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Blancmange - Profile

  by Tony Gaughan

published: 12 / 8 / 2017

Blancmange - Profile


Tony Gaughan examines a detailed and in-depth nine CD retrospective from synth pop duo Blancmange, which compiles together their first three albums with remixes, session tracks, demos and live performances

'The Blanc Tapes' is a nine disc retrospective compiling pretty much everything the Middlesex synth pop duo Blancmange, which consisted of Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe, accomplished and delivered in the period 1982-86 at the absolute height of their career. It includes practically every remix, session track, demo and live performance of any note in what is a detailed and in-depth look at this period of the band. The set is divided into three triple disc anthologies (which are also available separately) from 1982 debut album 'Happy Families' to its rather humorously-named 1984 follow-up 'Mange Tout' to their final effort 1985's'Believe You Me', which then led them into a 25 year hiatus. It would be difficult to consume a full blancmange individually, and likewise the complexity and thoroughness of this compilation is best taken slowly and with care for maximum satisfaction. On the original trio of albums there were a combined 31 tracks and this compendium contains no less than 132 songs, so it is not for the faint-hearted and needs to be given the time to savour and to indulge in. 'Happy Families' spawned their biggest and best-remembered single 'Living on the Ceiling', which peaked at number 7 in the UK chart but fared even better in Australia where it reached number 5. The album reached number 30 in the UK chart, and also spawned arguably one of my favourite singles of theirs in 'Waves' and included their debut single 'God's Kitchen' and another track 'Feel Me', which was a lesser hit for the band. The cover art was styled on author Enid Blyton's illustrator Louis Wain, and to this day that image will be associated with with the drum machines and backing tapes of the 80's era. Disc 1 has the original tracks and extended remixes and instrumentals of the four singles. Disc 2 features more of the same including the original version of album track and fan favourite 'Sad Day',a few rehearsal tapes and demo versions and closes with producer Mike Howlett's dub version of 'Feel Me'. The third disc includes live versions of the aforementioned. When 'Mange Tout' was released in 1984, the duo seemed to be never off UK radio and TV, particularly with the opener and first single 'Don't Tell Me' which managed to reach a summit of number 8 in the UK chart and received plenty of backing. From memory it seemed every dial turned on the FM or AM dial seemed to be playing it to death. The band then covered 'The Day Before You Came', a track by Abba, and, although it only reached a disappointing #22 it still did better than the original track did for the Swedish super group. Again, following the format of the three disc debut, this also has a selection of remixes and demos including British Electric Foundation and Heaven 17's founding member Martyn Ware's version of 'Blind Vision'. Discs 4,5 and 6 (the latter of which includes a live audio performance from the Hammersmith Palais) follow the same format with remixes, demos and alternate mixes and a live collection of BBC and other radio sessions from the archives. 'Believe You Me' was the third and final album of that decade and signaled a split and the final material the band would release for 25 years, before after a brief reformation in 2011 Stephen Luscombe quit again because of health reasons leaving front manNeil Arthur to carry on with the name. Disc 7's lead single 'What's Your Problem?' made it to number 40 in the UK charts, but the follow-up 'Lose Your Love' could only make a rather disappointing #77 and was the beginning of the end of the road for the band. Discs 8 and 9 feature further demos, lost recordings and remixes. For the purists and nostalgists of the 80's this will be a welcoming prize, and it is worth noting that initial copies of the set come with a signed print from both Arthur and Luscombe but is strictly limited to five hundred copies.

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Blancmange - Profile

Blancmange - Profile

Blancmange - Profile

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