“The album was the other side of the coin of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain: I never felt it was political at the time, but it seems it now. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret was the secret seedy life that went on behind the mask of Conservative Britain” Marc Almond
In the four decades since its release, it’s hard to overestimate just how influential the debut album by Soft Cell, ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’, has been. It’s revered by artists such as Trent Reznor and sampled by the likes of Rihanna. It remains an icon of electronic music.
With its roots in post-punk electronics, French chanson, American soul, kitchen sink drama and New York dance, over forty years later, the album’s themes still resonate and helped change the course of British pop. It paved the way for countless synth-based music duos, fashioning something dark and distinctive with a hit of pop that helped kick-start a new decade. The phenomenal success of ‘Tainted Love’ in America, where it spent a then-record breaking 43 straight weeks on the Billboard Hot 100) also helped open up the U.S. for alternative and electronic artists such as The Cure & Depeche Mode.
Initially released in November 1981, the ten-track song cycle, in the words of Marc Almond, “Tells a story of a bored ordinary bloke seething with his life wanting more and looking for excitement and adventure in a red neon lit Soho world of red-light cabarets, prostitutes and sex dwarves, looking back at his youth and wondering what happened.” ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’ contained three of the most significant singles of the decade; ‘Tainted Love’ (the best-selling UK single of 1981), ‘Bedsitter’ and ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’. Dave Ball recalls making the album as “All very weird and extreme, from living in a council flat and suddenly you’re flying on Concorde to New York” Looking back, Ball says “Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret was the first period of Soft Cell, really. It was our pop period, and by 1982 we were done and dusted with that. The next one, was much darker.”