Panic/Tainted Love

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"Panic / Tainted Love"
Single by Coil
from the album Scatology
  • “Aqua Regis”
  • “Panic”
B-side "Tainted Love"
Released 1985
Label Force & Form, K.422, Some Bizzare (UK), Wax Trax! (U.S.)
Songwriter(s) “Panic”:

“Tainted Love”:
Ed Cobb
  • Coil
  • JG Thirlwell[a]
Coil singles chronology
"Panic / Tainted Love"
"The Anal Staircase"
“Panic/Tainted Love”
“The Anal Staircase”
Music video
“Tainted Love” on YouTube
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[1]

"Panic/Tainted Love" is the debut[2][3] single[b] by British electronica/industrial band Coil, from their debut full-length album Scatology.[8] Co-produced by John Balance, Peter Christopherson, and J.G. Thirlwell, it was first released in 1985 on a 12" vinyl, and later reissued several times on compact discs.

The single's A-side features the remixed version of the song "Panic", which initially appears on Scatology. Co-written by Balance, Christopherson and Thirlwell, "Panic" deals with the theme of an initiatory approach to experience, as well as the using of fear. The B-side features a cover version of Ed Cobb's song "Tainted Love", drastically re-arranged to reflect HIV/AIDS epidemic, emerged in early 1980's; a controversial video for this cover version, directed by Christopherson and featuring Marc Almond, was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art.

Themes and composition[edit]


"Panic" was written by John Balance, Peter Christopherson, and J. G. Thirlwell.[9] It is four minutes and twenty-one seconds long, and is the second track on both vinyl and compact disc versions of Scatology.[10] According to linguist and music blogger Georgiy Starostin, the song starts off being "an ordinary drum machine driven dance-pop number", but later unveils itself as a “sonic nightmare,” which was proposed to presumably "recreate the mental state of a panicking person".[11] Musically, the song contains an use of guitar feedback, rhythmic drum machine parts and Balance’ "feral" vocal styling.[12] The song ends with a vocal outro with a chant of a line "The only thing to fear is fear itself".[11][13][c]

Scatology’s liner notes features an extended commentary on the song, which is thought to be penned by John Balance.[12] According to Balance, "Panic" is intended to be “about the deliberate nurture of states of mind usually regarded as dangerous and insane,” and is also about “using a fear a key [...] to crystallize and inspire.”[13] Balance also writes about a so-called "murder in reverse" that means “performing [...] psychic surgery - in order to restore the whole being.” Liner notes for "Panic" single features the same text,[14] as well as A Coil Magazine which was published in 1987.[15][16] A Coil Magazine editors John Sanders and Mike Gaffney interpreted the song’s lyrics as a hymn to Pan as an incarnate of liberating aspect of chaos.[15] David Keenan gives a same statement, adding that the song deals with theme of initiatory approach to experience which was concurrent theme through later Coil’s works.[16]

The A-side of the single—dubbed “This Side” on the vinyl disc labels—features a remixed version of the song, extended to last approximately seven and a half minutes.[17] The remix features Marc Almond’s band bassist Bill McGee playing on double bass,[14][1] and is being preceded by “Aqua Regis,” an instrumental track which was said to be “a restructured version” of “Panic”.[4] Dubbed “the Dionysian remix” in the liner notes of Unnatural History III, it was described as a “curious and somewhat clumsy consctruction” since it was edited on the digital ​34-inch video system.[3][18]

"Tainted Love"[edit]

The song "Tainted Love" first recorded by Gloria Jones, and then became popular again around 1981 after a synthpop cover version was released by Soft Cell. (Marc Almond from Soft Cell would eventually go on to guest on Coil's next two albums, Horse Rotorvator and Love's Secret Domain.) Being went through drastic arrangement changes (even comparing to Soft Cell version), it was described as “an elegy for sex,” by LGBT activist Jim Fouratt.[19]

Release and promotion[edit]

The first pressing of this release featured a textured sleeve, with the first 1000 copies also being produced on red vinyl.

All profits from the sale of this release were donated to the AIDS charity the Terrence Higgins Trust. It was the first AIDS benefit music release.[20][21]

The cover design for the single was said to be developed by an artist Eddie Cairns, who was the close friend of the band members, and later died of due to complications from AIDS.[22]

"Tainted Love" video[edit]

The music video for "Tainted Love" was directed by Peter Christopherson, and features John Balance and a cameo appearance of Marc Almond.[23]

In August 1985, the video was featured on an exhibition held by the Museum of Modern Art,[24] and was later purchased into the latters collection.[25][26]


A single was reissued in 1990 on CD, by Wax Trax! Records, and later in 1994 by TVT Records. An extended edition of single was issued in 2015 by Threshold Archives imprint.[27]

Later appearances[edit]

"Aqua Regis" and "Tainted Love" were included on 1988 release of Scatology. While the Scatology version of "Aqua Regis" was expanded, "Tainted Love" is exactly as it appears before on the single. The single version of "Panic" was included on 1997 compilation Unnatural History III, while the album version is featured on 2001 compilation Posobie dlya konchayushchikh: Volos Zlata and 2002 double compilation The Golden Hare with a Voice of Silver.[28]

Track listing[edit]

"Aqua Regis" is written by John Balance and Peter Christopherson.
"Panic" is written by John Balance, Peter Christopherson and J. G. Thirlwell.
"Tainted Love" is written by Ed Cobb.

Original 12" release (1985)
No. Title Length
1. "Aqua Regis" 2:27
2. "Panic" 7:31
3. "Tainted Love" 5:52
Total length: 15:50


All credits adapted from the liner notes of original release.[29]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom 1985 Force & Form LP FFK 5.12
United States Wax Trax! Records WAX 013
1990 CD WAXCD 013
1994 TVT Records TVT 7013
2015 Threshold Archives T-ARCH 005CD



  1. ^ Credited as Clint Ruin.
  2. ^ Some sources referred to it as a single,[4][5] while others calls it an extended play.[6][1][7]
  3. ^ In the liner notes of Unnatural History III Balance admitted that “these days” (in times of the aforementioned compilation release), he was “scared of everything”, commenting the last line of the song (Coil 1997, “Panic (12" Version)”).
  4. ^ Credited as "strings derangements."


  1. ^ a b c Eugene Chadbourne. "Panic - Coil". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 10, 2017. 
  2. ^ Lewis, Scott (May–June 1992). "Human Rites: Coil's Agony and Ecstasy". Option. No. 44. Retrieved November 27, 2017 – via Brainwashed archive. 
  3. ^ a b Coil 1997, “Panic (12" Version)”.
  4. ^ a b Gossling 2003, p. 215.
  5. ^ Bey & Bailey 2012, p. 396.
  6. ^ "Coil — History" (PDF). The Feverish. No. 3. April 9, 1985. April sees the release of a 12" -a de-structured version of Panic, coupled with a short track called "Aqua Regis" and our desecratory but sensitive (!) version of "Tainted Love". A new slant is given to this title since all profits are being donated to AIDS counciling via the Terrence Higgins Trust. 
  7. ^ Matt Keeley (August 14, 2016). "WATCH: The First Ever AIDS Charity Music Single was Incredibly Dark and Boldly Gay". Unicorn Booty. Retrieved May 10, 2017. 
  8. ^ Reed 2013, p. 143.
  9. ^ Coil 1984, "Panic".
  10. ^ Coil 1988, track listing.
  11. ^ a b Georgiy Starostin. "Coil". Only Solitaire. Retrieved August 6, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Bey & Bailey 2012, p. 100.
  13. ^ a b Coil 1984, “Panic”.
  14. ^ a b Coil 1985, “Panic”.
  15. ^ a b Sanders & Gaffney 1987, pp. I-II, “Open the Bloodgate
  16. ^ a b Keenan 2003, p. 283.
  17. ^ Coil 1997, track listing.
  18. ^ Jon Whitney (May 5, 1997). "Coil interview". Brainwashed. Brainwashed Inc. Retrieved November 23, 2017. [...] The Panic 12" here, we were using video recording techniques and we had never done it before and the guy working in the studio certainly had never done it before. We were editing sound digitally with videos and we had never done it before, but it's okay because we did it then. 
  19. ^ Sanders & Gaffney 1987, p. XVI, “The Evil Sound of Music?”.
  20. ^ Bey & Bailey 2012, p. 103.
  21. ^ Vague, Tom (September 1985). "Boys From The Crap Stuff". ZigZag Magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2017. 
  22. ^ Everall, John (1995). "Hip Gnostics" (PDF). The Lizard. pp. 14–16. Retrieved November 21, 2017. 
  23. ^ Reed 2013, p. 144.
  24. ^ "Clips Receive an Artful Showcase". Video Music. Billboard Magazine. Vol. 97 no. 35. August 31, 1985. pp. 51–52. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved November 26, 2017. 
  25. ^ Neal 1987, p. 116.
  26. ^ Sonn, Marlena (May 1991). "Entering a More Pleasant Domain". Alternative Press. No. 38. ISSN 1065-1667. Retrieved October 13, 2017. 
  27. ^ Aleks (October 14, 2015). "Coil | Reissues and unreleased music out on Threshold Archives". Retrieved August 6, 2017. 
  28. ^ François Couture. "The Golden Hair with a Voice of Silver - Coil". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 21, 2017. 
  29. ^ Coil 1985. The personnel for the track “Panic” is listed on a front cover, while the personnel for the track “Tainted Love” is listed on a back cover.


Primary sources
  • Scatology (sleeve). Coil. Force & Form. 1984. 
  • “Panic / Tainted Love” (sleeve). Coil. Force & Form. 1985. 
  • Scatology (CD booklet). Coil. Force & Form. 1988. 
  • “Panic / Tainted Love” (CD booklet). Coil. Wax Trax! Records. 1990. 
  • Unnatural History III (CD booklet). Coil. Threshold House. 1997. 
Secondary sources

External links[edit]