Artist of the Month: Spandau Ballet
September 1, 2017
With the seminal ‘Through The Barricades’ celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, the peerless Spandau Ballet are our artists of the month for September.
The further we move away from the 1980s – a decade that’s become as much of a cultural battleground as the 1960s ever was – the easier it is to impose a received wisdom viewed through rose-tinted headphones.
As that increasingly far off decade becomes a homogenised mass seemingly dominated by mullets, wide shoulder pads and rara skirts, the little nuances and subtle changes that developed in Britain’s fecund and prolific music scene have been glossed over to suit another narrative, primarily for those who weren’t there.
Spandau Ballet are a classic case in point. While they’ll forever be associated with the 80s, there was always so much more to them than the Blitz club and the New Romantics.
Of course, only a fool would deny the impact that Spandau Ballet had on a scene that was embracing glamour, make-up and androgynous clothing in favour of the cul-de-sac of austerity and uniformity that punk found itself stuck in. They were one of the first bands to soundtrack the nascent New Romantic scene with original material and they were also one of the first to refuse its restrictions.
And what a ride – with each album Spandau Ballet displayed a musical growth and development that so few of their contemporaries could muster. Be it the pioneering electronic work of their early singles through to muscular funk aimed at the dance floor, convincing blue-eyed soul and the kind of anthemic balladry that not only marked a decade but transcended it to the present day and beyond.
Spandau Ballet were a band that moved with and shaped the times they were living in. Little wonder, then, that among their own zeitgeist harnessing records, they also actively participated first with Band Aid and then, in 1985, Live Aid – an event viewed by 1.9 billion people across 150 nations.
While other bands floundered, Spandau Ballet flourished and it was during this period that the band found themselves making some of the most daring music of their career in the shape of their fifth album, ‘Through The Barricades’.
The passing of the years have served to obscure the Troubles that blighted Northern Ireland, but Spandau Ballet were one of the few bands to tackle the subject head-on and, in the process, were inspired to write one of the biggest hits of their entire career.
The band’s songwriter, guitarist Gary Kemp, was moved to write the title song after Thomas Reilly, a member of the band’s road crew, was murdered in his hometown of Belfast. A subsequent visit to Belfast proved inspirational to Kemp who wrote the song and most of the album while living and working in Eire’s capital city, Dublin.
Newly re-mastered and ripe for rediscovery, ‘Through The Barricades’ is here re-released in an extended deluxe edition. In addition to the superbly sounding original album, fans can at last get their hands on the never before UK-released 12” version of ‘Cross The Line’ and previously unheard reading of ‘Fight The Heartache’.
Also included in the deluxe package is ‘Through The Barricades: Remastered/Revisited’, a feature-length, DVD documentary that tells the full story of the album’s writing and recording.
Featuring all-new interviews, promo clips, rare and newly recorded footage – plus an unseen live performance of the David Bowie/Mott The Hoople classic ‘All The Young Dudes’ in front of 100,000 fans in Madrid’s Casa De Campo – this anniversary edition of ‘Through The Barricades’ will show Spandau Ballet in a whole new light.
Forget everything that you think you know. This is the real Spandau Ballet of the real 1980s, tearing down walls, and heading through the barricades.
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