After slowing it down yesterday, time to pump it back up today with some Heaven 17. Glenn Gregory, Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware had known each other previously, but formed Heaven 17 when the latter two split from The Human League, initially launching production entity B.E.F. aka the British Electric Foundation.
I think I first took notice of Heaven 17 in 1981 when they performed Play To Win on Top Of The Pops. One of those frequent TOTP oddities in that the single only managed #46 in a 7 week run. However, it left a lasting impression because I found Glenn Gregory's facial expressions both alarming and hilarious and I couldn't work out what Ian Craig Marsh was leaning into the mic to mime. And the ponytails...! I've just found and watched it again on YouTube and it's every bit as entertaining as I remembered.
I probably got into Heaven 17 with either K-Tel's Modern Dance compilation, which featured both Play To Win and Penthouse And Pavement (and which I wrote about last year) or my brother's cassette of the Penthouse And Pavement album. Either way, once I had a Saturday job and some money, I got that and The Luxury Gap on vinyl, plus 12" singles when I could get them. Whilst I enjoyed Sunset Now and ..(And That's No Lie), I'd lost interest by third album How Men Are and only bought a couple more singles (Contenders and Trouble) and the Endless remix cassette compilation during the rest of the 1980s.
Heaven 17 enjoyed a brief resurgence of interest in the early 1990s with a trio of remixed singles and a best of compilation. Brothers In Rhythm's remix of Tempation attained #4 (two places lower than the original) and a (pretty ropey) remix of debut (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang by Rapino Brothers just bettered the original UK chart placing of #45 by scraping to #40. Penthouse And Pavement, arguably the best of three remixes, only managed 1 week and #54, three places higher than it's previous attempt at global domination in 1981.
The trio reunited in the late 1999s and produced new music. Ian Craig Marsh stopped touring with Heaven 17, left the band around 2007 and subsequently became a music teacher. Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware have continued as a touring concern and - pandemic permitting - will resume live performances during 2022.
I've approached today's selection as the first of a series, dip sampling some of the 12" versions from their 1980s heyday. It's been done before and - with the exception of the Let Me Go! / Temptation segue, I wanted to avoid a slipshod retread of the Endless compilation. I had the limited edition box set cassette, which looked lovely and (Heaven 17 Megamix aside) was an almost perfect compilation. Unfortunately, living in a very damp and cold bedsit in Derby in the mid-1990s did for it, the outer box becoming mouldy and the cassette unplayable, so I had to ditch it.
This selection misses some personal favourites, including the aforementioned Play To Win and Penthouse And Pavement as well as Let's All Make A Bomb, and adds a post-Endless track with the best remix of Contenders. There will be more to come, hopefully this year!
In the meantime, the official Heaven 17 website still appears to be offering a free 3-track EP from 2011, if you join the mailing list.
1) ..(And That's No Lie) (Re-mixed To Enhance Its Danceability) (1985)
2) Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry (Extended Dance Version) (1983)
3) Contenders (U.S. Club Mix By Bruce Forest) (1987)
4) I'm Your Money (Special Fortified Dance Mix!) (1981)
5) Let Me Go! (12" Extended Version) (1982)
6) Temptation (Special Dance Mix) (ft. Carol Kenyon) (1983)
7) (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (Full Length Version) (1981)
8) Sunset Now (Extended Version) (ft. Afrodiziak) (1984)
1981: I'm Your Money (12"): 4
1981: (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (12") / Penthouse & Pavement: 7
1983: Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry (12"): 2
1983: Temptation (12"): 6
1984: Sunset Now (12"): 8
1985: ..(And That's No Lie) (12"): 1
1987: Double Trouble (limited edition double pack 12"): 3