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Posts Tagged ‘early 1980s’

When discussing the history of Soft Cell, you’ll hear about a certain early ’80s club kid. This downtown vixen went by the name of Cindy Ecstasy.

“A few nights later I was to find myself in an after-hours club called Berlin. There I met the girl who had saved me at Studio 54 and who was to have a major part in changing my life. In fact she would change both my life and Dave’s profoundly, and our work in Soft Cell from then on.” – from the book “Tainted Life (the autobiography)” by Marc Almond.

As the story goes, Cindy Ecstasy was a drug dealer. Her moniker came about from what she supplied: Ecstasy. In 1981, it was a drug for the nightclub elite. Hence, the name Cindy Ecstasy. Somehow, someone came up with the idea of having Cindy sing back-up on many of the classic Soft Cell tracks. That way she’ll always be around. A decade after Cindy weaved her chemical spells, Ecstasy became known to the general public.

Yet despite me just being a third generation spectator, I somehow have to agree with record producer Mike Thorne. “In one book about the group, Cyndi is obnoxiously described as ‘a drug dealer’, which is glib and convenient journalistic nonsense. She was a camp follower who contributed to the general party energy level and had her own distinctive style and rasping Brooklyn sense of humor and delivery. She passed on wonderful substances to Marc and Dave et al, but in a street social way. Ms Big she was not. I wonder where she is now.”  – from Thorne’s website: www.stereosociety.com

Cindy Ecstasy became the electronic duo’s accidental muse of sorts. She made appearances in the Soft Cell videos “Memorabilia” and “Torch.” Cindy even went as far as appearing with Soft Cell on the classic British countdown show “Top of The Pops.”

Alas, fame was only fleeting for Ms. Ecstasy. She did background vocals for the first Marc and The Mambas album. When her friendship with Marc Almond dissolved, she formed her own band called Six Sed Red. The band had two members. It was herself along with musician Rick Holliday, formerly of the early 1980s band B-Movie. The single was co- produced by the seminal Electronic/Industrial band Cabaret Voltaire, and remixed by Depeche Mode producer Flood.

Never heard of Six Sed Red? Don’t worry – not many people have. The single failed to chart much, and soon Cindy disappeared. Since then, her whereabouts have been largely unknown.

“She had a band called Six Said Red, and that was, like, 1984. I don’t know what became of her after that. Someone told me that she had a guest house in some seaside town in Britain somewhere, that she’s running a hotel. But I have no idea!” – Marc Almond, 1999 interview from the online magazine Chaos Control.

Who knows what would’ve happened if Six Sed Red had been more successful. Cindy did have some potential. Personally, I think the single could’ve been a bigger hit. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.

Little known fact: right before her disappearance, Cindy and Rick Holliday wrote a song for 80’s pop trio Bananarama.

On the other hand, since she was dealing with drugs, perhaps she had to…”disappear.”

There’s really no new crucial information here regarding Ms. Ecstasy. What’s posted here isn’t any different from what anyone else has written. It’s more like wondering out loud; “where is she now?” Even if we never hear from her again, at least she already left a legacy of some kind. In the meantime, I shall leave you with a small watercolor portrait of the accidental chemical muse, Cindy Ecstasy. Created tonight in watercolor, pen and ink by me. Enjoy.

Small portrait of Cindy Ecstasy. Watercolor, pen, ink. Created by Michele Witchipoo, May 2012.

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Okay, this is weird. The weird part was not ’70s Punk icon Patti Smith singing “You Light Up My Life” on a late 70s/early 80s children show. Not her, nor her choice of song or her choice of appearance.

The guy accompanying her on the piano? That’s Joseph Brooks, who wrote the Oscar winning tune. The weird, and ultimately sad part was, despite the fact that Joe Brooks had composed the biggest selling love song in the 1970s, the man was an accused rapist who just committed suicide earlier this week.

That’s not all. His own son stands accused of murder, currently at Rikers Island without bail. Apparently Nicholas Brooks killed his girlfriend Sylvie Cachay, an up-and-coming swimsuit designer.

A modern day story worthy of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon book series.

When I was a kid, we used to sing this song during music class.

New York Times article about Joseph Brooks
Case continues beyond the grave
NY Mag article about both Joseph and Nicolas Brooks.

Wikipedia entry about children program “Kids Are People Too”

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The first wave of the Batcave movement, later to be evolved to what is now known as Gothic began in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It’s (hair)roots can be traced to the United Kingdom. Submerging elements of Glam Rock, Psychedelic, Punk/Post-Punk, Alternative Rock, New Wave, and a bit of synthesizer created a genre still popular today. Unfortunately, although the term “Goth” has become overused and mainstreamed, this particular subculture broke off into a variety of other underground sub-genres. Some of the sub-genres listed include Darkwave, Industrial and some Electronica.

Some of the most known bands to emerge from the Goth movement range from Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. There was lesser known groups as well: Specimen, Christian Death, Xmal Deutschland, The Virgin Prunes, Skeletal Family…etc., etc. You could go in the direction of Alien Sex Fiend, or you entrance yourself in the ethereal/4AD sounds of such bands like Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil. Newer bands from the 1990s and 2000s include Bella Morte, and London After Midnight. Some of the older bands later shed the Goth label, finding commercial success. Others remained underground with small cult followings, most fading into obscurity.

The Danse Society was such a band with the misfortune of later obscurity.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Danse_Society

I remember Danse Society fondly. Suppose it was due to the fact that it brings nice memories of being a teen. I was just starting to learn about Alternative music. Plus the lead vocalist (Steve Rawlings) was easy on the eyes. There was a single this band had released titled “Say It Again.” Despite a more peppier sound than their earlier tunes, it was still a good song.

Considering that iTunes has some early Deathrock ditties like “Sex Beat” available, you would think “Say It Again” would be as well. No such luck. In fact, iTunes has two albums for purchase: the 1986 album “Looking Through” and the 2001 compilation “Seduction.” However missing was the later single “Say It Again.” Sigh….somehow this is typical of iTunes.

So once again we turn to that modern phenomenon called YouTube. This was the best copy of the promotional video I could find:

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Everyone knows Simple Minds as that 1980s Alt band who did that song “Don’t You Forget About Me.” Yeah, the famous theme song from that seminal teen flick from the Reagan era “The Breakfast Club.” Now don’t get me wrong…both the song and the movie were okay. My fave character from that club was Ally Sheedy’s character, the sulky Allison Reynolds. Probably because I had liked her messy hair and brooding demeanor.

Anyhow, I didn’t come here to talk about the film. Prior to Simple Minds becoming a huge 80s rock/pop outfit, they actually put out some decent albums.  One song I’ve particularly loved was “Travel” from the 1980 release “Empires and Dance.”

With Simple Minds’ third album release, “Empires and Dance” mixed the post-punk/art rock atmospheric guitar effects with dark dance beats.  Hints of slight 1980 European political overtones blended right into the slightly Roxy Music influenced sound. The Scottish based Simple Minds continued to fine tune their own sound until the massive bubblegum hit exploded in the US. By the time “Alive and Kicking” was released, the band briefly transformed into US arena rock darlings.

For sometime I’ve been trying to find that particular early Simple Minds song as an MP3. Imagine my surprise when “Travel” appeared out of nowhere during my search for another song; “Being Boiled” by The Human League.

Proof that there is a god, and it comes in the form of YouTube. Dig hard enough, and you will find. Here I found a UK television appearance promoting this single. Since mercury is presently in retrograde, this blast from the past is fitting. Or shall I say a past from the blast?

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