The story behind the record cover – Parade (1984) – Spandau Ballet

“Harlequins, majorettes, soldiers, a brass band; a colourful procession of people passes by a futuristic building that resembles the main building of Radio Kootwijk near Apeldoorn.

If you look closely, you’ll find some famous people in uniform. Singer and pin-up model Samantha Fox, who had recently caused a stir by having her breasts insured for $250,000, is dressed in a majorette suit. The band members of Spandau Ballet themselves walk along, just like their fathers who carry a trade union flag. The designer, David Band, has also pictured himself on the cover, in a harlequin suit. Band was a friend of guitarist Gary Kemp. The idea of a parade came from Kemp. Kemp always likened the band’s tours to a parade. He never talked about a ‘tour’, but always about a parade. On the one hand because a tour resembled a military operation, on the other because he felt part of a traveling circus during a tour. Parade encompasses both meanings.

The adaption of the idea – in other words: the cover – was a combined effort of both Kemp and Band. To begin with, the colourful procession is a nod to the 1917 ballet Parade by the famous Russian dancer Sergei Diaghilev, set to music by Eric Satie. In Parade, the dancers perform in all sorts of crazy outfits. The man on the poster shows them the way to the next performance. Finally: parades come in all shapes and sizes, so Kemp and Band wanted a colourful procession of people on the cover. So that the buyer is left a little confused. Are we watching a May 1st parade in Moscow? Could be, given the socialist appearance of the worker on the poster. Or is there a reference to a Nazi parade? After all, Spandau is the name of the prison where Nazi leader Rudolf Hess was imprisoned until his death in 1987. And although Radio Kootwijk is officially deemed art-deco, there are – not that strange in 1929 – also some totalitarian features in the architectural style. But maybe it’s just a festive parade, in New Orleans (the brass band!) or Rio de Janeiro, during carnival. In any case, it was a great idea from Gary Kemp to give the third album by Spandau Ballet, which was by now world famous for hits such as ‘Gold’ and ‘True’, the title “Parade”.

Spandau Ballet is one of the big names of the New Wave of the eighties. To be honest, that trend has somehow passed me by a bit. That was partly out of resentment: punk had blown away prog rock in the late 1970s. When punk gave way to New Wave, I was still full of frustration about punk music. New Wave went both ways. You had the gloom and doom of The Cure. Not really my cup of tea. Then you had the music of bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. Easy on the ear commercial music. I never wanted to have anything to do with that. Until Spandau Ballet’s singer, Tony Hadley, performed at De Boerderij in 2019. Suddenly I was dancing along with my wife singing along to ‘Gold’. It was just one big party at the Boerderij. The swinging procession of musicians then moved onto the next town to set up another happening.

I decided to collect more eighties music. But that was more for collection purposes than for actually playing. Nowadays, I occasionally get requests to write a story about a cover from the eighties. I had never really looked into these album covers. But “Parade” was a surprising quest, with details I was unaware of. So this probably means digging deeper into my eighties collection. Who knows, it may even lead to more stories. Or will this procession pass me by altogether?”

By Gerrit-Jan Vrielink
Translation Alex Driessen