Blancmange

Blancmange are an English synth-pop band that formed in Harrow, London in 1979. The band were a duo for most of their career, composed of Neil Arthur (vocals) and Stephen Luscombe (keyboards). They enjoyed some chart success in the early 1980s with songs such as “Living on the Ceiling”, “Blind Vision”, “Don’t Tell Me” and “The Day Before You Came” while they released the albums Happy Families (1982), Mange Tout (1984) and Believe You Me (1985). The duo split in 1986 but reformed in 2011 and released the album Blanc Burn (2011). Luscombe left following the release and since then Arthur has continued to perform under the Blancmange name. He has released three further studio albums and a number of compilations, including a re-recording of the band’s debut album, titled Happy Families Too.

Blancmange was formed in Harrow, London, in 1979 by singer Neil Arthur (born 15 June 1958, Darwen, Lancashire), instrumentalists Stephen Luscombe (born 29 October 1954, Hillingdon, Middlesex) and Laurence Stevens. Stevens left shortly after the band was formed, and Arthur and Luscombe continued as a duo. The duo released their first EP, Irene and Mavis, the following year, but their first real exposure came via a track on the Some Bizzare Album compilation, alongside acts such as Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. This led to them signing a recording contract with London Records.

Success

The duo found minor success with their 1982 double A-sided single, “God’s Kitchen”/”I’ve Seen the Word”, which peaked at no. 65 in the UK. This was followed by “Feel Me”, which peaked at no. 46. Later that year, they broke through with “Living on the Ceiling”, which reached no. 7 on the UK Singles Chart and was an international hit. Their debut album, Happy Families (which featured a sleeve painting in the style of Louis Wain and of the cover artwork of Enid Blyton’s books), also reached the top 30.

Further hits followed with “Waves” (no. 19), “Blind Vision” (no. 10), “That’s Love, That It Is” (no. 33) and “Don’t Tell Me” (no. 8), while their second album Mange Tout (1984) also reached no. 8 in the UK Albums Chart. The album featured a cover version of ABBA’s “The Day Before You Came”, which reached no. 22 in the UK (slightly higher than Abba’s original less than two years earlier). However, after this, the band’s fortunes declined. Their 1985 single “What’s Your Problem” only reached no. 40, and the subsequent album Believe You Me spent only two weeks in the UK Albums Chart, peaking at no. 54.The duo announced they were splitting in June 1986 after a farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

Luscombe released an album of Indian-influenced music, New Demons, with Pandit Dinesh, Peter Culshaw, Priya Khajuria and Asha Bhosle under the name West India Company, in 1989. Meanwhile, Arthur released a solo album, Suitcase, in 1994. In 2008, Edsel re-released the three studio albums as expanded versions.

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