When I was under 14, in 1965, I heard a really good soul song, with a driving beat. To this day, I cannot remember where, but it really got to me. I asked around at the record shops, but wasn’t able to nail it down, so couldn’t buy it. Some years later, in the early 1970’s, I heard the song again, in a London club. It was called ‘Tainted Love’, and was sung by Gloria Jones. She had just achieved recognition, as the girlfriend of Marc Bolan, front man of T-Rex. I still couldn’t find the record for sale though, and it was another couple of years, before I was able to buy the single on vinyl. By this time, it had become a firm favourite on the ‘Northern Soul’ scene, and was being played in all their premier venues, including Wigan Casino.
I plodded along quite happily with this version, until I was somewhat surprised, when a new one started to be played on the radio. Very similar to the original, but with clearer, and harder vocals, I soon learned that it was by a two-man British outfit, called Soft Cell. It was introduced to a completely new generation, and marketed along the lines of electro-pop, and glam rock, a world away from the soul roots it had emerged from. Nonetheless, it was a pretty good version, and showed me the vocal range, and obvious talent of the singer, Marc Almond. Although somewhat slower in tempo, and using synthesisers to replace instruments, I had time for this cover version, and looked out for more from the duo. They later released ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’, one of my favourite torch songs ever, and Almond went on to a brilliant solo career, covering lots of famous artists, including Jaques Brel.
Unusually for me, the cover was almost more powerful than the original, and led me to an appreciation of a very different performer. The Marylin Manson cover is best ignored, and will not be featured here.
Here is a You Tube clip of Gloria Jones singing the song, with an interesting ‘Mod’ photo montage.
And here is the Soft Cell version, with Almond in full voice.
I hope you enjoy them, but will understand if they are not your ‘thing’.