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This comprehensive – 9CDs – box set tells the definitive story of one of electronic music’s most thrilling and pioneering acts, Marc Almond and Dave Ball, better known as Soft Cell. With over 50% previously unreleased material, over 130 tracks and 12 hours of music, ‘Keychains & Snowstorms’ is a genuine treasure trove of art-school experimentation, huge pop hits, ground-breaking club tracks and piercing introspection straight out of bedsit land. Each and every track from their main Phonogram era of 1980-1984 is represented on this collection.
Disc 1 features remastered versions of the band’s legendary early-’80s 12″ single A-sides, with ‘Numbers’ and ‘Soul Inside’ being very slightly edited in order to fit onto the disc, Disc 2 contains all the full-length B-sides, also remastered, and Disc 3 includes brand new versions and extended versions of key Soft Cell fan favourites. The extended versions feature only original parts from the multitrack masters, while the new versions have been created especially by Dave Ball, who has finally created the definitive mix of ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ that he always imagined, as well as new takes on some of his favourite album tracks and B sides. These new versions are more than fit to take their place among the existing greats.
Disc 4 includes a mixture of unreleased and less widely available material, as well as demos from the 1980-1984 period, rare international radio-only edits, and the fabled unreleased 12” mix of ‘Forever The Same’, once mooted to be the third single release from ‘The Art Of Falling Apart’. Disc 5 is made up of music from Soft Cell’s earliest years, including one of the first recordings ever made by Dave Ball, plus tracks recorded at the band’s first ever gig in December 1979. This disc also includes a remastered version of the debut ‘Mutant Moments’ EP, plus one of Soft Cell’s earliest recordings, previously unreleased and not even available on any bootleg. As well as other early demos, this CD also documents Daniel Miller’s work with Soft Cell in 1980 and 1981.
Disc 6 features highlights from the BBC’s vaults, including previously unreleased audio of their Whistle Test appearance in 1982. Soft Cell’s first recordings since 1983 are also included, with an unreleased extended version of ‘Divided Soul,’ and the set is completed with Marc and Dave’s favourite tracks from 2002’s comeback album ‘Cruelty Without Beauty’.
Disc 7 features ‘Non-Stop Euphoric Dubbing’, a Dave Ball directed 12-suite continuous mix of Soft Cell classics which forms a moody counterpart to the pioneering dub album 1982’s ‘Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing’. This CD also includes a splatter of remixes, including the first ever remix by Erasure, who have remixed ‘Bedsitter’. In addition, The Grid’s 1991 remix of ‘Where The Heart Is’ has been reworked to replace Marc’s 1991 re-vocalled versions with his original takes.
Recently found in Universal Music’s vaults, Disc 8 contains live recordings made by Flood of the US dates from 1983 where the band previewed songs from the then-upcoming ‘This Last Night In Sodom’ album. Originally slated for a live album release the tapes have been painstakingly mixed and mastered and capture Soft Cell at their live zenith. This show was recorded at The Palace in Los Angeles. The ninth and last audio Disc 9 features the final section of the Los Angeles show, plus other live highlights, including tracks from Soft Cell’s farewell shows at Hammersmith Palais in January 1984. Remaining selections come from the band’s reunion tour dates in 2002-3, where producer Ingo Vauk recorded the whole UK tour.