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Art students Marc Almond and Dave Ball formed Soft Cell, a synth pop duo famed for its uniquely sleazy electronic sound, in Leeds, England in 1980. Originally, vocalist Almond and synth player Ball teamed to compose music for theatrical productions, and as Soft Cell, their live performances continued to draw heavily on the pair's background in drama and the visual arts. A self-financed EP titled Mutant Moments brought the duo to the attention of Some Bizzare label head Stevo, who enlisted Daniel Miller to produce their underground hit single "Memorabilia" the following year. It was the next Soft Cell effort, 1981's "Tainted Love," that brought the duo to international prominence; written by the Four Preps' Ed Cobb and already a cult favorite thanks to Gloria Jones' soulful reading, the song was reinvented as a hypnotic electronic dirge and became the year's best-selling British single, as well as a major hit abroad. The group's debut LP, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, was also enormously successful, and was followed by the 1982 remix collection Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing. While 1983's The Art of Falling Apart proved as popular as its predecessors, the LP's title broadly hinted at the internal problems plaguing the duo; prior to the release of 1984's This Last Night in Sodom, Soft Cell had already broken up. Almond immediately formed the electro-soul unit Marc & the Mambas; another group, Marc Almond & the Willing Sinners, followed before the singer finally embarked on a solo career in the late '80s that continued well into the 21st century. Ball worked with Psychic TV, Jack the Tab, and other groups before forming the electronic outfit the Grid in the '90s and Nitewreckage in 2011. Soft Cell briefly reunited in 2001. ~ Jason Ankeny
1980 in Leeds, England
'80s, '00s, '10s