Dylan Jones: 'Spandau Ballet have often been ignored, but the music was not only timely, it was groundbreaking'

Share
Related Topics

In some small way, 2009 will belong to Spandau Ballet, in a similar way that 2006 belonged to Take That. No, the north London gadabouts haven't been catapulted back into the nation's collective heart, and they haven't come armed with a manbag full of festive number ones. But they came back. Successfully. Achieved some sort of redemption. And their comeback hit, "Once More", even sounded like The That!

When discussing the pantheon of Eighties pop, Spandau have often been deliberately ignored, but some of their early records remain some of the most influential, and some of the most resonant of the period.

With Spandau, the music was not only timely, it was groundbreaking. Prescient, even. Of the moment. And unnerving to anyone not in the know. "To Cut A Long Story Short" was an era-defining slice of electronic myth-making, and a great dance record to boot (if it hadn't been, the cognoscenti, those who went to the same clubs as Spandau, would have strangled it at birth - or, more pertinently, refused to dance to it); "Musclebound" was a clever, seductive spin on body politics; and "Chant No.1 (We Don't Need This Pressure On)" was, in its own way, as important to the summer of 1981 as "Ghost Town" by the Specials - a canny mix of contemporary funk and bottom-heavy agitprop, the perfect encapsulation of the new decade's obsession with fiddling while Brixton and Toxteth burned.

It is one of the most important records of the early Eighties, and this is not an opinion solely justified by hindsight. Having come fully-formed from the new romantic Billy's/Blitz club scene, Spandau completely understood the currency of the dancefloor, building prime equity in nightclubs from Canvey Island to New Jersey, from Soho to SoHo. And back again.

In this respect Spandau didn't so much surf the zeitgeist as kick-start the wave. And soon they had become exponents of a shiny, unapologetic riposte to the post-punk industrialists and the emerging left-of-centre political independents celebrated by the NME (who hated Spandau because they could never get into the nightclubs where they were playing).

Along with the other bastions of New Pop, Spandau Ballet defined the decade - proving, perhaps, that eyeliner, tartan capes and the variances of the Linn drum are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They came, they saw, they partied. And then they left, leaving a (fairly) good-looking legacy.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam