“Tainted Love” is a captivating melody crafted by Ed Cobb, a former member of the American group the Four Preps. Initially, it was recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, marking its humble beginnings. However, it wasn’t until British synthpop duo Soft Cell covered and reimagined the song in 1981 that it gained worldwide recognition, leading to numerous cover versions by various artists and groups.

Gloria Jones, an American artist, took the honour of making the inaugural recording of “Tainted Love” back in 1964. The composition was skill fully written and produced by Ed Cobb, with arrangements by Lincoln Mayorga. Surprisingly, it was released as the B-side of her 1965 single, “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home,” but unfortunately, the commercial reception was disappointing. The single failed to make any impact on the charts in both the US and the UK. Nick Talevski shares that prior to Jones recording the song, Cobb had presented it to the Standells, a group he managed and produced. However, the Standells claimed that the song was never offered to them, and they only signed with Cobb’s company, Greengrass Productions, in 1966, which was two years after Jones’s recording.

In 1973, Richard Searling, a British club DJ, stumbled upon a copy of the nearly forgotten single while visiting the United States. The track’s Motown-inspired sound, characterised by its lively tempo, horns, electric rhythm guitar, and female backing vocals, perfectly resonated with the music favoured by the Northern soul club scene in the early 1970s. Searling played the song at the Northern soul club Va Va’s in Bolton, and later, at Wigan Casino, popularising it among the enthusiasts.

With the newfound underground popularity of the song, Jones decided to re-record “Tainted Love” in 1976 and released it as a single. Unfortunately, despite her efforts, it failed to make a significant impact on the charts once again. This version was included in her album titled Vixen and was produced by her boyfriend, Marc Bolan.

Fast forward to 2014, “Tainted Love” was recognised by NME, ranking at an impressive number 305 in their esteemed list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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