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In-depth Feature:  Heaven 17 Profile
1980's pop supremos
Simon Power writes: .


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INSIDE – HEAVEN 17*
In the early 1980's, the British 'Steel Town' of Sheffield was feeling the recession more than most. But the death rattle of its metallurgy industry was accompanied by an unexpectedly glamorous soundtrack.

Named after a fictional band from Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, Sheffield's Heaven 17 grew from the experimental synthesizer project, British Electric Foundation. BEF were one time computer buffs Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marshall who began their musical careers as part of the Human League with Phil Oakey and Adi Newton. Marshall and Ware departed from the Human League in 1980 to realise their vision of establishing synthesizer music as a soulful and expressive medium.

To this end they worked with singers such as Tina Turner, Sandy Shaw and photographer Glenn Gregory. After 1980's Music of Quality and Distinction they recruited Gregory as singer for the BEF offshoot Heaven 17. Their debut single (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang gave them instant notoriety and was championed by DJ John Peel despite being banned by the BBC who missed the irony of this anti Thatcher groove-fest by a country mile.


Penthouse and Pavement
The irony continued with the debut album Penthouse and Pavements with its faux Yuppie artwork and Kraftwerk-esque electro grooves. Although no match for Human League's Dare released in the same year, the album paved the way for the 1983 follow up, The Luxury Gap. Fusing synths with piano, strings and Earth, Wind & Fire's horn section, The Luxury Gap was an anthemic tribute to American soul music and the European dance scene.

Laying down catchy hooks like they were cards in a deck, the singles, Temptation (featuring Carol Kenyon), Come Live With Me and Crushed By The Wheels of Industry stormed the UK charts with the album itself peaking at a highly respectable number 4.

Now at the height of their fame, Marshall & Ware were able to realise their original ambitions by relaunching the career of soul diva, Tina Turner. As BEF they produced the single Let's Stay Together.

Further Heaven 17 singles Who'll Stop the Rain? And Let Me Go followed, but the trio found it hard to follow up such a highly revered album as The Luxury Gap and 1984's How Men Are was less successful. Though not without it's moments. The horn soaked This Is Mine, being a definite highlight.

1986's Pleasure One and 1988's Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho were poorly received and in-demand producers Marshall & Ware concentrated on production for artists like Alison Moyet, Terence Trent D'Arby and Erasure.

Singer Glenn Gregory contributed to the Live Aid Project single by Band Aid. The optimistically titled 1996 album, Bigger Than America was followed much later by Before After in 2005. A CD of remixes of Hands Up To Heaven from the album hit number 6 on the Billboard Magazine US Club Play Chart in May 2006.

Though never able to hit the highs of the mid 1980's their legacy remains with the Brothers in Rhythm mix of Temptation still able to fill dancefloors 22 years after its initial release.

*Inside was the name of the single by Heaven 17 in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange

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