By Jon Savage.
The follow-up to a massive hit can go several ways, but the main possibilities include: 1) an almost exact simulation, a lucky strike turned into a formula or 2) the hit is used as a springboard to go deeper and weirder, with the added confidence caused by unexpected success. The results in the latter case can be explosive: just think of the Kinks’ ‘All Day and All of the Night’.
Bedsitter came off the back of ‘Tainted Love’, Soft Cell’s 1981 bestselling single. Their cover of Gloria Jones’s northern soul classic (which segued, on the 12-inch, into the Supremes’ ‘Where Did Our Love Go’) was a minimalist anthem that both betrayed the duo’s north-western origins and made the most of their performance art leanings.
These came alive on their Top of the Pops appearances. There was an echo of Sparks in the heightened mismatch between David Ball (static, moustached) and Marc Almond (mobile, androgynous). Arriving in the middle of Margaret Thatcher’s first-term, Almond’s camp strutting and hootchy-kootch voguing came over as highly provocative: an outrage and an inspiration.
Soft Cell lacked both the blandness of Spandau Ballet and the all-round appeal of Adam Ant, then in his deserved pomp. There was a gleeful glint, if not a hint of steel, in Almond’s eyes as he minced and postured across the nation’s TV screens: he made gender bending (as it was soon to be called) seem both totally natural and immense fun.
The Guardian has the rest.
First posted: Monday, January 25th, 2010.