is the 2007 album from the flamboyant performer best known as the voice behind Soft Cell. The album is a musical journey of cover songs that have influenced Marc through his life and his significant growth as an artist. The album also contains one new song, "Redeem Me (Beauty Will Redeem The World)", which Almond wrote specifically for Stardom Road. This collection features many of the genres that Marc has been associated with over the years, including torch song; the 1950s crooners; the grand orchestral sounds of the 1960s; the 'over the top' pop glam of the 70s and the electro-style of the 80s that made him famous as part of Soft Cell. Stardom Road gives the listener a personal glimpse into Marc Almond's inspirations, aspirations and conclusions. It is a tremendously important album, being his first since his near-fatal motorcycle crash in 2004. The crash proved life changing, as such ordeals often are. Recording this album has formed an important part of the recovery process and represents the turning point as Marc Almond the artist returns to form. The album has been compiled with the help of Tris Penna, who produced many of the tracks with the acclaimed producer Marius de Vries and arranger Mike Smith. It features guest spots from Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons; Jools Holland, with whom Marc has often toured; and Sarah Cracknell from St Etienne.
Staring death in the face and deciding his current outfit wouldn't see him through to eternity, Marc Almond gave a kick of the heels, a flick of the head and cat-walked back to life. A motorbike accident in 2004 was not the way he'd want to be remembered.
Realising mortality and spurred to live life to the full, Almond has used his return to compile a collection of songs which influenced his upbringing. Stardom Road begins its journey circa '59, the year of his birth, through to
his Soft Cell fame.
Quite what Bobby Darin would make of Almond is anyone's guess, but the crooner certainly made an impression on young Marc. ''Dream Lover'' and the album closer ''The Curtain Falls'' show the origins of Marc's showmanship along
with Sinatra's ''Strangers In The Night''. It's a tough act to follow and ultimately proves out of reach, however much he tries to make it his own.
Dusty Springfield's ''I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten'' is a much better attempt. One of the album highlights, it features the sassy Sarah Cracknell of St Etienne and thoroughly deserves its place as the first single lifted. But a change of tact on Shirley Bassey's ''The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men'' worryingly sees Antony & The Johnsons Antony Hegarty outshine his host to deliver the enchanting performance this time around.
To Almond's credit, this is not a collection of obvious covers and helps shed light on the maker of the man. 'I'll explain my life and show you all I am and all I've been', he sings in opening track ''I Have Lived''; also stating,
'When it's time to meet the Father and explains my sins away, I will tell him, yes I'll tell him I have lived'. Two stern fingers up to remorse of indiscretion in case you were wondering.
Clearly the Noughties have not been especially good for Marc Almond. More at home pushing the envelope of the Eighties he's struggled to shock and excite in our ever-more liberal times. Sadly too, the current generation he inspired are now out-kitsching the creator leaving Stardom Road more show tunes than show stopper. --Iain Griffin
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