Heaven 17: Bigger Than America - reviewed by Tom Van Malder
Heaven 17 made its U.S. debut in 1982 with the brilliant "Penthouse and Pavement"
LP, which yielded "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thing," "Play To Win"
and "Let's All Make a Bomb" (appeared on second U.S. disc). Sixteen years
later, and eight years since their last album, original members Glenn Gregory,
Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware are back. Their sound is truly timeless and,
while often danceable, the beats don't hit you over the head. Better yet,
the lyrics, as they have in the past, dabble with social commentary that
is usually sharp. "Designing Heaven" is the breakout hit, and it's included
in three versions, with a remix by European dance music master Giorgio Moroder
(Donna Summer) and a German language version mixed by Gregorio. It has a
bright chorus like "Let Me Go" and "Temptation" and a march-like beat, while
the lyrics are about designing heaven to reconcile a divided world. The smooth
"Dive" says one has to "dive for love Æ just below the threshold of
detection is something you can't touch, taste, see or hear." The gently driving
"Another Big Idea" and the funkier, fun "Freak!," which opens with mechanical
sounds, also are fun. The band's assessment of the United States is "down"
in "The Big Dipper."