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Pop - Released January 31, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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What do you get when you cross a torch song with Nietzsche? Chaos and a Dancing Star. The title of Marc Almond’s 24th album is in fact inspired from this phrase from Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star”. Chaos can birth creativity and can lead to a positive and brilliant feeling. It’s this double-edged feeling that runs through the 13 tracks written composed with the former Soft Cell member, in tandem with Chris Braide (Sia, Lana Del Rey, Halsey…). One of the most emblematic songs of the dichotomic philosophy of the album is without a doubt Hollywood Forever, the name of the famous cemetery to the stars in Los Angeles. Under the shining and utopian surface of Hollywood hides a certain decadence represented by that place. But ghosts seem to continue inspiring artists, and Marc Almond is certainly one of them. The star mentioned by Nietzsche is often expressed through music, notably on the tracks Slow Burn Love, Cherry Tree and Fighting a War. With their playful pop-rock beats and melodies in the major key, they form brilliant counterpoints to the dark romanticism of the lyrics. The musical positivity is very often accentuated by generous arrangements which blend piano with sparkling layers of Mellotron, the result accompanied with a generous dose of camp as is often the way with Almond. The opening song of the album, Black Sunrise is one of the highlights of the singer’s entire career. The fluttering flute in Lord of Misrule is another highlight, as well as the vibrant choirs which interject at various moments over the course of the whole album. Finally, Marc Almond is not only a fan of the golden age of Hollywood, but is also clearly influenced by aesthetic and horrific images from the Italian giallo genre of cinema. There is a certain level of homage to this style of film, including a celesta solo in the finale, the melody of which is a heartfelt nod to the soundtrack of Dario Argento’s film Suspiria. © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Pop - Released March 10, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

This best-of collection brings together some of Marc Almond's finest moments from throughout his career. Featuring tracks from his time with Soft Cell, the album also includes a selection of Almond's solo material, as well as collaborations with the likes of Gene Pitney and Bronksi Beat. © Rich Wilson /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 19, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Rock - Released April 22, 2002 | Parlophone UK

Another year and another label for Marc Almond, along with a newly stripped-down band, La Magia, with Willing Sinner vets Annie Hogan, Billy McGee, and Steve Humphreys on drums. Even more so than Stories of Johnny, this is Almond with an eye and ear on making a commercial record while still being himself, and the result is much better than expected. Bob Kraushaar's production feels much lighter and brighter in general than Mike Hedges' past efforts, and the songwriting often matches it -- the sprightly opening title track, followed by the tenderly passionate "These My Dreams Are Yours," makes for what has to be the most upbeat start to a Almond album yet. Similar moments crop up throughout the record, including "Bitter Sweet," with a killer sweeping chorus, the sparkling, slightly jazzy "The Very Last Pearl," which gives pulsing nightlife one of its best makeovers ever, and a triumphant, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink version of Gene Pitney's "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart," replaced on later versions of the album with the U.K.-chart-topping duet with Pitney himself. That said, it's still an Almond album through and through -- the lighter songs still have his sweet purr in the vocals (and Hogan's keyboards and instrumental arrangements remain uniformly excellent), while moodier and expectedly dramatic numbers still turn up in abundance. The forceful duet with Nico, "Your Kisses Burn," calls to mind prime Lee and Nancy, with masses of strings to boot; elsewhere, "The Sensualist" acts as his clearest statement yet on the many erotic joys life has to offer. Perhaps most surprisingly of all, "Tears Run Rings," his most overtly political number to date, became a minor U.S. hit. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 14, 1995 | Parlophone UK

As Virgin did with the many B-sides and rarities from Almond's days with them, so too did EMI some years later, compiling an intriguing variety of tracks -- 25 all told -- for the ease of shopping by the hardcore Almond fan. Unlike the frequently brilliant Virgin's Tale collections, however, this two-disc compilation sounds far more scattershot for two reasons. First, the increasing commercial sheen of Almond's work during this time rendered a fair amount of the songs far less musically intriguing than they should be. Second, nearly half the collection consists of various dance remixes -- some good enough (one of which by his old Soft Cell partner Dave Ball), but most fairly unnecessary or adding little. Still, this being Almond, there are some welcome tracks, including the sweet and soaring "Libertine's Dream" and the tale of a married transvestite stripper, "Exotica Rose," imbued with the swinging cabaret feel of his late-'80s work. Intriguingly, no less than five of Enchanted's ten tracks appear here in demo form, as much a tacit acknowledgment that the overproduced final versions weren't as good as they could be as curiosities in and of themselves. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 22, 2017 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

It’s a common trend: the older we get, the more we want to sweep the dust off our old photo albums and take a trip down memory lane… So it follows that two months after blowing out his 60 candles, Marc Almond is revisiting the songs that impacted his youth and musical education. The ex band member of Soft Cell who peaked at the top of charts in 1981 with Tainted Love (an obscure soul gem sung by the equally obscure Gloria Jones, the girlfriend of Marc Bolan from T. Rex) has selected songs that stem from the sixties for his new album entitled Shadows and Reflections. A real parade of baroque pop and psychedelic experts, mod R&B and torch songs, including The Action, Julie Driscoll, Billy Fury, The Herd, Burt Bacharach, the Yardbirds, Bobby Darin and the Young Rascals. A true stylistic exercise, with just enough kitsch, flamboyancy and melancholy, in which Marc Almond even included two original compositions. © CM/Qobuz
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Pop - Released October 25, 2010 | Cherry Red Records

This is the album that Marc Almond has been trying to make since leaving Soft Cell. He has managed to fuse together all of his influences: pop, disco, dance, electronic, R&B and cabaret all thrown into the mix to produce this incredibly diverse and entertaining album. Perhaps it was the freedom of recording and releasing the CD as a semi-independent release. It was initially to be released in 1998 on the British label Echo, and in fact the first single release from the album, "Black Kiss," was released on that label. Echo released Almond from his contract and he decided to go the independent route; for him, this was a good move. He has produced a very original work that still falls into the Marc Almond mold. Although fans will love this CD, it is accessible enough to attract new listeners as well. Almond has surrounded himself with very talented guests on this album, including Siouxsie Sioux (of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Creatures), who duets with Almond on the brilliant "Threat of Love." Song topics are the usual for Almond (death, sleaze, love, lust and the like) but what makes this album so interesting is the music: beautiful, well-crafted melodies with heavy dance beats. Not an easy task, but he does it very well. Almond is very talented and a great deal deeper than he has been given credit for. This is a great example of just how creative he is when given the artistic freedom. [Open All Night is also available in an import release.] © Aaron Badgley /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 29, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

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Pop - Released December 1, 1989 | Some Bizzare

Recorded on and off over three years, through all sorts of record company and band changes, and ultimately released independently when no major label would take a chance on it, perhaps the most striking thing about this labor of love is its general consistency. Much more than that, though, Jacques turns out to be one of the best single-artist tribute records yet recorded; certainly it was anything but a commercial cash-in, given how its subject, French singer/songwriter Jacques Brel, had little more than a cult following in the English-speaking world, most notably through Scott Walker's various cover versions. Remaking two songs done earlier in his solo career, concert standby "If You Go Away" and "The Bulls," Almond adds on ten other songs, whose subject matter alone is testimony to Brel's abilities with lyrics both personal and political. The classic Willing Sinners lineup is mostly present throughout (Martin McCarrick's abilities with the accordion especially come to the fore here), with plenty of orchestral players as well, serving the Gallic cabaret/pop tunes well. The most striking performances include the worker's lament "The Lockman" and the astoundingly beautiful and lush "The Town Fell Asleep," certainly one his best-ever recordings. In the end, though, singling out songs from this remarkable album is nearly impossible; without any question, it's an out and out triumph. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
CD£67.49

Pop - Released October 28, 2016 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

On the surface, Marc Almond might be an unlikely candidate to warrant a ten-disc, career-spanning box treatment. For many, he is best known as half of '80s synth pop outfit Soft Cell (along with David Ball); their biggest hit, "Tainted Love," and its video were synonymous with vintage MTV. (In England their run was more substantive and lasted through 1984.) Post-Soft Cell, Almond's career spiraled off into a dazzling variety of directions with sometimes deft, sometimes daft albums that moved through erotic torch songs, Jean Genet-inspired hustler's balladry, Brechtian cabaret, elegant chanson, Russian-inspired folk and orchestral theater music, pop standards, and industrial abstract experiments in covers and originals. This massive set represents that depth and breadth, dripping all the while with eros, dark, wry humor, and vulnerable emotion. Packaged in a garishly handsome fuchsia and red box are two thematically arranged gatefold-disc sleeves and a hardbound, photo-laden book with a generous introduction by the artist and an engaging historical essay by Alexis Petridis. Almond handpicked all 192 selections. The first four discs, entitled "History," contain 72 selections collected from B-sides, solo albums, Soft Cell, Marc & the Mambas, Marc Almond & the Willing Sinners, etc. Highlights include "Threat of Love" (with Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie), a stellar duet with Nico from 1988's brilliant The Stars We Are, a reading of "Pearly Night" with the Orchestra Royssia from Orpheus in Exile (an album of songs by Vadim Kozin), and "Mother Fist." The second sleeve contains Almond's singles in chronological order, including all the prime Soft Cell jams (unfortunately, the harrowing long version of "Memorabilia" is omitted), odd hits -- including the 1988 cover of “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart” with Gene Pitney -- "A Woman's Story," "The Boy Who Came Back," "The Idol," "Stories Of Johnny" and Yesterday Has Gone," the latter sung in duet with P.J. Proby. The final three discs fill out a mind-boggling portrait of Almond and are loaded with treasures. Culled from his private collection, they contain one-offs, unreleased demos, compilation cuts, collaborations, flexi-disc releases, unissued performances, and more. There's "Dark Age of Love" with Coil, the unissued (and amazing) "Three Monkey Tango," "The Exhibitionist" (one of two tracks with Johann Johannsson), "Kill Me or Make Me Beautiful" with Armen Ra, "The Falconer with X-TG, "Cry" with the Jools Holland Big Band, a demo cover of Jobriath's "Be Still," and a brief studio jam of Marc Bolan's "Perfumed Garden of Gulliver Smith." Trials of Eyeliner offers dazzling and exhaustive evidence of Almond's compulsive creativity. It's more than any casual fan could -- or would -- embrace, but this isn't for them. Instead, it's the unholy grail for obsessives who embrace all of Almond's musical contradictions and celebrate his pop iconoclasm. As such, and on many other fronts, it succeeds in spades. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 10, 2010 | Some Bizzare

Following up both Stories and his fine covers EP A Woman's Story, Almond took a turn for the more challenging on Mother Fist, to be rewarded with the loss of his contract and a search for a new label. Quite why that should have happened is all the more surprising when upon listening, it becomes clear that Mother Fist was and still is the best Almond album of original material to date. With Hedges once again producing and the Willing Sinners still producing instrumental magic -- the great work of Hogan on keyboards, McCarrick on cello and accordion, and McGee on bass and orchestrations simply can't be overstated here -- Almond created a generally sparer and more theatrical album that embraces classic European cabaret to wonderful effect, more so than any American or English "rock" album since Bowie's Aladdin Sane or Lou Reed's Berlin. The wonderful, cheeky swing of the opening title track -- an unashamed, Truman Capote-inspired ode to masturbation -- moves to the pulsing, piano-and-bass driven lover's lament "There Is a Bed," followed by the supremely drugged out and sleazy "Saint Judy" (as in Garland), each track showcasing Almond with a different but equally accomplished vocal approach. Mother Fist keeps going from strength to strength as the album progresses, almost a series of short stories come to life exploring hustlers, burnt-out boxers, romantic dreams, and desires; its centerpiece, the wonderful "Mr. Sad," shifts perfectly from a solo vocal with electric guitar to a full orchestral blast. All this and two great should-have-been hit singles, "Melancholy Rose" and the pulsing "Ruby Red," as well. An all-around triumph. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 10, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

This best-of collection brings together some of Marc Almond's finest moments from throughout his career. Featuring tracks from his time with Soft Cell, the album also includes a selection of Almond's solo material, as well as collaborations with the likes of Gene Pitney and Bronksi Beat. © Rich Wilson /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Castle Communications

Visions of Excess is the title of a collection of essays by the late French writer, bibliophile, cultural critic/anthropologist, and pornographer Georges Bataille. Bataille's work has always been close to Marc Almond's heart, so much so that he's been part of a tribute gig to him released as The Violent Silence. Almond's work as a solo artist apart from Soft Cell has been so wide-ranging and abundant -- wildly careening between post-pop R&B, cabaret songs, electronics, classic and kitschy pop, glam, French chanson, disco, and more -- that it embodies the entire notion of "excess." That's far from a bad thing, and though he's missed the mark with his records from time to time, he's never done anything that would be remotely considered untrue to his vision. Each recording has been a snapshot of where Almond as an artist was at the time of any work's creation. Sure, this is a lot to say for a pop singer, but then Scott Walker and Jacques Brel were pop singers, too, as was Lotte Lenya in her native Germany before the Second World War, and it's from this tradition that Almond's work comes. Indeed, his life -- both aesthetic and everyday -- is the stuff of a collection of poems by Paul Verlaine or Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde or Laure, Bataille's gloriously infamous poet lover. Stardom Road is more than just another collection of covers from Almond. He's done them before, but never like this. According to Almond -- whose last three studio recordings (1999's Open All Night, 2001's Stranger Things, and 2003's Heart on Snow) have been deeply focused, beautifully executed efforts -- this offering, his first since a motorcycle accident in 2004 that almost killed him, is a portrait of all of his major influences rolled into one, a musical biography of sources, as it were. And indeed, with tracks written by Charles Aznavour, David Bowie, Al Stewart, Bert Kaempfert, Bobby Darin, James Last, Sol Weinstein, and a few others, he's at least got chapter one down, to be sure. It's an ambitious sortie into the world of pop. Almond appears with everything from strings to full-on horn sections and orchestras as well as in some slightly smaller settings. There's a deeply moving duet with Antony Hegarty on Fran Landesman's classic early-'50s anthem "Ballad of the Sad Young Men," and with Sarah Cracknell on Westlake's "I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten," which is a slightly modern update of the original arrangement by Keith Mansfield. Then there's the nugget "Backstage (I'm Lonely)," with Jools Holland on piano and Kiki Dee and Anna Ross on backing vocals (and some additional lyrics by Almond). These aren't merely name-check collabs for Almond. He put every ounce of inspiration into these performances. The arrangements in these tracks and a few others are top-notch, full and beautiful and gloriously overblown. But there's another side as well, such as his beautiful acoustic guitars, piano, drum kit, and strings reading of Aznavour's anthem "I Have Lived," in English. It's expressive, redemptive, and full of revelation. Indeed, Almond sings this one as if he's written it himself: "I'm an artist/I've never been a saint...." (For the uninitiated, along with Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Trenet, Léo Ferré, and of course Serge Gainsbourg, Aznavour is a bona fide hero of French culture.) The version of Darin's "Dream Lover" is a dark mirror image: a single electric guitar and programming are the backdrop of this cut, and if director David Lynch ever hears this he'll be signing Almond to sing on one of his soundtracks. It's an awesome interpretation of the song, and even Darin would be proud. Yep, there is a cover of Barry Ryan's "Kitsch" here, and of course Almond plays it up because what the tune expresses has been part and parcel of Almond's aesthetic from the word go: trash and treasure, the gutter and the palace, or perhaps the palace of the gutter. Likewise, Al Stewart's "Bedsitter Images" and Bowie's "London Boys" offer different sides to the same story: the terminal outsider, whose deep loneliness leads him to dreams and visions of grandeur, longing, and the desire to be loved for what he is -- decadent, hopelessly out of step, and in pain. But Almond's no whiner; he celebrates his condition as an artist. There is a new song here, too -- an original called "Redeem Me (Beauty Will Redeem the World)," which sums up the artist, the person, and the various personas and rolls them into one. The words, delivery, and melody in all its swinging breezy gentleness need to be heard; it's an injustice to quote those lyrics out of that context. The set finally ends with Weinstein's "The Curtain Falls." Accompanied by Igor Outkine's accordion, strings, and a tuba, it is a beautiful, deeply moving, and warmly sad yet humorous sendoff into the silence. Almond's voice has never been less histrionic, yet more expressive; Stardom Road eclipses even Open All Night as his finest studio moment as a solo artist. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 22, 2002 | Parlophone UK

A slightly fallow period for Almond's more high-profile releases began with Enchanted, an ultimately flawed attempt to build on his more mainstream success with The Stars We Are. Crucially, keyboardist and co-songwriter Annie Hogan, who had been Almond's longest musical partner ever, starting with the first solo record in 1982, had departed, while La Magia ceased to exist as a musical entity. Billy McGee remained to provide orchestral arrangements, which give the album some zest, while the subject matter is still Almond's own, tales of "Waifs and Strays," a "Toreador in the Rain," and "Orpheus in Red Velvet." This said, the album ends up as just too anonymous to truly succeed -- Bob Kraushaar's production this time out seems much more concerned at creating slick Euro-pop as opposed to the distinct blend of styles that Marc usually pursues. There are a couple of solid winners nonetheless, like the perversely jaunty "Death's Diary" and "A Lover Spurned," a dramatic tale of vengeance from the other woman. Regardless, this is possibly Marc's most disappointing release overall. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 14, 1991 | Cherry Red Records

Marc Almond's newest label jump resulted in what looked like an ideal creation on paper -- two songs produced and co-written by the Grid, the techno duo featuring Almond's Soft Cell collaborator Dave Ball, three more songs worked on with sole surviving Willing Sinner/La Magia member, keyboardist/orchestrator Billy McGee, and a mini-song cycle, "The Tenement Symphony" itself, produced by uber-studio wizard Trevor Horn. But did it work? Much like Enchanted, there's a little too much of Almond getting lost in rote synth-disco for comfort at points. But there are enough pluses to outweigh the minuses -- the opening "Meet Me in My Dream," one of the Grid collaborations, is a beautiful start, equal to "The Stars We Are," while the Symphony itself, though perhaps taking itself a bit too seriously as a conceit, has three solid singles to its credit -- a completely over the top (but what else to expect from Trevor Horn?) version of Jacques Brel's "Jacky," the concluding "My Hand Over My Heart," another sweep of the heartstrings dance ballad, and the surprise U.K. hit single of the bunch, the gentle and (for Horn) understated "The Days of Pearly Spencer," another '60s cover given the Almond treatment to good effect. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 31, 2006 | Artful Records

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Pop - Released March 9, 2015 | Strike Force Entertainment

Marc Almond, one of vanguard pop's great chameleons and stylists, suggested that 2010's Variete would be his final album of original material. True to his word, his intervening records, The Tyburn Tree: Dark London and Ten Plagues: A Song Cycle, have been largely collaborative affairs that featured his voice more than his songwriting. Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Chris Braide sought to change his mind about retirement. The man whose résumé includes (but is far from limited to) hits for Sia, Britney Spears, Paloma Faith, and Lana Del Rey, sent Almond three tunes. The singer was inspired enough to write lyrics and sing on them. The transcontinental process continued back and forth until the album was completed. (The pair didn't meet until the album was finished.) Each man turned out to be a muse for the other. Almond found a composer who implicitly understood and embraced his various musical and topical obsessions, while Braide found a singer whose voice and persona were substantive enough to work with exclusively (after spending many anonymous years on the multiple-producer-and-songwriter-assembly line that dominates 21st century pop records). The Velvet Trail contains 16 tracks, 12 songs separated and concluded by four brief instrumental works that make it a near suite. Almond is at his excessive best lyrically. His themes are drenched in love, lust, loss, and subterranean swagger. His voice has never sounded better; it is virtually untouched by time. "Bad to Me" updates his best '90s work driven by crisp, electronic drums and guitars textured with bells and a female backing chorus. "Zipped Black Leather Jacket" is adorned by a finger-popping loop, acoustic and electric guitars, and spidery synth and piano lines. Almond's protagonist is a modern version of Jean Genet's Querelle, full of back alley bravado. With its synth pulses and locked-down loops, "Pleasures Wherever You Are" could have been done by Soft Cell. "Minotaur" is a big-production torch song. It fleshes out the inner psychological, archetypal landscapes in the myth -- and Jean Cocteau's famous drawing in the first-person. The big beat synth pop of "Demon Lover" references early girl group rock à la Phil Spector without ever leaving the realm of Almond's postmodern grasp. "When the Comet Comes" is a soaring, splendid anthemic duet with the Gossip's Beth Ditto. The rest of these songs are fine ballads in various musical frames: there's chamber cabaret in "Life in My Own Way" that contemporizes the low-life Weimar Republic ideal. "Winter Sun" recalls Bryan Ferry's romantic farewells. The cinematic, desolate reverie in the title track is among the most beautiful songs Almond has ever cut. With The Velvet Trail, Braide, with his consummate skill and sensitive brilliance combines Almond's theatrical and lyric personas with the emotional honesty in the grain of his voice. As a result, his lyric creativity, at once direct, defiant, vulnerable, and deliberately excessive, is out of the mothballs and back out where it belongs: front and center. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 1984 | Some Bizzare

With the wracked final days of Soft Cell behind him, Marc Almond gleefully threw himself into a full-time solo career with a splash; while a chunk of bile still clearly remains -- the portentous "Ugly Head" sounds as much personal therapy as it does grinding semi-big-band blues -- a much more musically upbeat angle dominates, especially on the lush, winning single "The Boy Who Came Back." Allied with producer Mike Hedges, already riding high from his work with the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, and with a newly stable backing band, the Willing Sinners, featuring Hogan, McCarrick, and bassist Billy McGee at the core, Almond lets go over an interestingly varied palette of music, from the shimmering and sharp "Tenderness Is a Weakness" to the percussion-heavy "Split Lip." Now freely continuing the classic Soft Cell lyrical vibe of passion in the city's darker, more secret corners -- the titles "Shining Sinners" and "Gutter Hearts" almost say it all. Almond's in fine voice throughout. A lengthy release -- the CD version runs a full 75 minutes with some extra B-sides attached -- but a good one. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1993 | Some Bizzare

Initially recorded with some of the Jacques sessions but then completed in 1990 after the final break with longtime collaborator Annie Hogan, Absinthe can't quite equal the brilliance of Marc Almond's Brel tribute; as a loving overview and celebration of many other French songs that provided him inspiration, though it's a more than fine release. Featuring pianist/arranger Martin Watkins, Almond's partner during his early-'90s acoustic tours, on most of the tracks, the covers of such artists as Juliette Gréco, Leo Ferre, Barbara, and Charles Aznavour (plus new musical interpretations of poems by Sartre and Rimbaud) run from swinging nightclub fare, such as the wickedly enticing opener, "Undress Me," to emotional drama sessions of the most theatrical degree -- and why not? It is Marc Almond. The sexual extremism of "The Slave" inevitably calls to mind the sensual darkness of the Violent Silence EP, as does "Incestuous Love." "A Man" grooves suavely and powerfully, while the spotlight-on-the-singer version of "Yesterday When I Was Young" closes out the collection well. In the end, more of a curiosity than Jacques, but an enjoyable one. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 25, 2010 | Cherry Red Records

For his follow-up to Open All Night, Marc Almond chose to work with a new partner, keyboardist and Iceland native Johann Johannson. A musical figure of some renown in his home country, with both his own projects Lhooq and Dip and his work with other acts, including the Hafler Trio, Johannson brought a very consciously cinematic touch to Stranger Things. Call it his own take on John Barry-touched trip-hop, though with generally less emphasis on rhythm and more on the dramatic strings, which he often arranged himself, though others assist in that role too. Almond himself, meanwhile, sounds in absolutely excellent voice -- indeed, arguably he's at a technical peak, with little evidence of the emotional cracking that has often marked his work. Lyrically, his reflections on love and lust are some of his calmest -- there's sparks at points, like on "Come Out," but little of his memorable turns of phrase. As a result, Stranger Things falls somewhere in the middle range of Almond albums -- it's no disaster, by any means, but it's definitely an album rewarding repeated listenings rather than immediately connecting. Where Open All Night was dark, sly, and desperate, Stranger Things, a few songs aside like the brassy "Dancer" and "When It's Your Time," is dreamy, swoony, and much more subtly involving. Consider the orchestration on "Born to Cry," which turns a fine song into a really great one, a Shirley Bassey-sung spy movie theme for a new century. "Glorious," which opens and, in an instrumental reprise, closes the album, is the clear standout on the record, having something of the same sweep and inspiration of "Meet Me In My Dream" from Tenement Symphony. Other highlights include "Lights," another in Almond's long-running series of songs about the romance of urban landscapes at night, the glitch-techno tinged "Moonbathe Skin," and the both moody and pretty crawl of the brilliantly titled "Love In a Time of Science." © Ned Raggett /TiVo

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Marc Almond in the magazine