Blancmange (band)

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Blancmange
Origin Harrow, Middlesex, England
Genres New wave, synthpop, alternative dance
Years active 1979–1987
2006–present
Labels London, Proper, Sire/Warner Bros. Records (US)
Associated acts The West India Company
Website blancmange.co.uk
Members Neil Arthur
Stephen Luscombe
Past members Laurence Stevens

Blancmange are an English synthpop band who came to prominence with a string of hits in the early to mid-1980s.

Biography[edit]

Blancmange was formed in Harrow, Middlesex in 1979 by singer Neil Arthur (born 15 June 1958, Darwen, Lancashire) and instrumentalists Stephen Luscombe (born 29 October 1954, Hillingdon, Middlesex) and Laurence Stevens. Stevens left shortly after the band was formed, and Arthur and Luscombe continued as a duo. The duo released their first EP, Irene and Mavis, the following year, but their first real exposure came via a track on the seminal Some Bizzare Album, alongside fellow acts Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. This led to them signing a recording contract with London Records.

The duo found minor success with their 1982 double A-sided single, "God's Kitchen"/"I've Seen the Word", which peaked at no. 65 in the UK. This was followed by "Feel Me", which peaked at no. 46. Later that year, they broke through with "Living on the Ceiling", which reached no. 7 in the UK Singles Chart. Their debut album, Happy Families (which featured a sleeve painting in the style of Louis Wain), also reached the top 30.

Further hits followed with "Waves" (no. 19), "Blind Vision" (no. 10), "That's Love That It Is" (no. 33) and "Don't Tell Me" (no. 8), while their second album Mange Tout (1984) also reached no. 8 in the UK Albums Chart. The album featured a cover version of ABBA's "The Day Before You Came", which reached no. 22 in the UK (slightly higher than Abba's original less than two years earlier). However, after this, the band's fortunes declined. Their 1985 single "What's Your Problem" only reached no. 40, and the subsequent album Believe You Me spent only two weeks in the UK Albums Chart, peaking at no. 54.[1] Blancmange formally split up in 1987.

Luscombe released an album of Indian-influenced music, New Demons, with Pandit Dinesh, Peter Culshaw, Priya Khajuria and Asha Bhosle under the name West India Company, in 1989. Meanwhile, Arthur released a solo album, Suitcase, in 1994.

Following a gap of a quarter of a century, Blancmange released their fourth studio album, Blanc Burn, in March 2011.

Blancmange performed a UK tour in November 2013, during which they played their debut album in its entirety at each show. They also released a new album, Happy Families Too..., featuring updated recordings of the original tracks from their 1982 debut album. Initially, the new album was only available to buy on the tour but a digital download followed and a physical CD was released on 7 April 2014 which included four brand new remixes.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak positions Certifications[2]
UK[1]
1982 Happy Families 30 UK: Gold
1984 Mange Tout 8 UK: Gold
1985 Believe You Me 54 -
2011 Blanc Burn 163 -
2014 Happy Families Too... - -

Compilations[edit]

EPs[edit]

  • 1980: Irene & Mavis (33 RPM 7", Blaah Records, limited edition, only 500 copies ever printed)
  • 2011: 21st Century Blanc Remixes Part 1
  • 2013: Irene & Mavis (Minimal Wave Records, limited edition vinyl 10", digital release to follow)

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak positions Certification Album
UK US
Hot Dance
Club
1982 "God's Kitchen"/"I've Seen the Word" 65 Happy Families
"Feel Me" 46
"Living on the Ceiling" 7 52 UK: Silver[2]
1983 "Waves" 19
"Blind Vision" 10 3 Mange Tout
"That's Love That It Is" 33 16
1984 "Don't Tell Me" 8 44
"The Day Before You Came" 22
1985 "What's Your Problem?" 40 Believe You Me
"Lose Your Love" 77 2
1986 "I Can See It" ("Why Don't They Leave Things Alone") 71
Others
  • 2011: "Drive Me" UK Download only[1]

Radio session tracks[edit]

  • "I Would" / "Living on the Ceiling" / "Waves" / "Running Thin" (Recorded for a February 1982 Peel Session show.[3])

In media[edit]

  • In a 1982 episode of Open All Hours called "The Cool Cocoa Tin Lid", a 'cool' man walks into the shop and asks for Blancmange, to which Granville (David Jason) replies "I've got two of their LPs".
  • In the 1986 Sci-Fi film Flight of the Navigator, Blancmange appear on David's TV with the music video for "Lose Your Love" when he is introduced to music videos by Carolyn McAdams, played by a young Sarah Jessica Parker.
  • In 2000, "Living on the Ceiling" was sampled by the German techno group Scooter on the song "Kashmir", from the album Back to the Heavyweight Jam.
  • During the 1980s and through the late 1990s the main theme of "Living on the Ceiling" was used as the intro for the Arabic news program on Israel's Channel One television.
  • An instrumental version of the song "Blind Vision" by Blancmange is used for the closing credits of the 1985 B-movie Avenging Angel.
  • "Don't Tell Me" plays during the club scene in the 1987 thriller No Man's Land.
  • Faithless remixed "Feel Me" for their 2010 release The Dance.
  • In various countries including the UK and Australia, "Living on the Ceiling" was used for a television advertisement of Berocca, where a group of average looking citizens dance to the song using treadmills in an open air city location.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 62. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ a b BPI Certifications Database
  3. ^ BBC John Peel Sessions – Blancmange. Retrieved 29 August 2006.