• Track List and Review

    Lug 3 2006, 17:08

    Track List:

    1. Bedsitter
    2. Chips on My Shoulder
    3. Seedy Films
    4. Youth
    5. Entertain Me
    6. Soul Inside
    7. Her Imagination
    8. Where Was Your Heart When You Need It Most?
    9. Youth [Multimedia Track]
    10. Sex Dwarf [Multimedia Track]
    Album Review

    Soft Cell At the BBC Live
    Strange Fruit

    Article written by James B
    Oct 5, 2003.

    The eighties; often and quite rightly referred to as the cultural vortex of the 20th Century. And who do we blame? Ignoring the obvious culprits, note that 20(ish) years down the road we’re yet to hear one vaguely plausible excuse to justify the existence of Sammy Hagar per example. It was a desperate time where people drove Porsches and watched Dallas for recreation, suits were made of a mysterious new fabric named ‘shell’ while a potential national shortage of hairspray threatened to bring the country to a grinding halt within minutes.

    Yet what of synth pop? The product of a petered-out mid-70’s punk revolution and an almost overnight realization that the Casio keyboard cost less than a six-string. Arguably it’s brought us Nine Inch Nails, Ladytron and Jacque Lu Cont. On the other hand Neil Tennant was once quoted as saying “Without Soft Cell there wouldn’t have been a Pet Shop Boys. Soft Cell made us realize we could for a group”, a comment that should in no way be interpreted lightly.

    Unlike their peers, Soft Cell seem not to have done the decent thing and gone all dark and mysterious on us. Gary Numan went metal, Depeche Mode went heroin but Soft Cell split in 1983 until last year, preserving their impeccable barnets, campery and sturdy 4/4 beats in two decades of suspended animation. Being a live record, we deal with old and new in an albeit nostalgic fashion.

    Marc Almond’s sleezy lyricism provides something of a credibility boosting crowbar separation from the music we cherish under the moniker of ‘Euro’. The “Sunday morning going slow; I’m talking to the radio; Clothes and records on the floor; Memories of the night before” of Bedsitter is a situation that we can all relate to around once a week. But then again, when Almond announces “OK, a couple of ballads for you…” after Divided Soul, then it’s not all that difficult to become sucked in to an altogether more Alice Deejay type of existence. “Why don’t I just give up and submit to the great god of bland?” he asks in Monoculture. Indeed, why not?

    This is a concept that baffles me. Why actually release a live record when it’s literally a note perfect transcript of your record, plus a bit of crowd noise with the occasional interjection of “Mr David Ball on keyboards and synths Ladies and Gentlemen!”. Where is the viciously masturbatory improvisation? Karaoke has the advantage on being able to thrown items at the participant, Soft Cell – Live does not.

    But yes, it does have Tainted Love on it, and yes the songs are actually not too bad, and yes listening to Le Grand Guignol alone probably goes down as the single most homoerogenous experience of my life to date, however this is one of those ‘for the fans’ records, which is the sugar-coated way of saying average.