I used to see this second album by Spandau Ballet as belonging in the 'what were they thinking?' category. It moves away from the slick synth/pop of Journeys to Glory
and towards a wider range of experimentation, even if the band's New Wave pop leanings are still there, particularly on the first half.
The record starts with the excellent, instantly grabbing "Chant No.1", its kicking rhythm and chanted chorus being one of Spandau's classic moments (not that they ever had that many), and the introduction to the following "Instinction", with its bubbling synth sounds, suggests the album might be something pretty special. That song itself is pretty good in the end, but - like the next few - it falls short of being all that wonderful.
The second half of the album is where the really unusual touches begin, starting with "Pharaoh", a song that could have been seen as plodding, but is helped by such factors as the guitar and keyboard playing with each other during certain parts of the piece, while John Keeble's drums pound away, it being one of Diamond'
Then there's the two final tracks, containing Middle Eastern influences in abundance. That could've worked if they'd just stuck to the quiet "Innocence and Science", but songwriter Gary Kemp almost seemed to get over-excited with that, so indulged in the 7-minute "Missionary" to finish things off, and that one really does plod.
Tony Hadley's vocals remain a major asset, and the addition of prominent brass is another plus, something that looks towards the soul act the band would soon become, but the album overall - while impressing me more than it used to - remains something of a flawed attempt at a bit of a left turn in the world of early-80's New Wave.
I really like this album's cover art. Some band photos are pretty ordinary, but there's something about the quintet rugged up, along with the icy background, that I find rather striking. Rated:
by Reviewer: The Doctor