❉ We peruse Marc Almond’s definitive 10-disc box set career anthology.
Marc Almond’s career has spanned an impressive thirty-five years, and during that time the performance art student from Victorian seaside town Southport, via Leeds, has released a plethora of music; both in terms of content and volume, from his early days in the 1980s with Soft Cell, to the mid-80s with musical collaborations such as The Immaculate Consumptive (with Jim Foetus, Nick Cave and Lydia Lunch) to his own loose collective of musicians which formed Marc and the Mambas.
He’s been a solo artist for some thirty years, producing a range of songs from seaside shanties to Chanson, Russian folk music, classic chart-pleasing pop records, and Electro covering every theme possible from matinee icons to unrequited stories of love. He’s equally infamous for his collaborative work with everyone from Sarah Cracknell (of Saint Etienne) to most famously, classic crooner Gene Pitney with whom he famously scored a number one record with Something’s Gotten Hold of my Heart.
So it should come as no surprise that an extensive anthology of Marc’s entire recording career has been recently released on Universal Records. Personally curated and overseen by Marc himself, the beautifully glossy ten-disc ‘Trials Of Eyeliner’ box set is a definitive ‘line in the sand’ of his career overview to date. Marc, a true visionary, has stated on many occasions that he prefers not to look back; the whole retro-thing, harking to the ‘halcyon days’ of the ’80s has never been much in his consciousness. He’s always been too busy working on his next project, which in recent years has seen him diversifying from his pop persona to perform in the opera ‘Poppea’ to an award-winning, one-man theatrical work in the form of ‘Ten Plagues’ to the crowd-funded ‘Against Nature’, a poetic, musical adaptation of the novel of the same name by Huysmanns. No-one can accuse Marc Almond of either standing still or of not having vision. He is a grand master of bringing themes of the past very much into the present day, with his own unique twist. The box set comes at a time where 2017 sees a significant birthday for Marc. Having already written his memoirs in the form of ‘Tainted Life’ and ‘In Search of the Pleasure Palace’, such a musical anthology was, some might say, the next logical step.
The impressively packaged CD-only box set is themed into three distinct sections: the four-disc ‘History’ section recounts Marc’s musical career via his favourite and best-loved album tracks and B-sides; the ‘Singles’ section in an unprecedented move, gathers together all of Marc’s Soft Cell, Mambas and solo singles; and finally the 3-disc section ‘Gems’ pulls together rarities, which include fan-only releases, one-off collaborations, and soundtracks contributions. This includes eighteen tracks previously unreleased, from Marc’s own personal collection.
The whole treasure box is beautifully presented with new artwork by Jamie McLeod. Included in the box set is a 64-page hardback book which is packed with glossy colour photos from over the years, and features Marc in conversation with Alexis Petridis in an insightful and candid interview encompassing key moments of Marc’s journey.
Having just signed a three-year record deal, we can confidently look forward to the next chapters in the vivacious life of the be-eyelinered pioneer that is Marc Almond.
❉ ‘Trials of Eyeliner’ was released by Universal Music Group on 28 October, RRP £75.00.
❉ Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her fourth poetry collection, ‘Fame; What’s Your Name?’ was published in paperback and on Kindle earlier this year, and her second novel, ‘Baby Can You Hear Me?’ was published this August in paperback and on Kindle.