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Blancmange at KOKO, London 2011
|Origin||Harrow, London, England|
|Genres||New wave, synth-pop, alternative dance|
|Years active||1979–1986, 2006–present|
|Labels||London, Proper, Sire/Warner Bros. Records (US)|
|Associated acts||The West India Company|
Blancmange are an English synth-pop band that formed in Harrow, London in 1979. The band were a duo for most of their career, composed of Neil Arthur (vocals) and Stephen Luscombe (keyboards). They enjoyed some chart success in the early 1980s with songs such as "Living on the Ceiling", "Blind Vision", "Don't Tell Me" and "The Day Before You Came" while they released the albums Happy Families (1982), Mange Tout (1984) and Believe You Me (1985). The duo split in 1986 but reformed in 2011 and released the album Blanc Burn (2011). Luscombe left following the release and since then Arthur has continued to perform under the Blancmange name. He has released three further studio albums and a number of compilations, including a re-recording of the band's debut album, titled Happy Families Too.
Blancmange was formed in Harrow, London, in 1979 by singer Neil Arthur (born 15 June 1958, Darwen, Lancashire), 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 Some Bizzare Album compilation, alongside acts such as 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 on the UK Singles Chart and was an international hit. Their debut album, Happy Families (which featured a sleeve painting in the style of Louis Wain and of the cover artwork of Enid Blyton's books), 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. The duo announced they were splitting in June 1986 after a farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
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. In 2008, Edsel re-released the three studio albums as expanded versions.
Following a gap of a quarter of a century, Blancmange reunited and released their fourth studio album, Blanc Burn, in March 2011. After suffering from an abdominal aneurysm, Luscombe was forced to leave the band. Since then Arthur elected to continue recording and performing as Blancmange, with the assistance of session players.
Blancmange performed a UK tour in November 2013, during which they played their 1982 debut album (Happy Families) 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.
On 2 December 2014, the official Blancmange website announced details of a new studio album for release on 23 March 2015 on Cherry Red Records. The album, Semi Detached, contains ten tracks. On 9 March 2015, the first single from Semi Detached, "Paddington", was released as a digital download. The second single from the album, "Useless", was announced for release on 11 May 2015.
On 23 April 2015, Blancmange announced a new album of instrumental music titled Nil by Mouth. This release was initially only available for purchase at the band's two shows at London's Red Gallery in May 2015. It subsequently became available as a CD through the official Blancmange website on 25 September 2015.
Commuter 23, a studio album containing 14 tracks, was released on 11 March 2016.
On 20 March 2017, the band announced on their website that a new album, Unfurnished Rooms, would be released on 22 September 2017.
On 23 June 2017, Fader, a new musical project between Neil Arthur and Benge, released their debut studio album, "First Light". It was preceded by a single, "I Prefer Solitude", on 7 June 2017.
In August 2017, Edsel released the 9-CD boxset The Blanc Tapes that expanded each of the three 1980s albums over three discs with additional material and liner notes by Neil Arthur.
In February 2018, Near Future, another side project comprising Neil Arthur and Jez Bernholz (from Gazelle Twin), announced they will release their debut studio album, "Ideal Home", on May 25th 2018.
In April 2018, Blancmange announced a new studio album, Wanderlust, and a UK tour in November.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|Believe You Me||
|Happy Families Too...||
|Nil By Mouth||
|"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.|
|The Third Course||
|Best of Blancmange||
|The Platinum Collection||
|The Very Best of Blancmange||
- 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)
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|1982||"God's Kitchen"||65||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Happy Families|
|"Living on the Ceiling"||7||5||—||—||—||8||—||41||—||—|
|"Blind Vision"||10||—||—||—||44||11||—||—||—||3||—||Mange Tout|
|"That's Love, That It Is"||33||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||16||—|
|"Game Above My Head"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1984||"Don't Tell Me"||8||—||35||48||34||10||26||—||27||44||—|
|"The Day Before You Came"||22||—||39||—||52||25||—||—||—||—||—|
|1985||"What's Your Problem"||40||—||—||—||—||30||—||—||—||—||—||Believe You Me|
|"Lose Your Love"||77||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||2||36|
|"Ave Maria"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Non-album single|
|1986||"I Can See It"||71||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Believe You Me|
|2011||"Drive Me"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Blanc Burn|
|"I Want More"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.|
Radio session tracks
- "I Would" / "Living on the Ceiling" / "Waves" / "Running Thin" (Recorded for a February 1982 Peel Session show.)
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- In a 1982 episode of Open All Hours called "The Cool Cocoa Tin Lid", a 'cool' man walks into the shop and asks "got any blancmange?" (the dessert), 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 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 starring Charlie Sheen.
- 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.
- In Greece, "Sad Day" was heard on the Videosonic logo.
- "Living on the Ceiling" was featured on the radio station Flash FM in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.
- Chi, Ming Lai (2017-07-03). "BLANCMANGE The Blanc Tapes". The Electricity Club. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
- Sutton, Michael. "Blancmange - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 62. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Marsh, Graeme (19 March 2015). "Blancmange – Semi Detached | Album Reviews". musicomh.com. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
- "Happy Families Too ..." Official Blancmange website. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Semi Detached". Blancmange (Official Site). Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Useless (Blancmange)". Soundcloud. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Nil By Mouth". Blancmange (Official Site). Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Nil By Mouth". Blancmange Shop (Official Site). Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- Blancmange (I Want More)
- "Commuter 23". Official Blancmange website. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Blancmange – 'Unfurnished Rooms' Album & UK Tour | Blancmange". www.blancmange.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
- "UK Albums". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "Canadian Albums". RPM Albums. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "German Albums". offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "Dutch Albums". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "New Zealand Albums". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "BPI Certification". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "UK Singles". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Belgian Singles". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "Canadian Singles". RPM Magazine. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "German Singles". offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "Irish Singles". irishcharts.ie. Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "Netherlands Singles". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "New Zealand Singles". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "Swiss Singles". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "US Club Play Singles". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "BPI Certification". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
- BBC John Peel Sessions – Blancmange. Retrieved 29 August 2006.