Early 80s duo Marc Almond and David Ball are still mesmerising huge audiences with their catchy synth-pop.
Soft Cell is an English synth-pop duo consisting of vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball. Their career has spanned over three decades, resulting in the legendary track Tainted Love, the seminal, multi-platinum debut album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, ten Top 40 hits in the UK alone, four Top 20 albums between 1981 and 1984, and over ten million records sold worldwide! Their tracks are credited as the basis for the emergence of the darker forms of techno, and Soft Cell have been covered by everyone from pop bands like A-Ha to heavy metal stars such as Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails.
Soft Cell formed in 1978 in Leeds after Almond and Ball met at university. They released an EP with the help of a loan from Ball’s mother, which received interest from various record labels that were pushing the synth-pop sound popularized in the late 1980s by bands such as Depeche Mode and Blancmange. The boys ultimately signed to the Some Bizarre label and released their first singles which included Memorabilia, a track that is often credited as the root of techno. However, despite reaching a relative amount of club success with this song, they remained relatively unknown.
After their failure, their record label gave them one last chance to produce a chart hit. Whoever said working under pressure was not successful was clearly not speaking about Soft Cell, because the result of this ultimatum was Tainted Love, a cover of an obscure 1964 Northern Soul track. Tainted Love was a #1 hit in seventeen countries, including the UK, and a #8 single in the US. It also gave them a Guinness World Record for longest consecutive stay on the US Billboard Hot 100, with a reign of 43 weeks.
The duo’s first album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, hit UK #5 and explored the now characteristic Soft Cell themes of squalor and sleaze. They filmed several videos for their singles with the help of legendary director Tim Pope, which generated so much controversy that they were confiscated by the police before they were even released, but cemented their reputation as the masters of deviance. They continued to release until 1984, when they disbanded.
Luckily for the fans, Soft Cell reunited in 2001 with a series of live dates and new and old re-releases alike. They also released a remix album, keeping up with the newer generation of emerging dance music fans. Keep your eyes peeled for this duo: their music has proven to be so timeless that they’re comeback is inevitable!