This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of So Red The Rose, the lone album from Duran splinter group Arcadia. Several years ago, in one of my first guest blogs for Daily Duranie, I wrote about my love for this album (you can read that blog here). I don’t want to replicate that blog today, but offer some quick thoughts on Arcadia and this 30th birthday.
They’re still getting back together, right?
Do you remember what it was like to try to get news about the band in 1985? I was 13 years old. There was no internet, no social media, no Ask Katy…there were magazines, newspapers, and MTV News. I do remember hearing on MTV News about Roger and Andy’s departure from the band and being devastated. I do not remember the exact timing–I want to say that would have been in 1986. Regardless…put yourself back to 1985, when the Taylor “brothers” were jamming with Power Station and getting all sorts of airplay, and Arcadia dropped this album. I remember not being sure exactly what was going on, but hearing Simon’s voice, deciding I would just go with it, and buying the cassette on the strength of “Election Day.” (I was so in the dark that I didn’t even fully realize what the project was about. I didn’t buy the “Tiger Beat” magazines or whatever they were called and while I watched MTV, I clearly missed something). So it was in that context that I first encountered So Red The Rose, devoured the liner notes, realized what it was, and immediately fell in love with it. Can you imagine that scenario today? I would be absolutely going out of my mind trying to figure out what the heck was going on with Paper Gods…!
Don’t be scared of what they say:
I love when Duran Duran doesn’t try to write hits, and just puts out material that they want (the song “Paper Gods” is a great example of this). That’s why I love So Red the Rose. Here is are three-fifths of the biggest band in the world recording “the most pretentious record of the decade” (Simon would later be quoted), and yet, they apparently didn’t care. They wrote the music they wanted to, got the guest artists (what a lineup!), and created a masterpiece (in my opinion).
The John Problem:
I have only met the band once, and that was just Simon and Nick for about 30 seconds outside of a venue in New York city in 2001. But if I ever got the chance to sit down with them and actually talk, my first question to John would be about a comment he made in 1986 that Power Station “worked” and Arcadia didn’t, and that’s why the band went in a funkier direction on the Notorious album. I know he’s the Bass God and all that, but…how dare he! I really like The Power Station album and some of those songs are great to blast if you’re working out or doing yard work. And I love Living in Fear, their obscure second album. That being said…come on, John! Everyone knows Arcadia is better than Power Station!!! (You can flame me in the comments below if you disagree.)
So..it’s been 30 freaking years?!?!?:
This anniversary really hits me. Obviously, since 2011, we’ve been cycling through the 30th birthdays of each Duran album. But now I’m really processing how much time has passed. I think that’s because I was younger for the original albums; my experience with them was largely via radio listening. I didn’t own a cassette player until…1985! (I literally realized this as I was typing). So, this is really not just the 30th anniversary of So Red the Rose, but the 30th of my Duran fandom expanding beyond the singles! In the summer of ’85, I bought all the cassettes of the first four albums (including Arena). So Red the Rose marked the beginning of buying Duran albums as they were released. It marked the beginning of waiting for the new album, wondering what the single would be, what direction they would go. In essence…my concept of Durantime started 30 years ago this fall!
A final thought:
If you had told me in 1985 that, 30 years later, we’d still be talking about and analyzing So Red the Rose in the larger context of Duran’s catalogue and legacy, I would not have been surprised. But consider this: We can’t have the 30th birthday party for Paper Gods until 2045!
Regardless…happy 30th , So Red the Rose!