Soft Cell was formed in 1980 by Marc Almond and Dave Ball when they were at art college together in Leeds, England. Their prime stage prop was a padded 'soft cell', which took more carting around than their electronic instruments and tape recorder. They were 'discovered' at a punk-electronic music festival and signed to Stevo's label Some Bizzare.
Daniel Miller, of the classic early electronic pop warm Leatherette and later to found the influential Mute Records, produced a fine and groundbreaking
Memorabilia. Sale of the label to Phonogram found them with a single to do: Tainted Love. They were introduced to Mike Thorne, and started a relationship spanning three prominent albums and five consecutive UK top five singles. After splitting with Thorne, they made one album, This Last Night in Sodom, before quietly disbanding in 1984.
Solo projects followed. Marc was most active with Marc and the Mambas, Dave with The Grid. They reformed Soft Cell in October 2002 and have toured and recorded since, in addition to releasing solo work.
There are many articles on Soft Cell and Marc Almond at the Stereo Society, all about Thorne's production experiences with them. Not all were fun experiences, but lessons were learned.
Cell: Tainted Love
song, a hit for Gloria Jones in the sixties, was clearly a strong
one in some people's minds, since she re-recorded it in 1975, on
her EMI album Vixen, co-produced with Marc Bolan just before
the late-night car accident on Barnes Common, in West London, that
killed him. By the late seventies, it had became a club staple
on the English 'northern
Cell: Non Stop Erotic Cabaret
the world going mad around and about us, it was time to record
the follow-up to Tainted Love. That first major-label
single from the group would go on be the biggest-selling single
in the UK of 1981, eventually topping charts around the world
and even making #8 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in a national
market defiantly resistant
to new sounds......
Cell: Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing
had scored three consecutive top-five singles in the UK, and Tainted
Love was so in demand and so over-used that some New York
club Djs would be playing the UK 45rpm single at 33 1/3 in
a desperate attempt to find a new angle. (US extended
12” singles were generally cut at 33, UK at 45, so this
probably first happened as an enlightened
In a pleasantly
unguarded moment many years later, while working on Fantastic
Star, Marc Almond and I would agree that Torch was
the best single of the many tracks we made together in
the intense and creatively productive period that included
Soft Cell's first two albums. The dominant A side of what
was intended to be a double-A side, brings
Cell: The Art Of Falling Apart
knowing exactly when the phrase was coined, I’d guess
that the title of the double album probably wasn’t invented
until late in the recordings. But Soft Cell continued
their uncanny knack of delivering songs and sounds which mirrored
their current mental and psychological state. Unfortunately....
was to become Marc Almond’s Fantastic
Star CD was one of the most disappointing
results of my whole commercial record production
career, which it concluded. Its particular
story seems to reflect the whole self-destructive
malaise of the non-creative side of the business...
the Stereo Society:
Tainted Love production note
Non Stop Erotic Cabaret production note
Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing production note
Torch production note
The Art Of Falling Apart production note
Marc Almond's Fantastic Star production note
To Mike Thorne talks to Sound On Sound magazine about Tainted Love, April 2012