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PERVY POETRY AT ITS BEST

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Soft-Cell

I have hobby, but it’s nothing very special
I do the garden, I watch girls.
I am so ordinary.

mp3 : Soft Cell – Frustration

A great opener to one of the best albums of all time.

It’s like The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin set to music.

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (44)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 25 MARCH 2008

There could have been any one of a number of Soft Cell singles put up for consideration in this particular countdown. So why Bedsitter?

Simple really – it was the one that showed they were not going to be novelty one-hit wonders courtesy of a cover version.

Loads of blokes – hetros, homos and those not quite so sure – fell in love with Marc Almond on first sight. For me, it was the clothes and his attitude of seemingly not caring what anyone else thought of him. I was 18 years of age at the time, not long into my first year and university, but still living at home. I was happy enough, but looking to do something different with my life. Black became the colour of all my clothes….eye liner became the choice of make-up…..I started going to discotheques in Glasgow….but only the ones that would play non-chart fodder. Sadly, there weren’t that many of them, and certainly not on Saturday nights. But Maestro’s was one such place, as was Night Moves (which also doubled as a concert venue in midweek).

I thought Soft Cell were incredible. The fact that Marc wasn’t a classical singer in the true sense of the word irritated so many folk. The fact that Dave Ball was a bit weird-looking disturbed a lot of folk. They reminded me so much of Sparks – a band that often brightened up my childhood with appearances on Top Of The Pops (and who would have made this Top 45 if I had in fact bought This Town Aint Big Enough For Both Of Us when it came out).

It’s amazing to look back and realise just how enormous Soft Cell actually were in the early 80s. Tainted Love was the biggest selling single of 1981. Bedsitter reached #4. Say Hello Wave Goodbye, #3 in early 1982. All of these were from Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, a #5 LP.

Then it was Torch in April 1982 – it reached #2, followed by What! in July and it hit #9 in the charts. And those were the days when you needed to shift in excess of 500,000 copies to hit the Top 10…

The songs that followed – singles and LPs alike were, if anything, much more enjoyable. Problem was, they were less catchy and less radio-friendly. There also now loads of acts who sounded like Soft Cell and who could churn out hit after hit. Not surprisingly, Marc and Dave soon went their separate ways to enjoy decades of success in their own ways.

Back in 2002, the duo reformed an played a short British tour. Having been fortunate enough to see Marc Almond live several times as a solo performer, the gig at Glasgow Barrowlands was a night not to be missed. And so it proved….

More than quarter of a century after I first listened to Soft Cell, I’m still doing so on a regular basis. And I think there’s plenty more like me out there.

I still have my 12″ copy of Bedsitter – the label tells me that the single is the Early Morning Dance Side, while the flip track is the Late Night Listening Side. Both tracks clock in at almost 8 minutes….

mp3 : Soft Cell – Bedsitter (12 inch version)
mp3 : Soft Cell – Facility Girls (12 inch version)

GETTING JULY OFF TO A POPULAR START (Part 3 of 3)

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This is where the original plan to feature all the Soft Cell 12″ efforts ran into problems as I’m missing some of the later releases.  I wasn’t all that keen on Numbers, the second and final single to be released from The Art Of Falling Apart and made the decision that I’d wait until I saw it in a bargain bin before picking up a copy.  Unfortunately, I never did…as I was to learn that the 12″ effort was again a work of art with an extended opening sequence while the b-side was a very fine electronic ballad.

Before the calendar year of 1983 was out the boys brought out a new single which turned out to be a taster for a forthcoming LP that would ultimately be released in March 84 around a month after the band had confirmed their break-up.  I didn’t make the same mistake as I had with Numbers  – not that I wanted to as I think Soul Inside is one of their most underrated 45s and certainly deserved a much better chart position than #16.  And at almost 12 minutes long, the extended version is truly epic.

The final Soft Cell single is another that I don’t have a copy of. I certainly bought Down In The Subway but it is missing from the bits of vinyl stacked away in the cupboard.  I’m guessing that it ended up, by accident, in the collection of one or other of my student flatmates when our lease came to an end and we packed up our belongings and went our separate ways.

But rather than have a poor ending to the series I’m going to offer up the tracks on the UK and Canadian versions of Soul Inside as I picked up a copy of the latter when I was living in Toronto a few years back as well as the tracks on the bonus 12″ single that came with the initial copies of the second LP:-

mp3 : Soft Cell – Soul Inside
mp3 : Soft Cell – Loving You Hating Me
mp3 : Soft Cell – You Only Live Twice
mp3 : Soft Cell – 007 Theme

mp3 : Soft Cell – Numbers
mp3 : Soft Cell – Barriers
mp3 : Soft Cell – Her Imagination

mp3 : Soft Cell – Martin
mp3 : Soft Cell – Hendrix Medley

Martin is a magnificently twisted and dark composition regarded by many fans as one of the best things David and Marc ever recorded and while it is a bit of mystery as to why it wasn’t part of the proper album it shouldn’t be forgotten that at 10 minutes long it fitted better as a bonus 12″ single and was provided as special reward to those of us who bought a copy of The Art Of Falling Apart at the outset.

Oh and you’ll notice that my Canadian purchase negated my need to find a copy of Numbers/Barriers as well as providing a copy of the song that had only been made available in the UK as part of the 2×7″ release of Soul Inside.

Enjoy!!

GETTING JULY OFF TO A POPULAR START (Part 2 of 3)

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It was right on the back of the success of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, that Soft Cell returned with a new self-written song and what in retrospect many consider to be their finest 45. It was a trumpet-led effort that had class and style written all over it; it reached #2 in the UK singles chart but really did deserve to have taken the top spot.

Next up was their take on another largely unheralded single, originally recorded by Judy Street in 1968 and re-released in 1977 after it had become a staple of the Northern Soul scene here in the UK.  The b-side is interesting as it as its an instrumental which gives an early indication that Dave Ball was getting bored writing catchy hits.

Finally for today, the lead-off 45 from the duo’s second LP, The Art of Falling Apart, a record which upon release would alienate many of those who saw Soft Cell purely as a pop band and delight those of us who loved their deeper, darker and more experimental side.

mp3 : Soft Cell – Torch
mp3 : Soft Cell – Insecure Me

mp3 : Soft Cell – What
mp3 : Soft Cell – So

mp3 : Soft Cell – Where The Heart Is
mp3 : Soft Cell – It’s A Mug’s Game

Enjoy.

GETTING JULY OFF TO A POPULAR START (Part 1 of 3)

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I had thought about following up the ongoing Altered Images singles series with a look back at the 12″ versions of the 45s released by Soft Cell in the 80s. The snag however, being that I don’t own absolutely everything by them. Instead, I’ll use the next three days to offer those bits of plastic that I do own, starting with the first three singles taken from Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret:-

mp3 : Soft Cell – Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go
mp3 : Soft Cell – Tainted Dub

mp3 : Soft Cell – Bedsitter
mp3 : Soft Cell – Facility Girls

 

 

mp3 : Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
mp3 : Soft Cell – Fun City

All three singles reached the Top 5 in the UK and all three 12″ versions expand and improve on the better-known 7″ or album versions. The b-sides are also in extended form.

Parts 2 and 3 will appear over the next two days.

Enjoy.

CAN YOU TAKE THE FULL 12 INCHES?

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Soft Cell 2 party time

Soft Cell were a hugely underrated duo.  They made some incredibly innovative bits of electronica music in the early 80s. They conquered the charts with catchy pop tunes and filled their LPs with edgier, grittier material that must have scared the weans.

I was always on the lookout for the 12″ versions of their hit singles as they often turned the track into masterpieces and rarely fell into the trap of simply padding the songs with a bit of electronic doodling.  I’ve still got most of those 12 inchers sitting in the cupboard. Here’s some of the best:-

mp3 : Soft Cell – Say Hello Wave Goodbye

mp3 : Soft Cell – Bedsitter

mp3 : Soft Cell – Torch

And just in case there’s some of you out there who aren’t familiar with their unique 10-minute take on Hey Joe, Purple Haze and Voodoo Chile:-

mp3 : Soft Cell – Hendrix Melody

Bit more difficult to set fire to a synth mind you……

Enjoy