Marc Almond

English singer-songwriter and musician. Peter Sinclair “Marc” Almond was born 9 July 1957. Almond first began performing and recording in te synthpp/New Wave duo Soft Cell.He has had a diverse career. As a child, Almond listened to his parent’ record collection, which included his mother’s “Let’s Dance” by Chris Montez and “The Twist” by Chubby Checker, also his father’s collection of jazz including Dave Brubeck and Eartha Kitt. As an adolescent, Almond listened to Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg. He also listened to progressive music, blues and rock, Free, Jethro Tull, Van der Graf Generator The Who, and The Doors, and bought the first ever issue of Sounds, because it contained a free poster of Jimmy Page. Almond became a fan of Marc Bolan after hearing him on the John Peel Show, buying the T. Rex single “Ride a White Swan”. From then on Almond “followed everything Marc Bolan did,” Almond was such a fan of Bolan that he adopted the name ‘Marc’ he also discovered the songs of Jacques Brel through Bowie as well as Alex Harvey and Dusty Springfield.

Almond initially shot to fame in the early 1980s as one half of the synth duo Soft Cell, whose hits included “Tainted Love”, “Bedsitter” Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, “What!”, “Soul Inside” and the club hit “Memorabilia”. Soft Cell’s first release was an independent record (funded by David Ball’s mother) entitled “Mutant Moments” via Red Rhino Records in 1980.”Mutant Moments” came to the attention of music entrepreneur Stevo Pearce, who at the time was compiling a “futurist” chart for the music paper Sos which featured young, upcoming and experimental bands of the new wave of electronic sound. He signed the duo to his Some Bizzare label and they enjoyed a string of nine Top 40 hit singles and four Top 20 albums in the UK between 1981-84. They recorded three albums in New York with producer Mike Thorne: Non Stop Erotic Cabaret, Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing and The Art of Falling Apart. Almond became involved with the New York Underground Art Scene at this time with writer/DJ Anita Sarko, and performed at a number of Art events as well as meeting many New York Art luminaries including Andy Warhol.”Tainted Love”, a cover of a Gloria Jones’ Northern Soul classic was number one in the UK and in many countries over the world and was in the Guinness Book of Records for a while as the record that spent the longest time in the Billboard Top 100 chart in the U.S. It also won the best single award of 1981 at the first Brit Awards. Soft Cell brought an otherwise obscure Northern Soul classic to mass public attention and their version of the song is, to date, the UK’s 59th best selling single of all time, selling over one million copies in the UK.

In 1982, Almond formed Marc and the Mambas as an off-shoot project from Soft Cell. Marc and the Mambas was a loose experimental collective which included Matt Johnson, Steve James Sherlock, Lee Jenkinson, Peter Ashworth, Jim Thirlwell and Annie Hogan, with whom Almond worked later in his solo career. Under the Mambas moniker Almond recorded two albums; Untitled and the seminal double opus Torment and Toreros. He disbanded the collective when it started to feel too much like a regular band.Soft Cell also disbanded in 1984 just before the release of their fourth album, This Last Night In Sodom, though the duo reunited in 2001.Almond’s first proper solo album was Vermin in Ermine, released in 1984. It featured musicians from the Mambas outfit, Annie Hogan, Martin McCarrick and Billy McGee.

This ensemble, known as The Willing Sinners, worked alongside Almond for the subsequent albums Stories of Johnny (1985) from which the title track became a minor hit, and Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters (1987), which was highly acclaimed in reviews, stating that it “embraces classic European cabaret to wonderful effect, more so than any American or English rock album since Bowie’s Aladdin Sane or Lou Reed’s Berlin.” McCarrick left The Willing Sinners in 1987 to join Siouxsie and the Banshees, from which point Hogan and McGee became known as La Magia. Almond released the album The Stars We Are in 1988 which featured Almond’s version of “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart”, which was later re-recorded as a duet with the song’s original singer Gene Pitney and released as a single. The track reached No. 1 in the UK. It also reached number one in Germany and was a major hit in countries around the world. Almond’s other recordings in the 1980s included an album of Brel songs, called Jacques, and an album of dark French chansons originally performed by Juliette Greco, Serge Lama and Léo Ferré, as well as poems by Rimbaud and Baudelaire set to music. This album was released in 1993 as Absinthe (The French Album), and was initially recorded in the late 1980s then finished in Paris in the early 1990s.

Almond’s next album was Enchanted, which spawned the UK Top 30 hit “A Lover Spurned”. A further single from the album, “Waifs and Strays”, was remixed by Dave Ball who was now in the electronic dance band The Grid. In 1991, Soft Cell returned to the charts with a new remix of “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” followed by a re-release of “Tainted Love” (with a new video). The singles were issued to promote a new Soft Cell/Marc Almond compilation album, Memorabilia – The Singles, which collected some of the biggest hits from Almond’s career throughout the previous ten years. Almond then released a new solo album, Tenement Symphony and also the album Fantastic Star recording sessions for the album with John Cale, David Johanson, and Chris Spedding. During recording Almond also spent several weeks attending a treatment centre in Canterbury for addiction. Almond re-invented himsel with a more downbeat and atmospheric electronica album, Open All Night. This featured R&B and trip hop influences, as well as torch songs for which he had become known. The album featured a duet (“Threat of Love”) with Siouxsie Sioux as well as one (“Almost Diamonds”) with Keli Ali (then of the Sneaker Pimps). “Black Kiss”, “Tragedy” and “My Love” On 2001, Soft Cell reunited briefly and released their first new album in 18 years, Cruelty Without Beauty. Two singles came out of this album, “Monoculture” and a cover of the Frankie Valli’s “The Night”, then In June 2007, Almond released an album of cover songs, Stardom Road. Picked to tell a story of his life and career, the album featured songs as diverse as “I Have Lived” by Charles Aznavour, to “Stardom Road” by Third World War, Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”, and “Kitch” by Paul Ryan. The album featured also featured a newly written song. In October 2007, the fashion house Yves Saint Laurent picked Almond’s “Strangers in the Night” to represent their show at London’sFashion Rocks. Almond performed for the event at the Royal Albert Hall.

In 2008 and 2009, Almond toured with Jools Holland throughout the UK as well as guesting at shows by Current 93, Baby Dee and a tribute show to the late folk singer Sandy Denny. In October 2009, Almond released an album titled Orpheus in Exile: Songs of Vadim Kozin which was a tribute to Russian singer Vadim Kozin, who was exiled to the gulags of the Arctic Circleof Russian and comtaimed Romantic ballads and Gypsy songs. In June 2010, Almond released Varieté, an album of crafted personal songs, his first studio album of self-penned songs in almost a decade, and In 2011, Almond released an album Feasting with Panthers. A collaboration with musician and arranger Michael Cashmore. It featured poems of Count Eric Stenbock put to music as well as decadent and homoerotic poems by Jean Genet, Jean Cocteau, Paul Verlaine andRimbaud. Almond also took part in a unique music-theatre work Ten Plagues held at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre which was a one man song cycle based on Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year (which dates back to 1665), with metaphors of Aids and epidemics, and was a collaboration between Almond, theatre director and designer Stewart Laing, libretto author Mark Ravenhill and composer Conor Mitchell. The show won the Scotman’s Fringe First Award. In 2012, Almond took the role of the Greek Stoic philosopher Seneca in the Paris Théâtre du Châtelet’s experimental rock adaptation of Poppea based on Monteverdi’s original 17th century opera The Coronation of Poppea also starring ex-Libertines Carl Barat, Benjamin Biolay, Fredrika Stahl, Valerie Gabail and Anna Madison.On 9 August 2012, Almond performed at Antony Hegarty’s Meltdown Festival in London’s Southbank. He sang the whole Marc and the Mambas Torment and Toreros album for the first time live. Some of the original musicians in the album also performed with Almond.

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