Heaven 17, please remember, were not even intended to be a
group. In the beginning was the British Electric Foundation, or B.E.F., for
short. Born out of the collapse of the
original Human League, and the brainchild of Martyn Ware, that band’s leader,
B.E.F. was less a record label, as a portfolio of future musical projects of
which Heaven 17 would be just one. Ian
Craig Marsh, co-founder of the Human League, would join Ware along with Glenn
Gregory as lead vocalist the man who would have been the original Human League
singer had he not been unavailable.
B.E.F. would produce the now iconic Music For Stowaways, and Music
Of Quality and Distinction 1, and provided a template that subsequent
artists would use from The Assembly in the Eighties, Electronic in the
Nineties, and most recently, the Damon Alban and Jamie Hewlett project, Gorillaz. But its Heaven 17 which would endure and help
shape the future of modern music for over thirty years. Their first album, Penthouse And Pavement, is, and remains, a modern classic.
In October 2011, a reconstructed Music Of Quality And Distinction concert at the Roundhouse on night
one (featuring original artists from the projects such as Sandie Shaw, and new
talent such as Polly Scattergood) would be followed on the second by a dramatic
reconstruction of their biggest commercial success, The Luxury Gap.
The Luxury Gap has never been more relevant. Written during the height of Thatcherism by
three Left-leaning young men against a backdrop of over 3 million unemployed
the parallels with the Austerity Britain of today are obvious. Today with a Millionaire cabinet, bankers’
bonuses, yet with once again three million unemployed and doom and depression
everywhere, Heaven 17’s sly, post-modern critique of modern society has never
sounded so resonant, nor been so necessary.