Love 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
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 (including the new single “Take You Home”) is a regular staple on our station. Alongside music by new artists, we play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s and the 90s. Noteworthy examples include Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, Robbie Williams, Lighthouse Family, Take That, Camouflage, Dido, Jamiroquai, Suede, The Corrs, Dubstar, a-ha, George Michael, INXS, Depeche Mode, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.
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