Soft Cell

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Soft Cell
Origin Leeds, England, United Kingdom
Genres Synth-pop, new wave, minimal synth, electronic
Years active1978–1984, 2001–2002, 2018–
Associated acts Marc and the Mambas, The Grid, Psychic TV
Members Marc Almond
David Ball

Soft Cell are an English synthpop duo who came to prominence in the early 1980s, consisting of vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball. The duo are principally known for their 1981 hit version of "Tainted Love" and their platinum-selling debut album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret . [1] [2]

Marc Almond English singer

Peter Mark Sinclair "Marc" Almond, is an English singer-songwriter and musician. Almond first began performing and recording in the synthpop/new wave duo Soft Cell. He has also had a diverse career as a solo artist. His collaborations include a duet with Gene Pitney on the 1989 UK number one single "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart". Almond's career spanning over four decades has enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim, and he has sold over 30 million records worldwide. He spent a month in a coma after a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 2004 and later became a patron of the brain trauma charity Headway.

David James Ball is an English producer and electronic musician, who has played in bands such as Soft Cell and The Grid, and collaborated with other producers including Ingo Vauk and Chris Braide. He is usually called Dave Ball on record sleeves.

Tainted Love song by Gloria Jones

"Tainted Love" is a song composed by Ed Cobb, formerly of American group the Four Preps, which was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964.


In the United Kingdom, they had ten Top 40 hits including "Tainted Love" (#1 UK), "Torch" (#2 UK), "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" (#3 UK), "What!" (#3 UK), and "Bedsitter" (#4 UK), and also had four Top 20 albums between 1981 and 1984. In 1984, the duo split but reformed in 2001 to tour and record new material, releasing their fifth studio album, Cruelty Without Beauty in 2002.

"Torch" is a song by English synthpop duo Soft Cell. It was released as a single in 1982, and in mid-June peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart, ranking 45 for the year. It also reached number 31 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, number 12 in the Netherlands and number 6 in the Flemish Ultratop 50

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye 1982 single by Soft Cell

"Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" is a song from the album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret by English synthpop duo Soft Cell that was released as a single in January 1982 and reached number three on the UK Singles Chart.

Bedsitter (song) 1981 song performed by Soft Cell

"Bedsitter" is a song by British synthpop duo Soft Cell, from the album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Released as a single in October 1981, it reached no. 4 in the UK.

Soft Cell's songs have been covered by various artists including Marilyn Manson, Coil, Nine Inch Nails, David Gray, Nouvelle Vague, and A-ha. [3] Their track "Memorabilia" earned recognition for the band as pioneers of the synth-oriented techno genre. [4] The duo have sold 10 million records worldwide. [5]

Marilyn Manson (band) American rock band

Marilyn Manson is an American rock band formed by namesake lead singer Marilyn Manson and guitarist Daisy Berkowitz in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1989. Originally named Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids, they gained a local cult following in South Florida in the early 1990s with their theatrical live performances. In 1993, they were the first act signed to Trent Reznor's Nothing Records label. Until 1996, the name of each member was created by combining the first name of a female sex symbol and the last name of a serial killer, for example Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. Their lineup has changed between many of their album releases; the current members of Marilyn Manson are the eponymous lead singer.

Coil (band) English post-industrial band

Coil were an English experimental music group, founded in 1982 by John Balance in London. Initially envisioned as a solo project by singer and songwriter Balance while he was in the band Psychic TV, Coil evolved into a full-time project with the addition of Peter Christopherson, a former member of pioneering industrial group Throbbing Gristle who became Balance's creative and personal partner. Throughout the group's existence, Balance and Christopherson were the only constant members; others members and contributors included Stephen Thrower, Danny Hyde, Drew McDowall, William Breeze, Thighpaulsandra, and Ossian Brown.

Nine Inch Nails American industrial rock band

Nine Inch Nails, commonly abbreviated as NIN, is an American industrial rock band formed in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio. The band was founded by lead singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor, who was the band's only official member until adding English musician Atticus Ross in 2016. The band has signed with several major labels over the course of three decades, the current being Capitol Records, under the name The Null Corporation.


Mutant Moments and "Memorabilia"

Plaque honouring Soft Cell at Leeds Beckett University (formerly Leeds Polytechnic) Soft Cell Rainbow Plaque.jpg
Plaque honouring Soft Cell at Leeds Beckett University (formerly Leeds Polytechnic)

Soft Cell was initiated during 1977 after Almond and Ball met at Leeds Polytechnic. Their initial efforts at recording resulted that year in an EP titled Mutant Moments which was funded by a loan of £2,000 from Dave Ball's mother and made with a simple 2-track recorder. [6] 2,000 vinyl copies of the release were issued independently and the small number of copies have since become a highly valued collectors item. The group's live shows and EP caught the interest of certain record labels such as Mute Records and Some Bizzare Records.

Mutant Moments is a short EP, independently financed and produced by Soft Cell, a synthpop/new wave duo who would later achieve fame with their groundbreaking hit cover of the Gloria Jones song "Tainted Love". Only 2000 copies were pressed, originally by Soft Cell, on Big Frock Records, then later by a Japanese fan club, making the record extremely rare and prized by collectors and fans alike. The duo, who attended Leeds Metropolitan University, originally developed a cult following with their performances which routinely included bizarre sexual imagery and visuals representing sexual themes. Some examples include instances where singer Marc Almond would smear his body with cat food, simulate sexual intercourse with a full-length mirror, or appear onstage in drag.

Mute Records Ltd. is a British independent record label owned and founded in 1978 by Daniel Miller. It has featured several prominent musical acts on its roster such as Depeche Mode, Erasure, Fad Gadget, Goldfrapp, Grinderman, Inspiral Carpets, Moby, New Order, Nitzer Ebb, Wire, Yeasayer, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Yazoo, and M83.

Some Bizzare Records British record label

Some Bizzare [sic] Records was a British independent record label owned by Stevo Pearce. The label was founded in 1981, with the release of Some Bizzare Album, a compilation of unsigned bands including Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The The, Neu Electrikk and Blancmange.

Soft Cell's next recording, "The Girl with the Patent Leather Face", appeared as a contribution to the Some Bizzare Album , which featured then-unknown bands such as Depeche Mode, The The, and Blancmange. The duo ultimately signed to the Some Bizzare label, backed by Phonogram Records. Their first single, "A Man Could Get Lost" b/w "Memorabilia" on 7" and "Memorabilia" b/w "Persuasion" on 12", was produced by Daniel Miller who founded Mute Records. While "Memorabilia" was a success in nightclubs, Soft Cell would remain essentially unknown until their next release.

<i>Some Bizzare Album</i> 1981 compilation album by various artists

Some Bizzare Album was the first album by Some Bizzare Records. It was released in 1981 as a sampler of the label's musical ethos. The acts were not actually signed exclusively to the label at the time.

Depeche Mode English band

Depeche Mode are an English electronic band formed in Basildon, Essex, in 1980. The group currently consists of a trio of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher (keyboards).

The The are an English post-punk band. They have been active in various forms since 1979, with singer/songwriter Matt Johnson being the only constant band member. The The achieved critical acclaim and commercial success in the UK, with 15 chart singles, and their most successful album, Infected (1986), spent 30 weeks on the chart. They followed this with the Top Ten albums Mind Bomb (1989) and Dusk (1993).

"Tainted Love"

After the chart failure of "Memorabilia", Phonogram Records allowed Soft Cell to record a second and final single in an attempt to score a chart success. The band opted to record a cover version of "Tainted Love", an obscure 1965 northern soul track originally released by Gloria Jones, the girlfriend of Marc Bolan at the time of his death, and written by Ed Cobb of The Four Preps.

Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England and the English Midlands in the late 1960s from the British mod scene, based on a particular style of black American soul music, especially from the mid-1960s, with a heavy beat and fast tempo.

Gloria Jones American singer

Gloria Richetta Jones is an American singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, California. She recorded the 1965 hit song "Tainted Love". She was the girlfriend of glam rock artist Marc Bolan of the band T. Rex until his death in 1977, and was a member of the band, as a keyboardist and backing vocalist, from 1973 to 1976.

Marc Bolan British rock musician

Marc Bolan was an English singer-songwriter, musician, guitarist, and poet. He was best known as the lead singer of the glam rock band T. Rex. Bolan was one of the pioneers of the glam rock movement of the 1970s. He died at the age of 29 in a car crash two weeks before his 30th birthday. In 1997, a memorial stone and bust of Bolan, Marc Bolan's Rock Shrine, was unveiled at the site where he died in Barnes, London.

Released in 1981, Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" was a No. 1 hit in 17 countries, including the United Kingdom, as well as a No. 8 single in the United States during 1982, and went on to set a Guinness World Record at the time for the longest consecutive stay (43 weeks) on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song's popularity developed slowly, needing 19 weeks to enter the US Top 40. The A-side of the 12-inch single of "Tainted Love" actually featured a two-song medley, with "Tainted Love" blending into the Motown classic "Where Did Our Love Go" (originally recorded by The Supremes, in 1964).

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 break into the UK Top 50. Furthermore, 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 sometime partner Christian Andrews.

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 royalties stemming 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 1980s. Almond expressed regret for this in his book, and attributed the error to naïveté.

Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

The duo's first album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret , hit UK No. 5 and further explored the now-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 titled Non-Stop Exotic Video Show was released alongside the album and featured videos directed by Tim Pope. The video generated some controversy in Britain, mainly due to a scandal involved with the "Sex Dwarf" clip. The original version of the music video was confiscated by police and censored before it was even released.[ citation needed ]

A re-filmed "Sex Dwarf" appeared in Non-Stop Exotic Video Show featuring Almond dressed in a tuxedo, directing a symphony orchestra of transvestites.

Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret garnered two additional hits: "Bedsitter" dealt with the loneliness and lifestyle of a young man having recently left home to live in a bedsit while partying hard. "Bedsitter" reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart in November 1981. The song was highly acclaimed in a retrospective review by AllMusic journalist Ned Raggett who wrote that it "ranks as one of the best, most realistic portrayals of urban life recorded." [7] The final single on the album, the ballad "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye", peaked at No. 3 in February 1982 and was subsequently covered by David Gray nearly 20 years later when his version reached No. 26 in the UK.

During 1982, the duo spent most of their time recording and relaxing in New York City, where they met a woman named Cindy Ecstasy whom Almond would later confirm was his drug supplier (it was Cindy Ecstasy who introduced them to the new nightclub drug of the same name). Soon after "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" dropped out of the chart, Soft Cell released a brand new song, another love song called "Torch" which was to prove the closest the band ever got to having a No. 1 hit with one of their own songs as it entered straight into the Top 20 and peaked at No. 2. [8] The 12" version of "Torch" featured Cindy Ecstasy singing and exchanging banter in a spoken dialogue section with Marc Almond where they reminisce about their first meeting. Despite their next album being almost ready for release at this point, a decision was made not to include "Torch" on the album.

The duo released their second album entitled Non-stop Ecstatic Dancing , a 6-track mini album containing remixes of older material along with their new hit single, "What!". This was a cover of the 1965 song by Melinda Marx. It was later covered in 1968 by Judy Street, whose version became extremely popular on the Northern Soul scene. Almond later admitted that the album was recorded and mixed under the influence of ecstasy. [9] "What!" placed at No. 101 in US Charts. [10] but was a major hit in the UK and reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart in August of that year [8]

Decline and dissolution

By 1983, fame and nearly constant drug use were having a bad effect on the duo. 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 offshoot to experiment out of the glare of the Soft Cell spotlight. Soft Cell's third album release, appropriately titled The Art of Falling Apart , was a Top 5 hit in the UK but the singles were only modest successes. The first single "Where The Heart Is" only reached 21, while the double A-side "Numbers"/"Barriers" peaked at 25. "Numbers" also generated controversy due to references in the song to the drug speed. The album is highly esteemed by the leader of Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor. [11]

In September 1983, the duo released a new single "Soul Inside", which returned them to the UK Top 20, but by early 1984 the duo had amicably decided to end Soft Cell. They played farewell concerts at Hammersmith Palais in January, and released one final album called This Last Night in Sodom (UK No. 12) in March. Headed by the duo's final single "Down in the Subway" (UK No. 24), the album departed from its predecessors by 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 glamourised transvestite culture in Manhattan.

Solo years

During Almond's solo years, he and Ball continued to communicate with each other. Dave Ball's ex-wife played violin in Marc Almond's solo band, though Almond and Ball did not work again together until 1990 when Ball remixed one of Almond's singles ("Waifs And Strays") and co-wrote and arranged some music for Almond's Tenement Symphony album in 1991. David Ball formed The Grid during 1990 with Richard Norris. The Grid ended in 1996, but reformed during 2005 and released an album during 2008 with the Some Bizzare company, named Doppelgänger .


Almond and Ball reunited as Soft Cell in 2001, with a series of live dates. They performed at the opening of the Ocean nightclub in London during March 2001, and a mini tour followed later in the year. The track "God Shaped Hole" featured on the Some Bizzare compilation titled I'd Rather Shout at a Returning Echo than Kid Someone's Listening , released during 2001. A new Soft Cell album, Cruelty Without Beauty , was released during late 2002, followed by a European tour and a small US tour during early 2003. The new album featured their first new songs together in almost twenty years. The second single from the album, a cover of The Four Seasons ' "The Night", reached No. 39 in the UK. Soft Cell had considered recording "The Night" in place of "Tainted Love" during 1981, though as keyboardist David Ball stated in a 2003 interview with BBC's Top of the Pops , "I think history has kind of shown that we did make the right choice [in 1981]."

During August 2007, the band announced plans to release a remix album entitled Heat. The remix album was released in November 2008 and included 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 Poets and many more. [12]

In February 2018, Soft Cell announced that they would reunite for one last time. The show entitled “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” took place at the O2 in London on 30 September. [13] [14] The farewell show was streamed live in cinemas across the UK and Ireland, with other countries (Including Canada) [15] set to follow, ahead of a live CD and DVD/Blu-ray release in 2019. [16] On 21 August 2018, Almond revealed on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 that Soft Cell were releasing two new tracks ahead of their reunion concert at the O2 in London: "Northern Lights" and "Guilty (Cos I Say You Are)". [17]


The group cited David Bowie and Marc Bolan as primary influences. [18] Almond also named Siouxsie Sioux as a major influence: [19] "You can even hear that I’m trying to sing like her on some of those early Soft Cell songs: I didn’t want to sing properly, I wanted to sing in a punk way". [20]


Related Research Articles

<i>This Last Night in Sodom</i> 1984 studio album by Soft Cell

This Last Night in Sodom is the third full-length album by the English synthpop duo Soft Cell. It was released in March 1984, about a month after the duo publicly announced they were dissolving the partnership. The album peaked at number 12 in the UK Album Chart, and would be Soft Cell's last album for 18 years.

<i>Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret</i> 1981 studio album by Soft Cell

Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret is the debut album by English synthpop duo Soft Cell, released in the United Kingdom on 27 November 1981 by Some Bizzare Records. The album's critical and commercial success was bolstered by the worldwide success of its single "Tainted Love", a cover version of a soul song by Gloria Jones, which topped charts worldwide and became the best-selling British single of 1981 in the United States—as a result of the single's success the album had reported advance orders of more than 200,000 copies. The album produced two more top five singles in the UK with "Bedsitter" and "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye".

<i>Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing</i> 1982 EP by Soft Cell

Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing is an EP by English synthpop duo Soft Cell, released in the United Kingdom in June 1982 by Some Bizzare Records. In addition to remixes of the group's older material, it also included a brand new track, a cover of Judy Street's 1966 song "What?", which was a Top 3 hit for Soft Cell.

<i>Soft Cells Non-Stop Exotic Video Show</i> 1982 video by Soft Cell

Soft Cell's: Non-Stop Exotic Video Show is a video album by British synthpop duo Soft Cell. It is a companion release to their debut album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. The collection was originally issued on VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc in 1982, and re-issued on DVD in 2004.

<i>The Art of Falling Apart</i> 1983 studio album by Soft Cell

The Art of Falling Apart is the second full-length album by the English synthpop duo Soft Cell, released in 1983.

Stephen John Pearce, commonly known as Stevo, is a British record producer and music industry executive, best known as the owner of indie record label Some Bizzare Records.

<i>Live</i> (Soft Cell album) 2003 live album by Soft Cell

Live is a live album by Soft Cell. The album was released on 7 October 2003 and was recorded throughout Spring 2003 in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, London and Brussels during the group's tour in support of the album Cruelty Without Beauty.

<i>The Singles</i> (Soft Cell album) 1986 compilation album by Soft Cell

The Singles was the first compilation album to be released by Soft Cell. The album was issued on vinyl, cassette and CD in 1986 and features all their singles, from the albums Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing, The Art of Falling Apart and This Last Night in Sodom, with the exception of 'A Man Can Get Lost' & 'Barriers'. The CD booklet included a November 1986 essay by Tony Mitchell.

<i>Memorabilia – The Singles</i> 1991 compilation album by Soft Cell and Marc Almond

Memorabilia – The Singles is a compilation album featuring songs by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond as a solo artist and with his partner Dave Ball as the synthpop duo Soft Cell. The album is a compilation for both Almond and Soft Cell, it was released in 1991 and reached number eight on the UK Albums Chart. Memorabilia – The Singles was promoted by the singles "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye '91" and "Tainted Love '91.

<i>Say Hello to Soft Cell</i> 1996 compilation album by Soft Cell

Say Hello to Soft Cell is a budget-priced compilation album by Soft Cell. The album was released in 1996 by Spectrum and collects singles, album tracks and b-sides. It is also notable for the inclusion of A Man Can Get Lost, formerly previously available only on 7" vinyl single and unavailable on CD, until subsequent releases corrected this. The four page booklet contains a brief biography by Marc Almond.

<i>The Twelve Inch Singles</i> 1982 compilation album by Soft Cell

The Twelve Inch Singles is a compilation album by Soft Cell. The original 1982 release was as a vinyl box set containing the group's first six twelve inch single releases, along with an 8 page booklet. It was rereleased as an expanded three compact disc set in 1999, with a slightly revised version reissued in 2001.

<i>The Very Best of Soft Cell</i> 2002 greatest hits album by Soft Cell

The Very Best of Soft Cell is an official compilation album by Soft Cell. The album was released on 16 April 2002 and was approved by the band; it includes most of the hit singles and also some b-sides, such as "Insecure Me" and "It's A Mug's Game". The song "Numbers" was also considerably shortened for this release, but its AA side "Barriers" is missing. Two new songs, "Somebody, Somewhere, Sometime" and "Divided Soul", and two brand new remixes of "Tainted Love" and "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" were also included. The album reached #37 on the UK Top 40 chart.

The following list details the discography of the British independent record label, Some Bizzare Records. The label is notable for hosting such artists as Soft Cell, The The and Marc Almond. The discography is broken down into different media type sections.

The discography of the English singer, songwriter and recording artist Marc Almond consists of music recorded since the late 1970s. He has recorded as a solo artist and with several other groups, these include Soft Cell, Marc & the Mambas, The Willing Sinners and Flesh Volcano. He has also worked with Michael Cashmore, and has contributed to numerous one-off releases with a variety of artists.


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Further reading