….Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ achieved the longest unbroken run on the UK charts when it logged its 43rd week in the Top 100…
So how did a cover of an obscure northern soul anthem by a Leeds based synth duo go on to sell over one million copies in the UK and spend 43 weeks in the US Hot 100?
Here’s what Marc Almond said about the song on the Official Chart website.
There are only 123 million selling singles in the 60 years of the Official Singles Chart, and Soft Cell’s Tainted Love is part of this very elite club.
Tainted Love was originally an obscure Northern soul track written by Ed Cobb (formerly of male vocal quartet The Four Preps), and recorded by American soul / gospel singer Gloria Jones (who would later go on to become the partner of T Rex frontman Marc Bolan). The track appeared as the B-side to Jones’ commercially unsuccessful 1965 single, My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home.
While looking for covers for their early live sets, Soft Cell keyboardist David Ball suggested Tainted Loveto frontman Marc Almond. The pair took the song apart, and reconstructed it to create a timeless electronic pop classic, which is now regarded as the definitive version of the track.
Climbing to Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart in September, 1981, it held onto the top spot for two weeks, and also topped the charts in more than a dozen other countries. It won the Single Of The Year gong at the 1982 BRIT Awards, and Soft Cell’s arrangement of Tainted Love has gone on to be covered by everyone from the Pussy Cat Dolls and Marilyn Manson.
To date, it has sold more than 1.27 million copies in the UK.
Here’s the original performance on Top Of The Pops
Here’s the Gloria Jones version
…and if you’re looking to buy the rather wonderful Tainted Love, here’s a copy of the original 12″ (which is a superb version btw!)