History hasn't really been all that kind to Spandau Ballet, and that really all stems from 1983 onwards when the single and LP True gave them enormous crossover appeal, success, fame and fortune. And I'm not going to sir here typing away any real defence of the band, for it was a very clear and distinct career move to shift away from the sort of music that had dominated the first two LPs into the bland, radio-friendly wine-bar shite that was incredibly popular in UK plc when Thatcher was at her most frightening.
But I'll take issue with anyone who simply dismisses the early work just because it was a Spandau Ballet song.
Their debut single is one of the great synth-pop singles in an era where acts like Soft Cell, Human League, OMD and Depeche Mode were churning them out.
mp3 : Spandau Ballet - To Cut A Long Story Short
This was a huge hit, reaching #5 in the UK singles chart, and I don't mind admitting that I did lots of dancing to this, as well as their great follow-up The Freeze, in Glasgow discos in the early 80s. In fact, their debut LP Journeys To Glory, released in October 1981, along with Non Stop Erotic Cabaret and Dare by the afore-mantioned Soft Cell and The Human League, are about the only synth-dominated LPs from that era that I'm still happy to listen to all the way through almost 30 years later.
Not long after the LP appeared, we had the single that many of us will say was the high point of the band's output, the Top 3 smash Chant No.1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On) . The band followed this up with Paint Me Down, another classy bit of pop-funk, but rather worryingly, the other tracks on the parent LP, Diamond, released in May 1982, were quite disappointing.
Looking back, it's worth remembering that the two albums were released only 8 months apart, so there's a case to be made that some of the material on Diamond was a bit rushed in an effort to stay in the public eye, and maybe if the band had been given another six or nine months, the LP would have been a lot stronger.
Paint Me Down only reached #30, which must have been a shock to the band and everyone associated with them given all previous four singles had been big hits, but that was nothing compared to the follow-up She Loved Like Diamond which only just made the Top 50. Something needed fixing.....
And so the record label sent for uber-producer Trevor Horn and he sprinkled his magic dust over the underwhelming song Instinction and produced brashy and bold bit of pop that soon had the boys back in the Top 10, on Top Of The Pops and in the pages of Smash Hits:-
mp3 : Spandau Ballet - Instinction (single version)
I finally picked up a copy of this bit of vinyl on e-bay the other day (along with a few other classics of the era), and I'm delighted to share it with y'all. Normally, I would also put the b-side up as well, but it really is a dreadful bit of pap called Gently, a self-produced number that really does put the band firmly on the road to the sort of stuff that was shoved on in the background so as not to interfere with the important chit-chat and gossip at the dinner parties...you know the sort of thing.....'Tristan just picked up his half-a-million bonus from the bank the other day after he persuaded the plebs to buy shares in the the Telecoms/Electricity/Gas companies they already owned. Tee-hee. Crack open another case of bolly....."
Oh and I havent a fucking clue what Gary Kemp meant with the words Stealing Cake To Eat The Moon.