Marc and the Mambas
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|Marc and the Mambas|
|Also known as||Raoul and the Ruined, Marc Almond and Friends|
|Genres||New wave, dark cabaret, gothic rock, alternative rock|
|Years active||1982–1983, 2012|
Steve James Sherlock
Marc and the Mambas was a new wave group, formed by Marc Almond in 1982 as an offshoot project from Soft Cell. The band's line-up changed frequently, and included Matt Johnson from The The and Annie Hogan, with whom Almond worked later in his solo career.
Marc and the Mambas marked the start of Marc Almond's career outside of Soft Cell. In 1983 Almond and Soft Cell were very close to the avant-garde scene around Foetus, Psychic TV and Einstürzende Neubauten. Almond also took part as one of four members of The Immaculate Consumptive, a group initiated by Lydia Lunch; they never released any album but did a few shows in New York and Washington D.C. at the end of 1983. Further members were Jim Foetus and Nick Cave. Marc and the Mambas very much belonged to that scene, and continued the dark themes explored within Soft Cell, but musically used different instruments and more complex rhythms. The group's lineup was fluid, with members changing with each recording or performance; the only consistent members were Almond, Annie Hogan and Steve James Sherlock. Further members included Billy McGee and Martin McCarrick, who also later joined Almond when he formed Marc Almond and the Willing Sinners. Almond's Soft Cell partner David Ball was an associated member for the Mambas' first single "Sleaze", and Matt Johnson from The The was a member for the first and second album but did not join for the last concerts in 1983 (put to vinyl and later to CD as Black, Bite & Blues). Jim Foetus was an associated member, and did guest vocals and percussion on "A Million Manias" and "Love Amongst the Ruined."
The Mambas' second Some Bizzare released album, Torment and Toreros, contains a mix of ballads, both with and without dance beats, and is a mix of vaudeville, French chanson, and goth sensibility, using guitar noise, piano, and string sections. Almond later described this recording as an "attempted suicide put on vinyl."
Almond has had a long career as a solo artist, and Mambas musicians have worked with him under the names The Willing Sinners and La Magia. Martin McCarrick left La Magia for Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1987, and the rest of that band dissolved in 1988. Lee Jenkinson (guitar) recorded a single with producer Flood under the band name The Poppyfields, and is currently in the band Jellynail. Almond always kept in touch with some of the Mambas' core members like Anne Stephenson and Gini Ball (David Ball's ex-wife), who performed with him during his Sin, Songs And Romance gigs at the Almeida in 2004. He frequently includes Mambas songs in his live repertoire.
Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons has cited Torment and Toreros as the most important influence on her life and her work. When Hegarty curated the Meltdown Festival in London in August 2012, one of the acts on the bill was Almond, who performed the album in its entirety. A few months prior to the performance, Almond stated on his webpage that Torment and Toreros "wasn't a great success at the time of release, it was mostly critically panned. It was called a 'florid musical mess', a description I quite liked", but added that "In recent years it has been re-evaluated and re-appreciated as a (flawed) masterpiece, as I always hoped it would be. It is a dark album with themes of madness, depression, isolation, alienation, innocence lost and destructive love, all seen through a prism of fame. 'A nervous breakdown committed to vinyl'" He also stated that "After [the festival] (apart from a very few exceptions) I never want to perform Mambas songs again. They come with too much darkness and ghosts of the past." On the subject of The Mambas reforming for the festival performance, Almond stated "It will not be a Mambas reunion. I never looked on the Mambas as a group but an amorphous collective or ensemble, ever changing ... I will have an ensemble of ten or more musicians and, along with Antony, they will be the Mambas for the night. There will also be one or two of the original Mambas that played on the record making guest appearances."
After the concert Almond stated that "The Meltdown performance was so special and well executed that it would be hard to top that with any show I may do in the future let alone Torment And Toreros". He asked himself whether he would ever perform it again, and answered "A few weeks ago I may have said never now I can only say never say never. If the budget was met and the occasion right…"
- 1982 A Little Black Evening - at the Royal Drury Lane Theatre - 5 December.
- 1983 Three Black Nights Of Little Black Bites - at the Duke Of York's Theatre - 26th, 27th, 28 April.
- 1983 Bite Black and Blues - at the Duke Of York's Theatre - 18 December.
- 2012 Torment and Toreros - at the Royal Festival Hall - 9 August (as Marc Almond).
|Year||Album information||Chart positions|
|1983||Torment and Toreros||28|
|1984||Bite Black + Blues (as Raoul And The Ruined)
|2012||Three Black Nights of Little Black Bites – Live at the Duke Of York's Theatre, 1983
|Year||Album information||Chart positions|
|1982||Fun City / Sleaze (Take It, Shake It)
- Discipline (7" flexi) - Throbbing Gristle cover, free with Flexi-Pop magazine (as Marc Almond and Friends)
- In Session Volume One (CD 2003) - at the Maida Vale Studios, BBC Radio 1, February 1983. Compilation of John Peel sessions also including a Marc Almond one.