Sunday, June 5, 2011

Journey's to Glory - Spandau Ballet

Journeys to Glory - Spandau Ballet

The dawn of the New Romantics began in the UK with the aptly named Journey's to Glory album from Spandau Ballet.   Journeys to Glory as a name really reflects how the New Romantic movement grew to have such a huge impact on the 80s music scene, it was also a great name for a debut album.

Spandau Ballet's Journeys to Glory album was released in the English spring of 1981 after the huge success of their debut single 'To Cut a Long Story Short' which was not only a cult dance club hit, but also made #5 in the UK pop charts during the winter of 1980.

If all you know of Spandau Ballet are their later offerings like True and Gold then you really do need to hear how they sounded at the beginning of their musical career.   If you remember the stylized cult sounding record and enjoyed the pretentiousness of 'the art of pretending it's art' then you will love to take a trip down memory lane with this album.

Not only was the music refreshing these five lads from Islington, London actually did something else unique with their first record - instead of signing with a record label, they created their own - Reformation.

Both Gary Kemp (songwriter and guitarist) and John Keeble (drummer) have been quoted over the years as saying that the name Reformation was chosen deliberately as they wanted Spandau's music to be all about change. Fast forward to the 21st century and Spandau Ballet have completed a world tour called the Reformation Tour, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Spandau Ballet's record making journey started with the aptly named album Journeys to Glory, so let's have a look at that album.

Journeys to Glory - The Songs

Track Listing

There were only eight songs on the album, three of them would become singles - To Cut a Long Story Short, Muscle Bound, and The Freeze.
  1. To Cut A Long Story Short
  2. Reformation
  3. Mandolin
  4. Muscle Bound
  5. Age Of Blows
  6. The Freeze
  7. Confused
  8. Toys

To Cut A Long Story Short

From Journeys to Glory by Spandau Ballet

To Cut A Long Story Short was Spandau Ballet's debut single and reached number 5 on the UK charts in 1980 (when it was released). To Cut A Long Story Short was a hit in dance clubs as crowds were moving away from the punk sounds of the late 70s and although they wanted a beat to dance to disco was dead. To Cut A Long Story Short was really seen as one of the first New Romantic singles to be released.

Journeys to Glory

The song is a great club song and I, personally, can't help singing along, however when you listen to the lyrics...........well look at this -

The song starts with the lines -

Soldier is turning
see him through white light
running from strangers
see you in the valley

And with lyrics like that it's hardly surprising that this next line is repeated throughout the song - to cut a long story short, I lost my mind.

Despite not really making a lot of sense it was exactly what the youth of Britain wanted in 1980 as was evidenced by the race up the charts and into the Top 10.

The Freeze

Second Single from Journeys to Glory by Spandau Ballet

The Freeze was released on 12th January 1981 as the second single for Spandau Ballet and it reached the #17 spot in the UK charts. If you don't know much about the history of Spandau Ballet let me explain their origins to you. Spandau Ballet were all members of a movement called the Blitz Kids and their music at this stage was still focused on what type of music the Blitz Kids would like.

The Blitz Kids became known as the Cult with No Name and were then given the label of New Romantics, the idea was that it was all about the look. In interviews over the years Gary Kemp (founder of Spandau Ballet) has admitted that they were basically hanging out in Soho posing. Now you know that the single The Freeze makes more sense (well sort of!)

The music video is very stylized and the boys are all seen to be posing while one of the (very few lines in the entire song) lines is the art of pretending it's art. I think when Gary Kemp wrote this song he was coming to the realization that if the band wanted to make it really big they would have to think further ahead than just catering to their own group.

Muscle Bound

From Spandau Ballet's Journeys to Glory Album

Musclebound was the third single off of Spandau Ballet's first album Journeys to Glory. In Musclebound songwriter Gary Kemp's words are sung really well with Tony Hadley's strong voice. The rest of the band also provides great backing in the song's chorus as well.

The song starts with - We're building fires that will burn until morning

And continues with the verse and then when you come to the chorus of the song –

Work till you're musclebound all night long
Work till you're musclebound all night long
Gotta work till you're musclebound all night long
Gotta work till you're musclebound all night long

The effect is more like a chant than the rest of the song which makes the whole single very interesting and different to the other songs on the album

Journeys to Glory

The Start of Spandau Ballet's Music Career

For a first album Journeys to Glory did well as it went gold which is what the young members of the band (the deal to make their first record was signed on Martin Kemp's 19th birthday) could only have dreamed of up to then.

The band's manager, Steve Dagger, was also very young and had been to the same school. It was with his vision, along with Gary Kemp's songs and the way the band performed together that would see them become a musical force to be reckoned with and it all started with this album!

1 comment:

  1. I've been waiting for another post from you since I began following. 'The art of pretending it's art' is a fairly sublime beginning to my journey reading your words. :)