Hits And Pieces: The Best Of Marc Almond And Soft Cell

Marc Almond has recently signed his first large record deal in years, with Universal, and following the release of his 10-disc anthology “Trials of Eyeliner” at the end of 2016, is subsequently releasing a new collection of his single releases entitled “Hits and Pieces”.  It’s available in 1CD and 2CD formats and is his first “Hits” album since “Memorabilia – The Singles” in 1991.

The Hits, which start at the worldwide chart classic “Tainted Love” and probably the song he’s best known for, and end with his forthcoming new single “A Kind of Love”. 

The double album includes most of his singles, many of which were hits such as “Somethings Gotten Hold of My Heart” with Gene Pitney, the Jacques Brel/Scott Walker cover version of “Jacky” and the self-penned “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” of which is somewhat of a tradition to perform at the end of Marc Almond gigs these days. 

The other songs included on the album which were not so popular with the record buying public, presumably “the Pieces” include some of his finest work, in my opinion. The single “Out There” has wisely been replaced with the B-side of that release namely “Brilliant Creatures” which is an infectiously catchy song and a personal favourite. “The Desperate Hours” and “A Lover Spurned” the former of which hovered outside the top 40 and the latter which reached number 29 are also welcome inclusions. 

Notable omissions on the album include the utterly brilliant and poignant “Only the Moment” (my funeral song, if anyone’s interested) and “Waifs and Strays” which although didn’t get anywhere near the top 40 (it only reached number 88) is still a great song, and of which an excellent remix was made by The Grid, which is Dave Ball’s old band post-Soft Cell. 

Another ‘missing’ single includes “Mother Fist”, which, although according to its chart position, bombed, reaching only number 93 and leaving the charts altogether a week later, the album from which it’s taken is documented as the fans’ favourite. So much so that Marc performed two special gigs last year at London’s Playhouse and the RNCM in Manchester, of the album in its entirety, to positive critique. 

The album is accompanied by a short tour in the Spring, also entitled “Hits and Pieces” which kicks off on 22 March at London’s Roundhouse, and takes in Perth, Buxton, York, and Warrington. There’s also a pre-tour warm up gig at Milton Keynes’ The Stables. 

This being the year of Marc’s 60th birthday, we have been told there are other events in the pipeline. Rumours include a 60th birthday gig at the Royal Albert Hall, a Soft Cell boxed set and a larger tour in the Autumn, all of which are as yet officially unconfirmed. 

The new album will please both fans of the man and his work, as well as Soft Cell fans who are intrigued to know what he’s been up to this past thirty years. This album is but the tip of the Marc Almond iceberg. In my humble opinion if you want to explore his work further, you should buy his albums to discover the richer fruit. He’s so much more than “Tainted Love”. 

The new single “A Kind of Love” is being premiered on the Ken Bruce show, BBC Radio 2 at 11.30am on Monday 30 January. 

The album will be available in 1CD and 2CD deluxe versions from the usual outlets on the 10th March 2017.
  

Tracklist:

CD 1:

01. Memorabilia (Soft Cell)

02. Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go (Original 12 Version) (Soft Cell)

03. Bedsitter (Soft Cell)

04. Say Hello Wave Goodbye (Soft Cell)

05. Torch (Soft Cell)

06. What! (Soft Cell)

07. Where The Heart Is (Soft Cell)

08. Soul Inside (Soft Cell)

09. Down In The Subway (Extended Single Version) (Soft Cell)

10. I Feel Love (Full Length Version) (Bronski Beat with Marc Almond)

11. Black Heart (Marc & The Mambas)

12. Stories Of Johnny

13. Melancholy Rose

14. Tears Run Rings

15. Ruby Red

16. Somethings Gotten Hold Of My Heart (Marc Almond with Gene Pitney)

17. A Lover Spurned
CD 2:

01. The Desperate Hours

02. My Hand Over My Heart

03. Jacky

04. The Days Of Pearly Spencer

05. What Makes A Man (Live)

06. The Idol

07. Adored and Explored

08. Brilliant Creatures

09. Child Star

10. Tragedy (Take A Look And See)

11. Glorious

12. Variety

13. Burn Bright

14. The Dancing Marquis

15. Bad To Me

16. Scar

17. A Kind Of Love (Full Length Version)

18. Tainted Love (Marc Almond with Jools Holland and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra)
_____________________________

Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her fourth poetry collection “Fame; What’s Your Name?” and her second novel “Baby, Can You Hear Me?” were both published in paperback and Kindle in 2016.  Her third novel will be published in 2017.  

She regularly writes for We Are Cult and the Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s long running fanzine, Celestial Toyroom 

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“Serious Moonlight from the Starman tonight”- a poem 

Nothing ch-ch-changes and nothing stays the same
The ultimate chameleon has frozen in his final Lazarus frame

He’s left a Blackstar legacy, of which he prophesied

How could this mortal leave us here, while he just goes and dies?

The news of Bowie’s passing is too huge to contemplate

A global outpour of disbelief into a senseless frozen lake

So how to sum up a unique life in just a few lines of verse

My words are flowing from the heart; a blessing and a curse 

When Golden Years span generations

From Laughing gnomes to London boys 

Aladdin Sane, and Ziggy too

Hunky Dory, we love you

Ground control to Thin White Duke

Boys Keep Swinging in their youth

Oh You Pretty Thing, looking so fine

The Rebel Rebel is dancing divine

Jeanie Gene loves chimney stacks

And Scary Monsters haunt Halloween Jack

The Man Who Sold the World for Fame

The Rise and Fall, just to keep Sane

The Goon Squad send their last regards 

Whilst Windrush Place contains the hoards

An oddity crowd stands Station to Station

Representing the grief of this great nation

How lucky are we to have lived in a time

When Bowie’s greatness was ours. Sublime.
Ange Chan ©2016

11/1/16 

“The Bowie in Me” – a poem 

Crying tears of electric blue 

The world still weeps for the loss of you

Bittersweet memories of Hunky Dory

Will always form my Bowie story

At seven years old I was alone in the car

Fiddling with the radio, waiting for my Pa

My frequency airwaves epiphany;

“John I’m Only Dancing” spoke right to me!

From that moment on I had to hear more

I needed to expand my musical store

Who was this man with the words that I loved?

He was strangely unique, but I totally understood

A musical journey embracing all feeling

My tender young heart, emotionally reeling

Images of spacemen in galaxies afar

And madmen who were always crashing the same car

Then I heard Hunky Dory, with its strange quirky words

Hanging artists on walls, imagery absurd!

Hands reaching down from cinematic clouds

A thematic soundtrack for sunken dreams abound

Sailors dancing to the best selling show

The curious in me always wanting to know

Kooky people wanted to be free

And brothers who went by the name of Bewley

It took me to places that I’d never been

And expanded my mind; a vinyl LSD

Knowledge learnt beyond my age

Not always understanding but wanting that to change

It became a reference to bullshit fame

Which was never a part of your ultimate game

Ch-ch-changes were happening to me

As I morphed from a young girl into my puberty 

“Don’t tell me to grow up and out if it”

This is the way I was meant to be lit

A shining star that unlocks the city

Believing in self whilst sitting pretty

And later in nightclubs I’d mingle with stars

Creative hand movements danced to Life on Mars

Rock n Roll sailors with hearts in the can

A mortal with the potential of superman

That special album will always Fill my Heart

It was the true beginning of my Bowie start

A love that had grown with me over the years

And though he is gone, there’ll be no more tears

His musical empire left a vast legacy

And he’ll always be remembered deep inside of me

So Thank You David as you float on your way

You’re part of the fabric of who I am today
Ange Chan ©2016

“Look up here, I’m in Heaven…”

10th January 2016 is a date which many music fans won’t forget in a hurry. Last year, this was the date the world tragically lost David Bowie, although many of us didn’t hear the news until the next day (pun intended). I remember first reading the news on a friend’s Facebook timeline. I then did what I normally do and checked the unbelievable news on Google, hoping that it was just another cruel celebrity hoax. David Bowie wasn’t even reported to be ill. He’d released his latest album Blackstar just two days beforehand. Surely the news couldn’t be true? The utter ridiculousness of such a notion was at the back of my mind, as my being started to prepare myself for the unthinkable.

With huge disbelief at even having to Google the words ‘David Bowie dead’ I was dismayed to find a barrage of media stories confirming my worst fears. A cold chill grasped my heart with utter shock and disbelief of such incredible news. As I walked downstairs, my husband asked if I was OK. Apparently, I was ashen. I told him the sad news and then my tears came, and came, and came. I, like millions of other across the globe had lost someone who meant so much to us. This is a man whose influence was so interwoven into our lives, culture and consciousness that we literally felt like a part of us had withered and died that day too.

I could write a book on how Bowie has influenced my life, and the lives of the next generation of music which I also grew up with and formed part of who I am. One year on there are still copious TV and Radio programmes, tributes and testaments to the man. He is still very much the man of the moment and will no doubt continue to be so for many decades to come.

I paid my own homage to him on Sunday 8th January 2017, by visiting the mural in Brixton which became an unexpected altar at which to honour the man. I also visited his birthplace in Brixton, just a 10 minute walk away, and then went on an organised walking tour around Soho walking in the steps of his ghost; to the places he forged his career as a young man, where he met and visited Lyndsay Kemp, where he sought local inspiration to create album covers and where he celebrated his most famous persona of Ziggy Stardust. Despite being a Brixton boy, it was the place in London where he generally developed his art and theatricality; without Soho, there would be no David Bowie as we knew and loved him. I felt it was a fitting tribute to undertake this pilgrimage of sorts on what would have been his 70th birthday.  That day was for the celebration of his life. Today is to remember his astonishing genius, and the legacy he has left behind as a genuine legend. I’m truly privileged to have lived in his lifetime.

RIP David, never forgotten
Ange Chan 

10th January 2017