Soulboys of the Western World – Boys On Film With Book To Follow

Spandau Ballet on American soil for the first time in nearly 30 years

Spandau Ballet on American soil for the first time in nearly 30 years last March @ SXSW

When Spandau Ballet reformed after 20 bitter years apart in 2009, they played a series of UK concerts and then, they seemed to retreat back into the woodwork. An album of re-worked material [still not heard] was released, and that seemed to be the extent of things, but lately then media wheels have been turning for the former New Romantics. Early this year, my wife told me that there was a film on the band in the making, “Soulboys Of The Western World,” and I thought that might be interesting to see. Not long afterward, the film had its world premiere not in London, but here on American soil with the full band at the festival to promote it. The band were scheduled to appear at SXSW in Austin to both promote the film and play their first concert here in decades.

I had once had a ticket to see Spandau Ballet on their “Parade” tour in 1985, opening for the [false] Power Station, and was looking forward to maybe hearing the always powerful “Chant No. 1 [I Don’t Need This Pressure On]” live in concert, before Steve Norman broke his leg, effectively scuttling the tour. After that point, it was all over for the band in America. They sued their label, Chrysalis, and had a nearly two year period of vinyl flu. The two albums that surface afterward, then on CBS, were a weak postscript to a previously interesting career. There was a time when I would have been all over a Spandau Ballet concert but not in 2014 at those stakes. I can get along fine at Moogfest, but a frenzied beehive of activity like SXSW is definitely not my cup of yes! I know that much. Plus the cost of SXSW is insanely beyond my reach. The final nail in the coffin was that it took place in Texas… not a state I ever want to visit if I can have a say in it.

But I maintain an interest in the film and hopefully, it will get distribution soon so that I can perhaps buy a DVD for the archives. Director George Hencken comes from a production background with Julien Temple and this is her first directorial effort. The film was made using only stock and archival footage with voice obverse by the full band. The band, being so visually savvy, never skimped on the filmed visuals with Martin Kemp having bought a super 8 camera with his first royalty check. Smart lad. The producer is manager Steve Dagger and the fact that all of this has happened after their acrimonious lawsuit [which looked to leave only scorched earth in its wake] intrigues me greatly. It now seems to be making the rounds at other festivals [like Cannes] in search of distributors.

Not content with putting Spandau back on cinema and video screens worldwide, word also comes that a new book on the band in also in the works. Genesis Publications is producing what I would hope will be a hefty, coffee table tome on the group, pencilled in for publication this year. Interested parties can register their interest here. The Monk is all for hefty, coffee table tomes on any of his core collection bands and can only surmise that erstwhile competitors Duran Duran are at least a little bilious with envy. Reviews of all and sundry media enterprises will probably emerge in the world of the future. Watch this space.

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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20 Responses to Soulboys of the Western World – Boys On Film With Book To Follow

  1. ECHORICH says:

    Ugh, a Genesis Pub Spandau Book!!! I worked on a number of Gen Pub books over the years providing photo content, and I have to say they are all flash with little important content. Sometimes they get carried away with reproductions of concert tickets and other ephemera, but they are stylish tomes.
    As for this film, I would enjoy seeing it just for the Kemp brothers’ smugness quotient. The fact that Steve Dagger is involved must mean there is actual money to be made by all concerned as well. Might be an interesting watch.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I’m not familiar with Genesis Publications. Pray, enlighten me. As for money, Spandau was a collective. As far as I know, money was split evenly five ways, but the publishing was Gary’s, (except for the sole Steve Norman credit) and therein lay the rub.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I just looked up Genesis! They are the book publishing equivalent of The Vinyl Factory, namely ridiculously overpriced “pop” trifles for the Ruling Class. Count me in for an “ugh” too! I remembered the Warren Peace “Station To Station” Bowie book from a few years back and hoped that it was not Genesis, since it cost a small fortune! But that was exactly the publisher that I feared it was after your comment. Scratch that from the want list! I hope Spandau are very proud of the 50 copies that will probably sell for $500 each!! Now I’m pig-biting mad!

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      • Echorich says:

        My company used to have to jump over hurdles to get the licensing fees which were comparable to the price which we already knew they would be selling their books for. In fact we reset their ability to get cheap artwork, guilting them into sharing the wealth with the photographers who’s work their products rely on.

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  2. Who would have guessed that these NewRo “lightweights” would become so revered with the passage of time? Their music has aged quite well and Tony Hadley is just a flat out great singer!

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    • Echorich says:

      One thing SB always had going for it was it’s ability to change. They started out with a stark post punk funk take on the New Romantic style, but they raised their game with the second release Diamond, throwing off the fashion and building on their sound. While True may have been an obvious grab at commercial domination – which worked, it did have a lot more going for it than the somewhat insipid title track. Gold and Pleasure are cinematic pop. Parade, for me is an even more well rounded album and a personal favorite. It’s only after Parade that the Spandau juggernaut seemed to loose steam (or whatever keeps juggernauts moving along). I’d love to think that with the luxury of hindsight and an ear to the ground for the interest in all things 80’s synth at the moment that SB could release a memorable album now.

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Echorich – Don’t be shocked if they reconvene for another stab at it. Who should produce it? Any ideas? Big question – could Gary Kemp get out of that power ballad headspace he’s been trapped in for so long?

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        • ECHORICH says:

          My votes for good old Trev. Horn might just smack the power ballad out of Kemp.

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          • postpunkmonk says:

            Echorich – Except that the band h-a-t-e-d working with Horn, even though he saved their bacon! It might be good, [I’m not convinced, personally] but it will never happen! Five will get you ten that some Swede gets the call, should a new album happen!

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            • Echorich says:

              Or Stuart Price…but actually maybe an electronic pop producer might work. Yeah, I hope they stay away from the obvious for production. Maybe even try for some pop magic from Brian Higgin/Xenomania…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Orange County DJ – For me, it’s all about “Diamond.” Had they not made that inspired/ridiculous leap into the unknown [or ever cut “Chant no. 1”] they might have been a footnote for me.

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  3. PS Bring on the tour!

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  4. Taffy says:

    I’ve gone on record before (here and elsewhere) in my love for the delightfully pompous (let’s just call it synth-pomp!) Journeys to Glory, my favorite full length Spandau album (Diamond and True share second place for strikingly different reasons). I’d probably invest in a plane (OK, bus) ticket to see the boys perform Journeys in its entirety. That won’t likely happen, but this documentary could be a blast, and a reasonable consolation.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – It interesting to hear regulars here all chime in with What Spandau Means To Me. It’s telling that, so far, we’re all over the map at picking faves. Any readers out there holding a torch for the CBS years? How far would I travel for a “Diamond” gig? D.C. would be a shoo-in. “Journeys To Glory?” Charlotte or Atlanta, easily. The same for “True.” “Parade?” Greenville. CBS era? In-town only, I’m afraid. I’d still attend in that they would still have to play the godlike “Chant no. 1!”

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      • Echorich says:

        I would travel for a Diamond album tour for sure, meet you in DC of course. My concern with them doing a tour of either of the first two albums is worrying that they would find the sound of those albums. True and Parade are easier to find the original sound as they helped to create that 80’s sophistipop sound.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – The “Live Over Britain” show proved that even in the throes of “True,” they could still do the earlier material justice. I have live b-sides from the CBS era that still manage to have a spark. Could happen.

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  5. Tim says:

    Saint Etienne just released one of these coffee table books. I really wanted one but held off on the purchase because no one could confirm if it had a centerfold….

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