Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Second Time Around part 1 of 4- Soft Cell

Growing up in the fens as I've mentioned before meant buying your records from one of 3 places W H Smiths , Boots and a small Grace Brothers like department store. The department store was a bit of a lucky dip, Smiths was chart and that was about it, however Boots was the gold mine. This goldmine was largely due to the markdown bin. Now I'm not sure what their buying policy was ,local or national but they always seemed to buy shedloads of 2nd lps that were expected to sell loads but died a death. As a result you waited a few weeks and then picked them up for bargain prices.

I'm going to focus on 4 lps that have the fact in common that they all sold way less than expected and yet I like them much better than the respective bands' debut

First up is "The Art of Falling Apart" by Soft Cell. Released on the back of their first 5 singles going top 5 and a worldwide hit in Tainted Love. The record company must have high hopes for the second lp (I'm discounting the remix lp Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing as it blows my pattern!)

What they hadn't counted on was that Marc Almond and Dave Ball had decided they wanted to be artists and not pop stars. In a recent Tv documentary the pair rather wistfully reflected that they came to both realise that making pop music was no bad thing and yet by that time it was all too late as they really had pressed the commercial self destruct button with the 3rd lp "Last Night in Sodom"

I think the lp really belongs to Dave Ball. Gone are the plinky plonky catchy synths to be replaced with a much richer fuller sound. Lyrically Marc Almond transferred the seediness of soho to suburbia which to me, living in new estate land made it seem much more real.

The lead off single gave notice of what to expect , a sombre tale of unhappy home "Where the Heart is", it had the top of the pops fans of "What" scratching their heads. Apparently there was big arguments with the record company who wanted the song I've posted as the first single. For once the record company people I think were right. Lyrically still dark , it bounded along at a fair pace whilst still moving the sound on.

You also got an added 12" single with the lp. One side had a melody of Hendrix covers on and is possibly one of the worst bits of music I own. However the other side had a monster song called "Martin" on , inspired by a little seen horror film. Even if you don't like Soft Cell give it a listen , it is the scariest record ever made. Marc Almond seems to use the "Kill Kill" refrain with a little too much relish

You can buy the cd here that has the added tracks from the 12" on. It is a lost classic from that time and showed that you could make synth music with real depth and feeling


  1. I think The Art of Falling Apart is my favorite Soft Cell album. I love Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, but the Dance remix album really bummed me out at the time. To this day I hate when retro US radio stations play the remix of Tainted Love that slips into Where Did Our Love go! You hit it right on the nail in that this album brought the seedy, twisted, maniacal off of the Soho streets and into the parlor and bedrooms of our parents. Brilliant stuff. Marc is so much more on edge and flying from one emotion to another... its beautifully scary!

  2. Hi

    Art of Falling Apart is def my favourite - just felt the sound was a lot richer and fuller coupe dwith Marc Almond really hittign hsi stride as on his lyrics.


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