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…’ll need to tune in next week to find out…..



The next two weeks will bring an end to this particular series.

I lost track of Marc Almond‘s career at the turn of the century with Open All Night being the last of his music that I bought at the time of release.  I’ve looked things up and to my surprise, have learned that he has released a further 14 albums this century (taking the total to 24) and, according to wiki, there have been 12 singles in the period 2001-2017, none of which charted.

I’ve tried my best to track down each of the singles, but obviously I don’t have the b-sides.  I’m also being lazy but doing some cut’n’pasting from wiki for the background info:-

(29) Glorious (from the 2001 album, Stranger Things)

Stranger Things is the eleventh solo studio album by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond. It was released by Blue Star Music, in conjunction with XIII BIS Records, on 18 June 2001.

According to an article in Billboard magazine, the sound of Stranger Things “finds a middle ground between the spare gothic synth-pop of Open All Night and the orchestral grandeur of 1991’s Tenement Symphony. Almond employed the services of Jóhann Jóhannsson, Icelandic multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, to produce the album. Jóhannsson also plays most of the instruments, with some assistance from other musicians from Iceland, and is responsible for many of the arrangements.

(30) Gone But Not Forgotten (from the 2003 album, Heart On Snow)

Heart on Snow is the twelfth solo studio album by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond. It was released by Blue Star Music, in conjunction with XIII BIS Records, on 21 October 2003.

An article by the BBC describes how Almond “went to St Petersburg to interpret traditional Russian romance songs” to make what “may have become his most ambitious album so far”. Almond mostly sang cover versions of traditional Russian songs, including a number from the Russian romance canon, and collaborated with a number of Russian artists on the album, such as Alla Bayanova and Lyudmila Zykina.

(31) I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten (from the 2007 album, Stardom Road)

Stardom Road is the thirteenth solo studio album by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond. It was released by Sanctuary Records on 4 June 2007.

Stardom Road was Almond’s first new album after his involvement in a near-fatal traffic accident in October 2004. It is an album composed mostly of cover versions, a fact borne out of necessity as Almond found himself unable to write following the accident. Almond told Time Out that the album is intended as “a trip down memory lane, a musical journey from the 1950s to where he finds himself today”.

The album features collaborations with Sarah Cracknell, Antony Hegarty and Jools Holland, with some of the tracks also featuring members of Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.

(NB : The single features the Saint Etienne chanteuse…..)

(32) Gabriel b/w The Lunatic Lover (from the 2011 album, Feasting With Panthers)

Feasting with Panthers is the sixteenth solo studio album by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond. The album is credited to Almond and Michael Cashmore, of Current 93 and Nature and Organisation, with both given equal billing. The album was released by Strike Force Entertainment, part of Cherry Red Records, on 30 May 2011.

Marc Almond first worked with Michael Cashmore when Almond contributed guest vocals to the Current 93 album Black Ships Ate the Sky. They next collaborated as Marc Almond & Michael Cashmore for the EP Gabriel and the Lunatic Lover in 2008 and continued to occasionally work together until they completed Feasting with Panthers. The album is entirely composed of poetry set to music and was produced with both artists separate at all times with music and vocals being sent back and forth. The Guardian describes the album as “a sumptuous piano-driven collaboration with Michael Cashmore, featuring songs derived from the poetry of Jean Cocteau, Gérard de Nerval and Jean Genet”, which Almond in the same article calls “decadent poetry translated by Jeremy Reed.

(NB : The album was released in 2011, but the single pre-dated it somewhat, being issued as far back as 2008)

(33) Nijinsky Heart (from the 2010 album, Varieté)

Varieté is the fifteenth studio album by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond. It was released on 7 June 2010 through Strike Force Entertainment, part of Cherry Red Records.

Varieté marks Almond’s 30th year as a recording artist. It is his first album of original material in nine years. At the time of its release, Almond himself stated it would be his final album of original material as he had increasingly become more interested in recording pre-existing songs (as many of his covers albums have showcased), but this would prove to be untrue and he went on to record further original material afterwards. Much of it is self-produced and co-written with longtime collaborators Neal Whitmore and Martin Watkins.

(34) Burn Bright b/w The Dancing Marquis (from the 2014 album, The Dancing Marquis)

The Dancing Marquis is the eighteenth solo studio album by the British singer/songwriter Marc Almond. It was released by Strike Force Entertainment / Cherry Red Records on 16 June 2014.

The Dancing Marquis compiles the songs from the limited edition 7″ vinyl EPs Burn Bright and Tasmanian Tiger together with two new tracks and two remixes. The album features guest appearances from Jarvis Cocker and Carl Barât, and some of the tracks were produced by Tony Visconti.



Open All Night, released in March 1999, was the tenth solo studio to be released by Marc Almond. It was on Blue Star Music, a new indie label that he himself had founded and on which all his UK releases would appear for the next decade

It’s a fascinating album with a couple of guest contributions, not least from The Creatures (aka Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie), and in songwriting terms was a continuation of the partnership forged with Neal X (aka Neal Whitmore) on Fantastic Star.

Some six months prior to the album, Marc had issued a single on Echo Records, a subsidiary of major label Chrysalis. I’m assuming both parties were testing each other out and decided there would be no point in any long term relationship, for it proved to be his only release for the label.

(26) Black Kiss b/w Satan’s Child b/w Black Kiss (Live at The Almeida) (October 1998 – #84 in the UK charts)

I think it’s worth giving you Ned Raggett‘s review of this single from the All Music website:-

Though the only single released via his abortive deal with Echo Records, “Black Kiss” proved to be the signal of Almond’s full artistic renaissance. The first offering from what would become Open All Night, “Black Kiss” blends spare, jungle-touched production with spooky, Brazilian-derived music and vibes (heightened by the inclusion of Henrique da Silva’s muffled backing vocals). It’s a magnificent performance from Almond and his band both, continuing his night-prowling lyrical vibe with surprising, intriguing new results. A live version also appears, with da Silva briefly explaining at Almond’s prompting the voodoo-derived background of the mysterious “queen of the night” who figures in the song. A separate stand-alone track also crops up which surfaced on Open All Night’s American release — “Satan’s Child,” a finger-snapping, brassy number that finds Almond tackling his Eartha Kitt/Vegas cabaret side with a tech-sharp edge. It’s not quite Foetus, but it’s a calmer kissing cousin.

The move to a self-financed indie brought to an end the idea of Marc Almond being someone who would bother the singles charts given the costs involved in issuing, promoting and hyping any such releases, but two tracks from Open All Night were nevertheless issued, one of which accompanied the album and the other much later in the year.

(27) Tragedy (Take A Look and See) b/w Beautiful Losers (March 1999 – did not chart)

(28) My Love b/w Threat of Love b/w One Big Soul (October 1999 – did not chart)

The former is a slow-paced number at which Marc tends to excel, although this one has a bit of a pop-tune feel rather than it having the kitchen sink thrown at it….it’s almost the sort of thing that boy bands have hits with.  The b-side is a blend of trip-hop and pop and the fact that it didn’t make the final cut for the album just highlights how much of a good listen it is… certainly shouldn’t have been the monumental flop it turned out, not even cracking the Top 100 in the UK.

The latter is a great listen.  The lead track could well have been a tune composed by Beck with Marc adding a lovely camp lyric on top.  The first of the b-sides is the album track on which The Creatures guested, and it’s every bit as wonderful as you’d hope and Almond/Sioux collaboration would sound.  The final track is a happy upbeat number, and again it’s a bit of a mystery as to why it was left off the parent album.



Two weeks ago, I made a statement which was quite wrong, but it was something I only found out after doing the research for this particular post. Read on and you’ll soon find out.

Marc Almond’s stock was reasonably high in the mid-90s, helped by positive press around his live shows and his uncanny ability to achieve major chart success with some 45 or other every few years.

There were huge hopes for his ninth studio album what with Marc composing songs at a furious rate, many of which he was promising would showcase the many styles he had utilised throughout his career, from barnstorming showstoppers to the most heart-wrenching of ballads. The record label were looking to hook him up again with Mike Thorne, the producer who had delivered so much at the commercial peak of Soft Cell, but the plan was vetoed by long-term manager and confidante, Stevo Pearce (of Some Bizarre fame) and the record ended up being made over an extended period in different studios with different producers in the chair. Unsurprisingly, the finished product feels a little disjointed and suffers from a lack of overall control with it stretching out to 16 tracks and more than 70 minutes in length – this was an era when labels and artists seem determined to fill the entire capacity of a single CD, making the error that fans and consumers wanted quantity rather than quality….

The roll-call of performers on Fantastic Star is quite an eye-opener. Some of the songs were co-composed with Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello & The Attractions) while Martin Ware (The Human League/Heaven 17) played on tracks as well as taking spells in the producer’s chair. Oh, and John Cale (The Velvet Underground) and David Johannsen (The New Yorks Dolls) also dropped in to add contributions on piano and harmonica respectively. I should also mention that the main collaborator in the studio was Neal X (aka Neal Whitmore) who had been guitarist in 80s cult band, Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

The only problem is that the album was doomed to fail on its release in February 1996 , for the simple reason that its best tracks had all been issued as singles many months prior, only one of which had delivered on its goal of chart success.

(22) Adored and Explored (7” edit) b/w The User b/w Loveless World (May 1995 – #25 in the UK charts)

This is the mistake from a couple of weeks back as I was certain that The Days of Pearly Spencer was the last time Marc hit the Top 40. This upbeat electronic number is one of Marc’s best moments, providing evidence, if any were needed, that he still had a knack for the sort of tune that sounds great whether blasting out of the radio or from the speakers in your home.

Worth mentioning also this was also the era of multi-formatting with record labels issuing different versions of the CD singles, most of which simply had remixes of the main track. It’s far too time-consuming to try to track all of these down, so all I’m going to offer up are the other original songs made available on what were usually labelled ‘CD1’.

(23) The Idol (Part 1) b/w Law of The Night (July 1995 – #44 in the UK charts)

I’ve featured this track before on the blog, back in January 2016, in which I suggested Marc had been uncanny in his prediction of future events…….

The Idol starts off as homage to The Jean Genie before it turns into a sort of Stars on 45 tribute to the glam rock that I recall from the early 70s. Great guitar riffs, amazing backing vocals, and a pumping chorus. Tailored made for radio but got absolutely no exposure on the mainstream daytime shows.

Oh, and here’s the two other tracks on the CD single that I have sitting on the shelf:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – Adored and Explored (Live at Radio One)
mp3 : Marc Almond – Bedsitter (Live at Radio One)

The ‘Unplugged cover’ of the Soft Cell hit is particularly wonderful. No synths – just acoustic guitars and harmonicas. And proof that Marc was a better singer than most gave him credit for.

(24) Child Star b/w The Edge of Heartbreak b/w Christmas In Vegas b/w My Guardian Angel (December 1995 – #41 in the UK charts)

I reckon this is the most Almondesque of all the solo releases. A weepy ballad which has quiet reflective moments along with the most OTT pop orchestration to reach your ears. There’s even a bit where you think it will end only for one final incredibly dramatic and show-stopping surge to tug on your heartstrings. It’s a magnificent production to which Marc gives it his all….and it really was so much more deserving than the miserly #41 position. One appearance on Top of The Pops could have changed everything…..

The Edge of Heartbreak would later also feature on the parent album (the release of which had been delayed until early 1996) while the inclusion of Christmas In Vegas enabled fans to pick up on a track previously released only via a limited edition flexidisc.

(25) Out There b/w Brilliant Creatures b/w Lie (February 1996 – #76 in the UK charts)

The single which accompanied the release of the parent album – it was meant to be a double-A side effort although these things are impossible to determine when it’s CD and not vinyl. Out There and Brilliant Creatures were on Fantastic Star while Lie became the last from this incredibly bountiful song-writing period to find light of day.

Worth mentioning that the failure of the latter singles and Fantastic Star (it stalled at #54 and came nowhere close to recouping its costs) hurt Marc badly, both personally and professionally. His autobiography acknowledges his drug issues weren’t much of a help when it came to making rational decisions, and he mocks himself by referring to the album as Fading Star. It wasn’t too long before the major label let him go. His response was to establish his own independent label……



The one predictable thing about the solo career of Marc Almond is its utter unpredictability.

The Days of Pearly Spencer had given him a huge and unexpected hit in 1992.  Instead of capitalising on this, he took the decision that 1993 would be the year to release the album Absinthe, a collection of 12 tracks that had been worked on at various points in time between 1986 and 1989. The thing was, all of the tracks were covers of French songs or poems and none of them were released as singles – not that any of them would likely have bothered the charts as radio play would likely have been non-existent.

The other release in 1993 was 12 Years of Tears – Live at the Royal Albert Hall, in which 14 songs from the time with Soft Cell as well as the solo career were selected for inclusion for the first live album of his career.  The show, which had been of a very extravagant nature, had taken place on 30 September 1992, had been a near three-hour affair complete with band, orchestra, dancers and numerous costume changes.  It was also given a VHS release and later, in 2007, a DVD release.

One single was offered up:-

(21) What Makes a Man a Man (live) b/w Torch (live) (March 1993 – #60 in the UK charts)

It’s Marc’s take on a song written and made famous by Charles Aznavour in the 1970s, the sad and moving tale of a gay transvestite.

Torch, which had been a massive hit for Soft Cell, had been left off the parent album, so presumably the hope was fans would buy the single to complete any collection. The ploy didn’t work as it stalled at #60.



My huge thanks to everyone who took the time to read the posting that’s been sitting on the blog for the past seven days…I’m especially grateful to those of you who added your own eloquent tributes to Tim.

This was the posting originally scheduled to appear and I had meant to place it into storage, but mistakenly back-posted it to 2012….which some of you may have picked up via notifications you’ve installed for all published posts.  In my defence, my mind was a bit elsewhere at the time.

Tenement Symphony, released in October 1991, is the last album from which any hit single was lifted – the fact, almost 30 years that Marc Almond can still command impressive numbers audience wise whenever he takes to the stage, is testament to the affection he is held by his legions of fans who have never given up on him, even though he has long been unfashionable.

One single was lifted just prior to the album’s release, and two more would follow:-

(18) Jacky b/w Deep Night (September 1991 – #17 in the UK charts)

I wrote about this particular single just last October, in a posting that also looked at the Scott Walker and Momus versions of the Jacques Brel number.  As I said at the time all versions are well worth a few minutes of your time for a listen but if pushed, I’d say I preferred Marc’s take on things for the bravado shown by him and the production/arrangement/mixing cohorts of Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley and Youth in throwing absolutely everything at it to turn it into a genuine camp classic which has stood the test of time.

Here’s a bonus with the 12″ bits of music

mp3 : Marc Almond – Jacky (extended)
mp3 : Marc Almond – Deep Night (extended)
mp3 : Marc Almond – Jacky (alpine mix)

All concerned would wait until the new year before the next 45.  The interesting thing was that the new single was one of three songs on the parent album that had been co-written with David Ball – the duo were more than happy to be working together again and indeed in later years would reform Soft Cell and embark on an extensive tour across Europe.

Tenement Symphony had come out on yet another new label, WEA, the biggest of all the majors and the budget stretched to enabling a number of studios to be used at different times and multiple producers – in the end, it became a work of two halves, with the first five songs being the work of the Soft Cell duo along with long-time solo collaborator  Billy McGee, and the other half put in the hands of the afore-mentioned Trevor Horn.  In later years, Marc would state that  the album’s concept was largely down to Rob Dickins, the head of WEA, and that he personally didn’t feel it truly reflected his artistic direction at that time, albeit he had enjoyed working with Horn.

As if to illustrate this, it was Horn’s version of what would become the next single which saw light of day rather than any take on it by its composers:-

(19) My Hand Over My Heart b/w Deadly Serenade (January 1992 – #33 in the UK charts)

It’s another one of those songs that, if it had been released at a different time than the period when Britpop was dying and Grunge was emerging, it would likely have been a very big hit as it is tailor-made for radio – it’s the sort of song that boy bands would have taken to #1.

And so, to the last time that Marc Almond bothered the charts:-

(20) The Days of Pearly Spencer b/w Bruises (April 1992 – #4 in the UK charts)

Another cover….and another massive hit.  I still find it bemusing that the record buying public, over the years, made a success out of the songs that Marc has chosen to reinterpret rather than his own compositions.  This one dates originally from 1967, by the Northern Irish singer-songwriter David McWilliams.  An acoustc ballad that got a fair bit of play on the pirate station Radio Caroline, especially give it was a b-side, but the newly emerging BBC Radio 1 didn’t give it or its a-side, Harlem Lady, much of a showing and so its author remained largely unknown until Marc’s later success with it.

mp3 : David McWilliams – The Days of Pearly Spencer



If this series was an in-depth look at the entire solo career, this week’s post would have mused on the December 1989 release of the album Jacques, on which Marc Almond offered up a 12-track tribute to Jacques Brel.  The album was recorded at different times over a four-year period and was issued by Rough Trade Records, but no singles were lifted from it. The extended time period for the recording meant that all of The Willing Sinners appeared at one stage or another.

The next 45 appeared in February 1990:-

(15) A Lover Spurned b/w Exotica Rose (February 1990 – #29 in the UK charts)

Emboldened by his chat success the previous year, Marc went for a blend of the accessible pop with the Latin sounds he had been exploring a few years earlier.  The record label obviously had high hopes for the single as they put it in the hands of uber-producer Stephen Street who really did polish it up into a five-minute opus of camp magnificence.  It deserved to be a bigger hit than it was….but it wasn’t helped by the fact that mischievous folk over here were suggesting that Marc was actually singing ‘A lesson learned from a lover’s sperm’

The spoken and bitter vocal in the middle is courtesy of actress Julie T Wallace who is probably best known for the part she played in the acclaimed TV series The Life and Loves of a She-Devil

A few months later, another single was released

(16) The Desperate Hours b/w The Gambler (May 1990 – #45 in the UK charts)

This has long been one of my favourites of the solo singles… makes great use of a French Horn, there’s great backing vocals and above else there’s a sensational flamenco guitar solo.

Sadly, the b-side is not a cover of the Kenny Rogers classic, but is instead a rather underwhelming track co-written by Marc and long-time collaborator Billy McGhee

The relative failure of this release cast a shadow over the release of the album….there certainly had been hopes and perhaps even an expectation that Marc would have been a staple of the singles chart over the summer of 1990 and so it was that the album Enchanted kind of sneaked out in August without too much fuss or fanfare. It turned out to be an album on which Annie Hogan didn’t feature thus bringing an end to a collaboration that stretched back to the Marc and the Mambas days the best part of a decade previously.

One more single was lifted from the album but given a special remix treatment in the hope of stirring interest

(17) Waifs and Strays (The Grid Mix) b/w Old Jack’s Charm (November 1990 – #88 in the UK charts)

The Grid was the new project under which Marc’s old sparring partner, Dave Ball, was recording.  You’ll see from the poor chart showing that the hoped for magic in reuniting the pair didn’t materialise….undeservedly in my opinion.

Couple of bonus tracks this week, lifted from the 12″ picture disc of the single that I have so much time for:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Desperate Hours (Flamenco Mix)
mp3 : Marc Almond – The Desperate Hours (Orchestral Version)

Next week will show, once again, that Marc Almond had bouncebackability in abundance.



As mentioned last week, the poor sales of Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters led to Virgin Records dropping Marc Almond.  The aftermath also saw an end to The Willing Sinners as Martin McCarrick left to join Siouxsie and the Banshees but the good news was that both Annie Hogan, Steve Humphries and Billy McGee continued to work with Marc but now calling themselves La Magia.

It was Parlophone Records who decided to take a punt on Marc rediscovering a degree of success and they must have been fairly pleased with the outcome as the album, The Stars We Are, released in September 1988, turned out to be the best sellling of the solo years and one of its tracks, in a re-recorded form, provided a #1 single.

(11) Tears Run Rings b/w Everything I Wanted Love To Be (September 1988 – #26 in the UK charts)

(12) Bitter Sweet b/w King of The Fools (October 1988 – #40 in the UK charts)

(13) Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart (with Gene Pitney) (January 1989 – #1 in the UK charts)

(14) Only The Moment b/w Real Evil (April 1989 – #45 in the UK charts)

The Stars We Are was a return to mainstream form after the darkness of the previous works. Twenty-two different musicians are credited and that doesn’t include Gene Pitney as his work with Marc came after the album had been released.  There’s loads of strings, horns and soaring vocals and melodies.  Parlophone pushed the boat out on the promotional front and Marc responded positively with a number of televsion appearances to boost sales of Tears Run Rings, the lead off single.

There was a bit of disappointment that the follow-up 45, Bitter Sweet, stalled somewhat, but that was soon forgotten as January 1989 saw Marc return to the top of the charts again with his take of a song that had been a #5 hit in the UK for Gene Pitney back in 1967.  It had originally been recorded as a solo take for the album, but Gene had been so impressed with it that he contacted Marc’s management and suggested they have a go at it as a duet.  The single spent four weeks at the top of the charts….and its b-side was the album version:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart

I don’t think it had originally been intended to go with a fourth single from the album, but as ever, record companies are keen to cash in on any unexpected success and thus Only The Moment was issued a few months later.

The b-sides to all these particular singles are very much in keeping with the more pop-orientated sound that Marc was pursuing at the time…..and indeed King of The Fools is one of those tracks that in a less fruitful period, might have actually made for an A-side, albeit one that would likely have stalled outside the Top 40 as it wasn’t quite distinctive enough.



The third solo album was released in April 1987.

Again, it is attributed to Marc Almond and The Willing Sinners.  It’s full title is Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters although it is often shortened to Mother Fist.  The title was taken from a shorty story written by Truman Capote.  Of its 12 tracks, eight were fully written by Marc and the remaining four were credited jointly to him and Annie Hogan.

No cover versions on the album and there were three 45s lifted from it, all in advance of the album’s release:-

(8) Ruby Red b/w I’m Sick of You Tasting of Somebody Else (October 1986 – #47 in the UK charts)

(9) Melancholy Rose b/w Gyp The Blood (February 1987 – #71 in the UK charts)

(10) Mother Fist  b/w Two Sailors on The Beach b/w The Hustler (April 1987 – #93 in the UK charts)

The last of these was a 12″ only single.  The Hustler was also to be found on the parent album while Two Sailors… finds Marc and Annie setting an English translation of a poem by Frederico García Lorca to music.

It’s an album that confounded a few folk – it was his poorest selling solo album to date with perhaps it being just too ‘in your face’ in its sordidness – it certainly wasn’t tailor made for daytime listening.  Meanwhile, the promo videos, with all sorts of camp and gay imagery very much to the fore, were unlikely to appeal to the producers.

There’s a very glowing review from Ned Raggett at allmusic, who declares it ‘an all round triumph’, on the back of the following words:-

Following up both Stories and his fine covers EP A Woman’s Story, Almond took a turn for the more challenging on Mother Fist, to be rewarded with the loss of his contract and a search for a new label. Quite why that should have happened is all the more surprising when upon listening, it becomes clear that Mother Fist was and still is the best Almond album of original material to date.

With Hedges once again producing and the Willing Sinners still producing instrumental magic — the great work of Hogan on keyboards, McCarrick on cello and accordion, and McGee on bass and orchestrations simply can’t be overstated here — Almond created a generally sparer and more theatrical album that 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.

The b-sides were very much in the style of the album…and in Gyp The Blood, you get a seven minute plus epic which would have made for a great entry in the songs as short series series.

As the review indicates, it led to Virgin Records dropping the singer but as will be shown next week, he knew exactly how to bounce right back and put himself back into the mainstream.



In June 1986, Marc Almond, backed as usual by his Willing Sinners released a seven-track EP consisting entirely of cover versions. The lead track, which had originally been recorded in the mid 70s by Cher, having been penned by Nino Tempo, April Stephens and Phil Spector, was also released as a stand-alone 7″ single:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – A Woman’s Story

The full title of the EP was A Woman’s Story (Some Songs To Take To The Tomb – Compilation One). Sadly, Compilation Two was never released.

The single reached #41 in the charts. I haven’t heard the original, but going by Marc’s vocal delivery, I’m guessing it won’t be too dissimilar.  If it had been a hit, it would be a karaoke klassik…..

The b-side of the single was also taken from the EP and it’s one originally written and recorded by Lee Hazelwood:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – For One Moment




The second solo album was released in September 1985, less than a year after the debut, and indication that Marc Almond was enjoying a particularly bountiful period of creativity. Once again, it was attributed to Marc Almond and The Willing Sinners and contained three singles, one of which pre-dated the album release.

The lead-off single carried the same name as the album, which in itself was a signal from all concerned that they felt it was the strongest of the new material. It reached #23 in the UK singles chart which was the first time Marc had enjoyed a Top 30 hit since his time with Soft Cell.

(4) Stories of Johnny b/w Stories of Johnny (with The Westminster City School Choir) (August 1985 – #23 in the UK charts)

(5) Love Letter b/w Love Letter (with The Westminster City School Choir) (October 1985 – #68 in the UK charts)

(6) The House is Haunted by the Echo of Your Last Goodbye b/w Broken Bracelets (January 1986 – #55 in the UK charts)

One review of the LP was effusive about the tracks chosen as 45s:-

“The troika of brilliant singles from the album’s first half makes the album a keeper alone: the tender title track (written about a young friend of Almond’s who OD’ed), a sassy remake of Mel Tormé’s “The House Is Haunted,” and “Love Letter,” where electronics resurface to a degree not seen since Soft Cell’s collapse.”

The House is Haunted by the Echo of Your Last Goodbye dates from 1934, written by Billy Rose and Basil Adlam. A bit of digging around t-internet reveals that it was first recorded by Paul Whiteman, the leader of one of the most popular dance bands in the United States during the 1920s and 30s, with vocals from cabaret star, Ramona Davies. The best known version was probably that by Mel Tormé who included it as one of the songs on his Tormé LP, released in 1958.



Up until now, I’ve had physical copies of almost all the material by the singers and bands who have featured previously in the various chronology of 45s series and where I haven’t, I’ve done my utmost to track down a digital copy or simply owned up that one or more tracks (usually b-sides or remixes) is missing.

It’s going to be a wee bit different for the next few weeks with the spotlight turned on Marc Almond.

First up, the series is going to concentrate on a specific time, namely 1984-1999, and it is also only going to feature 45s which had Marc Almond as the named performer – in other words, no Marc & The Mambas and no guest appearances, such as that with Bronski Beat in 1985.

I have some of the singles in the collection, but a fairly low percentage. It’s also a series which, if restricted to one per week, would take up the remainder of 2019 and we would all get bored in due course. I’m therefore going to feature a few of them at a time, taking the parent album (where appropriate) as the guide.

The first solo album was Vermin in Ermine, attributed to Marc Almond and The Willing Sinners, released in October 1984. It contained three singles, two of which pre-dated the album:-

(1) The Boy Who Came Back b/w Joey Demento (June 1984 – #52 in the UK charts)
(2) You Have b/w Split Lip (Single Version) (September 1984 – #57 in the UK charts)
(3) Tenderness is a Weakness b/w Love For Sale (November 1984 – #88 in the UK charts)

Joey Demento is one that fans of Soft Cell will enjoy…it’s a bit of a throwback to that era.

Love For Sale is a cover of a song written in 1930 by Cole Porter. It was from a Broadway musical, The New Yorkers but it caused controversy being from the perspective of a prostitute seeking to earn a living. Up until the 1960s, most versions had been instrumental in nature. Marc’s version is pure torch-song.

My own first exposure to the song came via hearing this excellent version on the Red Hot and Blue compilation, released in 1990 as an album and video-release, with the purpose of raising funds towards tackling AIDS:-

mp3 : Fine Young Cannibals – Love For Sale



La Chanson de Jacky is one of Jacques Brel’s best known compositions, certainly here in the UK, thanks to the fact it has twice been taken into the singles charts in 1967 and 1991, both as cover versions:-

mp3 : Scott Walker – Jackie
mp3 : Marc Almond – Jacky

Both versions are an absolute hoot, both have much to offer in terms of enjoyment and style and both are well worth a few minutes of your time for a listen. If pushed, I’d say I preferred Marc Almond’s version for the bravado shown by him and the production/arrangement/mixing cohorts of Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley and Youth in throwing absolutely everything at it to turn it into a genuine camp classic which has stood the test of time.

Having said that, it is worth noting how Scott Walker’s version, which of course I’m way too young to recall, was banned by the BBC because of words like ‘queers’, ‘virgins’ and ‘opium’, and yet such was his popularity at the time that it sold enough copies to reach #22 despite next to no airplay.

A wee snippet of trivia for you.

The b-side of Scott’s single was one of his own – the writing credit is given to Scott Engel which was the name he was born with – and is a wonderfully OTT effort complete with the singer bringing in the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra to give him the sound he was looking for:-

mp3 : Scott Walker – The Plague

What many perhaps hadn’t noticed when Marc took Jacky to #17 is that five years earlier he had included this on his covers EP, A Woman’s Story:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Plague

Oh and I also discovered while doing my research that Jacques Brel had also, in 1986, been given the cover treatment by the eccentric and occasionally brilliant Nick Currie, who records as Momus, and in doing so offered his own twisted and very personal and incredibly clever take on things :-

mp3 : Momus – Nicky

Cute… a stupid ass way



It was back in July 1995 that Marc Almond released a belter of a single that really should have been a smash hit instead of stalling at #44 and spending just two weeks in the pop charts.  The first three seconds start off as an homage to The Jean Genie before it turns into a sort of Stars on 45 tribute to the glam rock that I recall from the early 70s.  Great guitar riffs, amazing backing vocals, and a pumping chorus.

It was tailored made for radio,when it was released in 1995, but got absolutely no exposure on the mainstream daytime shows. Just too dark a subject matter for them y’see…..I had forgotten just how good this is:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Idol (Part 1)

Oh and if you did make the effort to buy the single, there were real treats tucked away on the b-side:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – Law Of The Night
mp3 : Marc Almond – Adored and Explored (Live at Radio One)
mp3 : Marc Almond – Bedsitter (Live at Radio One)

The ‘Unplugged cover’ of the Soft Cell hit is particularly wonderful. No synths – just acoustic guitars and harmonicas. And proof that Marc was a better singer than most gave him credit for.

But if you want to see how great the full version of this single was, here’s the full 9 and a bit minute version from the LP Fantastic Star:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Idol (All Gods Fall) (Parts 1 & 2)

I’m taking the unusual step of reproducing the full lyric.  The last line might have taken 14 years to come true….but there’s no denying he got it right:-

Hail Hail the Idol
Hail Hail the Idol

Idol be bad
Idol be wild
Martyr your heart
Father a love child
We need all your kinks
And your dark attitude
We live on your sins
And your volatile moods

We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
You’re a pop up poster of a teenage dream
We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
A fur inferno on a twisted scene

Go for the gold
Never grow old
In the bed or the car
It’s the end of the star
Burn yourself out
Do yourself in
Don’t try to mend
All gods fall in the end

Hail Hail the Idol
Hail Hail the Idol

We loved you in black
We adored you in pink
Up in the dock
Or drowned in the drink
Wrapped up in foil
Anointed in oil

We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
Rip out your soul as
you’re playing the role
We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
Nail up your hands to fulfil our demands

Go for the gold
Never grow old
In the bed or the car
It’s the end of the star
Burn yourself out
Do yourself in
Don’t try to mend
All gods fall in the end

Sweet crucifixion

We hate you, we hate you
We hate you, we hate you
Watch them turn cold as you
start to grow old
We hate you, we hate you
We hate you, we hate you
Vinyl to burn as the crowd starts to turn

Go for the gold
Never grow old
In the bed or the car
It’s the end of the star
Burn yourself out
Do yourself in
Don’t try to mend
All gods fall in the end

Be what you are
In the bed or the car
In the bath or the bar
It’s the end of the star
Burn yourself out
Do yourself in
Don’t try to mend
All gods fall in the end

Fail Fail the Idol
Fail Fail the Idol
Fail Fail the Idol
Fail Fail the Idol

All gods fall in the end

Valentino the sheik was the God of them all
But his macho was dented and he took a fall
Garland sang tragedy touching our hearts
But her life was a tragedy more than her art
Fabian and Avalon gold lamed and cute
Kissed fickle fame and went straight down the chute
Elvis the cat loved us tender with youth
But what we were seeing was never the truth
Just wanted to sing but fame made its demands
And died while still young trying to please all his fans
James was a rebel that stood for an age
A drink and a drive and then death took the stage
Poor Billie Holliday paid all her dues
When her close friend the needle gave her the blues
Janis at night cruised for boys on the strip
But death by the bottle is what made her hip
Marilyn’s beauty showed age every day
But her sinister end helped her keep age away

We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you
We love you, we love you

Brian Jones had an aura that Mick soon would crave
But pills and a pool set the scene for the grave
Jim lived his life to put edge to his songs
But he died in the bath to reach where he belongs
Jimi played notes that were all heaven-sent
But the drink and the drugs made sure that’s where he went
Osmond and Cassidy records all gold
But they made the mistake of growing too old
Bolan got fat was not pleasant to see
But we loved him again when he met with a tree
Kurt was unhappy with fame and success
A gun in the mouth and one hell of a mess
And who will be next on the big cross of fame?
A white sequinned glove and a big famous name?


I couldn’t believe it either!!

Fair enough that the singles charts have not been targeted all that much in recent times, but I was bemused to learn that late 1992 with this cover version was the last time that Marc Almond enjoyed genuine commercial success:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Days Of Pearly Spencer

It’s also a fact that all five of his singles which have made the Top 20 since the initial demise of Soft Cell are cover versions :-

I Feel Love (with Bronski Beat) in 1985
Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart (with Gene Pitney) in 1988
Tainted Love ’91 (as part of Soft Cell) in 1991
Jacky in 1991
The Days Of Pearly Spencer in 1992

I could have sworn there had been some success with one or more of his own compositions, but Stories of Johnny (1985), Tears Run Rings (1988), A Lover Spurned (1990), and Adored And Explored (1995) didn’t get any higher than the mid 20s chart-wise.

Again, I find that to be something quite bemusing as many of his own compositions have been excellent releases which usually received the full marketing and promotional treatment from his record labels.

As ever, here’s the b-sides of the single featured today:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – Bruises
mp3 : Marc Almond – Dancing In A Golden Cage




I’m not a great one for spending much time in the cinema, so the fact that today’s offerings come from a CD given away with a monthly movie magazine from back in 1998 is very unusual.

Neon was (and may well still be for all that I know) a magazine which focussed on new cinematic and DVD releases. The December 1998 edition also came with a free CD which will be the main reason I bought it – the other being that I was no doubt heading off on a long-haul flight and needed something to help keep my mind occupied while I ignored the in-flight movie(s).  I’ve every reason to believe that the magazine didn’t even make it off the plane with me, left instead in the seat pocket to be either kept or binned by a member of the maintenance staff.

It really was all about the CD. This was an era before I went down the mp3 route and so it was a wallet full of discs and a bulky player which always accompanied me to the beach and so the following would have formed part of the soundtrack to that holiday:-

01 : Pulp – We Are The Boyz (from Velvet Goldmine)
02 : The Cardigans – War (from A Life Less Ordinary)
03 : The O’Jays – Love Train (from The Last days of Disco)
04 : Marc Alamond – One Night Of Sin (from Mojo)
05 : D’Angelo – She’s Always In My Hair (from Scream 2)
06 : Morcheeba – Killer Hippie (from Psycho)
07 : Odyseey – Going Back To My Roots (from The Full Monty)
08 : Space – Lost In Space (from Lost In Space)
09 : The Sons Of Silence – Bobby Dazzler (from The Acid House)
10 : Grant Lee Buffalo – The Whole Shebang (from Velvet Goldmine)
11 : Pete Wingfield – 18 With A Bullet (from Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels)
12 : Sunhouse – Monkey Dead (from Twentyfourseven)
13 : David Holmes – Rip Rip (from Out Of Sight)
14 : Fluke – Bullet (from Face)
15 : Madrid Symphonic Orchestra – Christmas 1970 (from Live Flesh)

The CD didn’t leave that much of an impression on me as I didn’t rush out to buy any of the full soundtracks although I would, a number of years later, pick up a copy of A Life Less Ordinary in a sale for £2.

But there are three brilliant bits of music on the CD which have subsequently been shoved onto compilation tapes and then onto the i-pod where they remain all these years later:-

mp3 : David Holmes – Rip Rip
mp3 : Grant Lee Buffalo – The Whole Shebang
mp3 : Marc Almond – One Night Of Sin

The first number is a real funky number that should get your toes tapping, your shoulders shaking and your head bopping in appreciation, It also contains dialogue from the film which starred George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.

The second is, I think, one that will surprise any Grant Lee Buffalo/Grant Lee Philips fans out there as it is quite unlike anything else the band/he has recorded.

And finally, that Marc Almond song is an atypical offering from the sleaze-meister, and quite brilliantly done.