Marc Almond: The Dancing Marquis – album review

Marc Almond – The Dancing Marquis (Cherry Red)

CD

16 June 2014

8.5/10

Former Soft Cell and Mambas frontman, Marc Almond, releases a new collection. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.

Marc Almond is a British institution. Mainly due to his partnership with David Ball in 80s wonders Soft Cell, his career has been dotted with consistently superb recordings, many of which go unnoticed. We all know about Soft Cell and Gene Pitney, some may know of his adoration of Scott Walker and Jacques Brel, and others of his amazing albums as Marc & The Mambas, but let’s also not forget his impeccable solo work.

Stories Of Johnny, Tenement Symphony and Variete dot an impressive career that almost ended after a serious motorcycle accident in 2004. Taking time to explore Marc’s back catalogue  is one of the most rewarding things any music fan can ever do.

Combining the two limited edition vinyl EPs, Tasmanian Tiger and The Dancing Marquis, with two brand new tracks and two remixes, this collection paves the way for a new album in July, the one man song cycle, Ten Plagues.

Produced by Tony Visconti, the opener and title track displays how to write perfect pop. Straight into the instrumental hook, catchy verses, superb bridge and the song title. You never lose the knack of writing a good tune, and it’s something that has never left Marc. Sweeping strings and thumping percussion, add a wall of backing singers and there you have it.

 

For a split second, Burn Bright has the sound of Walk On The Wild Side. The track displays Marc’s balladeer leanings with a voice more than capable of holding its own and sounding just like it did 30 years ago. Tasmanian Tiger has its roots in Glam with a guitar lick straight from the Glitter Band vaults with a hint of Bolan. Again, a mighty chorus in a mammoth production courtesy of Tris Penna.

Jarvis Cocker writes and produces Worship Me Now and somehow manages to get the feel of Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret with a perverse lyric and hypnotic sex club sound. Libertine’s guitarist, Carl Barat, pens Love Is Not On Trial – another heartfelt track on which he also contributes backing vocals.

Inspired by the death of artist Sebastian Horsley, Death Of A Dandy rises and rises from nothingness to full band, strings, piano and chorus. The final tracks, So What’s Tonight? and Idiot Dancing, are both produced by Almond and previously unreleased. The former has a speedy beat with a dark guitar, the latter is another quickly paced pop effort, immediate and unforgettable.

Remixes of Worship Me Now by Roland Faber & Kal Luedeling and Spatial Awareness provide a memorable end to the album. More magic from a national treasure.

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The Marc Almond website is here. Follow him on Twitter here and like him on Facebook here.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.

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