Spandau Ballet

Gold: The Best of Spandau Ballet

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By the time Gold emerged in 2000, Spandau Ballet had gone the full circle, from hip young new romantic things, to pop-soul chart-toppers, to rock burnouts, to unexpected influences, to golden oldies. P.M. Dawn memorably revamped "True" for their own smash, "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," in the early '90s and Negativland did their own tweak with "True" for their True/False tour in 2000. As Chrysalis had already released the Singles Collection in 1985, all that was really needed was to add the couple of random singles from the noted flop Through the Barricades (the title track at least being a wonderfully over-the-top power ballad that actually works) and behold -- a new compilation. With tracks reordered, but like the original Singles Collection not in any apparent pattern, aside from putting the three biggest American cuts -- "Gold," "True," and "Only When You Leave" -- at the start, Gold is all most casual fans will ever need or want. From 20 years' worth of perspective, the earliest songs sound astoundingly ham-handed; exceptions like "Musclebound" and its intentionally camp militaristic young-boys-together martial attitude aside, not to mention the rent-boy scenario of "To Cut a Long Story Short," nearly everything sounds like it served the videos rather than vice versa. But there's a reason why "Gold" and especially "True" were the smashes they were: for one brief shining moment, the band stopped pretending they were anything but blue-eyed soul fiends and created a couple of perfect gems in the field. Hearing Tony Hadley's dramatic call before the final chorus of "True" still just plain works, full stop. After that, things were decidedly more miss than hit, smoothness serving no purpose, with George Michael in particular stealing the fame and the accolades for the rest of the decade, but overall Gold fulfills its brief -- it is certainly the best, and they weren't much worse. A reasonable if not revelatory biography and various archive photos complete the package.

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