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About Heaven 17


Heaven 17 are an English new wave and synth-pop band that formed in Sheffield in 1980. The band were a trio for most of their career, composed of Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh , and Glenn Gregory . Although most of the band's music was recorded in the 1980s, they have occasionally reformed to record and perform, playing their first ever live concerts in 1997. Marsh left the band in 2007 and Ware and Gregory continued to perform as Heaven 17.


Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware were the founding members of pioneering British electro-pop group the Human League; Glenn Gregory had been their original choice when seeking a lead singer for the band but he was unavailable at the time, so they chose 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. Taking their new name from a fictional pop band mentioned in Anthony Burgess's dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange , they became Heaven 17 and 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. 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, due to its overtly left-wing political lyrics, 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 this nor any other of the four singles taken from the band's debut album Penthouse and Pavement managed to reach the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart. The album itself proved to be a success, 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.


In October 1982, Heaven 17 released their new single "Let Me Go", which charted just outside the UK Top 40. However, in 1983 the band's fortunes changed. Their next single, "Temptation" , reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart in spring 1983 and became their biggest hit. The song was taken from their second album, The Luxury Gap, which featured further chart hits "Come Live with Me" and "Crushed by the Wheels of Industry" . The album itself charted at number 4 on the UK Albums Chart, their highest ever position, and was certified platinum by the BPI in 1984.


In the United States, their self-titled Heaven 17 album was a re-working of Penthouse and Pavement with three songs deleted and replaced by "Let Me Go", "Who'll Stop the Rain", and "I'm Your Money" . American new wave audiences were most familiar with "Let Me Go", which received high rotation airplay on alternative rock and new wave format radio stations such as Los Angeles, California's KROQ-FM, and Long Island, New York's WLIR, plus frequent MTV exposure.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Heaven 17", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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