Memorabilia (song)

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This article is about song; for other uses see: Disambiguation:Memorabilia
Memorabilia
Track by Soft Cell
Cover - Memorabilia.png
Year 1981
Written Marc Almond
Composed David Ball
Produced Daniel Miller
Genre synth-pop, ‘proto-house’
Single Memorabilia
A Man Can Get Lost
Also in Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing
“Memorabilia” is a song by Soft Cell, first released on their debut 1981 singles Memorabilia and A Man Can Get Lost.

Origin[edit | edit source]

The main inspiration behind “Memorabilia” were New York disco records with hard pulsating beat which Marc Almond used to hear during his work time at the Warehouse club in Leeds.[1][2][3] The club was notable for having the best sound system in the city and various, largely obscure in UK, US records played by DJs from New York.[1][4][5] The idea to make heavily dance oriented record came to Almond before one of Soft Cell's studio sessions in December 1980, while listening to James Brown and Donna Summer records.[1][2][6] He also wanted a song where repetitive instrumental would let him improvise with vocals.[6]

Record and release[edit | edit source]

At Stage One Studio Almond improvised the lyrics of the song while recording vocals and to retain trashy subjects of band's songs he imagined a stream of thoughts of a serial killer who is obsessed with collecting souvenirs after his murders.[1][2] The track in the end utilizes first vocal take.[2] Dave Ball and producer Daniel Miller improved the musical part of Almond's idea, most notably with Miller's sequencer based approach.[2][3][6]

Initially the track was recorded as a long version for 12″ single of the same name, which would fit dance club format. Then it was shortened and included on B side of 7″ A Man Can Get Lost.[6]

Both versions of “Memorabilia” were released on 21 March 1981.[?] A bit later they would appear on B sides of some of Tainted Love singles.

Other versions[edit | edit source]

Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing[edit | edit source]

“Memorabilia” was one of the songs to be re-recorded for Soft Cell's first ‘dance remix’ release, Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing mini album. The song received new meaning after Almond and Ball dived into New York club scene and met Cindy Ecstasy, which eventually are the reasons for them to make a much more dance oriented record, and also are shining trough its title. Almond has shortened original lyrics and wrote a rapping part for Cindy Ecstasy, which will give hints on her influence on the duo. Dave Ball and Mike Thorne, producer of Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, made music more percussion heavy, with addition of trumpet play by John Gatchell.[7] This version was also released as B side on US version of following single, What!.

'91 version[edit | edit source]

In 1991 “Memorabilia”, with a variety of other Soft Cell tracks, was re-recorded and released as ‘Soft Cell and Marc Almond’. This version is fairly closer to original 1981 mix, with Almond recording new vocals and The Grid are credited as remixers. It appears on B-Side of Say Hello Wave Goodbye '91 single, as ‘Extended Grid Remix’, and on Memorabilia: The Singles compilation, in shorter form. Extended version will also appear on CD reissue of The Twelve Inch Singles box set, in 1999.

Remixes[edit | edit source]

“Memorabilia” was remixed in 2008 for Heat: The Remixes compilation by electronic band Cicada, as ‘Cicada Dub Version’. It uses vocals by Almond and Cindy Ecstasy from ‘Ecstatic’ version.

Live versions[edit | edit source]

“Memorabilia” was performed live since 1981, with the release of original single, and recordings of it appear on a variety of bootlegs, until 2018 – Keychains And Snowstorms box set includes audio recording from one of 1983 show in Los Angeles and performance on video, during 1981 show in Leeds.

Since 2000 reunion the song became constant opening number of the shows and first officially released live versions emerged: on 2002 video Live In Milan and 2003 album Live, followed by Say Hello Wave Goodbye: The O2 London releases in 2019.

Personnel[edit | edit source]

  • Original version
  • Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing version
    • Written-By (rap) – Marc Almond
    • Rap – Cindy Ecstasy
    • Trumpet – John Gatchell
    • Production – Mike Thorne
    • Engineering – Don Wershba
    • Mixing – Harvey Goldberg

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Written by Marc Almond

Original version

Everywhere I go
I take a little piece of you
I collect, I reject
Photographs I took of you

Towns that I passed through
I've got to have a memory
Or I have never been there
I have never had you
I have never had you (had you, had you)

I can't remember
Give me a reminder
I collect, I reject
Memorabilia
Memorabilia

I like little bits of glassware
Ashtrays with inscriptions
Plastic things on pencils
Bits of mass production
Postcards, pretty pictures
Little bits of plastic
Covering up the bedroom
To show you I've been there
To show you I've been there

Keychains and snowstorms (x2)

Give me a reminder, give me a reminder
Give me a reminder, give me a reminder (I collect, I reject)
Memorabilia (Keychains and snowstorms)
Memorabilia (Keychains and snowstorms)
Memorabilia

I can't remember, give me a reminder
I collect, I reject (I can't remember, give me a reminder)
Photographs I took of you
Photographs I took of you
Towns that I passed through
I've got to have a memory
Or I have never been there
I have never had you, I have never had you (had you, had you)
I can't remember
Give me a reminder
I collect, I reject

Castanets, mantillas
Torremolinos
Castanets and plastic men
Torremolinos
Torremolinos
I collect, I reject

Everywhere I go
I take a little piece of you
I collect, I reject
Photographs I took of you

Towns that I passed through
I've got to have a memory
Or I have never been there
I have never had you, had you, had you

I can't remember
Give me a reminder
I collect, I reject
Memorabilia
Memorabilia

Keychains and snowstorms
Give me a reminder, give me a reminder
I collect, I reject
Memorabilia
Memorabilia
Keychains and snowstorms
Give me a reminder (x4)

Everywhere I go you know I'd like you all to know
That I'm the one for having fun, just send the bad times on the run
To move around to the softest sound, ecstatic dancing all around
I'm on the town, I'll give you hell, if you don't put me in my cell

I may be soft, I made the top
I like my cabaret non-stop
It may be erotic, it may be ecstatic
With it down on your floor or in your attic

You take it low or shut our eyes, and let our love materialise
And I don't mean love on a chocolate box, I mean the love that really rocks
I say call me the baby, the good time lady
Just look at me and it's easy to see why they call me Cindy Ecstasy

Because I've got the eyes, the where's, the why's
To make your love thing really rise
You don't need your speed or your pair of wheels
You've got the prize that will brighten your skies

So look me up and I'll tell no lies
Coz I'm the lady with the hot surprise
If you don't believe me, ask Soft Cell
Because I shook them up and I gave them hell
So call up Cindy Ecstasy if you're looking for a memory

So call up Cindy Ecstasy if you're looking for a memory (x5)

Go turn the beat around
Got to hear percussion
Turn it upside down
Got to hear percussion (x2)

Memorabilia (x2)

Music video[edit | edit source]

Memorabilia
music video by Soft Cell
Video still - Memorabilia.png
Still frame with Cindy Ecstasy
from “Memorabilia” video
Released 1983
Directed Tim Pope
Part of Non-Stop Exotic Video Show
Memorabilia: The Video Singles

Music video on Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing version of the song was produced in 1982 and directed by Tim Pope, for Non-Stop Exotic Video Show.

The beginning of the video flows from the end of “Youth” video, with Huw Feather's animated drawings of flamenco dancers in front of a rewinding footage. It consists mostly of various Super 8 footage, starting with one of Almond's college short films, with pale person looking trough photo albums.[1] It continues with videos taken by him and Ball during band's time in New York, Los Angeles[?] and Athenas, with appearances of Cindy Ecstasy, Stevo and Feather. Ball's New York footage from 1978 was also used, such as views of building and street traffics behind Cindy Ecstasy.[4]

Throughout video Almond and Cindy Ecstasy, filmed against blue chroma key, appear singing their parts of the song. The latter, upon finishing her part, turns away and transforms into Almond in the same drag and make up. Other chroma key video effects would be applied on Almond, such as painting of his face to make it look transparent or paint flowing down over his image.

Video ends with an added rattle sound of tape reel and distorted final frames. After that a gag in a porno cinema, before “Sex Dwarf” video, starts.

In 1991 the video was included on Memorabilia: The Video Singles compilation.

Availability[edit | edit source]

“Memorabilia” appears on following records.

Official releases
Year Title Type Version
1981 Cover - A Man Can Get Lost.png A Man Can Get Lost Single 7"
Cover - Memorabilia.png Memorabilia Single 12"
Cover - Tainted Love Memorabilia.png Tainted Love / Memorabilia Single 7"
12"
1982 Cover - Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing.png Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing EP Remix
Cover - Non-Stop Exotic Video Show.png Non-Stop Exotic Video Show Video Music video
Cover - What (US).png What! (US version) Single Remix
The Twelve Inch Singles Box set 12"
1986 Cover - The Singles (Soft Cell).png The Singles Compilation 7"
1990 12″ Mixes On CD Box set 12"
1991 Say Hello Wave Goodbye '91 Single Remix
Cover - Memorabilia - The Singles.png Memorabilia: The Singles Compilation Remix
Cover - Memorabilia - The Video Singles.png Memorabilia: The Video Singles Video Music video
1994 Down In The Subway Compilation Remix
1996 The Twelve Inch Singles (CD) Compilation Remix
2002 The Very Best Of Soft Cell Compilation 7"
Cover - Live In Milan.png Live In Milan Video Live video
2003 Cover - Live (album).png Live Album Live
2006 The Best Of Soft Cell Compilation 7"
The Hits Compilation 7"
2008 Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (deluxe).png Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret 
(Deluxe Edition)
Album Remix
12″
Cover - Heat - The Remixes.png Heat: The Remixes Compilation Remix
2010 Cover - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret + The Art Of Falling Apart.png Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret + The Art Of Falling Apart Album ?
2016 Trials Of Eyeliner Box set 7″
2017 Hits And Pieces: The Best Of Marc Almond And Soft Cell Compilation 7″
2018 Cover - Keychains And Snowstorms - The Singles.png Keychains And Snowstorms: The Singles Compilation 7″
Cover - Keychains And Snowstorms (box set).png Keychains And Snowstorms Box set 12″
Remix
Live
Music video
Live video
2019 Cover - Say Hello Wave Goodbye - The O2 London.png Say Hello Wave Goodbye: The O2 London Album Live
Cover - Say Hello Wave Goodbye - The O2 London (video).png Say Hello Wave Goodbye: The O2 London Video Live video
Bootlegs
Title Type Version
Live At The Warehouse Album Live
Live At The Retford Porterhouse Album Live
Big Frock Mutants Album Live
Falling Apart In London '83 Album Live
Glasgow Ghostrider '83 Album Live
Live Palacio De Deportes 10/5/83 Album Live
Irony Tour Album Live
2 Live Tracks Single Live
The Art Of Tearing Apart Album Live
Ocean's 17 Album Live

All officially released versions of the song are also available on streaming platforms.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Original version of “Memorabilia” is considered to be one of the earliest examples of house (sometimes called ‘proto house’)[8] or even techno genres, due to its sequenced arrangement.[4][9] Since the track was inspired by similarly sounding New York disco records, it is at least right to say that “Memorabilia” is the first early house record originated from UK. At the same time the song is slightly incorrectly hailed as the first acid house track[2][4] – it wasn't until late 1981 when Almond and Ball discovered ecstasy and early club culture surrounding it. ‘Ecstatic’ version was recorded in 1982 and it is, in fact, the first ‘E song’, not by its sound, but by lyrics and attempt to catch the feeling of music under drug's influence.[?] The reference gets even more obvious with music video having footage of Cindy Ecstasy and Dave Ball actually taking the drug. And yet, the meaning still didn't catch in the UK at the time.[10]

Although Memorabilia single failed to get into UK charts, reaching only to number 101,[4] it gained popularity in clubs due to novelty and mixing possibilities of “Memorabilia”, with cases such as Rusty Egan of famous Blitz Club, London, playing two 12″ copies up to 30 minutes.[3][6] The single eventually got into US Billboard dance club charts, reaching number 35,[4][11] and becomes a crossover hit in black and white clubs.[4] Thus track made a full circle to its New York roots, earned Soft Cell early recognition in US, before Tainted Love,[1] and made Phonogram Records give the duo chance to record second single, despite failing in charts, against their initial deal.[2][4]

Through years “Memorabilia” was praised by critics and musicians,[2] leading to tributes. The most famous is a cover[12] by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, from their 1994 record Closer To God. Other notable artists covering the song include British new wave band Sigue Sigue Sputnik (on 2003 Soft Cell tribute album)[13] and Japanese new wave and rock band Polysics (on 2004 new wave tribute album).[14]

Listen[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

The list bellow can be scrolled
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Tainted Life (autobiography by Marc Almond)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Keychains And Snowstorms: The Soft Cell Story (box set book)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 SOFT CELL To Show You I've Been There... - The Electricity Club (Article about To Show You I've Been There... book). Chi Ming Lai. 26 April 2019. (electricityclub.co.uk)  archived
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Electronic Boy (autobiography by Dave Ball)
  5. The Warehouse: Leeds nightclub memories - Yorkshire Evening Post. 28 May 2010. (yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk)  archived
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 I Wrote That – Marc Almond, Memorabilia - M Magazine. 23 September 2013. (m-magazine.co.uk)  archived
  7. 7.0 7.1 The making of Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing | The Stereo Society. Mike Thorne. March 2004. (stereosociety.com)  archived
  8. Keychains & Snowstorms: The SOFT CELL Story - The Electricity Club (Article about Keychains & Snowstorms: The Soft Cell Story box set). Chi Ming Lai. 1 September 2018. (electricityclub.co.uk)  archived
  9. Soft Cell | tourdates (Archived version). (tourdates.co.uk)
  10. Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House (Page 36 of 2009 edition). Matthew Collin. 1997. (books.google.com)
  11. Soft Cell | Billboard (Memorabilia in Dance Club Songs chart entries). (Billboard)
  12. Nine Inch Nails - Memorabilia. (nin.wiki)
  13. A Tribute To Soft Cell (Non-Stop Electro Cabaret) (2003, CD). (Discogs)
  14. Fine Time: A Tribute To New Wave (2004, CD). (Discogs)
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