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“Steal” by Spandau Ballet is 2014’s modern romantic classic

7 November 2014 17 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

spandau-suitsLove songs by prominent artists featured on the soundtracks of popular movies were always success stories waiting to happen. They all had the same ingredients that made them bonafide global hits. They had great hooks and sing-along choruses, instantly recognizable introductions, and oozed romance and an undeniable timelessness. Nowadays, no one records music like this anymore. Younger artists that want success with a love song on the charts need to give the track a generic R&B treatment of the type that producers such as Stargate and Timbaland have become the sonic architects of. This musical template does not work for movie soundtracks. Not only do artists not make such songs for movies. They don’t make them at all. The concept of the modern romantic classic barely exists. Last year, the only song that fit that definition was “Eternal” by Johnny Hates Jazz (featured on their comeback album “Magnetized“). This year, the accolade of “modern romantic classic” of the year goes to none other than one of the most unlikely comeback acts in the history of pop music – Spandau Ballet.

Spandau Ballet’s reunion in 2009 was against all odds. The relationships between the band-members were beyond fractured. The expensive and prolonged court battle over songwriting royalties between the band’s key songwriter Gary Kemp and the trio consisting of Tony Hadley, Steve Norman, and John Keeble did not help either. But the band did reunite and embarked on an incredibly successful arena tour across Europe and Australia (here, they shared the stage with New Wave act Tears For Fears). This was particularly surprising given that the band had called it quits at their commercial low in 1990.

The reunion took on a second chapter when Spandau Ballet played their first gig in the US in early 2014 to promote their new documentary “Soul Boys Of The Western World” – a movie that chronicles the pop culture and music scene of the 80s through the eyes of the band-members of Spandau Ballet. In the summer of 2014, the band announced that they were recording new material and had handed over the production reins to maestro Trevor Horn – a creative genius whose musical stamp can be heard on landmark albums by artists such as Robbie Williams, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Seal, and the Pet Shop Boys. Fans were delirious at the thought of a new Spandau Ballet album. Unfortunately, the quintet was only working on three new songs to be featured on “The Story” – a compilation released to coincide with the global promotion for “Soul Boys Of The Western World“.

The compilation’s lead single was “This is the love” – a pleasant enough but somewhat unremarkable choice for a comeback single – owing to its generic tune and forgettable lyrics. For reasons we fail to comprehend, it was chosen over “Steal” – one of the three new tracks off “The Story” – which is a shame because it is every bit a flawless modern classic.

Lead singer Tony Hadley sheds the melodrama that characterizes his vocals on the hit singles of Spandau’s milestone album “True” for something incredibly smooth but expressive. That being said, this song retains the magic that the band’s signature hit “True” has. “Steal” is a mid-tempo and dreamy love song whose lyrics brim with an old-school innocence as captured in the song’s chorus:

Take what you’re after
Take what you want
Trap me with laughter
Smash me with song
You know how I feel
Come along and steal

No down-tempo Trevor Horn production is complete without lush and sweeping string arrangements. He brings that trademark sound to this song with success and gives it a finishing touch of suave and sophistication. This, in addition to Steve Norman’s wailing saxophone (this instrument is conspicuous by its absence in modern pop music) solo is what elevates this song from being pleasant to being heart-breakingly beautiful.

One cannot help but think that “Steal” is the song Spandau Ballet should have released when they first reunited in 2009 – especially since it is reminiscent of the successful blue-eyed soul chapter of the band that propelled them to global success. “Steal” is without a doubt a Spandau essential and encompasses all the ingredients that the legacy-defining songs of the band possess. The bands critics often suggested that Spandau Ballet was more “style than substance”. This song will put that assertion to rest. We would go as far as saying that it is their finest track since the mid-80s. If they had to release a “True” of 2014, THIS is that song. It is the single that “could have been” – if only it had been released as a single. Here is a live performance of Spandau Ballet’s “Steal“:

STAR RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Broadcasting Worldwide

We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts WORLDWIDE. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of Spandau Ballet is a fairly regular staple on Radio Creme Brulee. We also feature “rare for radio” tracks by the band such as “Be free with your love“, “Round And Round“, and “Once More“. Currently, “This Is Your Love” and “Steal” by Spandau Ballet are getting 5 plays EACH per day on our station.

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17 Responses to "“Steal” by Spandau Ballet is 2014’s modern romantic classic"

  1. Frannie says:

    Tony Hadley’s voice has held up really well. But not being the biggest fan of Spandau Ballet, I don’t care for the style of the song too much. I guess it’s too MOR for me and the instrumentation the others are playing does nothing for me.
    If we compare this to the CC single, Tony’s voice is much better than George’s, but I actually like the CC song much better and definitely like how the band plays better. I like the rock attitude more. This is just too MOR and bland for me.

  2. @Frannie: This is in the general vein of what we expected from Spandau Ballet. It was nice to get a “True” of 2014. I mean, these guys are not CC by any stretch. Their positioning was quite different. That being said, it would have been nice to see them do something along the lines of “Only when you leave” and not just something that was stylistically similar to “True”. As always, thank you so much for the comment!

  3. Frannie says:

    Maybe it’s a British thing, that I don’t quite understand. I noticed Spandau Ballet is heavily covered by the British music media. There was a lengthy interview with them in Q Magazine and also a long feature on them in Classic Pop Magazine. Also the Uk 80’s website shapersofthe80’s.com covers them constantly.
    It is a little disappointing they didn’t do a whole new album but just 3 songs and kind of milked their old fame with the movie.
    America loves CC more, I think. When they performed on the View, the audience actually gave them a standing ovation after they did More than Silence. Which surprised me because a lot of times people don’t like new songs. It’s also funny because George was here promoting his solo album and he performed on I believe on the Jimmy Fallon show and the audience was dead and hardly clapped. I wonder if that annoyed George, that the US loves CC more than his solo stuff.

  4. @Frannie: I too am disappointed that they did not record an entire album. CC had far more success than Spandau Ballet did in the US. In fact, Spandau Ballet only had three “top 40” singles in the US – “True”, “Gold”, and “Only when you leave”. As far as CC’s reception being stellar, that is not a surprise. Boy George’s only solo hit in the US was “Crying game”. Furthermore, his solo career was not launched in the same way in the US that it was in the UK. If my memory isn’t failing me, his first album “Sold” wasn’t even given a proper US release in its original format.

  5. Frannie says:

    Yes, Sold wasn’t released here and also his second album was changed from the original format. But after the success of the Crying Game, Gheapness and Beauty was released here and highly promoted here. It had its fans but it didn’t have much commercial impact. I guess a lot of fans didn’t like the harder rock on it. More than Silence is rock but not the kind of metalish stuff that was Cheapness, which kind of put off some fans and radio in general.
    This is What I Do was promoted here quite a bit with lots of interviews with George and a few tv and radio performances, but didn’t have much impact either.
    If you compare CC to George’s solo band, it seems to me that they particularly Jon and Mikey are much better performers than George’s solo band. They may not be technically better as far as instrument playing, but they project a higher energy level and act a bit more fun and younger which gets the crowd excited. If you look at how Jon plays the drums compared to George’s solo drummer, he kind of plays them with much more style and energy. It was very noticeable on the View performance. George’s solo band projects a more mature serious feeling which while technically good is a bit boring for a live performance.

  6. @Frannie: Ultimately, it does not matter how much TV promo you do. In the US, no impact can be made without radio airplay on TERRESTRIAL radio. Unfortunately, that abomination of a medium still holds 90% share of voice what the country listens to. Unless DJ-curated independently run stations start to get more listeners, it is going to be tough for any act to make an impact. They are really at the mercy of folks that do not really have an ear for music – and sadly, these gatekeepers determine success of failure for an artist/band.

    It is true that the energy level of Culture Club far surpasses that of George’s band.

  7. Frannie says:

    Yes, that’s very true about radio. Another of my favorite artists is Tori Amos. She did a lot of tv and radio promo for her last album with not a lot of effect. Back in the 90’s she used to be played on the radio quite a bit. Back then, in the US we used to have a lot of these stations called “new rock alternative”, that would play slightly more alternative leaning artists like her, Bjork, Hole, PJ Harvey, Garbage etc. Those type of more specialized stations seem to have disappeared. Most top 40 seems to be hung up on dance or hip leaning mainstream pop.

  8. @Frannie: I am guessing you know that 80% of the country’s stations got absorbed by 4 companies. Each company created a standardized list for ALL their stations. This basically means that DJs do not get to pick the tracks for their shows. This would explain why you hear the exact same song on every station. Diversity went out the window at that point – and that is why artists like Tori Amos disappeared as they got older – thanks to corporate radio’s ageist bias. I personally thought Tori Amos got even better post the 90s. Top 40 stations are not run by folks that have any real discerning taste in music. The faster people tune out of that medium, the better – or else everyone that is NOT on terrestrial radio (and that is the lion’s share of the credible slice of the music business) is not going to make any dent commercially – and eventually they will exit the business. What a loss that would be for all of us.

  9. jeff doyle says:

    thanks for supporting spandau ,… us fans in canada cant get enough of spandau…. steal is an amazing song… agreed totally with your commens

  10. @Jeff: Thank you so much for your comment. We actually saw the band on Saturday night at the DOC NYC festival screening of “Soul boys of the western world”. They are one pleasant bunch – especially Tony Hadley. “Steal” is beyond amazing. We’re still quite baffled that they did not go with this as the lead single. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station?

  11. jeff doyle says:

    we talked when once more album was releasedand we discussed how good only when you leave and slld were in their new versions

  12. @jeff: Now I remember! I actually prefer “Steal” to anything on “Once More”. Do you ever get a chance to tune in to our broadcast? Thank you so much for jogging up my memory.

  13. jeff doyle says:

    agree totally with your taste in music… I play steal all the time in my car on the way to and from work.. THIS SHOULD BE A TOP 5 hit

  14. @jeff: “Steal” is the “True” of 2014 in my humble opinion.

  15. jeff doyle says:

    its been months and I still play this over and over and over again,… I don’t even play through the barricades that much right now….. why is this not a number one hit in Canada or the us or everywhere? you guys at least know something amazing thanks for supporting them… cheers

  16. jeff doyle says:

    the true of 2015 lets make it !

  17. @Jeff: My apologies for the delayed response. “Steal” is better than anything on “Through The Barricades”. As far it not hitting #1, there is an ageist bias in the industry’s radio dynamic. If that wasn’t the case, a veteran artist would still as have much radio-hit potential as a younger “flavor of the moment” artist. You might find out article on ageism interesting: http://www.radiocremebrulee.com/music-industry/the-rampant-trend-of-ageism-in-modern-pop-music

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