Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” is one of those ’80s pop hits that’s still inescapable to some extent.  That’s not to say that it’s played incessantly on the radio or something, necessarily; rather, it’s just one of those songs with enough longevity that everyone’s heard it, 30 years after it was recorded.  But what you might not know is that “Tainted Love” was actually a cover; you see, Soft Cell actually had a thing for ’60s R&B/soul, and they expressed it by covering, for example, the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” and a lesser-known tune called “Tainted Love” by a singer named Gloria Jones.  Jones’ 1965 version is quite good, but was released as a B-side on a commercially unsuccessful single.  Jones’ “Tainted Love” reached new audiences when it was rediscovered by a British DJ about a decade later, but still did not achieve mainstream popularity; at that point, however, a couple of English kids named Marc Almond and David Ball took notice.  The duo later joined together to play New Wave music under the “Soft Cell” moniker, and in 1982 their synth-pop cover of “Tainted Love” became a monster hit.  Also released on the single was a medley of “Tainted Love” and their “Where Did Our Love Go” cover.

The first time I heard the original version of “Tainted Love,” I was pretty amazed.  When you’re so familiar with a song, it’s kind of jarring to hear the same song played in the Motown style in a recording from almost two decades earlier.  It was significantly less jarring to go the opposite direction and hear the Soft Cell cover of “Where Did Our Love Go,” after having been familiar with the Supremes’ version for years.  I don’t know why.

Here’s Gloria Jones’ 1965 original version of “Tainted Love”:

Here’s Soft Cell’s 1982 cover version of “Tainted Love”:

Here’s the Supremes’ 1964 original rendition of “Where Did Our Love Go”:

Here’s Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”/”Where Did Our Love Go” medley-of-covers:

P.S.  Gloria Jones dated T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan in the ’70s and actually joined the band on clavinet and backing vocals.  She was the driver in the 1977 car crash that killed him in Barnes, England.

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