MrBG knows me all too well and last night we watched a documentary on Spandau Ballet.
Directed by their manager Steve Dagger, and narrated by all the members of the band, it is a tale from their beginnings in North London around Islington to their formation at school, their rise to fame and through to the present day.
The Soul Boys of the title refer to how their early influences were American soul- Stevie Wonder was rated as a strong influence by Gary Kemp, the songwriter of the group.
While one of my favourite songs of the 80s is a Spandau song, my knowledge of the group is patchy. The documentary enlightened me to a few interesting tidbits:
- Martin Kemp Gary’s younger brother was recruited for his looks (he was a bit of a dish)
- The eventual name of their band Spandau Ballet came from graffiti in a Berlin toilet
- Gary Kemp is a wee bit of a control freak (and I imagine was responsible for the documentary’s name)
- Steve Norman loves speedos, sunbathing
- Their look came from being part of the New Romantic movement which formed around the club the Blitz in soho, which also featured people like Steve Strange, Boy George and Marilyn, which you see in photos and footage.
Much of the footage is from home movies, and seeing their earliest shows in 1977 when they were still at school is pure gold. It is this candid footage of these wild boys living it up, with their voices as narrators which make this film feel true and authentic.
Their acrimonious time in court when Tony Hadley, John Keeble and Steve Norman sued Gary Kemp for a share of royalties was dealt with in a broad fashion, and there seems to be an attempt to deal with both sides as objectively as possible.
It is a nostalgia trip through my teenage years, and it was also fun to see glimpses of Duran Duran as their rivals in pop chart success.
If you’re a fan of 80s British pop, do yourself a favour and watch this DVD.