Basic rules of a Spandau Ballet song:
Must be suitable for a lavishly expensive video like the ones Duran Duran had so much success with.
Must have just a touch of George Michael about it.
Must be catchy but not cause too much perspiration -New Romantic make-up runs so easily and those frilly cuffs are a devil when they’re damp.
Must include at least some chantable element in the lyrics (which rules out 1984’s Highly Strung with its clever but decidedly unchantable “She used to be a diplomat but now she’s down the laundromat” – and even, ironically, 1981’s Chant Number 1 because it sounds too much like they are singing “I don’t need this pressure iron” – which in fact they probably did need for those frilly shirts.
Must not invent its own vocabulary – so out goes 1982’s Instinction. What does it mean anyway for goodness sake?
Must have a long shelf life bearing in mind the band’s first hit was in 1980 and various parts of its frequently fractious line-up are still going “strong” with sets spanning Spandau’s chequered history.
So in terms of a Great British Songbook song from their surprisingly extensive back catalogue it’s probably down to a tie breaker between True (chart topper in April 1983) and Gold (number two in August the same year).
But before even looking at its lyrics the accolade has to be handed to Gold for ticking so many correct boxes.
Founder Gary Kemp wrote the music and lyrics; the song was produced by the partnership of Steve Jolley and Tony Swain. The music video was filmed on location in Carmona, Spain and directed by Brian Duffy. A ‘making of’ video featured photographs of the band taken by his son, Chris Duffy. The video featured Sadie Frost (later to be Mrs Gary Kemp and later still Mrs Jude Law) as a gold-painted nymph, in one of her earlier less demanding roles.
Some parts were also filmed in Leighton House, which was also used in the video for Golden Brown by The Stranglers.
The song is Spandau Ballet’s second-highest charting single in both the UK and the USA – being held off the British top by KC and the Sunshine Band’s Give It Up.
The song has featured in various shows and films. As part of Absolute Radio’s celebrations for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Christian O’Connell, the network’s breakfast show host, pledged to play the song for every gold medal won by Team GB. Spandau’s lead singer Tony Hadley was also invited onto the programme for a live performance of the song.
It has also been turned into a football chant, with fans of both West Ham and Celtic replacing “gold” with “Carlton Cole”, who has played for their teams.
Hadley has said of the song: “Gold is the song which even today’s kids enjoy singing along to in student bars up and down the country, and is one of main reasons I get so many corporate shows. It’s requested all the time at awards shows.”
He said this to explain his earnings being higher since the start of the twenty-first century than they had been in the band’s 1980s heydays.
Gold was used in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the fictional in-game radio station “Wave 103”. It was also the theme music for the fictional game show Gold Rush in the 2001 Only Fools and Horses episode “If Only They Could See Us Now”.
It was also used on an episode of MTV Cribs that featured the virtual band Gorillaz showcasing the attributes of Noodle, their guitarist.
But whilst most us are familiar with some or all of the chorus: “Gold (gold)
Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know
You’re indestructible, always believing
You are gold (gold)
Glad that you’re bound to return
There’s something I could have learned
You’re indestructible, always believing.”
We must still have been trying to get a drink at the bar for the first verse: “Thank you for coming home
Sorry that the chairs are all worn
I left them here I could have sworn
These are my salad days
Slowly being eaten away
Just another play for today
Oh, but I’m proud of you, but I’m proud of you
Nothing left to make me feel small
Luck has left me standing so tall.”
And we were probably queuing for the toilet by the time of: “After the rush has gone
I hope you find a little more time
Remember we were partners in crime
It’s only two years ago
The man with the suit and the face
You knew that he was there on the case
Now he’s in love with you, he’s in love with you
And love is like a high prison wall
And you could leave me standing so tall.”
And back just in time for a fists in the air finale repeat of “Gold (gold)” etc etc.
Not bad for a band inspired by the London’s post-punk underground dance scene who, after first forming at school performing playing speeded-up versions of The Rolling Stones’ Silver Train, The Beatles’ I Wanna Be Your Man and The Animals We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place, emerged at the start of the 1980s as the house band for the Blitz Kids, playing “White European Dance Music” as The Applause for the new club culture’s audience.
As Spandau Ballet they became one of the most successful groups of the New Romantic era of British pop and were part of the Second British Invasion of the Billboard Top 40 in the 1980s, selling 25 million albums and having 23 hit singles worldwide.
The band have had eight UK top 10 albums, including three greatest hits compilations and an album of re-recorded material. Their musical influences ranged from punk rock and soul music to the American crooners Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.
Its classic line-up featured Gary Kemp on guitar, synthesiser and backing vocals, his brother Martin Kemp on bass, vocalist Tony Hadley, saxophonist Steve Norman and drummer John Keeble.
Gary Kemp was also the band’s songwriter. And along with his brother – a successful actor.
|Jolley & Swain
|Blue-eyed Soul, New Wave
|25 August 1983
|Ten Masked Men