Marc Almond, Obscure or Obscene?

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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 (twelve 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 (twelve 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 (nine 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 (nine years ago) link

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

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

one year passes...

I approve:

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 11 July 2012 03:23 (seven 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 (six 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 (six 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 (one month ago) link


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

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