Sunday, May 30, 2010

Heaven 17 celebrate 30th Anniversary of Penthouse And Pavement

Sheffield-bred electronic pop group Heaven 17 recently announced they would embark on a nationwide UK tour in November to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their seminal 1980 debut album Penthouse And Pavement.

The band consisting of original founding members Martyn Ware (keyboards, vocals) and Glenn Gregory (lead vocals) recently performed a studio session with LaRoux for BBC 6 Music.

With a recent sold out tour of Germany earlier this year, and rave reviews of a recent H17 documentary that aired on BBC 2 Television entitled Heaven 17: The Making of Penthouse And Pavement, the band that was a spin off from the Human League, has suddenly re-captured the attention of the general public.

They were one of the first British electronic bands to mix synthesizer music with bass guitars, horns and strings. Although Penthouse And Pavement wasn't a commercial success in terms of sales, what it did generate was intense critical acclaim from the music press, in particular with the songs (We Don' Need) That Fascist Groove Thing and Let's All Make A Bomb.

Penthouse And Pavement was one of the first electronic music albums to combine political left wing lyrics with synthesized dance music. When Fascist Groove Thang was released, it was banned from British radio for having lyrics that were deemed too controversial. Now, thirty years later, the band's anti Thatcher sentiments seem to be relevant again, now that the conservative government is back in power.

What is interesting about the album is the consistency of the songs in both the lyrics and music. The album veers between electronic funk in the title track Penthouse And Pavement to radiant electronic synth classics like Geisha Boys and Temple Girls, Play To Win and I'm Your Money.

The recent BBC 2 documentary also revealed how Martyn Ware was kicked out of the band that he originally founded (the Human League), only to be awarded with a record contract of his own which led him to quickly form Heaven 17 (the name of the band was taken from the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange... a band that was formed in 1980). If that's not ironic, what is?

Heaven 17 - November UK Tour:
The Story of Penthouse And Pavement:

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