THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Part 35-40)

And so to the last of this run through of the solo singles issued over the past 35 years by Marc Almond. One thing for sure, you can never accuse him of churning out the same old stuff, time after time…..

(35) Scar
(36) Pleasure’s Wherever You Are
(37) Bad To Me
(38) Demon Lover

(All taken from the 2015 album, The Velvet Trail)

The Velvet Trail is the twentieth solo studio album by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond. It was released by Strike Force Entertainment / Cherry Red Records on 9 March 2015.

The Velvet Trail is Almond’s first album of original material since Varieté in 2010. It was produced by Christopher Braide and features a duet with Beth Ditto of indie rock band Gossip on the track “When the Comet Comes”.

Almond had previously stated that he would no longer record albums of original material following Varieté, calling that album “a kind of swansong”.He subsequently recorded a number of albums outside of the pop genre which mostly featured songs written by others. During this time he was approached by Braide, known for his work with pop artists such as Lana Del Rey, David Guetta and Britney Spears, who urged Almond to make “the ultimate Marc Almond album”Braide was a longtime fan of Almond and had in fact worked with Almond before, unbeknownst at that point to the singer. Almond explained the situation to Simon Price of The Quietus, stating “it was only afterwards that I realised where I knew Chris Braide from: he’d sung backing vocals on the Soft Cell reunion album Cruelty Without Beauty, and I’d passed him in the corridor”. Braide lured Almond back into songwriting by sending him three instrumental tracks, “hoping to change his mind about retirement”, a plan that worked when “all three were met with resounding enthusiasm”. They continued to work in this manner until the album was completed.

(39) A Kind Of Love (from the 2017 album, Hits and Pieces)

Hits and Pieces was a 35-track compilation of singles covering his entire career, and included Soft Cell hits and collaborations. A Kind Of Love was a new track, one which has been described as “three effortlessly breezy minutes that hint at Almond’s past the ‘light summery psychedelic sounds’ on that mid-60s transistor radio, the Northern soul scene that inspired Soft Cell to cover Tainted Love and What! without really sounding much like anything Marc Almond has recorded before.”

(40) How Can I Be Sure (from the 2017 album, Shadows and Reflections)

From The Line of Best Fit website:-

A title like Shadows and Reflections might make this album sound like a contemplative take on an illustrious three decades for synth pop pioneer Marc Almond, but it is certainly not a retrospective.

Recent success with his Hits and Pieces took care of previously released material; Shadows and Reflections is pure Almond, back on form and seemingly loving every moment. In fact, his new LP demonstrates that despite celebrating his 60th year in 2017, Almond has lost none of his heart stopping irony or youthful dramatic exuberance for mining 1960s back catalogues to create an astonishingly contemporary sound.

The songs on Shadows and Reflections were written or recorded by some of the most influential names in music over the last 50 years; veritable pop royalty including the likes of Burt Bacharach, The Action, The Yardbirds, Bobby Darlin, Julie Driscoll, Billy Fury and the Young Rascals. This impressive list alone stands testament to the reach and considerable influence Almond still wields after more than 30 years in the music industry.

Almond has never been one to shy away from theatrics, and so Shadows and Reflections is a showgirl of an album with sardonic delight bursting from under the petticoats of each baroque-styled pop song. As well as anthemic favourites such as Young Rascal’s “How Can I Be Sure” and gothic pop The Herd’s “From The Underworld” there are also new original compositions that provide “Overture” and “Interlude” to the performance.

When the curtain closes with yet another Marc Almond original “No One to Say Goodnight To” – composed and orchestrated by long-time collaborator John Harle – the dream is over and the tears can begin. For ultimately, in true Almond fashion, this musical nod to 1960’s Italian cinema is as much tragedy as comedy. The real tragedy however would be not to check it out.

And that final line is what I hope some of you will have been doing over the past few months of this series. Marc Almond is, very much, someone who should be in all your record collections and to a greater extent than you likely have.

My huge thanks to those of you who have dropped in to leave comments during this particular series – and yes, Echorich, there were times when I felt I was writing solely for your pleasure but that in itself was something of an honour and far from a chore.

Next up for the Sunday spotlight????  Ah…..you’ll need to tune in next week to find out…..

JC

9 thoughts on “THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Part 35-40)

  1. Great series . I lost touch after tenement symphony so these later posts have been a revelation. I guess one footnote is the new soft cell tracks that accompanied the final O2 show and releases, showing Almond and Ball can still write a top pop tune together.

  2. As this adventure began I thought to myself “he’s been going a while but has he really done anything of note in recent years?”. The answer to that is clearly yes.

    I only really know the Soft Cell output and even that in limited detail. I admired how in those early days he was one only of a very few artists that didn’t perceive his sexuality as an issue or as a product to be exploited – I’d add Jimmy Sommerville to that scant list.

    I didn’t quite get the attempt at torch singer and gradually I just stopped listening. However, when he released Jacques I was more than interested. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with it.

    This series has highlighted just what I was missing over the intervening years; a wealth of output that seems to have been for the love of the music itself rather than chasing any memory of hits.

    It seems Marc Almond’s musical career reflected his personal life from which he oozed dignity from every pore.

    Due entirely to this series I have begun to listen more, albeit sporadically. I’m not always wowed but I have been pleasantly surprised by the many gems hidden in plain sight.

  3. Well I knew he had produced lots of good songs – but wow didn’t realise there was so many good tracks. Is it a good idea to get a best of or are there some really stand out albums that had good non singles?

  4. I can say with full confidence and endless amount of time to back it up, that The Velvet Trail is one of Marc Almond’s greatest collection of songs. It was my favorite album of 2015 and Zipped Leather Jacket, was my favorite song of quite a good year for singles and album tracks. The fact that the album was so deep with cuts that my favorite track wasn’t a single is a testament to just how good a release it is.
    Following up The Velvet Trail, there was a 10 CD anthology, Trails Of Eyeliner that captured all of Marc’s singles from Soft Cell and The Mambas through his solo albums along with unreleased cuts and rarities.
    He also found time to collaborate on an entire album with Synthpopsters, Starcluster – Silver City Ride – which is just plain fun.
    Hits & Pieces would be the consumer friendly version of Marc’s best moments and adding the retro pop confection that is A Kind Of Love made it essential listening.
    Shadows and Reflections is Marc’s love letter to a Time, an Era, when Pop music dealt in mystery, beauty, sorrow, pain and joy. Marc and his merry band of producers, John Harle, Christopher Braide and Mike Stevens teased something special out of every track on the album.
    Marc has worked with Jools Holland most recently, recording some interesting and kitschy Jazz standards. I have little doubt we’ve heard the last from this singular artist.

    Thank you again JC for all this series has been!

  5. Thanks for this series JC. It’s been a pleasure to read on a weekly basis. It made me go back and listen to Fantastic Star and Open All Night – two albums that I owned but had probably listened to once each after buying in a bargain bin/ charity shop years ago and then consistently overlooked in favour of the first four or five albums. It’s almost like buying them anew! I was almost totally unaware of the albums after them (apart from The Velvet Trail thanks to the Live on Vintage that I caught a few years ago) but you por posts have revealed them to me as well.
    Can’t wait for the next singular adventures series.

  6. This has been a great series. at the outset I mentioned that I was due to go and watch him. Said event has now taken place – and what a great show it was. He played a lot of covers of songs that have either influenced him or have meant a lot to him, as well as the obvious crowd pleasers.
    This show coincided approximately with the inclusion of What Makes A Man A Man on the blog – a song he did that night. One of his best performances.
    Thanks.

  7. Thanks for that detailed reply Echorich – I will investigate Velvet Trail as I already own lots of Soft Cell stuff

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