Well, it’s good to be back. I just had a viral infection and long-term fever that lasted for just over a week. I missed a lot of work, and of course, many lunch hours! I woke up last Thursday morning at 2 a.m. with a 102.5º fever and the need to have a warm shower to cool down was necessary, but even in my most feverish delirium I would have never imagined the news that came down the pike last week confirming that not only were Spandau Ballet recording a “real” new album, but that master producer Trevor C. Horn was at the controls!
It’s so crazy, I have to say that thoughts of Spandau Ballet predominated my recuperating mind this weekend. The CBS years were less than adroit, to put it mildly. The last Spandau album, 1990’s – so tepid it was actually cold -“Heart Like A Sky” did not inspire much beyond inertia. When the band split up after their last tour, I was fine with that response. Frankly, I could hardly imagine a worse album to follow, but I didn’t want them to take that chance! Then came the 90s with the Kemp brothers and the Other Guys squaring off in court on songwriting royalty issues. It ended [badly] with Keeble, Norman, and Hadley losing the court case against the Kemps and veritable rivers of
bad the worst blood flowing between them for almost a decade. Adding insult to injury, Hadley + Co. could only tour under the name “Ex-Spandau Ballet.”
No one was more surprised than I was to see then group reunited in 2009 for a “Reformation” tour. A quickie acoustic album, “Once More” of catalog re-recordings and two new songs was hastily rushed out to accompany the tour, but I didn’t take the bait. Then all seemed to go quiet for a year or so. The silence was punctured this Spring when news of “Soul Boys Of The Western World” reached the trades. This was a definitive film bio of the band enriched with all of the volumes of band-shot 8mm footage in their archives. It had its world premiere at SxSW this year, and the band finally made it to these shores for a concert on American soil! Their first since 1984 and the aborted “World Parade” tour. I had a ticket to see it in Tampa, Florida but Steve Norman’s broken leg put the kibosh on that fun.
Trevor Horn was once an obsession; now he’s more of an enigma. I used to studiously buy every record he was attached to during his ZTT heyday but by 1985 and the “Slave To The Rhythm” album, he had seemed to peak. His tech became widespread in the mid 80s and he seemed to flounder, in spite of his superb musicality, which was his real advantage as a producer. He did some Pet Shop Boys and Act tracks which were excellent, but then he produced my least favorite Simple Minds album, and brother, that’s saying a lot. He produced Seal, which I didn’t really listen to. The last Horn production that reached my ears was the enjoyable Marc Almond album “Tenement Symphony.” <looks online> Holy Toledo? He produced a hell of a lot of Rod Stewart tracks in 90s!
People, level with me here. Is the notion of Trevor C. Horn [possibly shorn of his Theam] producing Spandau Ballet in 2014 a good thing, or a bad thing? Because I’m pretty clueless at this point but yikes, seeing all of those Rod “The Mod” Stewart credits at Discogs.com give me the willies. I’m willing to cut the band some slack. They have to make a good album this outing, but is Horn the man to facilitate this? I dunno.
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I too, get frightened PPM, when a my cherished memories are threatened at the prospect of a favorite band laying a potential egg. But, Rod Stewart be damned, we MUST forge ahead with high hopes having been presented with this gift of reunion and NEW material. As attested to at SWSX, the band can still BRING it! I’m glad for a new release if only because it increases the odds for an American tour!!!
I’m curious though as to whom you and others might like to see as producer if you had your drothers…
Orange County DJ – Well, it goes without saying that the worst possible producer for the new Spandau album would have been Horn’s former right hand man, Steven Lipson! Propaganda aside, I’m convinced the man is the Antichrist of Producers based on Simple Minds/Ultravox evidence. But those two were bands I liked far more than SB, so their falls hit me hard. And don’t forget, Horn co-produced The Minds with Lipson!
Who would I like to hear in the producer’s chair? I think Martyn Ware would be good. No, make that excellent, after his last BEF extravaganza. He’s a peer and probably friendly with them from back when. Martyn is a funk fan, so maybe he could keep the lighter-waving ballads at bay! Spandau were never more compelling to me than when they let the funk flow.
Richard Hawley should produce and co-write the album.
I’m not joking here.
If you don’t know who he is good lord head out and buy some of his albums.
Also find the one that he produced for Erin Moran (not THAT Erin Moran)….the album is called “A Girl Named Eddy.”
Right now I am basically imagining them covering his song “Tonight the Streets Are Ours” and I think that they could sell the s*** out of that. If he could pull out another track like “The Ocean” with them singing it well that would be “True, Part II” for them at the bank. And him, which would guarantee me a run of new Richard Hawley albums for easily a decade.
Tim – The name “Richard Hawley” has the slight ring of the familiar to it. [was it the Quietus?] I’ll have to look him up. And I like how your qualified the other Erin Moran, since I’m so old and enfeebled only the Happy Days actress comes to mind.
Monk, as you know, Martyn Ware is by far and away my choice for the producer of anything Spandau Ballet might attempt in the new Millennium. Not only is he a master of sound design, he can produce electronic, r&b and crooners equally. His production is perfect for Tony Hadley’s post punk pop Sinatra. He can run intellectual rings around Gary Kemp while still making him at ease talking football. He can use Steve Norman to wonderful effect as well.
Echorich – Truth in labeling laws compel me to cite persuasive arguments made by Echorich for the notion of Martyn Ware possibly producing “True” on an earlier, private thread, as being highly impactful in my entertaining the notion of him also producing the contemporary Spandau Ballet album. Just giving credit where it’s due.
I’m still quite interested in what the dynamic will be between Gary Kemp and Trev Horn. Horn will need to reign in Kemp’s meglomania while not throwing too much of his own into the proceedings. Every time I hear Horn is producing an act I immediately come back to Yes’s 90125 album for an example of the producer imposing himself on the band. Sure, Yes had been gradually lead down that particular “garden path” by Horn and Downs on the prior album and Prog Bands were a bit more open to technology in the early 80’s, but I wonder if Horn can bring some of his virtuoso production skills which he brought to PSB and Lisa Stansfield to SB’s sound.
Echorich – If he can just keep the ballads at bay, he has my vote. That’s all I want from anyone producing Spandau Ballet today! I want a dynamic album. At least “True” or “Parade” caliber. I want to hear them making music that makes sense for them. If I get side one of “Diamond” I’ll put Trev in my will!
I see a perfect Post Punk album side thread in your reply Monk!!
The only analogy I can make about TCH and Rod Stewart is look at an actress like Julianne Moore, she makes these really great art movies that hardly anyone like me sees and then she’ll be in some really dreadful more mainstream stuff. One’s got to pay the bills I suppose.
Did you know that Rod Stewart takes a model train set with him on tour? I didn’t until my ASD son latched onto a Model Railroading magazine one day while we were out and it had a feature article about just that…..
er, I meant to say “hardly anyone except people like me sees”
Wrangling a kid and typing are an errata filled proposition.
Tim – Wow! Who knew? So now Rod Stewart enjoys model railroading when I thought he long preferred railroading models!
Whoa Mr. Monk, good one…
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