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Soft Cell Biography

Home > Music > S > Soft Cell > Biography

Birth Place: Leeds, England, United Kingdom
Years Active: 1978-1984, 2001-present
Genres: Synthpop, New Wave, Post-punk

Soft Cell is a synthpop duo from England who hit the height of their success in the early 1980s. The duo is vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball, who are most well-known for their 1981 massive international hit single, “Tainted Love.” While “Tainted Love” shot the duo to international stardom, they became a staple hit in their homeland, amassing ten top 40 hit singles throughout the 1980s. Soft Cell's songs have been so influential on other artists, such as Nine Inch Nails, David Gray and Marilyn Manson, that they have recorded their own versions of the duo's hits.

Almond and Ball met in 1978 at Leeds Polytechnic College and formed a musical connection immediately. The duo began to record their music independently and to perform at local bars. This perked the interest of local indie record labels Mute Records and Some Bizzare Records, both of which were known to support up-and-coming synthesizer bands, such as Depeche Mode, The The, and Blancmange. The duo was offered a record deal with the Some Bizarre label, backed by Phonogram Records. Their first single to gain any attention was the 1980 club hit, “Memorabilia.” But Soft Cell was still relatively unknown until they released “Tainted Love” in 1981, which went on to be a #1 hit in 17 different countries.

The duo's first album, “Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret,” peaked at #5 on the U.K. Albums chart in 1981 and caused some controversy with the themes explored on the album, such as frequenting pornographic movie houses, in addition to the music videos that accompanied the album depicting Almond and Ball in a bloody butcher's shop surrounded by chainsaws and naked actors.

By 1983, fame and drug abuse had taken a hold of Almond and was affecting the duo's musical output. Sales began to dwindle, as did the duo's popularity. The duo's third offering, 1983’s “The Art of Falling Apart,” peaked at #5 on the U.K. Albums chart. However, the singles released off the album were only moderately successful. The duo decided to call it quits in 1984, playing a series of farewell concerts and releasing a final album, “This Last Night in Sodom,” which peaked at #12 in the U.K.

Almond and Ball resurfaced in 2001 as Soft Cell with a series of live performances. A new album, “Cruelty Without Beauty,” was issued in 2002, followed by a European tour and a small U.S tour in 2003. The single “The Night” was the first release off the album and peaked at #39 on the U.K. Singles chart. 2008 marked the release of a remix album entitled “Heat” by the duo.