About Heaven 17
Heaven 17 are an English synth-pop band formed in Sheffield in 1980. The band were a trio for most of their career, composed of former Human League members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh with vocalist Glenn Gregory.
Although most of their music was recorded in the 1980s, they have occasionally reformed, and played their first live concerts in 1997.
Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware were the founding members of pioneering Sheffield synthpop group the Human League; Glenn Gregory had been their original choice when seeking a lead singer for the band but as he had moved to London to work as a photographer at the time, they chose Ware's school friend Philip Oakey instead. When personal and creative tensions within the group reached a breaking point in late 1980, Marsh and Ware left the band, ceding the Human League name to Oakey. They formed the production company British Electric Foundation .
B.E.F.'s first recordings were a cassette-only album called Music for Stowaways and an LP called Music for Listening To, which was re-released on CD in 1997 with two extra tracks. Shortly after, they completed their line-up when they recruited their friend, photographer Glenn Gregory, as vocalist. Taking their new name from a fictional pop band mentioned in Anthony Burgess's dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange , Heaven 17 was intended to be just one of the musical projects for British Electric Foundation.
Like the Human League, Heaven 17 used synthesisers and drum machines heavily . Session musicians were used for bass guitar and guitar and grand piano . Whereas the band's former colleagues the Human League had gone on to major chart success in 1981, Heaven 17 struggled to make an impact. Their debut single " Fascist Groove Thang" attracted some attention and was banned by the BBC due to concerns by Radio 1's legal department that it libelled Ronald Reagan, who had recently been elected President of the United States. Neither "Fascist Groove Thang" nor any of the three other singles taken from the band's debut album Penthouse and Pavement reached the UK Top 40. The album itself proved to be a success, however, peaking at Number 14 on the UK Albums Chart, and was later certified gold by the BPI in 1982.
Around this time, Ware and Marsh produced two further albums as B.E.F., the first being Music of Quality & Distinction Volume One featuring Glenn Gregory, Tina Turner, Paula Yates, Billy Mackenzie, Hank Marvin, Paul Jones, Bernie Nolan, and Gary Glitter. The tracks were cover versions of songs that Ware, Marsh and Gregory had grown up listening to. The album peaked at number 25. The second album was Geisha Boys and Temple Girls for the dance troupe Hot Gossip, which used songs formerly recorded by the Human League and Heaven 17, and a track each from Sting and Talking Heads. B.E.F. took over production duties when Richard James Burgess of the band Landscape was unable to complete the album.
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