The Best Of Spandau BalletI’m a sucker for just about anything 80s, so when I happened upon The Best Of Spandau Ballet, I was intrigued – like most casual listeners, I could really only think of “True” and, at a stretch, “Gold” as being recognizable songs for this group. I liked their sound (though, truthfully, True was overplayed to death in its day), but it’s rather like the Romantics’ best of album – aside from one of two songs that everyone knows, what else would be on here?

As it turned out, I recognized one of the band’s earliest songs, though I couldn’t tell you where I’d heard it before. The early sound of Spandau Ballet is quite a revelation – a little more soulful than Level 42 and a lot more soulful than Depeche Mode, the group’s original sound was very much in the new romantic mold – very different, and quite a bit funkier, than you’d imagine from only having heard “True”. There’s also a disco influence evident on their early tracks, and some of them don’t quite stand the test of time – “Musclebound”, for example, I actually found a bit trite.

“True” and “Gold” are pretty much as I remember them, though listening to the album in one concentrated sitting, it’s interesting to hear tracks from late in the band’s career where it seems obvious that they were trying to recapture the vibe of “True” – similarities in song structure, vocal style and reliance on the group’s relatively unique in-house sax player abound. After a while, the last vestiges of Spandau Ballet’s original new wave leanings are no longer evident. A bit sad, really – after listening to this album’s represenative cross-section of the group’s career, I found myself more intrigued with their earlier tracks than their attempts to reinvent themselves as smooth, soulful crooners.

3 out of 4Still, let’s give credit where it’s due – obviously, at some point, a hell of a lot of people did listen to Spandau Ballet, even if only for just one of two songs. A lot of the credit really goes to Tony Hadley’s deep baritone voice. The voice, and the then-uncommon sax, were really the group’s trademark, and having heard Hadley on a latter-day Alan Parsons song, just the voice alone is enough to summon forth memories of Spandau Ballet. I recommend giving this one a listen just to see what the guys did other than “True”. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Order this CD

  1. To Cut A Long Story Short (3:23)
  2. The Freeze (3:33)
  3. Musclebound (3:56)
  4. Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) (4:06)
  5. Paint Me Down (3:14)
  6. Instinction (3:35)
  7. Lifeline (3:21)
  8. Communication (3:27)
  9. True (5:34)
  10. Gold (3:53)
  11. Only When You Leave (4:49)
  12. I’ll Fly For You (5:12)
  13. Highly Strung (4:12)
  14. Round And Round (4:34)
  15. Fight For Ourselves (4:24)
  16. Through The Barricades (2:29)
  17. How Many Lies (4:36)
  18. Be Free With Your Love (3:28)

Released by: Chrysalis
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 71:52