Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Marc Almond featuring Gene Pitney 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart'

Chart Peak: 1
Pitney's original version Made No. 5 in December 1967 - just one of his 20 Top 40 hits in Britain from 1961-1974... Marc Almond had 12 Tpo 40 hits from 1981-1988 as part of the duo Soft Cell and a solo performer. In January 1989, they teamed up and raced to the top of the charts.
Early this year, an anniversary passed with little fanfare: the 25th birthday of the UK compilation album chart. From the very first day of the year, the most prolific of album acts Various Artists were exiled from the main chart; it's no coincidence that this happened shortly after the fifth anniversary of the Now! series, as it and the Hits series had come to dominate the Number One position and this made it harder for artist albums, as they're now called, to top the chart themselves. For the record - no pun intended - I think this was the right thing to do.
Unsurprisingly, the first ever Number One on the compilation chart was Now XIII, which had crossed straight over from topping the combined chart over Christmas 1988. It was Now 14 that was the first volume actually released under the new regime though, which makes it a good album to write about now, even if it would have been better to write about ten months ago. For tagging purposes it's "Now 14 (UK)" to distinguish it from the South African album I wrote about before.

Our starting point then is Marc Almond's biggest hit since Soft Cell broke through with 'Tainted Love'. Like that song - and indeed many of his most-remembered solo hits - this is a cover version, though it's not a re-invention like his other chart-topper. The tempo and arrangement of Almond's original album version closely echoed the Pitney hit, so when the time came to remix the track for a single it was a canny idea to go a stage further and add a fresh vocal from the man himself. It's a good song from British writers Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway (who also recorded the song under their pseudonym David And Jonathan) though it must already have seemed dated by 1967, which gives it a slightly kitsch appeal in retrospect. I'm not a great admirer of either voice individually, but the contrast between the two, Almond's near-monotone and Pitney'd over-the-top caterwaul, actually works very well here. The only problem really lies in the production here, which has something of the karaoke about it and fails to match the drama of the original recording or of the epic this is obviously supposed to be. .

Marc Almond also appears on: Now 22
Available on: The Stars We Are

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