[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Prolific career of singer Almond
Marc Almond
Almond has released more than 50 singles and albums
Singer Marc Almond, who is critically ill after a motorcycle crash, has recorded more than 50 singles and albums in 24 years, under a number of guises and musical styles.

Almond enjoyed his biggest chart success more than two decades ago - but his influence as a singer, songwriter and performer continues to have an impact on new generations of performers and fans.

Almond is best-known as the singer of pioneering 1980s electro-pop duo Soft Cell, the group he formed in Leeds with keyboardist Dave Ball.

The pair's vibrant version of the northern soul classic Tainted Love became the UK's biggest selling single of 1981, selling more than a million copies.

SOFT CELL HITS
Marc Almond
Tainted Love - no. 1, Aug 1981
Bedsitter - no. 4, Nov 1981
Say Hello Wave Goodbye - no. 3, Feb 1982
Torch - no. 2, May 1982
What - no. 3, Aug 1982
The duo had been among a batch of UK groups ushering in a new era of chart-friendly pop music in the early 1980s, using synthesisers and drum machines rather than "traditional" instruments.

Alongside bands like Human League and Depeche Mode, they eschewed the dominant post-punk guitar sound in favour of melodies and rhythms created using the latest keyboard technology.

Top five hits followed with Bedsitter, Say Hello Wave Goodbye, Torch and What, while the group's early song Memorabilia was credited with pre-dating the techno dance revolution by several years.

Soft Cell went on to sell more than 10 million records worldwide, influencing future generations of musicians from Pulp and Blur to the Pet Shop Boys and Divine Comedy.

The duo split in 1984 after Almond and Ball developed a taste for drugs. Almond's addiction continued for 12 years until two associates tried to throw him from a sixth-floor window - a brush with death that led him to seek professional help.

Within about a year of Soft Cell's earliest successes, Almond had begun to pursue a parallel career with his offshoot project Marc and the Mambas, scoring low-key chart hits and building a loyal fan base.

Within Soft Cell, Almond's pop sensibilities were always imbued with a dark melancholy edge.

MARC ALMOND HITS
Marc Almond
Stories of Johnny - no. 23, Aug 1985
Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart (with Gene Pitney) - no. 1, Jan 1989
Jacky - no. 17, Sept 1991
The Days Of Pearly Spencer - no. 4, Apr 1992
But with his side project and later solo work, he seemed more able to give free reign to his true artistic temperament, incorporating influences ranging from European cabaret to 1960s torch singers.

The Mambas featured an orchestra in the studio and on stage, while his transition to solo artist provided further subtle changes in musical direction, taking cues from artists such as Scott Walker and Edith Piaf.

He recorded a tribute album to cult Belgian songwriter Jacques Brel and had a 1991 hit with Brel's Jacky. He went on to record an album of French songs by writers such as Baudelaire and Greco.

More recently he has drawn on jazz, R&B, trip-hop, Latin and gospel influences, and collaborated on an electronic project with Icelandic artist Johann Johannson. He has also worked with Euro-trance producer Ferry Corstan and UK hip-hop act Mekon.

Last year, Almond released Heart on Snow, an album of Russian romance songs recorded in St Petersburg and Moscow, featuring acclaimed Russian artists with choral and orchestral players.

Reunion

Along the way, he has also recorded with acts as diverse as Bronski Beat, Gene Pitney, Nico, PJ Proby, The The, Siouxsie Sioux, Nick Cave and Jools Holland.

The duo reformed three years ago for a small British and European tour, marking the March 2001 opening of a new London concert venue, Ocean in Hackney.

A year later, they released a well-received album, Cruelty Without Beauty, which led them to appear on Top of the Pops for the first time since the mid-1980s.

Almond recently began earning a reputation as a nightclub DJ, basing his set in part on the electro styles he helped to pioneer more than two decades earlier.


SEE ALSO:
Marc Almond 'stable' after crash
18 Oct 04  |  Entertainment
Torch singer Almond lights up Russia
05 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Almond books place in fans' hearts
26 Jun 01  |  Entertainment
Soft Cell return to the stage
16 Mar 01  |  Entertainment


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific