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2023 Albums Thing 159 - Heaven 17 “Penthouse And Pavement”

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Everybody move to prove the groove…

And that’s how one of the greatest synth pop albums of the 1980’s begins…with an invocation to hit the dance floor and kick the fascists off of it.

Heaven 17 were formed after the Human League ruptured following the release of their 2nd album “Travelogue”. The “musicians” (well, the guys who operated the synthesisers) in the League, Martin Ware and Ian Craig Marsh added singer Glenn Gregory and set about creating a more sophisticated version of their old group and, on this album at least, scored a bullseye.

It’s split into two sides musically, side 1 is the Pavement side, a concoction of funky bass and synths creating a kind of uptown funky dancefloor mish-mash. Side 2 is the Penthouse side, synth-pop but, as already noted, in a more sophisticated style than their former group.

“(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” was discovered by me out on the (dance)floor at Romeo & Juliet’s in Birmingham, a tiny little club room in a bigger “disco” where the Bowie/Roxy, post-punkers, proto goths and freaks found a home in the early 80’s. It was a real “what the hell is that” moment. A huge groove and whoever it was, was singing about beating fascists

Have you heard it on the news? About this fascist groove thang?

Evil men with racist views, Spreading all across the land

Still, sadly, lyrically appropriate. It took a while to track it down but I eventually found a white label promo at a record fair, it cost me £4.50 which was a LOT in 1981. It was marked up as being by B.E.F/Heaven 17 which added to why it was so hard to find. Man I wish I still had that white label.

I was walking around Wickes near where I live a few years ago when “…Fascist Groove Thang” started playing on the instore PA. I quickly realised a member of staff was playing the whole album and spent a very enjoyable 40 minutes wandering through the power tools and bathroom displays singing along to “Geisha Boys And Temple Girls”, “The Height Of The Fighting” and “We’re Going To Live For a Very Long Time” which, if you have a manual turntable, has a closed groove at the end so the song never ends. 

(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang - https://youtu.be/lV5dbcOmw6I

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