on 11 June 2004
When Marc Almond and David Ball met at Leeds Poly in the late 1970's neither could have known the impact they were to have on pop in the early 80's and beyond. Their first release, Mutant Moments EP, brought them to the attention of Some Bizarre supremo Stevo and secured them a deal. First single Memorabilia/A Man Could Get Lost hardly dented the singles chart, but their follow-up gained rather more success.
Tainted Love was a late-summer hit in 1981 across most of the civilised world, and has completely eclipsed the Gloria Jones original. It's status now is iconic. It was released as a double A-side with Where Did Our Love Go? - the 12" moving sweetly from one song to the other. Soon after, Bedsitter was released, the first Ball/Almond composition to come to the attention of the record buying public. A better song about the ennui of a Sunday alone in, well, a bedsit has not been written.
The album was released to much critical acclaim and commercial success. Third single, Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, a Scott Walker-ish torch song about a man who falls for a hooker, cemented Soft Cell in the psyche of the nation and made them a favourite with those who liked their pop slightly more alternative.
The album has plenty of strong songs apart from the singles. Personal favourites are Secret Life and Youth, the latter still evoking in me the despair of the early 80's. Chips on My Shoulder and Entertain Me are chirpy froth, and of course Sex Dwarf has a video that has secured a place in pop infamy.
(And I didn't use the word 'sleaze' once.)
on 17 June 2001
Possibly one of the most depraved, hedonistic, perverse, sickening, sleazy, filthy, kinky and enjoyable albums of all time. I went and bougth this cd after seeing the performance of Tainted Love on TOTP. I didn't realize at the time how different my life was to get. Everything here is brillinat. From the disturbing Frustration, to the excellent Tainted Love, the ultra-kinky Sex Dwarf and the excellent Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Later songs on the album such as What?, Torch and Facility Girls expand on an already perfect album. If you want to know what real sleaze and filth are then I suggest you get this album. You will not regret it. A perfect lesson in the depravity that exists in all big cities.
on 16 April 2013
Having just read Marcs autobiography I was drawn back to this album. After 30++ years I'd forgotten how good it is. I was fortunate enough to be old enough when Stevo launched himself on the music industry with his groundbreaking 'Some Bizzare Album' so I bought it at one of his Clarendon Hotel nights. Then came the original version of Memorabilia on 12 inch ( included in the extra tracks on here) which is so under rated. Got to see Soft Cell live for the first time with Some Bizzare Album stablemates Blah Blah Blah at the Venue in Victoria and I was hooked. Marc held the audience in the palm of his hand as they went through their set consisting of basically the Cabaret album with Dave stood at the back of the 'padded cell' stage set up. Never seen an audience go so mental for electronic music before or since.I also got to see them on their 'Wave Goodbye' gigs at Hammersmith Palais while at the peak of their career. This album has aged well, I was surprised my self actually, and reminds me of being 17 again with some sublime tracks like Youth ,Entertain Me and my favourite Chips On My Shoulder along with the 3 hit singles.The world is a better place for having Soft Cell records in it. I bought this to replace my battered vinyl copy, not that I needed an excuse.
on 2 January 2009
In my teens this had to have been one of my most overplayed records...(my parents hated it). I've just repurchased it on cd, no idea whatever happened to the vinyl. It just takes me back 20 years instantly, every track is so memorable. I just love it! Tainted Love, Bedsitter, Torch and Where did our love go .. to be honest I could name every track as a favourite!!
on 18 February 2001
The inventiveness of both the hook lines and Marc Almonds' lyrics make this album a timeless classic. A dose of real life from the early eighties to take the gloss off the fluffy pop of the time (e.g. Wham, Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo...ETC). Rarely does any artist lay himself as bare as Almond does and his imperfect voice only adds to a near perfect album. This guy was the Eminem of his generation, singing reality songs that some people could just not handle!
one on the first albums i ever bought on vinyl! them where the days!
still sounds as fresh and dirty as it did then! it is an album for a teen on the wild side - today -as i was then!
its a masterpeice of sleaze, pop and love that anyone who has ever felt on the outside will adore!
the huge hits hide so many hidden gems - in fact every single track is amazing!
The first time I heard this album I was blown away. I was 13 and had heard little except Top40 pop and the Beatles ( this is in 1981 ). Frustration ( Track 1 ) was like nothing I'd heard before - angry, passionate - frustrated! I thought it summed up brilliantly the dis-satisfaction with suburban life.
But there was more to come. This album is just fantastic - and nearly all the tracks are memorable - ( maybe Entertain Me / Chips / Secret Life not quite up there with the rest ) - and on this album Soft Cell did something I think no-one had done before - making sleaze glamorous and exciting - Seedy Films was such an effective evocation of blue cinema that Soho clubs took to pumping it through their sound systems. Sex Dwarf is over the top and ironic - but has a real subversive edge - and Marc's sheer gusto keeps the song focussed and prevents it being what could be an oh so clever exercise in superciliousness.
At the same time this album contains brilliant pop songs - Tainted love needs no introduction, but I think it is bettered by Bedsitter with its superbly pithy lyrics - and Say Hello Wave Goodbye - my favourite song ever. It's big, it's passionate, it's a great tune - just wonderful.
And if all this isn't good enough there's a clutch of extras - Memorabilia - still sounding like a great cutting edge dance tune after all these years, What! and Torch - again one of the best songs ever written - a duet, a trombone solo and a tune to die for.
on 31 August 2011
Perhaps it's an eighties thing, but this album has really matured with time.
Yes, there's the obvious singles, (Tainted Love, Say Hello, etc), but what you have here is a beautiful collection of very personal songs, very well put together.
"Isn't it nice, Sugar and spice, Luring disco dollies, To a life of vice"..........
on 22 September 2010
Most people only know Soft Cell as the group that did "Tainted Love", but they, along with Depeche Mode, The Human League and Gary Numan, were some of the early innovators of the dark gothic end of new wave. This album is definitely a product of its time, the synth pop duo of Marc Almond and Dave Ball were clearly influenced by Sparks even down to Ball's Moustache than the shiny disco soul of their contemporaries Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet who favoured Roxy and Bowie. Whilst Duran / Sapandu were content to dress up and snort up. Soft Cell were escaping the streets and the brutality of everyday for altogether more exciting venues like strip clubs and sex cinemas
Soft Cell were the vehicle of Marc Almond, and his obsessions and interest in BDSM. Soft Cell were the musical embodiment of the seedy world. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret is a celebration flirting and courting the uglier side of life, taking its melodic cues from classic Motown but filtering them through cold eighties synthesizer and draping them in darkness and filth. Tainted Love has to be one of the most instantaneous and infectious songs ever written or certainly Soft Cell's version is.
This landmark album was recorded at the height of its gay club scene, at a time which the drug ecstasy was just beginning to be introduced. The sound and club beats of the album reflect this atmosphere. The album is a sinister and sleazy journey through dark alleys, seedy clubs, clammy massage parlours and neon-lit sex shops. The implication is that the duo of Almond and Ball are speaking from personal experience but the former's vulnerable and unconfident vocal inflexion creates a surprisingly effective dichotomy. Much more poppy than their later works, the album also contains two other massive singles; "Bedsitter" and "Say Hello Wave Goodbye. While Almond's vocal is regularly cited as a major strength of the band, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret highlights David Ball's wonderfully evocative synth arrangements. .
The album is not so much erotic as disturbing managing to be both heavenly and hellish at the same time. The implications and understanding of such taboos however were lost on the record by market at the time. It was only the outraged parents who glimpsed a sexualised extrovert with no inhibitions leering at them from the TV screen. Indeed "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret" is at times like reading the most intimate of all personal diaries..it begs for escape and for release and more importantly of all, it begs for new experiences. It's in your face from the first minute and it doesn't care who is shocked or outraged. In fact, it frowns heavily on the very concept of shock or outrage.
If you look closer at the sleeve to this record, it is pure Soho. Almond is seen surrounded by neon lights sneaking a brown paper bag inside his scruffy leather jacket. That scene alone probably says more about the British stiff upper lip attitude to sexuality than a thousand words ever could. It's as if once you put this album on the turntable that the brown package is revealed in all its stark details.
Their sudden rise to fame prompted a top of the pops appearance. A slot on this show was the most sort after prestigious accolades of the day and guaranteed record sales and world wide exposure. Almond was the ultimate home invader. Staring down from posters on teenage boys bedroom walls dressed in mascara and leather. Intentional or not Almond challenged the ultra conservative era pf "family values" by reminding everybody of their own hypocrisy and always championing the underdog.
Say what you will about their sleazy style, but I think it gives them a lot of personality, which is something this genre is often accused of lacking. Marc Almond's lyrics are occasionally shocking and always interesting and his voice packs a surprising amount of soul, despite his somewhat limited range. Dave Ball creates fine electronic pop backings for Almond, and the two complement each other perfectly. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret is likely their strongest set of songs, and it manages to stay consistently great throughout. Though they weren't innovators of this style of music, in terms of keeping the quality going through an album, they were heads and tails above their competition.
.It could be argued that the album celebrates decadence in a way that champions the type of one-up-man-ship we see on the gay scene - of drugs, dancing and mindless lonely sexual encounters. But there's also a certain honesty that can only be drawn from personal experience.
Take "Bedsitter" for instance, one of synth pop's finest moments, it's the hangover after the party, the crabs after the crap one nighter, the black eye you don't remember getting. It genuinally cries with despair, pain and loneliness, something that we can all identify with . The realisation has hit home that here is one big false dream. A lack of friends ("No one knows i'm here for sure"), comfort eating ("think it's time to cook a meal fill the emptiness I feel") and the painful confession that Saturday night is one over rated sea of nothingness ("start the night life over again and kid myself i'm having fun"). Rarely has a song so catchy and poppy been hiding such a lonely existence.
It's hard to listen to this album now without feeling some sadness for the state of pop music now. Marc Almond was a proper pop star, he had the tears, the drama, the mascara, the attitude, the drugs, the ego and the heartbreak..Back then and Soft Cell sound like a mini revolution, destined to talk about the things your neighbours would rather not acknowledge. Musically, they sound innovative, daring, exciting and most of all they make electronic music sound a bit threatening and edgy at a time when nobody else dared do this.
"None Stop Erotic Cabaret" is pops "Coming Out" album that breaks free in every sense of the word.
Overlook you homophobia and this is a nice slice of 80's indulgence
With the minor chords and icy pioneering synth rifts of Dave Ball and the theatrical lyrics of Marc Almond: Soft Cell tapped into an underground subculture of voyeurism and sexual deviancy not previously explored in mainstream pop. Hacking away at the respectability of 1980s Britain with chain-saw welding dwarfs and kiss and tell call- girls Dave and Marc broke the rules of Tea-Time Top Of The Pops and sang about sex, corruption and vice in a frank confessional way that was a kick up the backside for fans of their surprise classic cover hit "Tainted Love" and the record company execs that wanted to grow rich on the profits. The tabloids were furious- this lanky bangle wearing ---- from Leeds an his morose sidekick had much in common with 70s syth pioneers Sparks but took their lyrics in a much different direction. Course all this anger just made Soft Cell even more determined to get as far away from the restrictions of corporate content as possible. Non Stop Erotic Cabaret is brilliant. As a teenager in a small scottish town I loved it. Tracks like Seedy Film and Secret Life I was way out of my depth, I couldn't vouch for their authenticity but Memorabilia and Tainted love were camp whilst Sex Dwarf complete with whip sound effects seemed really enjoyable and a fun way to spend an afternoon. When you're a teenager you think everything is for or about you. NSEC spoke to my supposed uniqueness and need to be different but not alone. I wonder how much of the music we enjoy as teenagers still registers with us as adults. I never thought I'd end up in a drug fuelled vice den the concubine of a married man with a fancy for chain-saws but Dave and Marc had done their research so well I didn't have to! The Deluxe addition fills in the gaps : the sleaze of seaside towns, the tarnish of bright lights viewed through streaming mascara, its all fairly harmless stuff by todays standards. Im not sure where or when you would listen to it now but its worth treasuring none the less!!!