The legacy of Spandau Ballet
After the release of a new documentary, the 80s pop legends have announced a UK tour in 2015
As the band announce a UK tour in 2015, Maud Sampson looks back on the musical legacy of the Blitz kids
From the start, Spandau Ballet made it clear exactly who they were. ‘I am beautiful and clean/ And so very very young’ sang Tony Hadley on ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ from their debut album Journeys to Glory. These well-dressed gentlemen obsessed with hygiene hailed the birth of New Romantic music, a pop movement reacting against punk.
Their second album Diamond was released in 1982, and gave us an insight into Gary Kemp’s songwriting process: ‘Oh I should question not ignore/ Songs are always buried deep’ ('Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)'). Pehaps itself something to question when lyrics such as ‘Cold floor, nice and raw/ Eat the meat that’s on the floor’ (‘Instinction’) come out of the bag.
A year later chart-topping True was released, on which they outlined the woes of modern techonology confusing ‘Communication’ in love: ‘Telex or tell me, but it's always second-hand/ I'm incognito but no rendezvous been planned.../ Dictate or relay, I could send it to your home/"Return to Sender" - I could sing it down the phone!’. Try navigating through today’s minefield of Whatsapp, Tinder or Facebook lads. To show off his chameleon-like songwriting talent, on the same album Gary demonstrated how timeless his lyrics could be: ‘My love is like a high prison wall/ But you could leave me standing so tall’ ('Gold'). Timeless it may be, but 21 years on it still makes no sense.
A few albums (Parade in 1984 and Through the Barricades in 1986) and over 20 million record sales later, and it’s 1989. Songs are as brilliant as ever: ‘She's got fire on her breath and chilly on her lips/ Teeth around her neck and she's got jazz on her hips’ (‘Raw’), but tensions are running high and pop musical genius isn’t enough to save the band from an acrimonious split.
Then just when we had got used to Martin as the menacing Steven Owen from Eastenders, in 2009 the band released a new album Once More. And this year out came documentary Soul Boys of the Western World, following the band’s rise and fall and royalty fights. As if we hadn’t had our fix of 80s pop, the band are set to tour the UK in 2015 and working on a new album. Contain your excitement.