THE LUXURY GAP (US)
reviewed by Charles McCardell in Trouser Press #89 September 1983
The studied glares of Heaven 17's Ian Craig Marsh, Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware on the cover of The Luxury Gap belong to a team of anarchists. Their latest assault on synth-funk and socio-political rhetoric proffers a novel means to combat urban angst: liberation through syncopation. Preachiness is kept to a minimum, while electronic rhythms march to the beat of the street. This time Heaven 17 opts for the pavement rather than penthouse view.
"Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry", with its steam-drill pulse and silky guitar by John Wilson, and the quickstep hand-slaps of "We Live So Fast" set both theme and tone. The lyrics engange the mind as the music disengages the backbone. A new version of "Let's All Make A Bomb" and the Earth, Wind & Fire brass finery in "Key To The World" (a credit-card nightmare) prove funk and philosophy can mix. The stunning "Temptation" features a full-blown Motwon arrangement and a killer vocal by Karol Kenyon.
Proponents of a heavy percussive attack, Marsh and Ware nonetheless structure each song with utmost care. They explore a variety of synthesized tone colors and mix them handily with other instuments (e.g. Nich Plytas's piano interlude in "Lady Ice And Mr. Hex"). Gregory, far from the most dynamic singer working today, wisely plays it safe and keeps withinhis limited range. Heaven 17, with a little help from some guest artistes, makes one hell of a band.