It seems like only yesterday [cue harp run…] when Soft Cell were having their final concerts before absolutely packing it in back three years ago following their final concert and releasing an ultrabox of it, along with a nine disc box of rarities with a DVD. They managed to wrap it all up in elaborate [not inexpensive] bows, and now, in the middle of a pandemic no less, Marc Almond and David Ball decided to press on with more work. Merely twenty years on from their last opus, “Cruelty Without Beauty.” [Which feels like it came out yesterday…]
Soft Cell: *Happiness Not Included – UK – CD 
- Happy Happy
- Bruises On My Illusions
- Purple Zone
- Heart Like Chernobyl
- Light Sleepers
- Happiness Not Included
- Nostalgia Machine
- I’m Not a Friend of God
- New Eden
The new album will be the wickedly titled “*Happiness Not Included” to be released in the spring of 2022. The titles look like Marc is properly appalled by the events of the last 20 years as he responds with a jaded eye and helpings of jet black humor. The Soft Cell website contained a quote from Mr. Almond which is worth repeating here in its entirety.
Bravo, Marc! He sounds properly fired up to make art. I am chagrined that I have not heard any of his undoubtedly excellent solo work past…[ulp] 31 years ago! Apart from the EMI odds and sods collection of “Treasure Box,” the last Almond solo album I had was “Tenement Symphony.
Of course, since they are reneging on their promise to split for good, it goes without saying that they are also touring after their “final” show. This November there will be a UK tour of several dates where the full “Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret” album will be played in its entirety along with some of the new songs, of course. I can’t believe that has not happened before. I also can’t believe that it will actually go down with Covid-Delta cutting a swath through the world right now with few signs of stopping. But for the optimists among you, here are the dates.
SOFT CELL: Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret UK Tour – 2021
Nov. 10 – Glasgow O2 Academy
Nov. 12 – Manchester O2 Apollo
Nov. 13 – Leeds O2 Academy
Nov. 15 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Nov. 16 – London Hammersmith Apollo
The new album is available in a series of bundles ranging from the simple to complex, but the interesting thing is that there’s no format of the album with unique songs in this or that bundle. Anyone who wants the album will get it from the bare minimum to the full maximum. But here’s what is available in the webstore:
- Hardbook CD
- Yellow LP
- Yellow Cassette
- Picture Disc LP
Many of these come with a signed print with prices ranging from $10-90 American. I will just need the CD, but the hardback CD from the store is $21. If “deals” mean anything in this fallen world I have to admit that if I were plunking down $21 for the hardback CD, I may as well splurge and get the hardback CD/Cassette/Signed Print package for the bargainous sum of just $4.00 more! Your mileage may vary, but hit the button and find out for yourself. Come spring of next year we’ll have another Soft Cell album for our respective Record Cells.
While you can’t go wrong starting practically anywhere in Marc’s solo career, I recommend beginning at “The Stars We Are” and moving forward from there. It’s a fantastic album.
Thar’s the beginning of my favorite time frame – Stars We Are thru Absinthe and then for me the milage varies greatly on each release.
I will say that if half of the songs are as good as their titles this new is one that I’ll be liking
drskridlow – I have “The Stars We Are,” “Enchanted,” and “Tenement Symphony” along with various singles and “Treasure Box.” Quite a stellar body of work, yet I stopped there for no good reason. I suppose that the three main albums were easy to get in America. Much of Marc’s canon was much harder to obtain.
Oh my Lord…I tentatively have planned to fly to the UK from Germany to see Blondie on 14 Nov and OMD on 16 Nov in Brighton, but with this new knowledge from your blog, I can go to London and see Soft Cell on 15 Nov….be still my beating heart. My reluctance to go to concerts when I was younger due to economic and work constraints is now being rewarded with a triple whammy if I am willing….. wow. Thanks for this…..
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Bridget – The timing on that show could not be better. Good luck!
Lead/taster track, Heart Like Chernobyl, is great. Marc’s vocals have a very Lou Reed reminiscent cadence and the track is a nicely spare Dave Ball composition.
As for Marc’s solo journey, there isn’t anything of his I won’t listen to. His art has helped soundtrack my entire adult life.
Echorich – The Marc I don’t have is typically the material that was difficult to find in America. That was my problem with most of it. What I had was so successful, that I should have been more active in trying to get that canon of work.
Some of my favorite Marc music is his work that is on the fringes…with Coil, or John Harle or Michael Cashmore. Some of these collaborations are glorious and harrowing.
I went on a binge a couple of years back and bought *a lot* of Marc Almond solo material post Tenement Symphony, most of it blind buys.
I will say the reaction to a lot of it was more on the side of “I need to listen to more Marc Almond.”
Tim – Binges are fun. How lovely for you. There’s nothing quite like snapping and going ballistic on a single artist!
Cruelty Without Beauty was a criminally underappreciated album, in my opinion, but then that’s true of so much of Marc Almond’s (and Dave Ball’s, for that matter) body of work. Mrs K got me Marc’s last solo album, Chaos And A Dancing Star, and she’s been listening to it as much as I have, it’s that good.
Marc has been on a run since 2010’s Varieté. Of those releases, I am most fond of 2015’s The Velvet Trail. With Neal X back on board for a good number of the songs and the enthusiastic production of Chris Braide, Marc released one of the best albums of his career. Zipped Leather Jacket, which was criminally overlooked as a single, is among my all time favorite Marc Almond song.
I will admit to not being familiar with, despite being “of a certain age and musical interest”, Soft Cell’s oeuvre. Yes, we all listened to Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret on repeat, but only being aware of the follow-up E.P. and 2nd album (marginally) is the limit. I’ll have to take a bit of a dive into the catalog now.
Alright.I gave them a shot. I listened to full albums and just couldn’t get into them. I am, however, glad to see them getting some attention and appreciation.
It’s really astonishing how fast they made the u-turn back to live performances after the incredible marketing for the one and only final show.
They hinted at perhaps recording together again a long time after the initial “we’re gonna finish Soft Cell” approach, so that’s not really a surprise and I’m glad their activities go further than reissuing expanded deluxe sets but if I had believed them to appear at the O2 I would be slightly annoyed and call “Betrayal”.
Well, as long time follower of Mr. Almond I survived several announcements of retirement already (the last being with the excellent “Variete” album if I recall correctly and I’m glad he’s still arround and getting credit for his work without living on the credit line.
SLur – Yes, I seem to recall the noises arounf “Varieté” made to suggest that was the end ot it for Almond, now that you mention it.
Everybody seems to be doing that “retirement” thing. My pet hate was A-ha doing the whole shebang – and than being back with new album barely 5 years after. I remember being so incensed I decided not to listen to the new material on principle. And of course heard from all reliable sources that the new album was great. Still keep my word, not to anyone’s gain :) But the “last album/show” thing is really tired now. Soft Cell, not being in the public eye for so long, certainly didn’t need it. What they needed was to do a new set of songs in the earlier style – hopefully that’ll influence the forthcoming album.
Recommended is Mike Thorne’s account of recording with Soft Cell https://stereosociety.com/nonstoperotic/ – treasure trove of information.
Gareth – Thanks for the link. I’ve read a lot at Thorne’s Stereo Society pages, mostly Carmel, and had missed that page. Thorne seems to have a great head on his shoulders as a producer with sound artistic insights regarding his creative charges.
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Pity he had so little to say when I contacted him about Berlin Blondes! Granted, they’re a tiny footnote in his expansive carrier but still, I expected a bit more than a paragraph’s worth (not to kick the guy, of course).
If you want true, raw Malc Amond, rather than later (though still decades old) more manufactured sounds, listen to Untitled and Torment and Toreros..Marc at his best