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Articles Home » 1986 Articles » Spandau Ballet - 1986 Through The Barricades
Spandau Ballet - 1986 Through The Barricades

ARTIST: Spandau Ballet
ALBUM: Through The Barricades
SERIAL: 450259 2
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: Reissue List..


LINEUP: Tony Hadley - vocals * Gary Kemp - guitars * Martin Kemp - bass * Steve Norman - saxophones, percussion * John Keeble - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Barricades - Introduction * 02 Cross The Line * 03 Man In Chains * 04 How Many Lies * 05 Virgin * 06 Fight For Ourselves * 07 Swept * 08 Snakes And Lovers * 09 Through The Barricades


I recently had the pleasure of reading Tony Hadley's autobiography 'To Cut A Long Story Short'. In it, Hadley charts the rise and fall of Spandau Ballet in heartfelt, sometimes painful detail and breaks down some misconceptions about the band including their origins at the legendary 'Blitz' club. To quote Hadley: 'The idea that everyone was discussing Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre was laughable. The Blitz was more about dressing up, drinking Schlitz beer, taking speed and meeting girls than anything else'. Fortunately Hadley and Spandau Ballet found their way out of the Blitz to become one of the biggest bands of the 1980's scoring numerous top ten hits in the UK as well as the worldwide smash 'True' which went all the way to number one in America. In true rock 'n' roll style the Spandau's indulgences included the usual decadences - in particular alcohol abuse and experienced everything from record label shenanigans to musical differences and had no clue where the money was coming from or where it disappeared to. The excesses of the lifestyle was taking its toll with their fifth studio album and first for CBS 'Through The Barricades' which was followed by a massive tour including six dates at London's Wembley Arena, but the album itself wasn't exactly the success they had hoped for.

The Songs
'Through the Barricades' is a long way from the Blitz kids dance pop of their 1981 debut and the blue-eyed soul of the albums 'True' and 'Parade'. I'm not going out on a limb by saying this disc will have far more appeal to AOR fans as Spandau Ballet rock harder than any other release. Sure, there's still a major debt to be paid to Roxy Music and comparisons to Duran Duran are inevitable but keep in mind the Duranies looked to Spandau Ballet as 'a better band' so musical revisionists might want to rethink this rivalry at some point. Opening with a haunting instrumental while fading into the rocker 'Cross The Line'; guitarist and main song writer Gary Kemp offers up some tasty and surprising riffs that pop-up throughout the record. Hadley's unusual and dramatic vocals are at their peak here and the hi-tech instrumental style suits the band in my opinion far more than any previous release. 'How Many Lies?' is one of the albums best cuts with background vocals and structure reminiscent of Queen. Not a surprise this charted in the UK, although not as high as I'm sure everyone would have liked. One song I'm not too thrilled with that unbelievably charted higher than the previous cut is the Wang Chung doppelganger 'Fight For Ourselves'. 'Everybody Have Fun Tonight' anyone? It's a big blemish on an otherwise solid disc that ends on a high note with the title track and a power ballad that isn't all that unique, with a embarrassingly dated video to match but contains all the right moves to make it one of the best songs in Spandau Ballet's always impressive catalog.

In Summary
Spandau Ballet recorded one more album 'Heart Like A Sky' but the sessions were stressful and by the time the CD was released in 1989, the group was no more. Legal issues between Gary Kemp and the band continued for years while brother bassist Martin Kemp joined the cast of 'EastEnders' to critical acclaim. Tony Hadley's solo career wasn't all he had hoped for, but it paid the bills and recently the band has reformed letting bygones be bygones it seems. I could be cynical here (me?) and believe it's just for the money, but I really hope the boys can come up with some decent music that will leave the legacy of one of Britain's finest pop bands - in tact. We'll see..

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#1 | roadrunner158 on September 29 2009 11:31:54
The title track is a monster. The rest of this CD is pretty nice to lilsten to.
#2 | george_the_jack on December 05 2011 01:24:07
I like this very much! An album full of melody, groove and excellent muscianship offered under a polished and crispy production. This is where 80's pop-rock, power pop and AOR collide in a unique way... Their "Heart Like A Sky" record from 1989 is also a pure Hi-Tech AOR affair that, unfortunately, passed overlooked from almost everyone by that time and led eventually to the disbanding of Spandau Ballet. Such a shame.
#3 | Metal Loaf on June 23 2013 22:03:55
Anyone who enjoyed this album would do well to check out the Live At the NEC DVD, which captures the band at the top of their game during the tour in support of Through the Barricades. Tony Hadley stands out as a really underrated frontman as well as a talented vocalist; there's a lot of Freddie Mercury in his stage presence.

As for this album, although the songs are generally very good and well-performed (especially by Tony Hadley, to whom enough credit can't be given), I don't think it packs as much of a punch as it really needs to.
#4 | Eric on June 23 2013 23:13:31
Hadley and Freddie Mercury were friends, he mentions it in his book. Agree, very underrated as a vocalist.
#5 | gerard on June 01 2016 22:03:34
Good album! I like Gary Kemp's 'Little bruises' album as well!
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