[3] Soft Cell, ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’

Me And The Stars – an occasional series: I saw Marc Almond in the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street when I was about 14. He had peroxide blond hair, which would place him in the classic Duetting with Bronski Beat period. One of my friends, in rather infra dig fashion, chased him as he left the shop, yelling apocryphal stuff about pumping stomachs free of eight pints of something or other. I imagine Marc remembers it fondly too. I was at a dinner party once with Richard Norris, who formed the Grid with Soft Cell’s other half, Dave Ball. My memoirs will be a blast, eh?

‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’ drips with sleaze and pathos. No mean feat, but then Almond was always good at that. You could say he belonged in a different age, of torch singers and decadent Hollywood grandeur, but there he was, fitting in effortlessly with the brave new synth age, bringing some Cabaret to the London gloom. Hit after hit, and this would be the best if not for good old ‘Tainted Love’, a cover but an astonishing arrangement.

Electronic music was still a novelty in the mainstream. This and the next song would have surprised many, showing talented artists wringing emotion out of the cold machines. English pop heads taking Kraftwerk and adding drama. Melodrama, even, as Junior screamed throughout. Not crying, just testing the old chords. She even waved goodbye.

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