Showing posts with label Heaven 17. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heaven 17. Show all posts

Monday, 8 December 2014

Penthouse and pavement - Heaven 17

The title track of Heaven 17's debut album 'Penthouse and pavement' was released as the band's fourth single in 1981. The band never played the songs live until more recent years. Martyn Ware commented about this in 2010: "We absolutely resisted touring. We decided not to tour at all, or perform. Because Ian and I were members of The Human League, as you know, we spent two and a half years touring everywhere in Europe and Britain. And in those days - can you imagine this now? - the record company were paying quite a lot for tour support to get on big tours. So we toured twice with Siouxsie & The Banshees and with Pere Ubu, Iggy Pop, Stranglers, blah, blah, blah. And whilst it got us loads of coverage in NME and various style magazines, we weren't actually selling that many albums. (...) By coincidence it was just the start of MTV when we started BEF, and we thought that was an ideal mechanism for us to service a lot of markets simultaneously, spending the same amount of money we would have spent on tour support but instead spending it on videos, which is what we did."

My collection: 7" single no. 5450
Found: unknown
Tracks: 'Penthouse and pavement' / 'Penthouse and pavement (instrumental)'

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Play to win - Heaven 17

I have added quite a few Heaven 17 singles recently, including the double whammy of 'Play to win' and 'Penthouse and Pavement' that was released in the Netherlands.

What you find here is the original UK version, featuring 'Play to win' and the instrumental (dub) version 'Play' on the B-side. That B-side is a treat for those who like this quirky electronic track, because it gives you the opportunity to check out all the intricate instrumentation behind a rather flippant and funky track.

My collection: 7" single no. 5400
Found: Record Exchange, London
Cost: 10p
Tracks: 'Play to win' / 'Play'

Friday, 28 November 2014

Train of love in motion - Heaven 17

'Train of love in motion' was released as the second single off Heaven 17's 1988 album 'Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho'. It wasn't the band's most successful album, causing them to fall silent for many years. This single fared even worse than its predecessor The Ballad of Go Go Brown, because it failed to chart at all.

When Heaven 17 returned, it was 1996. They released 'Bigger than America', another album that failed to chart. You'd think they'd gone for good, but fortunately Heaven 17 found a second lease of life in this century, releasing new albums (a new one is planned for 2015) and even performing live - something they never did in the Eighties.

My collection: 7" single no. 5406
Found: Record Exchange, London
Cost: 10p
Tracks: 'Train of love in motion' / 'Work'

Friday, 21 November 2014

The height of the fighting - Heaven 17

'The height of the fighting' was the fifth and last single taken from Heaven 17's debut album 'Penthouse and pavement'. Three out of the four previous singles had reached the lower regions of the UK singles chart, but this one, like their second single 'I'm your money', failed to chart. This single only managed to get to number 20 in... New Zealand.

Glenn Gregory from the band said about this song and some others of their debut album: "Some things will always be relevant. We wrote about subjects that touched our lives and our souls, things that mattered not just to us as individuals but also to us as a part of a political or social system. We never preached and always (I hope) ranted with wit and humour. They were political times and the album reflected those times and I believe as you say, some of those songs are still very relevant today."

My collection: 7" single no. 5403
Found: unknown
Tracks: 'The height of the fighting' / 'Penthouse and pavement'

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

(We don't need this) Fascist groove thang - Heaven 17

"(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" is a song written and performed by British synthpop band Heaven 17. It reached number 45 in the UK singles chart in 1981, despite being banned by the BBC. It was also a minor dance hit in the US. The song was written by members Martyn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh and Glenn Gregory and included on their 1981 debut album 'Penthouse and Pavement'

In the lyrics fascism and racism are described in an ironic fashion, using the lexicon of funk music. The lyrics of the song also reference the UK and US political leaders of the time, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan, respectively, and include denunciations of both racism and fascism. The song was banned by the BBC due to concerns by Radio 1's legal department that it libeled President Reagan.

My collection: 7" single no. 5402
Found: unknown
Tracks: '(We don't need this) Fascist groove thang' / 'The decline of the west'

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The ballad of Go Go Brown - Heaven 17

This 1988 single by Heaven 17 is, frankly, puzzling. Having established themselves as synth pioneers and having been quite successful with their electronic sound, this single, the first from their 1988 album 'Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho', featured - gasp - guitars and a very American influenced sound. Also, no promotional video was created for the single. A performance of the track was shown on the British TV show Get Fresh, along with a performance of the following single 'Train of Love In Motion'.

Probably trying to broaden their musical horizons, this effort was not rewarded by the record-buying public: the single stranded on number 91 in the UK singles chart and failed to chart everywhere else.

My collection: 7" single no. 5405
Found: unknown
Tracks: 'The ballad of Go Go Brown' / 'I set you free'

Friday, 5 September 2014

I'm your money - Heaven 17

'I'm your money' was released in 1981 as the second single by Heaven 17, the synthpop trio formed by Martyn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh and Glenn Gregory. After the success of their debut single '(We don't need this) Fascist Groove Thang', the chart result of this single came as a disappointment, as it didn't chart at all.

In recent years, Heaven 17 have started performing live, something they never did during the Eighties. In an interview in 2010 for the website Electricity Club, Martyn Ware said: "We weren't writing songs with the anticipation of playing them live so I'm Your Money is very... say for instance we waved a magic wand and it was exactly the backing track that we did... we can't do because we don't have the original tapes. But if it was exactly the same backing track as we did in the 1981, I think it would really jar on the ear! It's incredibly repetitive and monotonous but on record, it sounds great. "

My collection: 7" single no. 5401
Found: unknown
Cost: unknown
Tracks: 'I'm your money' / 'Are everything'

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Contenders - Heaven 17

In a review of Heaven 17's 1986 single 'Contenders', Simon Reynolds for Melody Maker wrote: "This one practically hurls itself off the ropes at you, solid funk brawn but light on its feet, bobbing and weaving, jabbing and pummeling and always on the attack, but, somehow, failing to deliver that hook to floor you completely. The killer blow never comes."

I'm not a fan of music reviews, but this particular one hits the nail on the head: it is a nice enough song but it isn't particularly memorable. Which is surprising, because Heaven 17, up to that point, were able to serve up memorable pop songs each and every time. After their successful first three albums, the fourth album 'Pleasure one' failed to deliver a top 40 smash, and started a run of many non-charting albums.

My collection: 7" single no. 5404
Found: unknown
Cost: unknown
Tracks: 'Contenders' / 'Excerpts from 'Diary of a contender''

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Trouble - Heaven 17

Heaven 17 had their biggest success with their first three albums, 'Penthouse and pavement' (1981), 'The luxury gap' (1983) and 'How men are' (1984). When they released 'Pleasure One' in 1986, their popularity seemed to have vanished. The first single, 'Contenders' only reached number 80 in the UK singles chart and 'Trouble', the second and last single from the album, peaked at number 51.

A promotional video was created for the single, becoming one of the band's last music videos to date.

My collection: 7" single no. 5245
Found: Record fair, Utrecht, November 19, 2011
Cost: 0,8 euro
Tracks: 'Trouble' / 'Move out'

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Crushed by the wheels of industry - Heaven 17

'Crushed by the wheels of industry' was the last single taken from Heaven 17's 1983 album 'The luxury gap'. It peaked at number 17 in the UK singles chart, spending 7 weeks in the chart. It would be the band's last top 20 hit until 1992, when a remix of 'Temptation' was released.

The name of the album 'The luxury gap' was another description of the divide between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' (just like the band's debut album, 'Penthouse and pavement') and this track described a lot of what was going on in Thatcher's England at the time.

My collection: 7" single no. 5206
Found: Record Exchange, London, October 15, 2011
Cost: 1 pound
Tracks: 'Crushed by the wheels of industry (part 1)' / 'Crushed by the wheels of industry (part 2)'

Monday, 5 April 2010

Temptation - Heaven 17

Heaven 17 recorded 'Tempation' in 1983 on their album 'The luxury gap'. Carol Kenyon provided backing vocals on this track as well as lead vocals in the bridge and chorus. The song also featured an orchestra, arranged and conducted by John Wesley Barker.

The single reached number 2 in the UK singles chart and number 27 in the Dutch Top 40 - their first hit abroad.

My collection: 7" single no. 4752
Found: Record fair, Rijswijk, April 5, 2010
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Temptation' / 'We live so fast'

Monday, 22 March 2010

The height of the fighting - Heaven 17

In 1982, 'The height of the fighting' was released as the fourth and final single from Heaven 17's debut album 'Penthouse and pavement', and their only single of that year. The song that featured a repetitive chorus and not much in the way of a verse, turned out to be a commercial disaster: it failed to reach the UK singles chart.

I first found out about this track in 1985 as part of a Heaven 17 megamix that was released that year. I never actively searched for this single, but since I was on the take, I figured I might as well buy this one too.

My collection: 7" single no. 4650
Found: All that music, Leiden, March 13, 2010
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'The height of the fighting' / 'Honeymoon in New York'

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Play to win - Heaven 17

One of the synthpop bands of the early Eighties was Heaven 17, formed by Glenn Gregory, Ian Craig-Marsh and Martyn Ware, after the latter two had left Human League.

'Play to win' was their third single and the second one to be taken from their debut album 'Penthouse and pavement'. It reached number 46 in the UK singles chart. This single is a Dutch pressing which also includes their next UK single, 'Penthouse and pavement'. You guessed it: the title track from their debut album.

My collection: 7" single no. 4649
Found: All that music, Leiden, March 13, 2010
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Play to win' / 'Penthouse and pavement'

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Come live with me - Heaven 17

After the big hit 'Temptation' (which reached the charts all over Europe), Heaven 17 followed through with the wordy ballad 'Come live with me'. The single was a major success in the UK, where it peaked at number 5, but elsewhere it failed to appeal to the general public.

Personally, I only got to like the song when I saw it performed live by Heaven 17 during the Here & Now Tour of 2002. I'm quite happy to have found a UK pressing of this single now.

My collection: 7" single no. 4212
Found: Record fair, Utrecht, November 21, 2009
Cost: 0,66 euro
Tracks: 'Come live with me' / 'Let's all make a bomb (new version)'

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Temptation (Brothers in Rhythm remix) - Heaven 17

After a very successful decade for Heaven 17 in the Eighties, the band went quiet in the early Nineties. The first sign of life was a remix of 'Temptation', released in November 1992. It reached number 4 in the UK singles chart and number 16 in the Dutch Top 40.

The single was followed by the compilation album 'Higher and Higher - The Best of Heaven 17' in 1993.

My collection: 7" single no. 4076
Found:, received September 25, 2009
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Temptation (Brothers in Rhythm remix edit)' / 'Temptation (Brothers in Rhythm instrumental)'

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

And that's no lie - Heaven 17

'...And that's no lie' was originally the 10 minute closing track of Heaven 17's 1984 album 'How men are'. When released as a single, the track was heavily edited to appeal to radio DJ's and music video stations. The problem was, the edit made the track kindof a jumbled mess and left nothing intact of the tension of the original track.

As a result, '...And that's no lie' became the first Heaven 17 single since 1982's 'Let me go' not to reach the top 40 in the UK. It stalled at number 52.

My collection: 7" single no. 3985
Found: Sister Ray, London, August 5, 2009
Cost: 50p
Tracks: 'And that's no lie' / 'The fuse'

Sunset now - Heaven 17

In 1984, Heaven 17 released the album 'How men are'. It featured some acoustic instruments for the first time in addition to their usual digital samples, synthesizers and drum machines. The vocal group Afrodiziak also appeared on four track on the album.

'Sunset now' was released as the first single from the album, and also its most successful. The single peaked at number 24 in the UK singles chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 3979
Found: Record Exchange, London, August 5, 2009
Cost: 50p
Tracks: 'Sunset now' / 'Counterforce'

Thursday, 7 May 2009

This is mine - Heaven 17

'This is mine' was released as the second single from Heaven 17's 1984 album 'How men are', which was their third. The video to this single was a hilarious piece in which the members of the band (Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh) played bankrobbers.

Peaking at number 23, this single was the last single to get into the UK top 40 for a while: the next single 'And that's no lie' stalled at number 52.

My collection: 7" single no. 3689
Found: Empire Records, Den Haag, May 5, 2009
Cost: 0,5 euro
Tracks: 'This is mine' / 'Mine'

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The foolish thing to do - Heaven 17 featuring Jimmy Ruffin

Heaven 17 teamed up with Jimmy Ruffin to record this single, 'The foolish thing to do', in 1986. Ruffin was famous for the hit single 'What becomes of the broken hearted' and further hit singles recorded on the Motown label in the late Sixties and early Seventies, whereas Heaven 17 had had several hit singles in the first half of the eighties. Working together, they made a modern sounding soul song. Unfortunately, their effort wasn't rewarded by the audience: the single didn't chart anywhere.

For me, it was the first Heaven 17 single I ever bought. I quite resisted buying Heaven 17 singles because my sister was so into them. She was putting down my favourites, so it was only fair that I did the same with hers. But in the end, I couldn't resist this song.

My collection: 7" single no. 1408
Found: Concerto, Amsterdam, April 3, 1991
Cost: 3 guilders
Tracks: 'The foolish thing to do (version 1)' / 'My sensitivity (gets in the way)'
Download: here

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Do they know it's Christmas? - Band Aid

The song that embodied the Christmas spirit in the Eighties was Band Aid's 'Do they know it's Christmas?'. The project initiated by Midge Ure and Bob Geldof started when the two met up and worked out this song Bob had written in a rather rudimentary way. They phoned up the musician friends they knew and before you knew it you had a media spectacle of unprecedented size.

I bought the single as soon as it came out, although, strangely, I didn't like the song that much. There were just so many of my eighties idols participated that I felt I couldn't pass up on this historic single. Two decades later, it's somehow reassuring (or troubling) that everything has stayed the same in Africa: it's still a continent of war, hunger and drought.

My collection: 7" single no. 249
Found: Wouters, Den Haag, 1984
Cost: 6 guilders
Tracks: 'Do they know it's Christmas?' / 'Feed the world'
Download: 12" single 'Do they know it's Christmas?', including both tracks (password: )
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