreleased music in the vaults.

Mark Egan: There have to be a lot of outtakes. I’d get a cassette every day of that day’s work and I still have all of those. There’s a lot of music on those tapes that’s not on the finished record. But I like everything that came out on the record. I don’t feel any regrets of “Oh gee, they should have released that version of the song instead.”

Nick Rhodes: There are a lot of alternate versions of songs. ‘Election Day’ had 30 different guitar parts on it in the end, for example. Every guitarist we had played on it: Carlos, Masami, David. That perhaps starts to explain why the record took so long, as we piled up different parts on so many things. We had an unbelievable amount of options, which means the editing process can take forever. I could probably make half-a-dozen different versions of the whole album with the different parts people played, so mixing the album was quite complicated.

Carlos Alomar: When I heard some of the remixes of ‘Election Day’, I thought “Oh, OK. That’s cool, so that’s where that version of my playing went.”

Nick Rhodes: The mix of ‘Election Day’ is the single longest mix I’ve ever been involved in. I worked on it with Francois Kervorkian, who was a proper artist. He’d find more layers by fiddling around with shortwave radios, adding delays and reverbs to individual snare drum sounds. This was at the beginning of automation, so it wasn’t like you could save everything. Francois brought something really special, helping us to establish new boundaries. But it took time. The fact I could make ‘Election Day’ 85 percent different from one week to the next was a little unnerving, as we were trying to pull together an overall sound for the album. You start cutting up bits of paper, then there’s thousands of them on the floor.

The limitations of vinyl curtailed some of Arcadia’s vision for the album, notably on its instrumental song ‘Rose Arcana’, which only lasts 51 seconds on the record.

Nick Rhodes: My initial feeling during the mixing period was that the songs should all be longer. I thought it should feel more conceptual, rather than little blasts of pop tracks. At some point, every song was probably eight or nine minutes. I wanted the album to be an experience, but this was at a time when albums were still very much led by vinyl. The only thing that made me sad is that we had quite long versions which we wanted to include but couldn’t. It wasn’t going to be a double album, so a few tracks got truncated. I really wanted to put the full-length version of ‘Rose Arcana’ on there, but we couldn’t.

‘Rose Arcana’ and Election Day’s B-side ‘She’s Moody And Grey, She’s Mean And She’s Restless’ weren’t the only instrumentals recorded during the sessions.

Nick Rhodes: Simon loves instrumentals, not least because it means he doesn’t have to come up with lyrics. ‘Rose Arcana’ was always intended to be instrumental and there was another instrumental recorded for the album, which is the only song which didn’t get released at the time. The working title on the tape box was ‘The Queen Mother’, a joke title like all bands have that we’d never actually use for anything. That song only didn’t make it because of space, not because we didn’t like it.

A month before the album, ‘Election Day’ was released as the lead single from ‘So Red The Rose’ in October 1985. It reached number seven in the UK and charted one place higher in the US, matching The Power Station’s American peak for ‘Some Like It Hot’ eight months earlier. For the follow-up single, ‘The Promise’ reached number 37 in Britain, while the rest of the world chose ‘Goodbye Is Forever’, which charted at number 33 in the States. ‘The Flame’ stalled at number 58 in the UK in July 1986, three months before Duran returned with the title track of ‘Notorious’. So Red The Rose itself peaked at number 23 in the States and number 30 in the UK.

Nick Rhodes: ‘Election Day’ wasn’t as successful as Duran Duran singles had been, but nor did we expect that, or the other singles, to be. We didn’t expect The Power Station to be as successful either.

Mark Egan: ‘Election Day’ wasn’t multi-platinum, but it was platinum, so I was thrilled. I was on a hit record and I was an integral part of it.

Nick Rhodes: What was interesting is that both our album and The Power Station’s sold approximately the same amount of copies. They did a little better in America, which we expected as it’s a heavy record, while Arcadia did a little better in Europe and Japan.

Andy Mackay: It’s no surprise Arcadia did quite well commercially but not as well as Duran. It’s always difficult when you’re in a band that’s had so much success to do a solo album or a side-project album. By and large, you’re struggling, as the public always want another album by the main group. The exception is when you do something very different. Bryan’s solo albums did very well, which slightly surprised me, but they were very clearly different from Roxy. I’ve done solo albums I really enjoyed making, even though they haven’t been huge commercial successes.

An album so far from Duran Duran’s pop roots was always going to confound critics, with New York Times’ review especially off. Their critic Ethlie Ann Vaire wrote: “The question is, are the Duranites taking admirable musical risks – and falling forgivably on their faces – or are they committing self-indulgence to vinyl and laughing all the way to the bank?”

It’s perhaps small wonder that Arcadia themselves initially distanced themselves from the album, with both Le Bon and Rhodes soon labelling So Red The Rose “The most pretentious album ever made”. The intervening 35 years have seen it deservedly reassessed as an intoxicating, hypnotic ride. It’s not just Andy Mackay’s presence that makes So Red The Rose the best album Roxy Music never made.

Andy Mackay: People were bound to make Roxy comparisons. Obviously, the Duranies were Roxy fans and were influenced by us. It was flattering to be asked by Nick and Simon to play on their album, but I could also see where they were coming from in doing so. There was a degree of respect for Roxy that I was aware of.

Nick Rhodes: I never mind being called pretentious. Pretentious as in pretending? Great. I grew up loving fantasy and science-fiction. Literature like The Picture Of Dorian Gray, The War Of The Worlds or 1984 is infinitely more interesting to me than beautiful true stories, and that element has remained within all the work I get involved in. The world we live in is difficult enough as it is. People who do something different, though it might not solve the country’s crises, may well give a little respite and pleasure outside of the agonies on the other side of the fence. They should be celebrated.

While The Power Station celebrated their album with an infamously drug-fuelled tour, Arcadia never played any full concerts.

Nick Rhodes: Playing shows would have been complicated. Had we asked everybody at the time, maybe we could have ended up with ended up with a star-spangled band. But no, we never looked into it. Perhaps we could have got the key band of Masami, Mark and David, with Steve on drums, but then we’d have needed a great sax player for some parts. You never know, maybe Andy would have done it.

Andy Mackay: I love playing live and, when people ask, I’m happy to do it. I don’t want to slob around gigging forever, but it’s always nice to play. If the timing had been possible, I’d have done it.

A two-CD edition of ‘So Red The Rose’ was released for its 25th anniversary in 2010. With so many other alternative versions and unreleased takes, a fuller version could potentially happen.

Nick Rhodes: I should probably look at it all one day. I don’t want some rogue from the record company going in and looking at everything. As a fan, I always love to hear the outtakes, so long as it appears the artist has wanted you to hear them. If I had the time and inclination to go into those tapes then, yes, there are some really interesting alternate versions and maybe a few jams that didn’t get turned into proper songs. I wouldn’t be averse to it.

As the album turns 35, how do the key players think it’s held up?

Carlos Alomar: I’m pleased I helped Nick and Simon create a nice space where they managed something that wasn’t Duran Duran and didn’t disturb their Duran Duran brand. Arcadia, and The Power Station, were a placeholder so Duran Duran could get back together. I didn’t go into the session with this intention, but I didn’t want Arcadia to be such a success that they might not consider going back to Duran. And the fact Duran Duran did get back together again, I thought “Yeah!”

Andy Mackay: I think it’s a great album. I liked it and I liked the experience, but I must admit I haven’t heard it for ages.

Mark Egan: I love the record. My wife is a very big fan of Arcadia, so we play it from time to time and it’s sometimes on heavy rotation in my car. I have the album in a lot of different formats and I’ve purchased extra copies so I can send CDs to friends.

Nick Rhodes: I felt happy about it when I last heard it three or four years ago. When things become antiques, which at this point Arcadia is, they either have an ageless shimmer or they decay badly. I’m proud to say that most of the records we’ve released were crafted so carefully that they’ve held up. It’s about getting things right. Arcadia took a long time, it was undoubtedly an expensive record to make, but I had a lot of fun making it and I think it marks a time period of a beautiful convergence between analogue and emerging digital technology. Learning the way different artists work was inspirational and put us on a different trajectory when we returned to Duran Duran. Arcadia has very little to do with the sound of Notorious, but it cleaned the slate and let me think “OK, now we can move on to something entirely different.”

Finally, could a long-overdue second Arcadia album happen?

Nick Rhodes: Simon and I have only talked about it in jest. The only time it’s ever arisen is when one of us says: “If we save up all the money we earn for the next 10 years, we could make another Arcadia record.”

Thanks to Nick Rhodes, Carlos Alomar, Andy MacKay and Mark Egan who were interviewed for SDE by John Earls. 

Why not celebrate this album and support SDE by pre-ordering the exclusive ‘keepsake booklet’ edition of Arcadia: The Story of So Red The Rose from the SDE shop using this link or the button below. The booklet edition is an expanded version of the feature above, with more than 2000 extra words from the interviews. These will ship on or around 11 December 2020.  A specially-priced bundle which also includes the Duran Duran Liberty at 30 booklet, is also available.

SuperDeluxeEdition.com helps fans around the world discover physical music and discuss releases. To keep the site free, SDE participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon and earns from qualifying purchases.


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[…] the album in their own words. The booklet edition features an expanded version of the interviews published on SDE last month and these are all numbered, limited and signed by SDE editor Paul […]


Oh my goodness 35 already. Gentlemen we’re just getting started. I’ve been in love with this album since I fell in love with Duran Duran. Nick Rhodes I love ❤️ cause he’s unique, different and very creative. I love the keyboard . This album is what I needed in my life. I still need this album, the music is sexually intimate, mystical and magical. It took me with them in the videos, Where I felt I needed to be. I felt sexy and gorgeous. Singing along with Simon was and still a delight cause we sound good together. I felt so loved and so beautiful. This was the best idea Nick and Simon came up with. Yes I would love to hear the other versions and outtakes and anything else that was not on the album and would love the long version of the songs of this album.
Happy Birthday Arcadia. I love you and love listening to it.

Roberto Giammanco

The best “Duran Duran” album! I love It! <3


Just find a CD pressing from CAPITAL and next ‘Heaven’s Eyes’ (silver disc – carefully made needle-drop transfers) and you get a perfect taste of this very excellent project.

The reissued 2-CD is not really a missed-opportunity (the sound quality has flaws and is completely “brickwall mastered” like the loudness war found in many forums on other artists) though one extra missed is the dvd
[Arcadia speaking and the music videos; thus a 3-disc release]
— the poor “remastering” made me obtain then let go of this item – but Arcadia and Bowie and a few projects are among my most enjoyed.



I recall not being a big fan of the album back in the day, but now I’ve read this article I want to hear it again. I’m also kicking myself for not buying it 10 years ago now I see how much it would cost me today!


Thanks for this! I really enjoyed reading it. I love Arcadia, always have. I was just a little kid when it came out, but had been a Duranie since my toddler years, I guess. The Chauffeur always filled me with awe and mystery as a kid, and this album was full of that feeling. I listen to it regularly. I am so glad I got the deluxe set when it was out. I love that dvd. Hearing Nick say that there was some stuff from then that never came out is both thrilling and well… I have little confidence Nick will get around to putting it out for us any time ever… but please do!


Liked Union/oktober….didn’t like Arena or Seven………..they had killed the tiger….didn’t like Election Day………..remixes…….whatever and then heard So Red as an album……Election Day fit right in……and I am still in AWE……didn’t buy Power Station/didn’t care…..this was the project and did it EVER DELiver,….all sounds so northern.


…the art/picture lesson is very appropriate here…….coudos2U……anyone that might be looking for some good remasters/into Rita Mitsouko very good French label….first album produced by ….Blue Angel is a very good tune…wouldn’t mind hearing a studio version of….To Cut a Long Story should have been produced in clear vinyl…..”shattered glass reflects elation”……in keeping with the Ultravox lineage on Chrysalis…., non ? too slow Kraftwerk lit up/suspended/bought a dj table, too many 12 inches, play things backwards in strobelight. drunken cinnamon ginger soaked.

Michael Bird

This is absolutely my favorite album of all time and “Lady Ice” is my favorite song. I received it an important point in my life and its aesthetic largely informed a core element of my artistic voice and to some degree, my personality. Without question, I absolutely became an artist because of this record.

I know this sounds like so much hyperbole, but it’s really true. I’ve heard Nick and Simon slag this album so many times, it’s made me feel like I must be an idiot for loving it so much. Thank you for giving this album its due. The moment Nick describes, of hearing all the faders come up during Missing is the moment I continue to have every time I listen to this album. Nothing comes close. It’s perfect and fantastical.

The notion of hearing other material from the sessions is giving me a slight panic attack. It’s akin to being told God is in the next room and you’ll have only a couple minutes to consider what question you’d like to ask. That in my lifetime I could hear more from this work is terrifying and exciting. Mostly the latter. Please release this work.

John MC cann

You really do like this album!,
Iv never heard it!
Why did the band slag it off ,,if it’s as good as everyone on here says it is? Why are they not proud of it?

SDE Hall of Fame

I’ve never heard them ‘slag off’ this album. It’s pretty clear from the SDE interview that Nick is very proud of it. What they have done in the past is semi-jokingly call it ‘the most pretentious album in the world’ (I think Simon said that) but that’s more of a defence mechanism. Nick does address that directly anyway in the interview, saying he doesn’t that as a negative.


I’m convinced that a version of Election Day with that missing “shadows are crawling out of the subway” verse exists in a vault somewhere, probably between the tape boxes for “Annie’s War” and “The Queen Mother”.

Maybe for the 40th anniversary please?


With the other two Taylors on board, So Red The Rose would have been a great DD album and much better than Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

As Nick says he was still in touch with JT during the Arcadia sessions, would it would be fair to say that Andy was the main force behind Duran’s 85 split? We all know Andy is into his heavy rock and that’s never what Duran were about or ever going to be. So he probably talked John into the Power Station project where they could rock out, egos could be fed and they could live the New York rock star lifestyle. Their recruitment was top class (Palmer and Thompson), but this ‘break’ caused a divide in the DD ranks that lasted for years.


So Red The Rose wouldnt have been So Red The Rose, if John and Andy had been involved – it wasnt where their heads were at. The band would have split up in 1984/5, if they had made a fourth album at that point.

Mark S

They all came back together and recorded Wild Boys and A View to a Kill……. two awesome singles which bring key elements of the two side projects together beautifully.

All Andy’s DD guitar parts 81-85 are all pretty rock orientated to be fair, to my mind it was the AT vs. NR musical tension that actually made DD work and made them unique, together with JT’s funky bass.

Read AT’s book, he sets out all the issues pretty well.

Mark S

Sorry WB was before but they still produced AVTAK after coming back together


I suggest you read the autobiographies of both Andy and John Taylor which gives you all the detail on what was happening in the background at the time and you’ll be surprised to find it wasn’t the Taylor’s egos that were the issue. They are both really good reads, well written and pretty open.

Chris Squires

If anybody hasn’t heard it (most of the entire human race) try Dark Circles by The Devils.
Not only because it features my favourite artist but because Nick Rhodes really lets rip.
It came about when Stephen Duffy found an old cassette of original Duran Duran recordings from their pre-Simon incarnation in an old school desk when it was pretty much Stephen, Nick and Nigel. THEN he just happened to bump into Nick Rhodes at a concert in 2002, they got talking and decided to re-record all of the songs using the exact equipment they would have used in 1979. The result was Dark Circles and, to be honest, it’s pretty terrific. The soundscape they create (and that is mostly down to Nick) is immense. It pretty much does what it says on the tin, it sounds like a late 1970s Duran album before they discovered funk.
It used to be on Spotify, not anymore sadly, but it is on YouTube under The Devils Dark Circles.
It does textures rather well…..

Don Cooper

They need to do a secret one-track gig in House of Fraser/Rackhams, playing ‘Big Store’ before it is transformed into a crazy indoor atrium.

Chris Squires

THAT would be immense. I think I recall on one of your previous posts Don that you frequented Barbarella’s back in the day? Ah, so jealous, although I was a Brummie lad myself I was a couple of years too young for all that early DD, Hawks, Kusworth work. Although I caught up quick by 1983 / 1984 that “moment” had gone. Mind you, there was nothing that Bob at Reddingtons couldn’t supply for a “price”.


I agree, The Devils is great and often overlooked side-project. Another one that could do with vinyl release!

Christopher D Merritt

Thanks so much for mentioning The Devils – I had no idea about this project! Ordered a copy on Discogs after hearing Dark Circles.

Chris Squires

A pleasure Christopher, unfortunately everything involving Stephen Duffy is under some radar or another. To correct my first post Stephen and Nick Rhodes actually met up at a Vivienne Westwood fashion show in 1999 and obviously it took a while to get together and then get the album out.
It’s nice to think it was a Westwood show. It’s very apt. What Pop Stars do on their day off.

Matt Thurston

Count me as another fan of The Devils and Dark Circles. I remember buying the CD at a Virgin Megastore in Los Angeles the day it came out. Wish they would re-release on vinyl. Not a bad song on the album. Sounds timeless, like it could have come out in the early 80s, or today.

DJ Salinger

Good shout on The Devils, Chris. I remember finding the original 2002 CD edition for £3 during a rummage through the racks back in the mid-noughties. It’s a great little album and clearly made with a lot of affection for those early days.

Hope they reissue it one day with the DVD material that never materialised.

Tim Abbott

Great stuff. I really like reading interviews with Nick Rhodes because he’s so clearly a music fan who’s won the golden ticket to becomes a pop star, but hasn’t let go of his fandom and still shows a lot of wide-eyed enthusiasm about the allure of pop music.

I’m sure there’re plenty of other musicians who have the same mindset, but few of them ever come across as excited about music in a way that makes you think they still listen to music obsessively and with the ears of a fan; Pete Waterman, Elton John and Peter Buck from REM are the only ones I can think of.

Frederic Fadda

Great article (as usual): So Red The Rose has always been one of my all time favourite record; the links with Roxy Music, Japan are obvious but this record is also very unique. I never get tired of it! Thrilling to hear the unreleased instrumental song one day (let’s hope…) and other edited material. I used to collect Duran vinyls in the past: I’m currently very tempted to relaunch my Arcadia Vinyl collection…


Such a fun read!
There probably aren’t many albums I’ve played more than So Red The Rose in the last 30+ years… so I have no idea how good it is or isn’t. I just know I still love everything about it as much as I did when I was a teenager – the songs, the sound, the design (Like Rio, the cover art perfectly suits the music), the whole mood of it. To this day, if anyone says the word “restless” I still have a slight urge to say “So restless indeed…”
And, oh, those videos! I hadn’t seen them for a while. That Election Day promo is just… the best, the worst, the most ’80s Euro excess imaginable. I imagine Nick was going for Jean Cocteau but it seems a bit Luc Besson to me – I keep expecting Christopher Lambert, circa Subway, to appear. Wonderful! Thanks Paul (and John)!


Brings back so many memories, working for Nick and Simon on Arcadia.
Fun times living in Paris, will never forget it x

SDE Hall of Fame

You gotta give us a bit more than *that* :)

John MC cann

Not if he was the drug dealer he doesn’t!

Chubby Brown's Swearbox

Koron may have been someone who worked for the fanclub, I think


Sat down and read this with ‘So red the rose’ playing along, It was a strange time after DD had finished up with SATRT, it did feel like the end and very acrimonious and splintered, I loved both offshoots, The Power Station ‘Some like it hot’ is a brilliant song and still stands up to scrutiny today, but Arcadia really did intrigue me, the artwork on the album itself was something you could get lost in, the style of it all. I would love to know more about the look of all things Arcadia, it fascinated me. I have it on vinyl, CD & the deluxe, wish i had the singles box set.

Hard to believe it’s 35 years old now, for that very reason i don’t hold much hope for a deeper dive into a deluxe reissue, The guys in DD are as frustrating as Roxy Music in that dept, none of us are getting any younger but we’re certainly all getting more sentimental and longing to revisit the loves of our youth and the warmth it brings.

Imagine a 5:1 mix of ‘So Red The Rose.?……Wow


Although it would likely be difficult since that Alex has left us, I still hope to see a 5.1 surround mix of this superb album someday… Something I’m certain Bob Ludwing (or Steven Wilson or Bob Clearmountain) could complete with stunning results.


Amazing look back at an album I have heard many times but was very unaware of the circumstances around it. Thanks so much.
I wholeheartedly would appreciate an expanded deluxe version of it one day.


Fascinating read Paul – many thanks for posting this. I’m in the camp that when growing up, thought DD had some ok songs but was not really a guys band. Election Day was always pretty cool though. Picked up Decade in a London shop on an overseas study in 1990 and liked it. I only have the newer Greatest and the expanded Arena. After reading this, I’m now on YouTube listening to SRTR and loving it. Such a rich sound. Definitely picking it up, albeit 35 years delayed.

J Carlson

Thank you for this Paul,

Still one of my favorites after all these years– the unique, artsy, gypsy pop grounded by the late Alex Sadkin’s superb production, makes the album still hold up as a whole.

Glad I re-bought it as a deluxe edition in 2010 and wouldn’t think twice to buy yet again if it was re-mastered and expanded further.
A one-off live concert, playing the album in its entirety with special guests (Sting, Grace Jones, Dave Gilmour), would have been so great to have happened.


Wonderful album, one of my favorites. I hope Nick does indeed find a way to do a “fuller” reissue. The 2010 version is generous in terms of run time but the endless similar reworks of the same 3 or 4 tracks gets tiring. Also I think the mastering could use a lighter touch.

Great article though. Will be ordering that booklet for sure!

Mark Hughes

I brought the 2 CD/1 DVD Deluxe Edition in 2010. An awesome album with some great artistic collaboration.


I bought the download of the deluxe version off Amazon in 2015 for about £3.50, 29 tracks with loads of remixes. Would rather have physical copy but still a bargain.

Chubby Brown’s Swearbox

What brilliant interviews!! A fascinating Winter album for me. In conjures up the ultimate winter atmosphere for some reason.
A full on reissue with demos, jamming sessions, a luxurious photo album too curated by Mr Rhodes. I knew they spent a fortune recording it, with a hotel bill to match. NR & SLB had an entire floor for months in the one the most expensive hotels in Paris. Norman Parkinson took a load of pictures too so the scope to do something really amazing is definitely there.

Then I’ll buy it for the 5th time. Probably a record, I had the album, then the cassette, then the normal CD, then the reissue with the DVD in the crappy double jewel case.

Now I’ll Order this book.

They must do another DVD too, Election Day from TOTP, I’m sure they did The Promise maybe on Wogan, The Flame on a Tube special, interviewed by Paula Yates.

Lon Pinkerton

Excellent article about one of my favourite 80s albums and much overlooked at the time in comparison to Duran Duran albums. Would love to see a live performance in the future as well !!!

Seb Rhau

A dear “Duranie” friend of mine from way back sent me the link to your article on Liberty Redux this morning and I spent my work break on reading it all on my phone – and the interview with Chris Kimsey from September as well. I got into DD in early 1985 at the age of 10, and although I’m not as much of a die-hard fan all those years later, reading something so profound about DD always gets me hooked immediately. When I came home I blasted Liberty, loving it as much as in (and since) the autumn of 1990.
I just turned on my computer to see what else is there to discover on SDE (what a shame I hadn’t known about it before), only to dive right into this beautiful treatment of Arcadia’s SRTR. Wonderful. I will spend the rest of the evening listening to that. Got the MusiCassette for Christmas ’85, still remembering how enchanted I was listening to it for the very first time. And so many other times.
I lost some of my faith in 2001 when Warren got dumped, but still, some twenty years later, whatever Rhodes and LeBon are doing, any rereleases, anthologies, new stuff, anything: I’d spend everything … and be so happy!
Thank you so very much for your brilliant work!


So Red The Rose is an overlooked classic.
Another great and unsung 1985 album I would love to see given the deluxe treatment is ‘The Circle and the Square’ by Red Box.


I always thought the name came from Doctor Who.
Arcadia was the second city of Gallifrey, and it was destroyed by the Daleks.

Great interviews. Cheers.

Bard E

Great interview and article! I own several copies of Arcadia and it is by far my most precious album ever.


Namely and surprisingly, his participation is never mentioned but the French drummer Manu Katché participated in the recording sessions of some songs at the Parisian studio of the Grande Armée. This was before he did the sessions for Peter Gabriel’s album So but he played on a lot of musical projects (mainly with French artists). He was then approached by Alex Sadkin and his name does not appear in the credits.

martin farnworth

A fine album- not a dud unlike SATRT with has a few terrible tracks. . I remember seeing the sleeve in record shops – exotic and repulsive but intriguing as what it may sound like beyond the hit.


Loved that album when it came out and it really got me interested in Duran Duran as I can’t say I liked them much before that and I still don’t like the pre-Notorious albums…so Nick’s right, Arcadia did change them ;-) That was indeed one funky guitar that Alomar played on many of the tracks, Election Day and Goodbye is Forever come to mind of course. The Gilmour guitar solo was memorable too.

One thing I’m not clear about in the interview is that he says that EMI couldn’t dictate to them, makes sense, but then that “Arcadia wasn’t paid for by the record label, it was paid for by Simon and I.”. So does it mean they got as much advance money as they wanted but that at the end of the day whatever they spent on it got deducted from their “points” ? Isn’t that the way it always works ?

Glad I didn’t get the Liberty booklet mostly due to shipping costs to FRA (I’d just gotten the Macca booklet) as they can now be spread across the two booklets, let’s see how that looks ;-)

Petr Vyhnal

I would like a double red vinyl with bonuses


Who is responsible for the cover artwork?

SDE Hall of Fame

The illustrations were done by the brilliant Lucy Barnes, who also worked on the McCartney and Liberty booklets.

Joel Ivins

bought it the 45 of election day first, than the vinyl album when it was realeased. Over time I got the tape, and then the cd. Totally jumped on the 2010 SDE. As far as I know, the only time any of the songs were played live was on a duran tour. they did election day and some like it hot. all the “shows” on tv were lip synced. this was a fantastic interview, and thank you very much paul for putting it out there for us to enjoy. i find i am in the category (as defined by steve wilson) of being a box ticker…and have sadly realized, that the majority of the extras on most SDE’s i only listen to once. although there are the few songs that i listen to multiple times, the majority i don’t, especially the remixes. they are just not my thing. i prefer live over a 12 inch remix. but if arcadia does realease anything further, lord knows i will snatch it up…cuz i love them

Jeffrey Fitzsimons

One of the best albums Nick and Simon have made….and yes it’s most definitely them attempting to sound like Japan

Larry Davis

Great interview!! Big DD fan & always loved Arcadia…Goodbye Is Forever is one of my all-time face songs & loved the vidclip with Simon on that ride…I had the 2010 triple deluxe but sold it thinking a more expandive edition would be forthcoming…maybe now it will?? Happy about the Arcadia booklet too…never got the Liberty one as shipping too high for just 1 booklet…a bundle of both?? Much better…will order Friday…and based on Nick’s interview, 2021 looks like a year of DD activity… reissues/boxset, new album & tour, I see all happening, and I agree with the one reader & disagree with Nick about timing of new album…I know DD prefer only releasing new music with a tour to promote it…but this pandemic is really a great time to release new albums!! The fans will devour it and when things open up & a tour happens, we will know the new songs… definitely…rethink that approach Nick …


Didn’t read the interview. Just scrolled to the bottom to see if there was going to be another wonderful SDE booklet and sure enough.

Ordered immediately.

Always liked this album and see it as the album that gave Duran a shot in the arm after SatRT. Notorious is a great album. I think the main thing I liked about Arcadia is the ‘channeling Japan’ aspect that they were clearly going for. Personally, I don’t think it quite makes it but it is certainly a good attempt (and Election Day remains one of my favourite tracks by the Duran bunch).

Glad I picked up the 2CD/DVD version at the time – didnt know it would be so sought after. I also recently bought a vinyl copy to replace a copy a (regrettably) got rid of a while back.


Fantastic album…preorded the booklet immediately.

Matteo Leoni

A great album, IMO much better than the previous Duran’s “Seven and the ragged tiger” that sounds confused and overproduced and has aged not well, to my ears.
I still think that the almost 9 minutes “Consensus mix” of Election Day is one of the best 12″ ever made, a real masterpiece on its own.
I’d love to see a deluxe boxset with vinyl replica of the album and some CD with mixes, b-sides and maybe some unreleased stuff.


So Red The Rose was perhaps the most beautiful thing to emerge out of the DD camp. I’m surprised that Simon and Nick haven’t offered to play the album live for perhaps one night only all this time. I have the 2cd/dvd version from 2010 and love it.

Paul Rymer

Great article. About Masami, he’s done a lot more than is really known about outside Japan. He started out at 15 with a short stint in The Golden Cups having ran away from home with the ambition of joining the band, but was found by his father so had to leave. After returning to Tokyo for uni at 18 got into session work with Junko Ohashi and Lily (early crossovers with Ryuichi Sakamoto when he was also a uni student) before forming Ippu-do in 78. After that and Arcadia he did some film acting and TV presenting at the same time as his solo career and has never stopped.

David Van Tieghen also recorded with Sakamoto before the Arcadia sessions but the work wasn’t released outside Japan until after So Red The Rose (Illustrated Musical Emcycopaedia and Safety In Numbers). Andy McKay also worked with Sakamoto and Yukihiro Takahashi in 1981; Carlos Alomar was a member of Yukihiro Takahashi’s band for tours and recording in 1985 and 1986; Masami had been his previous tour guitarist. Lots of connections!


I brought the standard cd from amazon last year and got the deluxe mp3 free with autorip!


Loved this album. I remember sitting down and deciphering the numeric code that appeared on the records and posters (I won’t spoil it for anyone who wants to give it a try, but it’s pretty simple). I remember owning a set of four posters: one of the band and one for each member. Also, the full-length version of “Rose Arcana” was on the b-side of “The Promise,” I believe?

Scott Wozniak

My favorite “Duran” album ever. The 3-disc 2010 CD/DVD package is something I cherish. I feel like I hear something new every time I listen. Nick’s finest work.

Donnie Biscuits

People saying this is the best Duran album are totally missing the point. Nick and Simon took the opportunity to do something really different, better than Duran even. So it’s not Duran just like a Ringo solo album with input from George and John isn’t the Beatles. Hope to hear more from the archives, those untruncated version would be amazing; they should have made the double album in the first place. Now that is indulgence.


Ordered the booklet!!
Always liked Duran and always liked Arcadia. Love this album! Great interview and perspective on making the album. Can’t wait to read the rest!

SDE Hall of Fame

Many thanks.


A thoroughly enjoyable read, THANK you! Will be picking up the hard copy.

By the mid 80’s I was firmly in the rocker/prog camp and so had to pretend I didn’t like Duran Duran as we were told they were just a pop group teenyboppers liked (it’s been a thing in America where you are only allowed to like one type of music while in Jr. High/High School…at least it was then. If you liked Reggae, you could ONLY like Reggae and nothing else, same with Punk, Metal, Pop, etc.). When I first caught the video for Election Day I sat straight up and was enraptured and as soon as I was able, bought the cassette of the album (one of the few cassettes I still have to this day) and found I was listening to it all day, every day.

Imagine my mortification when I learned it was essentially a Duran Duran album. It did help a little when I discovered that guitar part I especially liked was none other than my musical hero David Gilmour. I soon got over it as it made me realize I could like whatever damn music I wanted, regardless of “labels”. I could listen to them, Led Zeppelin, The Kingston Trio, Til Tuesday, Supertramp, Duke Ellington, Queen, Thompson Twins, Jethro Tull, Waylon Jennings, Vivaldi, Fleetwood Mac, OMD, Violent Femmes and Pink Floyd (among many, many others) all I wanted. My personal mix tapes became much more interesting then and my sister would always ask me to make copies for her as she loved how she never had any idea what kind of a song would come next. So, thank you Aracdia for opening the eyes and ears of this naive teen in the States, as well as giving me what still stands as one of my favorite albums.

Still kicking myself that I missed out on the 25th anniversary edition of this album (I had no SDE to help me discover things like that then, haha) which is now way to expensive to justify getting. I’m hoping another one comes out at some point.

(sorry for the mini novel but figured here would be the only place people would care for my ramblings about a 35 year old record)


I have the album and was a fan but I never knew there was a extended 25 year anniversary cd released and I looked around but it’s no where to be found.
From the interview I don’t see them release a 35 year anniversary or vault edition but it would be nice if they could release at least the 25 year edition.


Great work Paul, I’ve ordered both booklets now.

Wonderful album, produced so well. It’s timeless, like Pleasuredome in that regard.

Interesting how Nick is spilling the beans, DD do have some demos etc he’d be willing to release.

Based on the interview a 3 or 4 CD set could be done for Arcadia, problem is, what’s the commercial market for it? That said far less popular bands manage to release decent reissues and boxes

Paul Taylor

One of my favourite albums period. The vinyl was beautiful as well, and I loved the artwork. Still have my Japanese fan club singles box set So Red The Velvet. It was also a pity on the 2010 remastered album DVD they never added any live appearances; rem them on The Tube doing The Flame and other performances. Nice booklet, i’ve ordered it :)