Thursday, January 23, 2014

Soft Cell - Tainted Love

Soft Cell were a one hit wonder in the U.S., but the group's music was interesting and influential.  In fact, "Tainted Love" played an important role in early 1980's synth pop, highlighting the soulful, human aspect of a musical style that was sometimes viewed as cold and artificial.  As was the case with so many acts, Soft Cell were much more successful in their home market.  The group had 12 top 40 hits in the UK, including a run of five consecutive top 5 singles, starting with "Tainted Love."

The band consisted of singer Marc Almond and synthesizist (is that a word?) Dave Ball.  The duo met at Leeds Polytechnic (now Leeds Metropolitan University) in 1978.  Soft Cell initially worked scoring music for theater, and soon came to the attention of Stevo (Steve Pearce) a DJ who launched Some Bizzare Records and become a major player in the emerging electronic scene in Britain.  Stevo would become Soft Cell's manager and help them sign a major label deal.

"Tainted Love" comes off the first Soft Cell LP, 1981's Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.  The song became a monster hit, reaching #1 in many countries, including the UK, while reaching #8 in the U.S.  "Tainted Love" took an unusually long time to peak on the U.S. charts and spent a then-record 43 weeks in the Hot 100.

The original version of the song was recorded in 1965 by Gloria Jones and it was not a hit -- in fact, it failed to chart in either the U.S. or UK.  However, a British club DJ (Richard Searling) came across a copy in 1973 and began playing it, which led to a period of success as a club single.  Jones then re-recorded the song in 1976, but the new version failed to chart, as well.  [As an aside for any hardcore musicologists out there, Jones is best known as the girlfriend of Marc Bolan (T. Rex).  Jones and Bolan had a son (Rolan Bolan) together and Jones was driving the Mini when it crashed, killing Bolan in September 1977.]

Soft Cell released three additional albums after Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret before breaking up in 1984.  Both Almond and Ball have remained in the industry, and there have been periodic reunions in recent years.

The original video for "Tainted Love" features togas and a cricket player.  I don't recall seeing the video much on MTV back in the day, though.




Soft Cell also released a remixed version of the song (with a corresponding video) in 1991, which is below:




Lastly, here is the original version of the song by Gloria Jones:


6 comments:

  1. Wow! I've never seen that original video.
    No wonder it wasn't played on MTV
    Never cared much for the song.
    Yet, It's So Eighties.
    Dig all the info you post with the videos.
    All The Best,
    -Sam

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  2. Fascinating post! I've never seen either of those videos, but I have to say the first one is really weird, with that little girl. Somehow, "Tainted Love" seems like a very adult theme, with implications of fickleness and infidelity. I think the second video is much more apposite, since I've always thought the song had a very gay vibe (it was particularly popular in gay clubs in the 80's), and it turns out that Marc Almond is gay.

    As for Gloria Jones, wow! I've never heard that version (or should I say "the original") but I love it. It has a very different vibe, obviously, but it's a great song the way she sings it too.

    Cheers!

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we have the 12" single that transitions to "Where Did Our Love Go."

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    1. Thanks for the comments, guys, and always cool to find a video that folks have not seen before. Kim, I completely agree about the song's vibe ... and I love the 12" version with a strong cover of The Supremes "Where Did Our Love Go." I considered posting that too, but thought that it would make the entry too long.

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  3. HiYa Rock dog, this reply won't exactly 'fit' with my others, but Tainted Love was a hit with all the girls at the NYC Beauty Salon where I worked - I had to say something! The memories revolve around the year it was a hit, of course - but it just never stopped... it was part of 3 or 4 tapes my team brought in. My only music rule was that they could play what they wanted as long as it made them happy. This song made them smile, sing along, even dance a little. It was good to see Soft Cell had a soft place in their hearts.it was also one of the songs that didn't get changed out so quickly - it found a home in their locker room for quite a while! I can still hear the echo of their voices at the end of their shifts; "don't touch me please I cannot stand the way you tease!" LOL! C-ya, Gabby

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    1. Hi Gabby, thanks for the thoughts. It is great how music can bring back memories, and totally ok to post here. In fact, that is part of why we started ERV. Kepp the faith.

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  4. who was the kid in the 1981 video?did she go onto biggr and better things?

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