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Marc Almond

Marc Almond has had a long and varied career spanning almost 30 years. During this time, after a career with Soft Cell and Marc and the Mambas, he has collaborated with an extremely wide range of artists including Antony and The Johnsons, Jools Holland, Siouxsie Sioux, Nick Cave, P.J. Proby, Nico, Kelli Ali of the Sneaker Pimps, Neal X (on the albums Fantastic Star and Open All Night), Marie France, Agnes Bernelle, Lydia Lunch, Gene Pitney on the #1 UK single "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart", Foetus (a.k.a. J. G. Thirlwell), Jimmy Somerville of The Communards and Bronski Beat, Psychic TV, Coil, Sally Timms of the Mekons, King Roc, John Cale and David Johansen of The New York Dolls and German band Rosenstolz.

Almond initially shot to fame in the early 1980s as one half of synth duo Soft Cell, (whilst at Leeds Polytechnic that that Marc met David Ball a fellow student, forming Soft Cell in 1979). whose combination of drama and peep show sleaze set to an electronic beat gave them hits such as "Tainted Love" (UK #1), "Bedsitter" (UK #3), "Torch" (UK #2), "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" (UK #3), "Soul Inside" (UK # 16), "What?" (UK #3) and the club hit "Memorabilia". They were first spotted by David Oddie, boss of Wakefield based Ambergris Records in a Bradford club, who passed his enthusiasm onto Dead Good Records in Lincoln, famous for their Hicks From The Sticks compilation, who in turn approached Polygram , the newly formed amalgam of Polydor and Phonogram. Although Soft Cell disbanded in 1984 just before the release of fourth album, This Last Night In Sodom, the duo reunited in 2001 for live shows and in 2002 released a new album entitled Cruelty Without Beauty, from which the single "The Night" (UK #39) was taken.

His biggest UK hits as a solo artist have been cover versions; the aforementioned 1989 number one duet with Gene Pitney and another near chart-topper in 1991 with David McWilliams' "The Days of Pearly Spencer", which peaked at #4. In 1985, he duetted with Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat on a cover of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love (Medley)" and it hit #3. The highest UK positions his self-penned singles have reached so far have been "Stories of Johnny" (#23 in 1985), "Tears Run Rings" (#28 in 1988) and "Adored and Explored" (#25 in 1995).

Almond's work runs the gamut from electronica and dance music to French chanson, traditional piano ballads, and Russian romance songs, as exhibited on his 2003 album Heart on Snow. Influences include David Bowie, a childhood hero of his, as well as early 1960s Northern Soul and disco. Other major influences have been Scott Walker from the Walker Brothers and Jacques Brel, 12 of whose songs Almond reworked in English for his 1989 album Jacques. Almond's own lyrics are a creative expression of what he sees and are not to be confused with his own life. He also operates a record label, Blue Star Music, on which he has released many of his solo and collaborative records in the UK.

In 1999, Almond received attention and accolades for his autobiography, entitled Tainted Life, which confronts details of his early life, creative ventures, his sexuality, and drug addiction, for which he was hospitalized in 1994. Almond wrote the autobiography without a ghost writer and his publishers subsequently commissioned him to write a travel book, In Search of the Pleasure Palace: Disreputable Travels, whose publication in 2004 was accompanied by a book-signing tour.

On 17 October 2004, Almond was badly injured in a motorbike accident in London, in which he was a pillion passenger. Although the initial prognosis was considered poor, he was discharged from Royal London Hospital on around 6 November 2004 and was said to be making a "remarkable" recovery. Two months later he was giving press and TV interviews saying he could not wait to get back on stage. His recovery was, however, to take longer than he thought, involving several operations and counseling for post traumatic stress disorder.

In 2005, he continued his recovery, did some DJ gigs all over Europe and guested at the Meltdown Festival in London in June 2005, hosted by Patti Smith. Almond contributed two songs to this night of Brecht music, "Bilbao Song" and "What Keeps a Man Alive". In October, November and December 2005, Almond went on tour with Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, singing two songs during the shows, "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" and "Tainted Love", which had a new arrangement done by Holland. 2006 saw Almond concentrate on recording, making few public appearances, though he did headline the Manchester Gay Pride Festival in August of that year. In 2005 he also contributed a track to the Serge Gainsbourg tribute album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.

Almond's new album of cover songs, Stardom Road, was released on 4 June 2007, and features artists such as St Etienne's Sarah Cracknell and Antony from Antony and the Johnsons. Two of the cover versions included in this new album are Dusty Springfield's "I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten", which he has recorded with Sarah Cracknell, and Gene Pitney's over the top "Backstage (I'm Lonely)", as a tribute to the late crooner, featuring a guest appearance by Jools Holland. The album also includes one new self-penned song, "Redeem Me (Beauty Will Redeem the World)", his first composition since the near-fatal motorbike accident.

Marc also appears on the 2006 album Black Ships Ate the Sky by experimental band Current 93. He is also working on a DVD compilation of all his promotional video clips as well as his last ever self-penned album, tentatively titled Dining with Panthers, which is due to be completed in 2008.

Almond made his return to the London stage for a three-night run at the historic Wilton's Music Hall from May 4-6 2007, his first full-length UK shows since his accident. He had been warming up with shows in Barcelona, Athens and Moscow. He then recorded a BBC Radio special which was broadcast on Radio 2 on 1st June, and played a mini-tour in June and July, culminating in a 50th birthday concert before 2,000 fans and friends at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London on July 9th. The concert, a tour de force at nearly three hours on stage, had the audience in rapture. Marc himself was overcome with emotion on a couple of occasions especially when paying tribute to Gene Pitney.

On July 29th, Marc made his first ever live appearance in his home town of Southport as a guest of Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. He performed "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" and "Tainted Love"



Click on the album images below to purchase.

SBZ071CD
Double CD "MARC ALMOND - VIRGIN'S TALE"
(VOL 1 & VOL 2)
23/06/2008
RE-ISSUE


SBZ113CD
CD "MARC ALMOND - ABSINTHE"
23/06/2008
RE-ISSUE

SBZ114CD
CD MARC ALMOND - JACQUES"
23/06/2008
RE-ISSUE

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