A-side: Melancholy Rose
(Some Bizarre 1987)
Marc Almond went from classic, if occasionally sleazy, electro-pop with Soft Cell, to the kind of epic, if occasionally sleazy,
melodramatic torch songs, the kind of which one normally associates with the likes of Jacques Brel or early solo Scott Walker. This is one such record.
If you clicked the link above, you'll be wondering when the actually song starts (it's about 2 minutes in) - the video comes with an admittedly pretentious, and artsy filmic pre-amble, that was entertaining enough to keep me watching until the song, but not quite entertaining enough for me to want to sit through it again! The redeeming feature, as with much of Marc Almond's solo music, is the overall impression that he firmly has his tongue in his cheek throughout the performance.
Enough of the video, what about the song? Melancholy Rose is obviously some kind of femme fatale and the song is and ode to her and her melancholic charms. Although from the lyrics, she sounds a bit like a Gothic drama queen and a bit of a harlot, so a bit high-maintenance for my tastes. Musically Marc Almond has gone for the Gallic accordion feel which give the song an hypnotic rise and fall, however he's obviously got one eye on the charts as there is a poppy feel to the over sound of this record, which gives it a contemporary (to 1987!) edge.
The commerciality of sound has been abandoned for the b-side (which annoying was in 33 1/3 rpm). This is the full on torch song experience - the story of pirate captain's encounter with some kind of ghostly presence, from which the pirate comes off somewhat the worse for wear. It's full of fiddles, accordions, and bar-room style piano rolls, all ably supported by an oompah tuba. Gyp The Blood sounds like a carnival or fairground. Not the modern sort where the greatest horror is having too much candy floss before going on the Waltzers, but the Victorian sort where congenital abnormalities and physical disabilities were exploited to make the women swoon and the man balk.
Al in all I rather enjoyed this record - I think Gyp The Blood, just edges into favoured position over Melancholy Rose, simply because it's more atmospheric, but both songs are well worth listening too, when I'm in the mood for something different to my usual diet of upbeat guitar pop.
Next time some more jangly pop from the turn of the 80's