True was a radical departure for Spandau Ballet and their established fans got quite a shock when it was released in 1983. At the time the big musical change from the band’s first two albums (Journeys to Glory and Diamond) to their third was jarring and felt inauthentic to many.
Overnight, seemingly, Spandau Ballet switched from being a band known for their New Romantic fashions and sound to a white soul group. A lot of fans felt genuinely burned at the time of True‘s release and fell away. They were replaced and then some by a new legion of followers who bought True in their millions, making it Spandau Ballet’s most successful album ever. It was never matched by their subsequent output.
I was distrustful of Spandau Ballet for changing so dramatically at the time. I hated the smart corporate image they adopted to accompany the new sound of True. I still hate suits and ties today, always have. The album, though, deserved its success. It was exquisitely well-crafted pop, albeit I remain convinced it was a blatant, cynical grab for mainstream appeal. Those young men were determined to make it big – and they did.
True sounds wonderful throughout, with the title track now considered a classic of the early 80s. It felt like True was Spandau Ballet’s response to Duran Duran‘s Rio. Both albums were embraced by Thatcherite yuppies, aspirational and unashamed when it came to the pursuit of wealth, as somehow chiming with the times. I was no fan of Thatcher and everything she stood for. Yuppies repulsed me. I remember being very aware that society was being changed around me before I had even left school. As a working class boy, I didn’t think the changes were going to benefit me.
I recall having no interest at all in Parade, Spandau Ballet’s follow-up to True. With the demise of New Romanticism signified in no small part by the changes in Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet’s looks and sounds, I shifted my own focus as well. Soft Cell still spoke to my teenage frustrations, as did The Cure, Yazoo and Eurythmics. New bands joined them in my record collection as time went on. I had quite the love of outrage, still do, which is one of the reasons why Frankie Goes to Hollywood became my Next Big Thing.