Blancmange

Blancmange was an English synthpop duo that released three albums between 1982 and 1985 on London Records.

Members: Neil Arthur (vocals, guitar), Stephen Luscombe (keyboards), Laurence Stevens (keyboards, 1979)


Inception

Blancmange formed in 1979 in Harrow when singer Neil Arthur (b. June 15, 1958, Darwen, Lancashire) teamed with multi-instrumentalists Stephen Luscombe (b. October 29, 1954, Hillingdon, Middlesex) and Laurence Stevens. They took their name from the gelatin-based dessert depicted on their single sleeves. Stevens left early to focus on graphic design. He founded LSD Studio and designed 1980s sleeves for singles by Bananarama, Eurythmics, Annabel Lamb, and Dick Morrissey. Arthur and Luscombe continued as a synth duo.


Irene & Mavis

In early 1980, Blancmange debuted with Irene & Mavis, a 7″ maxi EP on self-press Blaah Music.

A1. “Disco-A-Bomb-Bomb” (2:35)
A2. “Holiday Camp” (3:01)
A3. “Overspreading Art Genius” (2:16)
B1. “Concentration Baby” (2:03)
B2. “Just Another Spectre” (3:05)
B3. “Modichy In Aneration” (3:21)

In 1981, Blancmange landed one song (“Sad Day”) on Some Bizzare Album, a compilation of unsigned electro-pop acts, including B-Movie, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, and The The.

In December, Blacmange opened for Japan on their Visions of China tour behind the late-1981 Virgin release Tin Drum.


Happy Families

Blancmange released their debut album, Happy Families, on September 24, 1982, on London Records.

1. “I Can’t Explain” (4:00)
2. “Feel Me” (5:07)
3. “I’ve Seen the Word” (3:00)
4. “Wasted” (4:17)
5. “Living on the Ceiling” (4:11)

6. “Waves” (4:07; 4:25 initial press)
7. “Kind” (3:56)
8. “Sad Day” (4:05)
9. “Cruel” (4:52)
10. “God’s Kitchen” (2:54)

Recorded February–August 1982
Studio CBS (London), Battery (London)
Producer Mike Howlett

Neil Arthur – vocals, guitars, electronics
Stephen Luscombe – synthesizers, keyboards

Additional musicians
David Rhodes – guitar on “I Can’t Explain”, “Feel Me”, “Wasted”, “Kind”, “Cruel” and “God’s Kitchen”
James Lane – drums on “Living on the Ceiling” and “Kind”
Stevie Lange – backing voices on “I Can’t Explain”, “Feel Me”, “Waves” and “Kind”
Madeline Bell – backing voices on “Feel Me” and “Waves”
Joy Yates – backing voices on “I Can’t Explain” and “Kind”
Deepak (aka Deepak Khazanchi) – sitar on “Living on the Ceiling”
Dinesh (aka Pandit Dinesh) – tabla on “Living on the Ceiling”

Production and artwork
Engineered by Walter Samuel, Roberto Arendse and Mark Chamberlain (CBS)
Nigel Green and Andrew Warwick (Battery)
“Living on the Ceiling” and “Kind” remixed at Odyssey Studios by Denis Weinrich
“Waves” remixed by Denis Weinrich and John Owen Williams, strings arranged by Linton Naiff

Painting by Michael Brownlow after Louis Wain

“I’ve Seen the Word” / “God’s Kitchen”
Released: 26 March 1982

“Feel Me” / instrumental version
Released: 9 July 1982

“Living on the Ceiling” / “Running Thin” / “I Would” (12″ only)
15 October 1982
South Africa (Springbok Radio) 3
Australia (Kent Music Report) 5
UK Singles (OCC) 7
Ireland (IRMA) 8

“Waves” / “Game Above My Head”
January 1983
UK Singles Chart 19

New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 13
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report) 17
UK Albums (OCC) 30


Mange Tout

Blancmange released their second album, Mange Tout, in May 1984 on London Records.

1. “Don’t Tell Me” (3:31)
2. “Game Above My Head” (3:58)
3. “Blind Vision” (3:56) Uptown Horns, session bassist Neil Jason, percussionist Bashiri Johnson, backing vocalists Jocelyn Brown, Brenda Jay Nelson, and Dolette McDonald
4. “Time Became the Tide” (4:49) chamber quartet and flute arranged by Linton Naiff
5. “That’s Love, That It Is” (4:22) five-piece brass–reeds, percussionist Jerry Marotta, backing vocalists Brenda White and Mtume singer Tawatha Agee.

6. “Murder” (5:58)
7. “See the Train” (2:04)
8. “All Things Are Nice” (4:59) Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen
9. “My Baby” (3:59) percussionist Blair Cunningham
10. “The Day Before You Came” (5:50) Valery Ponomarev – trumpet solo

Recorded August–November 1983
Studio Marcus Music (London), Sigma Sound (New York City), Island (London), Sarm East (London)

Neil Arthur – voice, drums, clarinet
Stephen Luscombe – electric keyboards, piano, trumpet
Blancmange – arrangement (4)

Additional musicians
Pandit Dinesh – tabla (1, 6, 8, 10); Madal (1); percussion (8)
Deepak Khazanchi – sitar (1, 6); santoor (10)
Bobby Collins – bass guitar (2)
David Rhodes – guitars (3, 5, 6, 8, 9)

Technical
Peter Collins – production (1)
Blancmange – production (2)
John Owen Williams – production (2); remix (9)
John Luongo – production (3–10)
Dennis Weinreich – remix (9)
Jay Mark – engineering (2, 3, 5–10)
Femi Jiya – engineering in London (2, 3, 5–10)
Matthew Wallace – engineering assistance in London (2, 3, 5–10)

Artwork
Martyn Atkins – design
Marcx – design

“Blind Vision” / “Heaven Knows Where Heaven Is”
Released: April 1983
US Billboard Hot Dance/Disco 3
UK Singles Chart 10
Irish Singles Chart 11

“That’s Love, That It Is” / “Vishnu”
Released: November 1983

“Don’t Tell Me” / “Get Out of That”
Released: March 1984
UK Singles Chart 8
Irish Singles Chart 10

“The Day Before You Came” / “All Things Are Nice”
Released: July 1984

UK Albums (OCC) 8
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) 16 


Believe You Me

Blancmange released their third album, Believe You Me, on October 11, 1985, on London Records.

1. “Lose Your Love” (4:09)
2. “What’s Your Problem?” (4:13)
3. “Paradise Is” (3:48)
4. “Why Don’t They Leave Things Alone?” (4:35)
5. “22339” (5:23) with Talk Talk bassist Paul Webb

6. “Don’t You Love It All” (4:35) Hugh Masekela on flugelhorn, backing vocals by Katie Kissoon and Stevie Lange
7. “Believe” (3:49)
8. “Lorraine’s My Nurse” (2:31) five-piece string and woodwind section arranged by Lynton Naiff
9. “Other Animals” (4:19) with London Community Gospel Choir and saxophonist Ronnie Ross
10. “No Wonder They Never Made It Back” (3:31) Dick Cuthell on trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, brass arrangement; Pandit Dinesh on tabla, madal
11. “John” (4:16)

Recorded May – August 1985
Recorded in London from May to August 1985 at Air, Garden, Island, Redan, Roundhouse, Strongroom and Wessex Studios
David Rhodes – guitar (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)
Justin Hildreth – drums (1, 4, 6)

Produced by Stewart Levine for Ultradelta Limited
“22339” and “No Wonder They Never Made It Back” produced by Neil Arthur & John Williams
“John” produced by Stephen Luscombe
Engineered by Femi J
Assistant Engineers: Karl Lever (Air)
Pete Griffiths (Garden)
Stephen Street (Island)
Johnny Schinas (Redan)
David Kemp (Roundhouse)
Phil Bodger (Strongroom)

“What’s Your Problem” / “Side Two”
Released: 27 August 1985

“Lose Your Love” / “John”
Released: October 1985
US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs 2

“I Can See It” (re-recorded version of “Why Don’t They Leave Things Alone?”) / “Scream Down the House”
April 1986


Discography:
  • Happy Families (1982)
  • Mange Tout (1984)
  • Believe You Me (1985)

Sources:

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