100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #71 Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Released : 1982

Marc Almond and Dave Ball had come a long way since meeting at Leeds Poly in 1977. They first worked together when Ball provided some incidental music for one of the former’s performance art shows, during which infamously he stripped naked and smeared himself with cat meat.

Soft Cell in reality had a far edgier perspective than very few of those outside their devoted fan circle ever really understood. Enthusiastic early synth adopters, by 1981 the duo had transformed Gloria Jones’ Northern Soul classic Tainted Love into a stripper friendly chart topper, but it was the follow up Say Hello, Wave Goodbye that brought them temporarily at least out of the S&M zone and to the respectability of Top of The Pops.

With the keyboards symphonically beautiful and at little higher tempo than a waltz, Almond’s voice soared like an acrobat’s, the song’s overwrought melodrama fitting him like a glove. Even then however things were a long way from orthodox: after all, has there even been a greater anti love song kiss off than “You’re used to wearing less/And now you’re life’s a mess”?

Almond once mused that he’d wanted Soft Cell to be more like industrial refuseniks Throbbing Gristle or follow the visionary experimentation of Suicide, but predictably their moment was pure ABBA. At least pet food was now off the menu.

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