Friday, 5 July 2013

Cassette experiment day 107 - Spandau Ballet 'True'

For the third day of our Mini cassette experiment detour into classics from the early 1980s we have the internationally known behemoth third album by the undisputed kings of overblown pop pomp – ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet.
As we all know, public figures hate to have their words taken out of context and I hope you’ll forgive me for doing the same to the Spandau boys, who by this point had left behind the tartan and the headbands and the Lawrence of Arabia garb, but, my goodness, the lyrics on this album (and most other Spandau Ballet recordings) are so bad that they just cry out to be lampooned.
It’s an album full of regretfully missing worn chairs, seaside arms, someone building a statue with his hands (rather than his feet, presumably) and guns aimed with deathless precision.
At one point, Gary Kemp, who wrote all of the songs on this album tells us all, via the medium of Tony Hadley’s booming voice, that he’s going to build a foundation. Now it’s not very often that I can claim to speak with any authority, but in this case I am literally qualified (proof provided below) to say that foundations are laid rather than built. Gary may well have been making the layman’s mistake of confusing foundations and walls. Communication let him down. He said so himself.
Strange as it may seem, the three other members of the group who weren’t Gary’s brother tried to prove in court in 1999 that they’d had a hand in writing this stuff. Their bid failed and Gary Kemp welcomed the decision as “a victory on behalf of all songwriters”. Quite.
You’d be forgiven for thinking, after reading all of these barbed comments, that I’m not very fond of this album. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a great big summery classic that was regularly heard in the mid 1980s highways and byways of Sunderland blaring from a red convertible Triumph Herald 13/60 piloted by yours truly. Up and down the sea-front from Roker to South Shields and back we’d drive, singing classic lines such as ‘Take your seaside arms and write the next line’ and ‘This subterfuge he never really planned’.
When it comes to choosing the best tracks it’s really the single releases that just poke their immaculately mullet hair-styled heads a little closer to the summer sunshine than the others. ‘Gold’ is a singalong classic, and one which must have Gary Kemp’s bank manager handing out the overtime forms every time the Olympics come around. ‘True’ is a good, old-fashioned, white soul love song that has become a part of our national musical consciousness.
The previously mocked ‘Communication’ is a big pop cracker too. I could go on. As you no doubt know by now.
We actually saw Spandau Ballet at Newcastle City Hall when they toured to promote this album and they were not too far short of brilliant. Duran Duran, who I thankfully never saw in concert, couldn’t hold a candle to them!
Label – Chrysalis
Year – 1983
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