I apologize for today’s Song of the Day being a Heaven 17 cut, seeing as how I just posted about H17. That’s not very considerate of me, but today, I really want to do nothing more than write about the single of theirs that has a grip on me and won’t let go. The first two Heaven 17 albums were brilliant synth funk with biting lyrics of social and political observation. The first album was a mutant offshoot from the Human League root system, from which Martin Ware and Ian Craig Marsh departed in 1980. The second followed through to a commercial breakthrough with a slicker sound abetted by Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phenix Horns in addition to the band’s new Fairlight CMI. The first album was quirky genius that I had come to expect from the original Human League with another deep-voiced vocalist in Glenn Gregory. The second album was much more commercial, but was also richly satisfying to listen to. You could have your cake and eat it too, it seemed.
When their third album dropped in 1984, I was all geared up for “How Men Are,” but when heard, it seemed to meander in ways the first two albums hadn’t. There was even a ten minute cut on it that smacked of filler. What th…! This is what punk was supposed to have erased from the Yes playbook! The first single was the mediocre “Sunset Now.” A charming enough song but it sounded like the band’s reliance on the Fairlight had got them down a long and winding road that was not giving forth much results of the kinds that their first two albums had in abundance. By focusing on the technical details, rather than the songwriting process, it sounded like they were spending all of their time programming the Fairlight rather than producing songs.
One huge happy exception to that feeling that pervaded the album was the second single, “This Is Mine.” To me, it sounded like a strong cut that would have felt right at home on “The Luxury Gap.” The Phenix Horns were playing on it and there’s a zesty flugelhorn solo from Michael Harris to offset the reliance on the Fairlight for everything else, which was the band’s modus operandi at the time. Since it was 1984, the year of Frankie, there were a number of remixes of this track. This was the first time that H17 dipped their toes into the multi-remix sea.
Heaven 17: This Is Mine UK 12 #1
- This Is Mine [ext. ver.]
The first 12″ came in a black sleeve with a poster inside the sleeve. It’s been years since I’ve seen the poster in my copy, but I seem to recall that it was really embarrassing; like a collage a pre-teen girl would have made at the time if H17 were her favorite band. I’m hoping that it was a stab at post-modernism by the band and Virgin. Much better were the musical contents. The Extended Version of the A-side was just what the name implied; a good, old-fashioned 5:39 cut of the track that was about 90 seconds longer than the LP cut. Nothing radical, just more of what you love. After the fadeout there’s an additional half minute of flugelhorn to let you down easy.
The B-side was an unusual non-LP instrumental. Unusual in that it was a real MOR sounding cut that no one would have ever imagined was H17. This track sounds like it was ripped screaming from a mid-80s library music collection! Session monster Mo Foster provided the slick fretless bass and the track features a real string section. The most unique aspect of the track was the classical guitar that featured throughout it. It was actually the band’s pianist Nick Plytas on a System 100 synth! Let me state it sounds really authentic. “Mine” was an instrumental version of the extended version minus the flugelhorn coda appended to the end of the 12″ A-side.
Heaven 17: This Is Mine US Promo 12″
- This Is Mine [filmix]
- This Is Mine [radio mix]
- This Is Mine [cinemix]
There is a UK second 12″ that has the two remixes included here that has “Skin” instead of the radio mix included on this record, but I never saw the UK copy. I snagged a [virgin vinyl!] US promo when it was current as shown above instead. The remixes here are a lot more radical than the extended version on the 1st UK 12.” The 7:17 Filmix sports a dialogue breakdown where the song recedes to let Glenn Gregory and Martin Ware are having a phone conversation about a plan for a heist which is taken from the video for the song. The band knock off a bank in the video and then take the spoils into a copter and let it flutter back down to earth. The song has been more adventurously restructured for this mix but it still sounds like it was composed from the original backing tracks used to make the original cut. In that sense it’s not a “modern remix;” which I would call a cover version, by my reckoning.
The 7:25 Cinemix is what I would call a dub version. Almost no vocals remain and the mix is really squelchy, to boot. No matter how its mixed, the track is hooky and memorable. In the end I think it’s the fantastic horns that make this track. Much like “Key To the World” on “The Luxury Gap,” it shows that a killer horn section can add much to good material and take it to the next level. It says volumes that they also played on the following Heaven 17 album, the lackluster “Pleasure One,” and I can’t even remember any horn charts from that record!
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