Like the vast majority of Americans in 1983, I had no idea Spandau Ballet existed before True, much less were funky New Romantics embracing disco and fashion, having paved the way for an entire underground club movement in the UK.
I just thought they were sappy Adult Contemporary crooners.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Thanks to my co-worker at Wendy’s (hey, I was 15), Brad, I soon came around and became a huge Spandau fan – once you got past “True” the song, the rest of the album was pretty darn good, particularly “Communication” and “Code of Love”. Once Brad turned me around there, that’s when he blew my mind and let me borrow the band’s first two albums, Journeys To Glory and Diamond. Talk about a difference in style.
Where True was calculated for mainstream chart success, the first two Spandau LPs were all about the clubs and I happily jumped on board, instantly loving the groove of “To Cut A Long Story Short” and “The Freeze” and album cuts like “Reformation”, which had the same white-boy/fake-funk sensibility as the Human League’s Dare. Although they tried to be funky, something was always a little off and that something is what made them unique yet still danceable. I also recall Rolling Stone’s vicious one-star review of Journeys, savaging it as fashion over music. Don’t you have a Mick Jagger solo album somewhere to give five stars, Jann?
While the band did try a half-hearted attempt at a (I think) ballad on their second album Diamond, the majority of the platter was again filled with dancefloor stompers, in particular, “Chant No. 1” and “Instinction”, here in its original 12″ version. It would later see a single release remixed by none other than Trevor Horn, with a Russell Mulcahy video to match:
Somewhere along the way, Spandau lost all the homosexual undertones (“Tough is the leather that’s strapped to my skin…work ’til you’re musclebound”…”Loving makes the cream taste nice…”, etc.) and went from pirate shirt wearing New Romantics to suave, shirt & tie, suit-wearing blue-eyed soul boys and most of America was none the wiser. They also got a Top Five hit and a Gold album for their efforts. But I like to think of them as two separate bands, both who released albums I adore. To think of them as the same band is to invite madness.“The Freeze” peaked at #68 and again at #33 as a b-side of “To Cut A Long Story Short” on the Billboard Club Play Chart in 1981.
“Instinction” did not chart.
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