sábado, 8 de diciembre de 2007

Marc Almond: Biography

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 and had a string of international hits, the most successful being 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 single 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.

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'. The transition from group to solo artist 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 which also spawned the international hit Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart, a duet with Gene Pitney.

The nineties were another prolific and successful decade for Marc with the albums Enchanted, the Trevor Horn produced album Tenement Symphony, Fantastic Star, and the mature and acclaimed Open All Night. Further top 30 hits followed; A Lover Spurned, Jacky, My Hand Over My Heart and the top 3 hit The Days of Pearly Spencer. In the latter part of the decade Marc undertook a project that 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, the St Petersburg Naval Choir and the Orchestra Russia. The album was a groundbreaking work, 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'. As well as all this Marc found time to release an anthology of poems and lyrics entitled 'A Beautiful Twisted Night' and his autobiography 'Tainted Life'.

In March 2001 Marc Almond and Dave Ball reformed Soft Cell to play their first series of concerts in 17 years to rapturous welcome. Commentators called it not a revival but a rebirth. The response was ecstatic and resulted in a brand new album, Cruelty Without Beauty, 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 the British chart show Top Of The Pops for the first time since the eighties.

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, PJ Proby, Antony Hegarty and the iconic Siouxsie Sioux. In 2001 it was two different collaborations that gave Marc two European hits, firstly with a dance record entitled Soul On Soul with the trance producer Ferry Corstan; the track reached number one in many dance charts across Europe including six weeks at the top of the dance chart in Holland. 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 has included recording tracks with British garage/hip hop producer Mekon, a single Baby's On Fire with T-Total and several recordings with Punx SoundCheck. Since 2001 Marc has toured extensively with Jools Holland and recorded a big band version of Say Hello Wave Goodbye for Jools Holland's double platinum album Big Band Small World.

2004 was an important year in the life of Marc Almond; first there was the publication of his book In Search Of The Pleasure Palace - a humorous travelogue and a journey through a mid-life crisis in search of inspiration, then the summer brought a limited run of shows at London's acclaimed Almeida Theatre. The performances, entitled Sin Songs - Torch and Romance, 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. 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 for the next two years Marc underwent a slow and difficult process of gradual recovery. 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 made a remarkable recovery which included returning to the stage for full shows and recording a new studio album in 2007.

His own song writing apart, over the years Marc has received acclaim as an interpreter of other people's songs. He recorded a tribute album to Jacques Brel, entitled Jacques which received unparalleled critical acclaim in Europe, with Brel's estate praising him as the greatest living performer of Brel's work. He went on to record a twin album called Absinthe of French songs by writers as diverse as Baudelaire, Greco and Barbara. As well as this love of the French Chansons Marc Almond has always had a passion for the 'great voices' from the 50's and 60's and this love proved to be the inspiration for his first studio album since the accident. During his recovery, a time when he found song writing difficult, he recorded Stardom Road a collection of cover songs (plus one original song) that embodied all the diverse influences that shaped much of Marc's musical life. The choice of songs, some standards delivered with a subversive twist and some unusual choices that represented a part of Marc's musical journey, also included the first song writing since the accident - Beauty Will Redeem The World.

Overcoming all the odds Marc Almond has fought back and regained his previous status as a singer and songwriter and his reputation as a premier torch singer. In 2007 he returned to the London stage performing three intimate shows at the historic Wilton's Music Hall, followed by a sell-out full band concert at Shepherds Bush Empire on his 50th birthday. An emotional event for both the audience and Marc himself and one which he later cited as being one of his best shows ever.

Marc Almond is a survivor and since the accident, although he realises that many aspects of his life will never be the same, he retains his unique way of looking at life, through his humour and optimism. The legend lives on.

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