Say Hello, Wave Goodbye: The Fleeting Fame & Lasting Legacy of Soft Cell

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Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Soft Cell
Soft Cell
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Say Hello, Wave Goodbye: The Fleeting Fame & Lasting Legacy of Soft Cell
Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, the 1981 debut album by British duo Soft Cell. A ten-track carnival of sleaze and squalor… and a pop phenomenon. In two years, Soft Cell racked up five UK Top Ten hits, including the best-selling British single of 1981, "Tainted Love." That cover of an obscure '60s soul song went #1 in seventeen countries, landing in the Guinness Book of World Records. Coupling the electronic grooves of Dave Ball with Marc Almond's over-the-top vocals, Soft Cell ushered in a wave of synth-pop acts: Eurythmics, Yazoo, Pet Shop Boys. Writhing suggestively in black leather and bangle bracelets, the effeminate Almond was beamed into suburbia courtesy of The Merv Griffin Show. For young misfits weaned on jiggle TV, The National Enquirer, and daily abuse dished out by classmates, the duo's black humor and genuine pathos came as a godsend. And the band's lives mirrored their art. While working in New York City, Soft Cell ran rampant through the underground club scene; their EP Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing was mixed entirely under the influence of ecstasy, and their dealer even rapped on it! Far more than mere "one-hit wonders," Soft Cell fashioned a musical last gasp of pre-AIDS nightlife culture, influencing a generation of artists and fans that followed.