Soft Cell have absorbed their lessons well. ‘Tainted Love’ – once a Northern disco hit for Marc Bolan’s wife Gloria Jones – is one of the most assured and stunning syn-ful dance singles released this year. In its combination of streamline software simplicity and sensual throb it reinforces NY heroes Suicide’s experiments in emotion-tugging electronics without repeating them directly,as they had done previously with the earlier ‘Memorabilia’.

They’ve taken the whole thing a step further on the 12-inch version, which effortlessly merges with the B-side version of The Supremes’ ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ via an extremely inventive,
melodic burn down. Little touches like that contribute to ‘Tainted Love’’s transcendence of genre prejudices. They elevate it, and by implication the whole electro-bop, above the fickle clutches of the fad fiends and place it in the public arena where it belongs.

Nobody should be surprised, hurt or disappointed that Soft Cell are sitting pretty at the top of the BBC charts.

A lone, Latin-tinged trumpet sounds through the corridors and seeps all off-key into Soft Cell’s dressing room. The duo makes an odd couple. “It wasn’t planned that way,” they assure me.
Singer Marc Almond, from Southport, is small, effervescent and giggly; musician David Ball, from Blackpool, is tall, laconic,almost morose and more conscientiously artisan than artist.
Unsurprisingly Marc dominates the conversation.

“There,” he sighs. “I’ve gone and hogged the interview again.”
Marc plays frontman with relish – all Liberace gestures and varying voice pitches while David is the natural straightman who is still wondering what all the fuss is about. What with the former’s
flutterings and the latter’s refusal to participate in the creation of the Soft Cell myth, the duo were at fi rst dismissed as flightly futurists prepared to ride whatever bandwagon was available.

The first one to happen along was the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ compilation put together by East End futurist DJ and lovable pest Stevo. When it came out, the Some Bizzare boys were seen
as poor relations to the more stylish publicists of the Spandau Ballet/Rusty Egan set. Stood up against Spandau svengali Steve Dagger, or even Blue Rondo’s Chris Sullivan, Stevo appeared as
little more than a court jester.

However, as Spandau and Blue Rondo’s attempts to stay ahead have resulted in increasingly absurd fads, the unforced emergence of one-time Bizzare groups Depeche Mode and Soft Cell sets the whole operation in a far better light. Compare, for instance,Spandau Ballet’ degeneration from kitschy visionaries into hack funk plagiarists with Soft Cell’s rise from trashy aesthetes to
dancehall favourites and decide for yourselves who’s created the New Soul Version. Suddenly it becomes apparent that Stevo was closer to the pulse than the rest.

“Stevo has been knocked an awful lot,” states Marc. “He’s been called all sorts of things. Paul Morley said, which was really untrue, that ‘Some Bizzare…’ was a nice sort of home for all these
little groups that nobody wanted. Well, I admire Stevo for going out to be untrendy, for turning down groups who were already well known and who were prepared to be on the album,accepting
the ‘futurist’ tag and all.”Read last page...


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