Sunday, April 26, 2015

Diamond by Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet's Second Album - Diamond

Have you heard Spandau Ballet's second album - Diamond? I must admit that I loved the album back in the 80s when it was released, but the general public didn't really buy into it and it was not seen as a success. Trevor Horn was called in to produce their fourth single off of the album - Instinction - and he has received credit for turning Spandau's career around again following the flaying results from their singles Paint Me Down and She Loved Like Diamond.

I think this album was about trying not to get stuck in a particular pigeon hole of music - you can hear that Spandau Ballet are still experimenting with their sound and expanding beyond their club beat feel that they had in their first album - let's look at Diamond in more detail...

Diamond Album Tracks - Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet's second album, Diamond, had eight tracks on it and they were the following -

  1. Chant No. 1 (I don't need this pressure on)
  2. Instinction
  3. Paint Me Down
  4. Coffee Club
  5. She Loved Like Diamond
  6. Pharoah
  7. Innocence and Science
  8. Missionary

Chant No 1

Spandau Ballet's First Single From Diamond

Chant No 1 was the first single off of Spandau Ballet's second album - Diamond and shows a funkier side of the band. Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet's songwriter) said that Chant No 1 was, in part, a homage to the soul clubs that the band used to enjoy going to when they were younger.

Unfortunately the funky 'white' soul sound of the album wasn't what the general public were looking for at the time and the album sales reflected this.

The album Diamond showcased a lot of experimental sounds, but it also helped to showcase the band, in particular Tony Hadley and Steve Norman.

Tony Hadley's voice was maturing and Chant No 1 has soulful undertones which were perfect to showcase Tony Hadley's voice. Chant No 1 was also great at showing how versatile a musician percusionist Steve Norman was. On the single Steve plays the Bongo drums as well as the Saxophone (little did he realize then that he would one day be remembered as the Sax player from Spandau Ballet).


Spandau Ballet's Fourth Single from Diamond

Although Spandau Ballet's first single off of this Diamond album was a hit the next two were disappointing and it seemed like the general public weren't enamored with the album either. The record company decided it was time to make changes so they called in music producer Trevor Horn and got him to work on Instinction with the band.

In the words of Martin Kemp (bass guitarist) -
We gave 'Instinction' to producer Trevor Horn who really turned it on its head. It became a monster.

Spandau Ballet were back from the uncharted waters of their previous two singles and were once again on the UK singles chart.

Instinction was the first of 11 consecutive top twenty hits for the 80s New Romantic group.

Paint Me Down

Spandau Ballet's 2nd Single from the Diamond Album

Spandau Ballet released the single Paint Me Down off of their experimental second album Diamond. The biggest attention the single got was from the picture that accompanied it and the video. Unfortunately I can't find this image in creative commons so I can't legally show it to you, but the five guys were all standing looking mournful in just gold swimming briefs. It looks rather tame these days, but during the 80s it was considered pretty hot.

The fans definately gave it the thumbs up for lust appeal, but the BBC censors did not approve banning it from being played on their networks.

The banning of their video on the BBC gave the Spandau Ballet boys some infamy initially, but the poor record sales did not make the record company very happy. Paint Me Down ended Spandau Ballet's run of Top Twenty hits stalling at number 30.
Paint Me Down pretty much sums up the excitement we were experiencing at the time while Chant No.1 was a ground-breaking record and is still played in clubs today.
Tony Hadley

Coffee Club

Album Track from Diamond

You can get glimpses of other singles to come, but the whole song seems to be a mish-mash of different sounds and was very experimental - quite unlike anything else available on vinyl at the time. Some people have commented on reviews that it has an African beat and I can hear that near the beginning, but then it just builds on it's brass, although there is chanting later on which could be what they are alluding to.

Unfortunately I do think that this song has aged now, it is definitely not one of their timeless pieces, but it certainly deserves more acknowledgement that this was a band that didn't want to stick to a formula and were unafraid of experimenting. Spandau Ballet had started their journey as a cult band and this song really seems to envelop that feeling.


Diamond by Spandau Ballet
Spandau Ballet - Diamond Album

Did You Know?

The album cover for Diamond was taken in London's famous Billingsgate fish market - it's true!

The market building has since been converted into offices, but in 1982 Spandau Ballet's album cover was shot there.

More on Spandau Ballet's Diamond album

Spandau Ballet's second album Diamond was released on May 25, 1982 by Chrysalis Records.

Four singles were released from this album - Chant No. 1, Paint Me Down, She Loved Like Diamond & Instinction.

The Mail on Sunday (British newspaper) summed up this album with these words -

Kicking off the album is the classic sound of Spandau 'Chant No. 1(Don't Need This Pressure On), possibly the band's finest hour, a brilliant fusion of white funk and R&B encapsulating Soho in 1981.


She Loved Like Diamond

Third Single from the Diamond Album

Listening to She Loved Like Diamond you can get a sense of what was to come with Spandau Ballet's next album. Tony Hadley's voice is getting stronger in this commercially disappointing single off of their second album, Diamond.

Even listening to the single by itself without watching the video it is a very haunting song and although I haven't analysed what the lyrics mean I do find myself getting swept away by it and feeling quite sad at the end of the song.

I guess if I was looking for one word to sum up this song it would be - soulful.


Album Track from Diamond

Pharoah was never one of my favorite tracks off of this album back in the 80s when I loved it (the album), but when I listened to it recently the opening notes on the piano made me think of some of the early 90s murder mystery shows when they're building up the suspense and you just know something's going to happen!

After a few notes with just the piano the drums then come in ahead of the rest of the instruments and when all of the musical instruments are playing you hear the eastern influence of the track - in fact I almost expect to see a snake charmer - definitely more Indian than Egyptian despite the name of the song!

The first words that Tony sings by himself are "When the lights die down" and as his voice comes onto the track his tone is almost embracing of the snake charmer music that's in the background of large parts of the track.

Combine it with echo chant vocals from the others and like many of the tracks on this album it smacks of experimentation.

Then the track changes tack again and the 'heaven is weeping' vocal aspect of the song is reminiscent of some of their later singles like I'll Fly With You, as Tony imparts the same type of emotion with his voice.

As I said before definitely not my favorite album track but it does show that the band was not afraid of trying new directions with their music which was what the New Romantic movement was all about at the start.

Innocence and Science

Spandau Ballet - Diamond Album

The Eastern influence continues with this album track, I love the way they incorporated the sound of water into the music.


Album Track from Spandau Ballet's Diamond Album

The beats used in this track are great and seem to give an almost African feel to the song.

Underrated Peak of [Spandau] Ballet's Work

According to N. Bongiorno "proteanbounceback", a reviewer on Amazon. He also says The UK New Romantics were a unique and innovative force on the music scene-incorporating cosmopolitan Mod sensibillities, Motown/Funk bassline/horns & female backup vocals, and globe-trotting world-music influences.

He continues with - "Diamond" marks a great second step for the band, the melding of metronomic synth-pop minimilism and Sinataresque-vocals heard on "Journeys" is further expanded with full-sounding snappy horns, offbeat rhythms and forays into long ritualistic eastern-influenced opus' ala the 'Innocence/Missionary" diptych.

Really I couldn't come up with words that sound anywhere near as good as his except to say - I loved the album whatever the 'critics' said about it.

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