HEAVEN17- BEING BOILED
Taken from the Almaflame album "How Live ls"
|"Being Boiled" was the first song written by The Human League's Phil Oakey, Martyn Ware and lan Craig Marsh, some years before the latter pair broke away to form Heaven 17. Based around a crude analogue synth riff, "Being Boiled" is rudimentary electro-pop, but it was sufficiently different to the punky thrashing of the period to attract attention, some of it from quite illustrious quarters. "This is the sound of1980, the sound of the future," opined one David Bowie on hearing this Strange new drone with its comically menacing, deep lugubrious vocal - courtesy of Oakey, doing his best Iggy - which entreated us to "listen to the voice of Buddha". |
This live Version, captured on DAT last year at Glasgow's SECC, marks the fast- approaching 20th anniversary of the League-Heaven schism. Within a year, both groups were recording their epochal Dare and Penthouse And Pavement albums, at the same Studio in Sheffield, and at the same time. "We'd do it in shifts," recalls H17's cyber-crooner, Glenn Gregory. "We'd go in at 10 in the morning and work all day, and the League would Start at 10 at night. Martyn and Phil weren't getting on very well..."
HEAVEN 17 - HOW LIVE IS
Human League breakaway unit approaches 20th anniversary with concert set, plus three video-enhanced tracks - includes version of the League's analogue anthem "Being Boiled"
SOME time soon. Heaven 17 will be undertaking a series of US dates alongside The Human League and ABC. This may sound like a cheesy retro-kitsch package tour to today's young clubbers, but to people who grew up in the early Eighties, well. just imagine a 2019 team-up by The Chemical Brothers. Underworld and The Prodigy.
There is no overestimating Heaven 17's prole art threat back in 1981. having parted company with The Human League the previous year, Grown musicians were scared. Here was a new order, designed to overthrow the regime established during punk. Their entire aesthetic predicted the look and sound of the decade. Three Sheffield boys reared on glam, funkadelia and German electronics, using synthesisers instead of guitars, doing PAs not gigs, sporting ponytails and suits, espousing principles every bit as socialist as the Class of '77.
This was the next logical progression in the postpunk dialectic; New Pop/ white funk. On the front cover of Penthouse And Pavement (Melody Maker's Album Of The Year, as groundbreaking in its day as Maxinquaye), you could almost smell the yuppie/fax/modem age - only it hadn't arrived yet. Forget punk provincialism, this was internationalism. The sleeve featured the bold declaration: "The New Partnership - That's opening doors all over the world". New York, London. Paris. Munich, indeed.
Business was their pleasure -Heaven 17 (the name lifted from Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange) were a subsidiary of ex-League gentlemen Martyn Ware and lan Craig Marsh's British Electric Foundation (B.E.F., inspiration for the currently hip All Seeing I), a pseudo-corporation parodying music industry machinations - and pleasure was their business: they were part of the radical dance faction, preaching the politics of hedonism at the height of the Cold War, in the shadow of The Bomb.
Recorded at the same time. and in the same place, as The Human League's Dare. Penthouse And Pavement (a reference to the north-south divide aka The Luxury Gap) was cool yet combative. With a smartness to match their executive chic. three years before Frankie Goes To Hollywood they were saying Relax! Don't Do It on "We're Going To Live For A Very Long Time", War! Hide Yourself on "The Height Of The Fighting" and Arm The Unemployed on "Let's All Make A Bomb".
And it was all done with sequencers.courtesy of former computer operators Ware and Craig Marsh, and the inventions of Messrs Korgand Roland. Heaven 17's generation rejected the practices of the past. Rock was dead. Everything would be achieved in the sealed environs of the studio, There would be no attempts to reproduce this music in front of baying crowds (even now. in the sleevenotes to How Live Is. singer Glenn Gregory writes, "I can't bring myself to say 'gig'". As for "tour bus" - "Oh God. those two words ...").
How Live Is (dedicated to fellow iconoclast Billy Mackenzie) sees Heaven 17 finally renege on their No Concerts policy. Captured on DAT last year at the SECC in Glasgow, it contains such phuture trax as "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,". "Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry". "Let Me Go" and "Temptation", even three from 199G's Bigger Than America. It is a fair representation of the group's nitro deluxe soul: a live album from a group who revolutionised the UK dance scene by - among other things - refusing to play live.
|INSIDE TRACK with GLENN GREGORY |
Q: A live Heaven 17 album: a contradiction in terms ?
A: "Well, we did stick by it [ie, No Gigs] for 17 years! We just played Ibiza - we went down really well."
Q: What have you been listening to ?
A: "The Chemical Brothers, Lamb, Cassius, Underworld. Leftfield, the All Seeing I album, Warp stuff..."
Q: And back then ?
A: "Soul and funk; Patrice Rushen, Michael Jackson, P-Funk. And Bowie, Bolan. Roxy, Punk made us realise anyone could do it - we just did it with synths, not guitars. I was in a punk band called Musical Vomit in 75."
Q: You helped invent club culture ...
A: "The number of arguments we had. People were scared. It's like with the Chemicals today; 'It's not proper music.'"
Q: Who came up with the Idea of the pop group-as-corporation:you or Public Image Limited?
A: "Us. John Lydon has been nothing but second all his life. We were demystifying the music business. It was a conscious decision not to be a rock band."