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Marc Almond

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Marc Almond as an international artist is both critically acclaimed and hugely successful as a singer, songwriter and performer. With Dave Ball he established the first successful British electro-duo: Soft Cell. Soft Cell had a string of international hits, the most successful having been their multi-million selling version of the northern soul song 'Tainted Love'. The song is as popular today as it was in 1981 and is regularly aired with the duo's other hit singles 'Bedsitter', 'Numbers', 'Torch' and 'Say Hello Wave Goodbye'. The record 'Memorabilia' was the first ever techno record and set the pace for a whole musical movement. Soft Cell notched up in excess of 10 million record sales worldwide and established a style that was to influence several generations of musicians that followed - from Pulp, The Pet Shop Boys and Suede, onwards to Goldfrapp to Antony Hegarty. An offshoot project called 'The Mambas' followed, recording two double albums, 'Untitled' and the seminal 'Torment and Toreros', an important turning point in Marc's career and one that imbued his artistry with further credibility. The Mambas featured an orchestra both in the studio and on-stage, establishing another first in the 80's – orchestration becoming a main feature of his sound throughout much of his career. This too was to influence so many musicians and bands. It was during this period that he was affectionately referred to by the press as the 'Jim Reeves for the bedsit generation' and 'The Judy Garland of the Garbage Heap'. And much late still he would be referred to as 'the Acid-House Aznavour' The transition from group to solo star proved a major success as he produced a series of diverse albums, always surprising and leading his audience in a new direction. Retaining a sense of humour and a touch of bitterness, combined with a strong sense of irony, his themes are perhaps best reflected in the hymns to the 'Saints of the Underworld'; the brilliant and audacious 'Vermin In Ermine' and the reflective cabaret of 'Stories Of Johnny'; the romantic and personal 'Mother Fist' and his most successful solo album of the eighties, the lush and sparkling 'The Stars We Are'. 'The Stars We Are' album also spawned the international hit 'Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart', a duet with Gene Pitney. The album was his most successful in the United States.

A new decade and a new album later, 'Enchanted' witnessed Marc on an exotic journey around the world, spawning another international hit, 'A Lover Spurned'. 1991 saw the release of the Trevor Horn produced album 'Tenement Symphony' and produced yet further top 30 hits - 'Jacky', 'My Hand Over My Heart' and the top 3 hit 'The Days of Pearly Spencer'.

His own song writing apart, Marc has received acclaim as an interpreter of other people's songs. He recorded a tribute album to Jacques Brel which received unparalleled critical acclaim in Europe, with Brel's estate praising him as the greatest living performer of Brel's work. In the nineties Marc brought Brel back to the pop charts with the song 'Jacky'. He went on to record a twin album of French songs by writers as diverse as Baudelaire, Greco and Barbara. Marc Almond has always had a love of both the French Chansons and the 'great voices' from the 50's and 60's and this has established his reputation as a premier torch singer. Marc Almond has collaborated with a wide range of artists throughout his extensive career which includes working and recording with the likes of Gene Pitney, Nico, Nick Cave, The The, P.J. Proby and the iconic Siouxsie Sioux. The album 'Open All Night', released 29 March 1999, is a mature, meditative journey, each track outstanding and definitely Marc Almond today, more relevant than ever. From the voodoo tinged 'Black Kiss' to the jazz inspired 'When Bad People Kiss', through to the haunting 'Midnight Soul' and the lyrically poignant 'Tragedy'. The album draws from the musical sources as rich and diverse as R'n'B, trip hop, Gospel and Latin and evokes all the elements that make Marc Almond a unique talent. The album features two duets - 'Threat Of Love' with Siouxsie Sioux and the Creatures and 'Almost Diamonds' with Kelly Dayton, the exquisitely talented vocalist of the Sneaker Pimps.

Marc's anthology of poems and lyrics entitled 'A Beautiful Twisted Night' was released in April 1999 through the publishers Ellipsis. Marc Almond's autobiography 'Tainted Life' was released in October 1999 through Macmillan's. Though 2000 saw Marc promoting the album Open All Night around Europe and the US, it was a relatively quiet year. 2001 was, by contrast, an extremely productive and creative year. Marc recorded his album 'Stranger Things' for his French based label Bis XIII: the album, a collaboration with Icelandic songwriter and producer Johann Johannson, formerly of the Icelandic group Lhooq. 'Stranger Things' with a lush ethereal and sophisticated mix of electronic and organic is a natural progression from 'Open All Night'. Praised by the critics 'Stranger Things' contained what are perhaps some of the best songs of Almond's career, including 'Under Your Wing', 'Lights' and 'End In Tears'. The single taken from the album was the untypical, upbeat track 'Glorious' and was accompanied by a theatrical video directed by Yannick Saillet. It was in March 2001 that Soft Cell reformed to play their first series of concerts in 17 years to rapturous welcome, commentators called it not a revival but a rebirth. This was followed by a small British and European tour that set in motion events that culminated in a new Soft Cell album and greatest hits compilation in 2002. During 2001 Marc had two European hits, firstly with a dance collaboration record entitled 'Soul On Soul' with the trance producer Ferry Corstan. The track reached number one in many dance charts across Europe. In Holland it spent six weeks at the top of the dance chart. The second collaboration was with the German band Rosenstolz and created a Top 20 hit in Germany with the song 'Total Eclipse'. Further collaborative work included recording tracks with British garage/hip hop producer Mekon to be included on his album 'Relax with Mekon'. 2001 also saw Marc touring extensively with Jools Holland, and recording a big band version of 'Say Hello Wave Goodbye' for Jools Holland's double platinum album 'Big Band Small World'. 2001 ended with two sell out shows at the Union Chapel in Islington. On the publishing side there was the release of a limited edition spoken word CD and book illustrated by the New York artist Scott Ewalt entitled 'The End Of New York'. It was a compilation of Marc's favourite lyrics and prose about the cities nightlife, subculture and eventual demise. In March 2001 Marc Almond and Dave Ball reformed for a Soft Cell concert to mark the opening of the new London venue Ocean: it was their first concert for 17 years. The response was ecstatic and resulted in a brand new album, 'Cruelty Without Beauty', which was released on Cooking Vinyl in 2002 and a tour of Britain, Europe and America followed. The album received glowing reviews from the music critics and the tour was not only welcomed by hard core fans but a whole new young audience that was now listening to the new electro clash sounds from Europe and America that had in turn been influenced originally by Soft Cell. The single 'The Night', taken from the new album was a Top 40 hit and saw Soft Cell perform together on Top Of The Pops for the first time since the eighties. Marc has since gone on to develop a side-career as a DJ, playing electro and electro-clash and, having gone from strength to strength, now DJ's all over the world, fast becoming the Godfather of the scene. To compliment his role as DJ Marc worked with a number of electro dance producers for a series of collaborations to be released over the following six months, producing several electro-clash favourites in the clubs.

It was in 1999 that Marc undertook a project which would take almost three years to complete. An album of Russian Romance songs called 'Heart On Snow', recorded in St Petersburg and Moscow and featuring a cross section of Russian singing stars and musicians which included Boris Grebenshikov of Aquarium, legendary Romance singer Alla Bayanova, Russian icon Luydmilla Zukena, Sergey Penkin, Ilya Lagutenko (of Mummie Troll), the St Petersburg Naval Choir and the Orchestra Russia. The album was a groundbreaking work and held up to critical acclaim, and found a home in Moscow and a place in the hearts of many Russians who refer to him as 'an adopted son'.

July 2004 saw the release of his second book for Sidgwick and Jackson entitled 'In Search Of The Pleasure Palace' - a humorous travelogue and a journey through a mid-life crisis in search of inspiration. Marc embarked on a book signing tour of the UK and promotion to accompany the release. In the summer of 2004 Marc played a limited run of shows at London's acclaimed Almeida Theatre, the performances entitled 'Sin Songs - Torch & Romance'. The shows were a huge success with fans and critics alike. Marc received some of the best reviews of his career and the show was recorded for a DVD that went Top 10 on release. As the year unfolded a diverse array of engagements were undertaken, including an appearance performing with the Pussycat Dolls for New York Fashion Rocks and, in complete contrast, an acoustic show at Leicester Cathedral and also guested with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert entitled Waterfront Classics. It looked like the year was proving to be one of the most successful of his career but then, on 17 October, it all stopped when Marc was involved in a near fatal motorcycle crash. He remained unconscious for over two weeks whilst sustaining critical injuries. All work was put on hold from that point and 2005 was a gradual recovery, a slow and difficult process – one which was hoped would see him eventually return to a full stage show and new studio album in 2007. The injuries sustained to his head, hearing and voice were extremely traumatic yet his determination not to be beaten carried him through and, after working with his physiotherapist and vocal coach, he is on the way back, if not fully recovered, at least part way in achieving his aims.

Earlier in the year Marc was invited back to the concert stage at London's QE Hall to sing with Antony And The Johnsons. Returning for the first time to the stage, albeit for only the one song, was a major obstacle overcome. Antony Hegarty has cited Marc as the major inspiration in his career, introducing Marc as "the artist without whom he would be nothing". It seems poignant that Marc had been part of Antony's journey and now Antony was part of his. Antony was also there when Marc returned to the recording studio in New York for the first time after the crash to work on Marc's new album, playing piano and adding his unique vocal style alongside Marcs. As part of his on-going recovery he made a few short appearances, notably at Patti Smith's London Meltdown Festival where Marc sang two Brecht songs. There was also a short appearance in St.Petersburg backed by the naval choir of 60 sailors and accompanied by the legendary Boris Grebenshikov on guitar and Mikhail Apteman on piano. 2005 came to an end with Marc guesting on the Jools Holland UK shows, singing two songs per show for which he received a rapturous reception. Though Marc is not 100% back to health by a long way, he has made a remarkable recovery nonetheless which included returning to the stage and the recording studio. Though the past year has seen his work load reduced dramatically, it is the occasional guest appearances that have enabled him to regain his confidence after the accident, and therefore he wants to thank those people who have believed in his recovery - notably Antony Hegarty and Jools Holland.

2006 saw Marc perform only a couple of live concerts, the locations being Moscow and Athens, limited by his on-going recovery.

Marc Almond has signed a new 3 album recording deal with Sequel/Sanctuary records under which his new studio album, 'Stardom Road', will be the first release in late May 2007. This album is a collection of cover songs (although there is one original song, too) that embody all the diverse influences that have shaped much of Marc’s musical life. The songs are a collection of covers, some 'standards' delivered with a subversive twist, and some unusual choices that represent a part of Marc's musical journey. The album also includes one original song - 'Beauty Will Redeem The World', the first song-writing since the crash. Marc has fought back to regain much of his previous status as a singer and songwriter, and though he realises many aspects of his life will never be the same, he retains his unique way of looking at life, through his humour and optimism.

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