Marc Almond – Bitter Sweet

Not at the end of my Marc Almond phase yet. In 1988, Marc came out with the album “The Stars We Are.” I don’t know if he was consciously trying to be more commercial, or if it just worked out that way, but if there’s a mainstream Marc Almond album, this is it. Apparently I wasn’t alone in that feeling, as according to the Wikipedia article, it was his highest selling solo album in both the US, where it reached 144, and the UK, where it reached 41. For an eccentric artist along the lines of Marc Almond, that’s a huge ranking.

While it’s listed as a solo project, the band backing him was La Magia, which included members of his Willing Sinners, which included members of his Mambas, and so on. The album also included a duet with Nico on the passionate “Your Kisses Burn.”

In 1988, I was starting to get most of my music in CD format, and “The Stars We Are” was no exception. In fact, I remember discovering it in a record store somewhere in the East Village in NYC – I’d had no idea a new Marc Almond album was coming out, and was thrilled to find it. And even though it was put out by his usual crew, and the design was still by Huw Feather, the look was very different. The album cover was a simple, bright photograph of Marc, set on a white background, with gold type. No black and red, no hearts and daggers, none of the Marc Almond iconography that had been with him throughout his solo career. The album looked . . . bright.

A departure for Marc Almond album covers. For instance, there are parts of it that are not black.

And the music was also bright, even romantic in a way. Well, I mean, for Marc. You could even call it pop.

But I only bought this album on CD. Four songs came out as singles, but I only bought two of them – either those were the only ones I ever found, or I was getting over my completist problem.

The first of the singles is Bitter Sweet, a 12” single that is encased, inexplicably, in a gatefold cover. The B side has “King Of the Fools,” and “Tears Run Rings (The Justin Strauss Remix)”. The single was never released in the US. “Bitter Sweet” is an oddly upbeat take, definitely more sweet than bitter.

The original video seems only to exist in this pretty low quality version:

I’m not sure why “Bitter Sweet,” of all the Marc Almond singles and EPs, was considered worthy of a gatefold release but that’s what this is – a package format usually reserved for albums (and a limited number of those, at that), used here to present three songs. On the inside of the gatefold is a nice photo of Marc and some very oversized lyrics for “Bitter Sweet.”

Must say, although I love all the custom artwork featured on Marc’s records, the beautiful simplicity of this Parlophone label is pretty lovely:

Bitter Sweet single label
Bitter Sweet single label

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *