- Soft Cell
Infobox musical artist
Name = Soft Cell
Background = group_or_band
Leeds, England, United Kingdom
SynthpopNew Wave New Romantic Post-punk
Years_active = 1980-1984 2001-present
Some Bizzare, Sire, Cooking Vinyl, Mute, Vertigo
Marc and the Mambas, The Grid
Marc AlmondDavid Ball
Soft Cell are an English
synthpopduo who came to prominence in the early 1980s. They consist of vocalist Marc Almondand David Ball on synthesizers. Lyricsby the duo often focused on love, romance, kinky sex, transexualism, as well as drugs and murder. The duo is well known for their huge world-wide hit in 1981 with a cover versionof " Tainted Love", which made them a one-hit wonderin several countries.
Soft Cell formed in 1980 in
Leeds. Their initial efforts at recording resulted in an EP called " Mutant Moments" that year, funded by a loan of £2000 from Dave Ball's mother [Marc Almond, Tainted Life, the autobiography] , made with a simple 2-track recorder. This was released independently with only 2000 vinyl copies pressed and has since become a highly valued collector's item among Soft Cell fans. Their early shows and EP caught the interest of certain record labels, such as Mute Recordsand Some Bizzare Records, both of which pioneered the new wave of synthesizer bands. Soft Cell's next recording, "The Girl with the Patent Leather Face," appeared as a contribution to the Some Bizzare Album, which featured other (then unknown) bands such as Depeche Mode, The The, and Blancmange.Their first singles, "A Man Can Get Lost" 7" and "Memorabilia" 12" were produced by Daniel Miller, the founder of Mute Records. While the single was a club hit, Soft Cell remained essentially unknown.
Showing impatience in the wake of the chart failure of "Memorabilia", Phonogram Records allowed Soft Cell to record a second and final single in an attempt to score a chart hit. The band opted to record a radically reworked cover version of "Tainted Love", an obscure 1964
northern soultrack originally sung by Gloria Jones(the girlfriend of Marc Bolan) and written by Ed Cobb of The Four Preps.
Released in 1981, Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" was a number-one hit in seventeen countries, including the
United Kingdom, as well as a number eight single in the United Statesduring 1982, and went on to set a then- Guinness World Recordfor the longest consecutive stay on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100chart (43 weeks). It took 19 weeks just to crack the Top 40. The A-side of the 12 inch singleof "Tainted Love" actually featured a two-song medley, with "Tainted Love" blending into the Motownclassic " Where Did Our Love Go?" by The Supremes. At the peak of the song's popularity, many radio stations opted to play the full medley, utilizing their own edits to shorten the 9-minute track.
According to Marc Almond's book, "Tainted Life", Soft Cell had exited the "Tainted Love" recording sessions with only modest expectations that the track might dent the UK Top 50. Further, Almond wrote that his only significant contribution to the song's instrumentation (besides the vocals) was the suggestion that the song begin with a characteristic "bink bink" sound which would repeat periodically throughout. Almond also wrote that he dedicated this song to his on-off partner Christian Andrews. While "Tainted Love" was Soft Cell's only Top 40 hit in the United States, they had ten UK Top 40 hits, including "Bedsitter" (#4), "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" (#2), "Torch" (#2), and "What!" (#3), each of which broke the UK Top 5. In addition, the band also had four UK top 20 albums between 1981 - 1984.
Usually, an artist releasing a cover version as a single would opt to write the song that appears on the B-side as this would still entitle the artist to some songwriting
royaltiesstemming from sales of that single. However, as Soft Cell wrote neither "Tainted Love" nor "Where Did Our Love Go" (the 7" B-side track), they lost the opportunity to make a greater sum of money from songwriting royalties stemming from one of the most popular songs of the '80s. Almond expressed regret for this in his book, and chalked the error up to naivete.
Covers and Sampling
Due to its enduring popularity, Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love" along with other songs from
Non-stop Erotic Cabarethave been covered and sampled a number of times, including:
* A version from
argentinianDJ and show host Clotta Lanzetta, now translated as Falso Amor.
* 1984 Coil covered Tainted Love as one half of the double A-Side
Panic/Tainted Lovethis record was the first ever AIDSbenefit record and Marc Almond appeared in the video as "Death". Marc would also provide vocals on the group's next release Horse Rotorvator.
Carter USMcovered Bedsitter on the CD single of Bloodsport For All.
Inspiral Carpetscovered Tainted Love in the NME's Ruby Trax 3CD Box
* 1995 The
Alternative rockgroup Shades Apartfrom New Jersey covered Tainted Love in the CD single of 1995 (Revelation 40 PR1)
* 1999 Australian punk/rockabilly band
The Living Endcovered the song as a B-side for their single " All Torn Down".
* 2000 German techno band Scooter covered "Sex Dwarf" on their Sheffield album.
Christian Deathalso covered the track on their 10th studio album with Valor Kandas frontman, "Pornographic Messiah".
* 2001 Glam/hard rock band Marilyn Manson covered the song on the album "
Not Another Teen MovieO.S.T." and "". Also as a bonus track on " The Golden Age of Grotesque".
* 2004 German techno producer Thomas Schumacher samples "Tainted Love" on his single "Tainted Schall".
* Industrial band
Nine Inch Nailscovered the song "Memorabilia" in 1994 which appeared the Closer to Godsingle and on their 10th anniversary re-release of The Downward Spiralin 2004. They also covered "Sex Dwarf" live during the 1989 Pretty Hate Machinetour.
Pussycat Dollscovered the Soft Cell version with Tainted Love and Where Did Our Love Go? combined as one song for their debut album, PCD.
Lil Scrappy's song's "Money In The Bank" main riff took samples from part of the beat of Tainted Love
Rihannaextensively samples "Tainted Love" on the single "SOS" from her album "A Girl Like Me". It becomes a #1 hit single all over the world.
* 2006 Psytrance producer
Bulletproofsamples "Tainted Love" on the vinyl EP Tainted Love.
* 2007 DJ Richard Grey samples "Tainted Love" on "Warped Bass". Drum-and-Bass-style single, the vocal version still features Marc Almond's vocals.
*2007 Chicago electronic duo [http://www.microfilmmusic Microfilm] do not cover Soft Cell, but name-check their album "NonStop Erotic Cabaret" (as well as "NonStop Ecstatic Dancing") in the lyrics of their track 'Non-Stop Dreaming'; Soft Cell were an influence on the original sound of Microfilm's early tracks.
Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
album, " Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret", further explored the trademark Soft Cell themes of squalor and sleaze. "Seedy Films" talks of long nights in porno cinemas, while "Frustration" and "Secret Life" deal with the boredom and hypocrisy associated with suburban life. A companion video entitled "Non-Stop Exotic Video Show" was released alongside the album and featured videos directed by Tim Pope, who later found fame as director of music videos by The Cure. The video generated some controversy in Britain, mainly due to the scandal involved with the "Sex Dwarf" promotional film. The original version of the music video featured Almond and Ball in a bloody butcher shop surrounded by chainsaws, nude actors, and dwarves. However, the film was confiscated by police and censored before it was even released. As a tongue-in-cheek substitute, a re-filmed "Sex Dwarf" appeared in "Non-Stop Exotic Video Show" featuring Almond dressed in a tuxedo, directing a symphony orchestra of dwarves.
In 1982, the duo spent most of their time recording and relaxing in
New York City, where they met a woman named Cindy Ecstasy. It was Cindy Ecstasy who introduced them to the new club drug of the same name. By their own admission, most of Non-stop Ecstatic Dancingwas recorded and mixed under the influence of ecstasy.
A dance music show on the Melbourne radio station,
Student Youth Network, called their show Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret after the album.
Decline and Dissolution
By 1983, the shadow of "Tainted Love" was beginning to haunt the band, and the pressures of stardom, not to mention the constant drug use, were taking their toll. Marc Almond also formed the group
Marc and the Mambas, featuring collaborations with The The's Matt Johnson and future Almond collaborator Annie Hogan, as an offshootin order to experiment out of the glare of the Soft Cell spotlight. Soft Cell followed their remixalbum with a full length album appropriately titled "The Art of Falling Apart". The singles were modest successes in Britain. Again, Soft Cell courted some controversy when their second single from the album, "Numbers," was banned from the BBCdue to references in the song to the drug speed.
By 1984, they had decided amicably to dissolve the band and released one final album called "This Last Night in Sodom", a critical success but a commercial failure. The album departed from its predecessors by having a much grittier feel, featuring more live drums and guitars than previous albums. However, the controversial subject matter still remained true to the Soft Cell ethos, with songs such as "L'Esqualita" that glamourized transvestite culture in
During Almond's solo years, he and Ball continued to keep in touch. Dave Ball's ex-wife played cello in Marc Almond's solo band. Almond and David Ball did not work again together until the nineties, when Ball arranged some music for Almond's "Tenement Symphony." David Ball formed
The Gridin 1990 with Richard Norris. The Grid split up in 1996, but reformed in 2005 and released an album in 2008 on the Some Bizzarelabel called "Doppelgänger".
Almond and Ball's reunion as Soft Cell became official with well-received initial concerts - they performed at the opening of the Ocean nightclub in London in March 2001 to strong reviews, and a mini tour followed later in the year. The track "God Shaped Hole" featured on the
Some Bizzarecompilation titled " I'd Rather Shout at a Returning Echo than Kid Someone's Listening", released in 2001. The album "Cruelty Without Beauty" was released in late 2002, followed by a European tour and a partial US tour in early 2003. The new album featured their first new songs together in almost twenty years. One of those songs was their 2003 single "The Night" (UK #39). Interestingly, Soft Cell had considered recording "The Night" in place of "Tainted Love" back in 1981 as their last-ditch attempt to score a chart hit. In a 2003 interview with BBC's " Top of the Pops", keyboardist David Ball asserted, "I think history has kind of shown that we did make the right choice [in 1981] ."
In August 2007 the band announced they have started a remix album, "Heat - The Remixes". The remix album is expected to be released in May 2008 and will include classic Soft Cell tracks remixed by such acts as
Paul Dakeyne, The Grid, Manhattan Clique, Cicada, Richard X, Ladytron, MHC, Atomizer, Mark Moore, Kinky Roland, Spektrum, George Demure, Yer Man, The Dark Poetsand many more. [ [http://www.side-line.com/news_comments.php?id=25539_0_2_0_C Soft Cell remix album in the pipeline] ]
Some Bizzare Records
Marc and the Mambas
* [http://angel-artists.com Dave Ball's Management Webpage]
* [http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/manager/scsingles.htm Soft Cell singles list]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/totp2/artists/s/soft_cell/underthegrill/page1.shtml BBC Top of the Pops Interview]
* [http://soft-cell.tripod.com Unofficial Soft Cell Webpage]
* [http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/ Marc Almond's official site]
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