Marc Almond, Obscure or Obscene?

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I let go afther say the Tears Run Rings-period, when he became a Pierre & Giles icon and his songs were using the same camp it up-formula as the artists duo did in their work, but maybe I missed out on something.

Is he still on someone's playlist here or is he too by-gone to mention? I recently rediscoverd some of his obscure b-sides from the 80s (Gyp the Blood) and still liked the fun of it

Obscene and not to be seen?

Erik, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I think the word you're looking for here is 'godlike,' so that'll do. ;-) I'm an intense fanatic about Marc, you don't want to know how many discs I have. While this year's solo album was a bit of a grower, Open All Night from two years ago was just simply wonderful, snaky and sly. The show I saw him do here in support of it was one of the best performances I've ever seen by anybody, no question -- two and a half hours of showmanship, wide-ranging, inspired and inspiring.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

While he has not performed live here in Holland since 1988 (?) the memories I have of his shows back then were very much up to your comments Ned, he is a very professional entertainer (though he is notorious for forgetting songlines).

I'm not suprised at your amount of Marc Almond collection, that man is the most productive solo artist around. Do you have the song he released with Sally Thims, where he fights with her in a husband and wive quarrel, hilarious.

I have a little bit difficulty with the pathos of Mother Fist nowadays. too pretentious.

erik, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

marc is gorgeous - 12 yrs of tears is proably the modern cabaret album of the last 15 yrs at leeast.

geoff, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't have the Timms collaboration -- it's a Johnny Cash cover, I think, one of the things I need to dig up! Mother Fist is actually the eighties solo album of his I listen to the most, to my mind it's very darkly captivating, and songs like "Mr. Sad" and "There is a Bed" are wonderful.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

This house is a house of trouble, they happily sing. When Sally adds "and you're bad in bed as well" Marc mutters "well, I never had pretentions in that area" ;-)

Another one from the attic is Marc singing a jazzy-song called Skin in collaboration with the Burmoe Brothers. On the b-side is a Scandinavian singer in a Brecht/Weill-period piece.

I will have a go at the live-album and the recommended Open All Night one if I can, to keep me from getting too obscure.

"lipstick where I never seen lipstick marks before"

erik, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Ned's OTM about Mother Fist>>>swoony,seedy>>>my fave almondalbum

, Sunday, 25 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Saint Sean, you're sure you don't meant OTT ;-)

Fave at the moment the 1984 Shining Sinners, where West Side Story meets Rocky Horror, Marc crooning through a streetfight-scene with some beautiful vampire hunk:

"I want to shake your hand, you little runt, for having the guts to walk in to my neighborhood/ "I like you"/ and with that he died"

...years later it was all Querelle around the clock

What about his retro-glam-album "Fabtastic Star" is it worth checking out?

erik, Monday, 26 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

You're all a bunch of weirdos. Of course, I like weirdos...

Sean, Monday, 26 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

What about his retro-glam-album "Fabtastic Star" is it worth checking out?

Patchy. Stick with the singles.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 26 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

It seems Marc does not raise many eyebrows here anymore, except for sean's fabian-brow.

Say hello wave goodbye

I stick to the sequins...

erik, Monday, 26 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Hi, I've come over from Marc Almond Message Boardland to revive this thread before it disappears off the listing. Obviously far too few people from this board are listening to Marc's recent music or, more likely, are listening to any of it.

Well first the subject line's all wrong. Marc Almond's music is not obscene, sometimes it's erotic and often it's perverse (not necessarily sexually, perversity comes in many varieties!). Nor is his music obscure. It's fairly accessible, especially to people used to listening to a variety of music.

I'm not a Marc Almond fan from way back. I only discovered his music fairly recently. The two most recent albums Open All Night and Stranger Things are amongst my favorites. I concur with everything Ned wrote about Open All Night. Stranger Things has been quite controversial with his fanbase. He made it with Icelandic producer Johan Johanssen. It's got a big, spacious cinematic sound. The emphasis is more on the singing and the music rather than the lyrical content. It's one of those records that you need to give a few listens to before making up your mind. I find it very moving. I know that some people prefer the elaborate, dreamlike songs from the late eighties but I like the greater emotional realism and depth of the recent music.

Fantastic Star is a mixed bag. There's some really good things about it. Some of the lyrical content is wonderful. It's quite a long album (16 tracks). I've got a 12 track way of playing it that works for me and it feels like a full album anyway.

Anyway, he's definitely not a hasbeen. He's a very creative and driven artist. Currently he's making an album in Russia of Russian songs with a variety of different Russian musicians. I'm looking forward to this one when it's eventually released.

Amarga, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I agree Stranger Things is very much a grower. I'd probably revise up my initial AMG review of it. And I'm very *very* much looking forward to the Russian album, that sounds great. Say hi to everyone over there on the board, I don't lurk there as often as I could or should.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Well, I did in fact already say it was a grower, I see. I'll say it again!

Ned Raggett, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Talking of the AMG reviews, could you get AMG to do something about the introductory information, Ned? I mean the styles listed are; New Romantic, New Wave and Synth Pop. The first two are completely nonsensical. I suppose that half an album of synth pop (the first half of the Tenement Symphony, his reunion with Dave Ball) out of an extensive discography provides some sort of reason for the third description, but not much. Then there's the biography.

After disbanding Soft Cell, vocalist Marc Almond pursued a solo career that followed the same vaguely sleazy, electronic dance-pop his former group had made popular. [Really! I thing that, if you're looking for continuity, his recordings with the Mambas give more of a sense of where he was coming from.] Almond's strength was never his personality [Is this some sort of typographical error? I mean Marc Almond may be accused of many things with at least some justification, but lack of personality is not one of them.] — his voice tends to waver around the notes instead of hitting them [Oh yes, the off-key accusation! Has this reviewer actually sat down and listened to Marc's solo recordings?] — it was the atmosphere he created with the synths and drum machines. [Well I've got Marc Almond's first solo album 'Vermin In Ermine' sitting next to me. Let's see what instruments are listed: Piano, Vibes, Bass(Bowed & Plucked) Cello, Keyboards, Guitar, Drums, Sax, Trumpet, Flugal Horn, Violin, Percussion... I suppose Synths and Drum Machines sums it up nicely.]

Amarga, Saturday, 1 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Postscript to the above. I've just noticed AMG have got the wrong year of birth too. It should be 1957 not 1959.

Amarga, Saturday, 1 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I tried to propose a revised biography once and it got nowhere, much to my annoyance. I'll ask again, though.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 2 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

A Russian album is indeed very very very interesting. I have not followed his work up till recently, (but I will after all these raving reviews on this thread!!!) so I see it as a very big step from his french/spanish inpsiration.

Is there any more info abt that album? from what period are the songs? is he going 30s social realism (maybe after all it is not such a big step as he did Brecht/Weill stuff and recorded with Jim Foetus (the slut song?) who made his recordsleeves in stalinistic propaganda- style)

So it turns out I'm myself the only bygone-to-mention person around here as I have not listen to any almond stuff after 1989 ;-)


erik, Sunday, 2 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

It's not entirely clear (to me, at least) what he'll be doing; I've only heard it'll be a range of songs old and new. But this is why I should visit the official web page more often. ;-)

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 2 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

did quick check-up at the site news-bulletin, ok from absinth to vodka, but marc in siberia? amazing! almond in furs ;-0

erik, Sunday, 2 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Erik, you should look up Marc's autobiography 'Tainted Life'. One of the best bits of the book turns out to be his tour diary of a two week tour of Russia he did in 1992. It starts with a nightmare trip to Siberia (...another grey day in Novosibirsk...).

Also did you check out the photographs of Marc's Russian Album Diary while you were looking at the theatre website. You can find them at:


Some of those characters look as though they could have lengthy Russian novels based on their lives!

Amarga, Tuesday, 4 December 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Reviving just because I've heard his latest album just now, Heart On Snow, a collection of a variety of Russian songs from over the last hundred years, many as duets with Russian performers. And goddamn if he didn't go and do it again, ie, be utterly great.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 29 November 2003 21:06 (sixteen years ago) link

It's a fantastic album, Ned. I can't work out how he makes it all hang together so well. It's the strangest mix of songs from Russian Gypsy folk and Gypsy swing through a genre called Russian Romance which is somewhat akin to European cabaret to Soviet songs (military and civilian!) to Soviet/Russian rock and pop.

The selection of collaborators is equally amazing. There's a 98 year old woman called Alla Bayanova who's the Queen of Russian Gypsy song and who recently celebrated 80 years of performing. There's the formidable Ludmilla Zykina, the Commie Diva beloved by the Politburo and still popular with Putin apparently. There's Boris Grebenshikov and his band Aquarium. There's a singer called Ilya Lagutenko with a rather strange voice who is part of a band called Mumiy Troll which I'm told is Russia's answer to Britpop. A few of the tracks are simply voice and piano but with one of the most fantastic piano players I've ever heard. Marc Almond also sings in Russian quite a bit.

If I had to recommend one song to listen to, I would suggest a song called Storks which commemorates the dead soldiers of world war two. It's very beautiful and sad in every way, the words, the singing and the arrangement. Listen for the honking of the flock of birds.

Amarga (Amarga), Sunday, 30 November 2003 00:25 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
*bumps thread*

So, any more ppl listened to the Almond 'Russian album' yet? Feeling strongly about it either way? Care to add more comments?

Me, I've only heard two songs on the radio: "Gosudaryunia" just a few minutes ago (wonder why it's spelled like that exactly, tho) that sounded 'decent enough' to me, but the other one - no idea what's its English title on the Almond alb, could be smth 'bout a "field" (in Russian at least that song is about a "polyushka-pole") and that field song didn't win me over at all... Even more, it appeared quite miserably shallow - which amazed me, because 'shallow' is not something I'd usually associate with Marc Almond.

Well, I certainly am a pretty biased listener as far as such a repertory, or at least a part of it, is concerned - there've been a coupla hundred times too many when I've heard certain pieces that did, or were made to, belong in the routine soviet-patriotic vocal arsenal back in the day. And performed by many a rather little likeable choir or diva.(E.g. as per 'the formidable Ludmilla Zykina', some of her songs/versions of yore could definitely send me fleeing all the way to Timbuktu even now). And Almond partakes of that sort of repertory too, I gather. And wonder what the heck he manages to do with it.

Amarga says above that "Storks" is a great track. Any other impressive successes that've really blown you away?

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Sunday, 18 January 2004 23:38 (sixteen years ago) link

Marc Almond has a great back catalogue of songs and is not covered enough by other artists.

Bob Six (bobbysix), Sunday, 18 January 2004 23:45 (sixteen years ago) link

OK -
Any other impressive successes from Almond's Russian album that've really blown you away?

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Sunday, 18 January 2004 23:49 (sixteen years ago) link

three years pass...

Marc's 50th birthday is here and if you go here to the 'friends and colleagues' link you'll find a number of familiar faces. (As for the quiz, I got 35 out of 50.)

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 8 July 2007 18:13 (thirteen years ago) link

Last night I heard the song he did with Nico called "Your Kisses Burn". I am still in complete awe over that.

Bimble, Sunday, 8 July 2007 19:22 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

RIP Bimble

This seems like the right thread to mention Marc's new record "Orpheus in Exile - Songs of Vadim Kozin", a collection of songs by and associated with the Russian singer-songwriter. A more intimate production, but it's a worthy follow-up to "Heart on Snow", and Marc is in great voice.

Soukesian, Monday, 26 October 2009 20:19 (ten years ago) link

Yeah, I'm writing up the review for the AMG for this tonight -- the whole story of Kozin is involving (and ultimately saddening) and it's wonderful to hear how Marc brings his story to life in many ways.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 26 October 2009 20:20 (ten years ago) link

have a friend who saw him at a Jacques Brel tribute thing in London recently, was said to have been all kinds of great. Including when duetting with Momus.

FC Tom Tomsk Club (Merdeyeux), Monday, 26 October 2009 20:26 (ten years ago) link

Hahah well yes.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 26 October 2009 20:43 (ten years ago) link

eight months pass...

Varieté is a studio album by Marc Almond. The album will be released on July 13, 2010 on Cherry Red Records.

Disc: 1
1. (Intro)
2. Bread And Circus
3. Nijinsky Heart
4. The Exhibitionist
5. The Trials Of Eyeliner
6. Lavender
7. Soho So Long
8. Unloveable
9. Sandboy
10. It's All Going On
11. Variety
12. Cabaret Clown
13. My Madness And I
14. But Not Today
15. Swan Song
16. Sin Song

Disc: 2

1. My Evil Twin
2. A Lonely One
3. Cat Dancer
4. Criminal Lover
5. I Am No One
6. Smoke
7. Kiss The Ghost (Goodbye)

Bee OK, Friday, 16 July 2010 04:47 (ten years ago) link

Somehow I kept thinking this was already out -- can't wait to hear it, of course. I think he's said this one might be his last one featuring original songs as he'd prefer to concentrate on covers and standards in the future.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 16 July 2010 04:52 (ten years ago) link

i was about to post: paging Ned, ILM is paging Ned.

Bee OK, Friday, 16 July 2010 04:57 (ten years ago) link

i only know The Stars We Are and it is brilliant.

what Solf Cell album should i own?

Bee OK, Friday, 16 July 2010 05:00 (ten years ago) link

Well, all of them (the reunion one aside, some charming moments but...). Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret is for many the be-all and end-all and deservedly so, it's arguably the first overtly Suicide-referencing album to be a smash pop hit. (You know, like Maya.) A stellar run of songs, holds together as an album still, cheap on the one hand, produced by Mike Thorne with careful detail on the other. But The Art of Falling Apart and This Last Night in Sodom are no less compelling, if very much steady turns away from the pop world Marc's always had a very ambivalent relationship with.

This all said, you really could do worse as a starting point than to go with the 12 Inch Singles collection, three CDs worth of all the original remixes and B-sides and so forth. Ignore the later remixes and you've got yourself a hell of an overview. There's various further compilations out there; the original The Singles remains unimpeachable.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 16 July 2010 05:06 (ten years ago) link

Personally I prefer Almond's solo material to Soft Cell. Especially on the first SC album his singing is so bad, it got much better later on.

My favourite Marc album is probably Enchanted, I can't believe AMG gave it only like 1,5 stars or something... Sure, the combination of dance beats and melodramatic strings on it is kinda cheesy, but I think it fits the camp nature of the tunes perfectly. And the actual songwriting is among his strongest: "Waifs and Strays", "Toreador in the Rain", "Death's Diary" - how can you not love these?

Tuomas, Friday, 16 July 2010 06:54 (ten years ago) link

I listened to the new album just a couple of times, but it seems good.
A couple of songs were written with Michael Cashmore (ex Current 93) and the general mood is, well, moody.
The bonus cd maybe is even better: stripped out, smokey, noirish, a couple of songs have a kind of rockabilly nuance.

Marco Damiani, Friday, 16 July 2010 07:21 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

I approve:

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 11 July 2012 03:23 (eight years ago) link

eight months pass...

can't believe I haven't heard "The Stars We Are" until now.

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 21 March 2013 00:25 (seven years ago) link


But I'm glad you did. He's been recording lately, also has some performances lined up later in the year. Resigned to never seeing him again in the States but at least I have seen both him and Soft Cell.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 21 March 2013 00:29 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

I can't believe I haven't heard Torment and Toreros until now, I'm halfway through it now and still can't quite believe what I'm hearing. Holy fuck!

Welcome To (Turrican), Thursday, 13 November 2014 13:05 (five years ago) link

Like throughout the course of this album, I've went from laughing, to being deeply moved, to being genuinely terrified and back again. Man, this fucking record!

Welcome To (Turrican), Thursday, 13 November 2014 13:09 (five years ago) link

Yup, completely exhausted after that. Can't see me listening to it for a while, but I undoubtedly will again.

Welcome To (Turrican), Thursday, 13 November 2014 13:48 (five years ago) link

Deep regret I couldn't make the live performance at Meltdown a few years back, but such is life. Meantime, he has a new album and tour soon -- this was an insanely busy year for him, with the Tyburn Tree collaboration, Ten Plagues and the various Dancing Marquis tracks, so The Velvet Trail just feels like his usual overdrive will continue without a pause.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 13 November 2014 13:57 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

Woah, this collab with Ian Anderson(!) on flute! Would totally have nommed it for ilx-tracks-2019 had I heard it before the deadline (slightly annoying repeated flick-like noise artifact(?) in the chorus aside). Few can mouth "turmoil" with such delicious disgust.

anatol_merklich, Friday, 10 January 2020 11:01 (eight months ago) link


SQUIRREL MEAT!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Friday, 10 January 2020 14:10 (eight months ago) link

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