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Journeys Revisted: 'If My Memory Serves Me Well'…by Steve Norman
27 Apr 2012

Journeys Revisted: 'If My Memory Serves Me Well'…by Steve Norman

To round off the week we are revisiting Steve Norman’s excellent piece that he wrote for the 30th Anniversary of ‘Journeys To Glory’ in the March of last year. ‘Journeys..’ has just been re-issued as part of 4CD box set called ‘Spandau Ballet – The Albums 1980-84’.

Click here to order now through the Official Spandau Store.

‘If My Memory Serves Me Well‘…by Steve Norman

The seeds of Journeys To Glory were sown in the late 70’s at Billy’s and the Blitz, the choice of watering holes for a handful of likeminded young souls fed up with punk and its self destroying ethos and of the almost mandatory dressing down.

DJ Rusty Egan reminded us that we should be enjoying ourselves on the dancefloor and glam again became cool and irresistible. The sounds and visions of Bowie, the master of re-invention himself, would be key. Through Chic to Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder and back again, Rusty’s sounds steadily impressed on us as we put the world to rights and got absolutely smashed. Before long Rusty, with fellow entrepreneur and man on the door Steve Strange had the coolest club on the planet. A fresh musical accompaniment was needed for the scene and five young upstarts would fit the bill. Joined in force, we tried and tested our own brand new sound and vision and became the Blitz “house band”. With a record deal and an attitude under our arm we set off to make the soundtrack of this movement, the very first Spandau Ballet album.

The recording process was new and exciting to us. For the most part we’d bus it to Jam Studios in Hornsey (long since gone) clutching albums that we thought we might squeeze into our sound in some way: Talking Heads, James White & The Blacks, The Normal. The five of us had made a musical decision at the Blitz that profoundly affected the direction of our band’s music. We decided that we would make records for the clubs, for the people we clubbed with and for all us clubbers to dance to. Out went the traditional rock/pop drum patterns and in came the dance friendly “four on the floor” dance forms that would eventually be all over Journeys To Glory.

Our producer, Richard Burgess, would normally spend days as all producers did, searching for that ever so elusive yet ever so important drum sound. We were pioneering our own brand of dancefloor friendly, synth and guitar driven, electronic funk and we had to get it right. Cue Simmons Drums.

The Dave Simmons electronic drum kit was a revolution and a revelation. It was uncharted territory. You played it like a normal kit but it triggered external sounds. It neatly bridged the gap between the drum machine and the drummer. And in the right hands (John Keeble’s) it would provide the electronic sound we were after but with soul and energy. Our drum sound was already at our fingertips (or John’s) and it was unique.

Time keeper and groovemeister down on tape, next up was Martin Kemp. Martin will still tell you that he’s not much of a bass player but don’t you believe him. Just listen to the soul and funk in the bass of To Cut A Long Story Short and you’ll see what I mean. Martin has style in spades with whatever he does.

Our first single had to be perfect, it had to capture the moment, our moment. And it had to be a track to make the Blitz crowd proud as well as capture the imagination of the general public. When Gary showed us the opening synth riff of To Cut A Long Story Short, the hairs on the back of my arm stood up and I knew that this was a major contender, I knew we were onto a winner. But would the general public get it?…Would the Blitz crowd approve?…What would Bowie think?… He definitely appreciated the scene as some months before Story was released Bowie had popped down to the Blitz and asked an incredulous Steve Strange if he would appear in his video for Ashes to Ashes the following morning. Steve, being a massive fan dully obliged in spite of not having slept a wink.

Brian Ferry later reviewed the single on Roundtable and gave it a big thumbs up. It was a huge relief. His stamp of approval meant a lot to me. His band was, after all a band we all looked up to and Pyjamarama was regularly twirled on Rusty’s decks.

Bass in the bag, time for some synths and guitars.

We packed our suitcases in order to spend some time away in a residential studio in order to up the ante and focus on the project in hand without outside distractions like girlfriends and nightclubs. The kudos attached to recording in a residential studio for the first time made it feel like we had made it already. That’s the kind of thing that Zeppelin and the Stones did! We were going off to record at The Manor, Richard Branson’s pile in Oxfordshire, the place where Mike Oldfield recorded Tubular Bells. Spandau Ballet were going to be in the studio and a little part of the world were watching and waiting to hear what all the fuss was about. We were making history. Fully aware of this momentous occasion and as seriously as we took it, we were dead excited that we were off on a jolly with our mates. Our unwritten philosophy seemed to be..Whatever it is that you do, have fun doing it. We realised this very early on and except for a really horrible bit in the middle we never really stopped.

And so, in between go cart races and snooker tournaments we managed to get the guitars and synths down on tape. Gary Kemp casually jumping from monophonic synth to some of the tightest rhythm guitar playing you’re ever likely to hear this side of Nile Rogers. I even found the time to finish off a few tasty guitar parts myself.

Back to Hornsey then for the vocals. Our producer Richard soon discovered that Tony possessed a voice that was somewhat louder than your average voice and that capturing it in all its glory wasn’t such a straight forward affair. He tried everything, compression, different mics, singing in the corridor, you name it, yet you’d still see that little needle on the mixing desk shoot across into the red and stay there quivering for all it’s worth. But by far the most memorable endeavour was the placing of a carpet in a tent like fashion over Tony who lay on his back on the floor. The rest of us giggled like schoolboys from behind the screen in the control room as Tony fought to stay in character, blowing out the odd smoke ring from beneath the carpet, “How was that take, Awright?”....Priceless!

The race was on to get our album out before any of the other bands who were creeping up behind us. But we managed to finish it in good time.

We all stood in the big room at Jam and listened to history as the engineer played back the first pressing of our album. But it wasn’t right. It was too trebly, not enough bass. All dance records have to have bass that hits you in the chest, it’s sexy and it gets you going. It had to be redone. The second pressing was better although I have always thought that Story was not loud enough on the radio compared to other songs played either side. This was probably due to the compression at the mastering stage. Perfection is subjective and in spite of it we hadn’t done a bad job at all.

The first time I heard our first single on the radio I had tears in my eyes. For me this meant that we really had made our mark. I would hold that album in my hands and pore over it reading and re-reading the credits as if something would reveal itself that I hadn’t already read scores of times before, just like I used to with all of my favourite records. And that inside sleeve shot of the band….my band!It’s got a definite “Come on then if you think you’re hard enough!” attitude about it.

There was still much to do, of course, and our journey had really only just begun but Journeys To Glory summed up the spirit of the age. It was a near perfect cultural snapshot of a moment in time that would never and could never be repeated. And I was so proud.

Steve Norman
March 2011
Click here to buy Journeys To Glory Special Edition for just £9.99.

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      6. Gary Interview…
      7. Gary: Daybreak…
      8. Ziggy Stardust…
      9. REMINDER: Gary…
      10. Press Release:…
      11. How we made: Gary…
      12. Tony's Week: Loose…
      13. Republished: 'A…
      14. Journeys To Glory…
      15. Extended Version…
    9. April

      1. May Day Special:…
      2. Journeys Revisted:…
      3. 'The Albums 1980-84'…
      4. Gary's 'Inexperienced…
      5. OUT NOW! Spandau…
      6. Happy Easter!
      7. Gary Property Feature…
    10. March

      1. FREE 'Gold' Merchandise!
      2. Martin On ITV's…
      3. Gary Unveils Ziggy…
      4. Gary To Appear…
      5. Tony Announces…
      6. Listen To Gary's…
      7. Happy Birthday…
      8. Tony Hadley Metropolis…
      9. Gary On BBC London…
      10. Last Live At The…
      11. REMINDER: Tony…
      12. Gary To Unveil…
      13. Winner Of Signed…
      14. Watch Martin On…
      15. 'True EP' Get Digital…
      16. Follow John On…
      17. REMINDER! Mother's…
      18. Gary Blogs For…
      19. 'True' Featured…
      20. Sir Terry Chats…
      21. Martin To Compete…
      22. Hi-Brow: Gary Kemp…
      23. Gary On Weekend…
      24. Martin To Appear…
      25. Press Release:…
    11. February

      1. Video Footage:…
      2. Amazing FREE Bundle…
      3. REMINDER: O2 Show…
      4. Rex Albert Kemp
      5. 'We Can Be Heroes'…
      6. Watch Martin's…
      7. Repeat Of Gary's…
      8. 'Gold' Mixes Available…
      9. The Lyrics Of Gary…
      10. Whitney Houston…
      11. Tony Becomes A…
      12. REMINDER: Tony…
      13. Frida Gold's...Gold'!
      14. Press Release:…
      15. Martin Appears…
      16. The Lyrics Of Gary…
      17. Steve At 'The Gathering'…
      18. Tony To Play Two…
    12. January

      1. Stalker Out Now…
      2. REMINDER: Steve…
      3. Further UK TV Appearances…
      4. Gary Curates and…
      5. Catch Up On Martin's…
      6. Gold Mixes 2012…
      7. 'Gold' Mixes Released…
      8. Martin: UK TV Appearance…
      9. Martin's 'Stalker'…
      10. Movin' On Up -…
      11. New 'Gold' Merch…
      12. Spandau Smash Into…
      13. Orgasmatron Show…
      14. Gary On The Jo…
      15. Happy New Year!
  7. 2011

    1. December

      1. Merry Christmas…
      2. New 'Gold' Mixes…
      3. REMINDER: Gary…
      4. Catch Up On Martin's…
      5. Oakenfold's 'GOLD'…
      6. Italy - Final 'O2'…
      7. Gary Kemp Boxing…
      8. News Just In! Steve…
      9. The Lyrics of Gary…
      10. UPDATE: Gary Names…
      11. REMINDER: Live…
      12. Steve Norman Live:…
      13. The Lyrics of Gary…
      14. Steve Norman Is…
    2. November

      1. Live At The O2…
      2. Italian TV Broadcasts…
      3. 'Gold' Remix Out…
      4. Happy Thanksgiving!
      5. 'True' Featuring…
      6. We Can Be Heroes…
      7. 'Stalker' To Get…
    3. October

      1. New 'GOLD' Merchandise…
      2. 'We Can Be Heroes'…
      3. Sing On Spandau's…
      4. Martin To Attend…
      5. Steve Norman's…
      6. Unseen Spandau…
      7. Martin On ITV1's…
      8. Martin's 'Stalker'…
      9. Tony Live: Australia…
      10. Happy Birthday…
      11. Steve Norman /…
      12. Martin's Stalker…
      13. Tony Hadley Live…
      14. Competition To…
      15. Happy Birthday…
      16. Gary Kemp Talks…
      17. Steve Norman /…
      18. Gary Picks Up BMI…
      19. Martin To Take…
      20. Guardian Piece…
      21. Gary Turns Theatre…
    4. September

      1. Graham Smith Talks…
      2. Steve Norman: Dutch…
      3. Catch Up On Martin's…
      4. Martin TV Dates…
      5. 'We Can Be Heroes'…
      6. Cloudfish Live:…
      7. Watch Martin on…
      8. Watch Martin On…
      9. Update: Gary's…
      10. Martin on Saturday…
      11. Martin Kemp's 'Stalker'…
      12. Watch Martin on…
      13. Gary's 'Hot Lap'!
      14. Clouldfish Live…
      15. Meet Martin Kemp!
    5. August

      1. Martin: Stalker…
      2. Tony Cancels Chile…
      3. Martin Makes Directorial…
      4. Tony Hadley Solo…
      5. My Summer Reading:…
      6. 'True' Features…
      7. Greenwich Summer…
    6. July

      1. 'True' To Feature…
      2. Chant No.1 (I Don't…
      3. Gary: Songs in…
      4. Chant No.1 (I Don't…
      5. Tony Cancels Scarborough…
      6. Biking Article…
      7. Gary Appears In…
      8. Happy Birthday…
      9. Incorrect announcement…
    7. June

      1. Limited Edition…
      2. Tony To Play Italian…
      3. Press Release:…
      4. Standard Session…
      5. Standard Session…
      6. Tonight! Limited…
      7. Gary and Robert…
      8. Gary Kemp Invites…
      9. Gary On Robert…
      10. Happy Birthday…
      11. Gary - Standard…
    8. May

      1. Gary On BBC London…
      2. Tony To Appear…
      3. Through The Barricades…
      4. Robert Elms To…
      5. Gary's 'Standard…
      6. Gary To Appear…
      7. Gary and Martin:…
    9. April

      1. Happy Easter!
      2. Martin: 'How To…
      3. Gary Appearing…
      4. Live Shots Of Tony's…
      5. Martin's Tweets…
      6. Gary's Absolute…
      7. Tony's 2011 Solo…
      8. REMINDER: Gary…
      9. Tony Live Update…
    10. March

      1. Gary Kemp 'In Conversation'…
      2. Mothers Day Offer:…
      3. Happy Birthday…
      4. Gary Kemp appearing…
      5. Gary and Tony Rock…
      6. Gary and Tony Live…
      7. Gary interview…
      8. Mail On Sunday…
      9. Gary and Tony Live…
      10. Spandau Covermount:…
      11. Journeys To Glory…
      12. Gary Kemp: 'Live'…
      13. Spandau Mail On…
      14. Journeys To Glory…
      15. Journeys To Glory…
      16. Journeys To Glory…
      17. Gary Kemp Live:…
    11. February

      1. Tony Hadley Solo…
      2. Gary Kemp Special…
      3. Exclusive Review…
      4. Short Film starring…
      5. Valentines Day…
      6. New Paradise Point…
    12. January

      1. Gary Kemps interview…
      2. Watch Paradise…
      3. Martin Kemp on…
      4. Paradise Point…
      5. The Blitz Club…
      6. Gary Kemp appears…
  8. 2010

    1. December

      1. Exclusive review…
      2. Gary on Radio 4…
      3. Tony London Christmas…
      4. Steve Norman confirms…
      5. Spandau Win Award…
      6. Live At NEC Now…
      7. Date changes for…
      8. New great value…
      9. Paradise Point…
      10. Award winning film…
    2. November

      1. Gary To Perform…
      2. Gold, Best of Spandau…
      3. Free Download and…
      4. Coming Monday!…
      5. New Reformation…
    3. July

      1. Video Killed The…
    4. June

      1. Parade and True…
      2. See Spandau Live…
      3. Spandau Live on…
      4. Isle Of Wight Coverage
      5. Isle Of Wight &…
      6. 15% Off Voucher…
    5. May

      1. True and Parade…
      2. Gary On The One…
      3. Musical Viagra…
      4. Spandau/Rod Stewart…
    6. April

      1. Further Live Reviews
      2. The Australian…
      3. Perth Review
    7. March

      1. Live at the O2…
      2. Spanish Reviews
      3. Spandau On German…
      4. Live at the O2…
      5. Italian You Tube…
      6. In-Store Photos…
      7. German Live Reviews
      8. Backstage Belgrade…
      9. 'Journey's To Glory'…
      10. Spandau Ballet…
      11. Italian Reports
      12. Spandau Press From…
    8. February

      1. New Zealand Added…
      2. Spandau & Rod Stewart…
      3. Denmark Show Added…
      4. Cape Town Show…
      5. Second Sydney Show…
      6. 'Journeys To Glory'…
      7. SB To Play South…
    9. January

      1. Sandown Park Racecourse…
      2. SB To Play Newmarket…
      3. SB To Tour Australia…
  9. 2009

    1. December

      1. Isle of Wight Festival…
      2. 23rd Dec, Radio…
      3. Ultimate Fan Page
      4. Spandau In Spain
      5. Sunday 13th & Monday…
      6. Live at the O2…
      7. Heart FM / Spandau…
      8. BBC Breakfast Interview…
    2. November

      1. Spandau on London…
      2. Live at the O2…
      3. Live at the O2…
      4. Spandau On BBC…
      5. TV and Radio Appearances…
      6. Italian X Factor
      7. Spandau Ballet…
    3. October

      1. Spandau on The…
      2. Spandau Ballet…
      3. Q Idol Award
      4. "Once More" at…
      5. Pre-Order London…
      6. "Once More" Out…
      7. Dublin Reviews…
      8. The Tour has Begun!
      9. Spandau Ballet…
      10. Pre-order “Once…
    4. September

      1. New recordings…
      2. GMTV Interview…
      3. Rome date added…
      4. Dates Rescheduled…
      5. The One Show &…
    5. June

      1. New Merchandise…
    6. May

      1. Spandau on Tubridy…
      2. Interview and Web…
    7. April

      1. SB.com Ticket Update
      2. Amsterdam Tickets…
      3. Spandau Ballet…
      4. First Performance…
      5. 'Chant No.1' features…
      6. New Dates On Sale…
      7. More Dates! Extra…
      8. Liverpool Date…
    8. March

      1. Extra O2 Date Added…
      2. General Tickets…
      3. Reformation Tour…
      4. Watch Brand New…
      5. Spandau Ballet…