A Young Person’s Guide To: Heaven 17 – Penthouse + Pavement

Today I have been listening to an album that has many incarnations in the Record Cell. When the Heaven 17 debut album appeared, my good friend chasinvictoria glommed onto it immediately. Given that I was hip deep in The Human League at the time, I was more than ready for it when he sent me a cassette of the album. I’d heard that the album had been licensed by Arista in The States, and I planned on buying a copy when it was domestic. Little did I know that the album would be severely altered for its American release.

Arista | US | LP | 1982 | AL 6606

Arista | US | LP | 1982 | AL 6606

Heaven 17: “Heaven 17” [a.k.a. “Penthouse + Pavement”] US comp. LP [1982]

  1. Who Will Stop The Rain
  2. Penthouse And Pavement
  3. Play To Win
  4. Let Me Go
  5. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  6. The Height Of The Fighting
  7. Geisha Boys And Temple Girls
  8. I’m Your Money 
  9. We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time

Wow! For anyone the slightest bit familiar with this classic album, the changes wrought by US Arista are vast and obtrusive! Cuts in red, were added to the song flow, while three songs [“Soul Warfare,” “Let’s All Make A Bomb,” and “Song With No Name”] were cut from the program. And the cover design really makes one scratch one’s head, but given that the entire concept behind the album and its packaging had been thrown out of the window by Arista, why not jettison the brilliant cover for something a little less appropriate?

What made me bite for this album, compromised as it was, was the inclusion of the otherwise unavailable at anywhere in the world [at that time] song from their upcoming second album, the great “Who Will Stop The Rain!” It remained until “The Luxury Gap” was released in the Spring of 1983 until the other territories got to hear this song. Likewise, the leadoff single from it, the magnificent “Let Me Go,” was added to this album instead of the next one in America. Rounding out the revised program was the band’s brilliant non-LP single [in the UK], the relentless “I’m Your Money,” a song that no doubt had the Gang Of Four kicking themselves over not having written it first. With this severely compiled album in hand, I next set about obtaining the real “Penthouse + Pavement” so I bought the album as a UK import at the time.

Virgin | Portugal | LP | 1981 | 602705

Virgin | Portugal | LP | 1981 | 602705

Heaven 17: Penthouse + Pavement Portugal LP [1981]

  1. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  2. Penthouse & Pavement
  3. Play To Win
  4. Soul Warfare
  5. Geisha Boys & Temple Girls
  6. Let’s All Make A Bomb
  7. The Height Of The Fighting
  8. Song With No Name
  9. We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time

That’s more like it! I really missed “Song With No Name” especially in the flow of the album. The twitchy synth intro has a way of getting lodged in my skull for hours at a time. I hope that means that I like it! I kept my UK copy of the album for several years going forward, but at one point, I traded in my UK LP copy and no longer had a copy of the album on 12″ vinyl. Chasinvictoria was once again to the rescue, and he found this Portuguese copy at a record show somewhere and he gifted me with a copy, just on principle. Better yet, my copy is still sealed in loose shrink wrap – the best of both worlds! But why, you may ask, did I ever trade in my UK pressing on LP?

Virgin | UK | CD | 1987 | CDV2208

Virgin | UK | CD | 1987 | CDV2208

Heaven 17: Penthouse + Pavement UK CD [1987]

  1. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  2. Penthouse & Pavement
  3. Play To Win
  4. Soul Warfare
  5. Geisha Boys & Temple Girls
  6. Let’s All Make A Bomb
  7. The Height Of The Fighting
  8. Song With No Name
  9. We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time

Well, it’s something that I’m ashamed of now, but in the early days of buying the CD format [1985-1990 ish] I practiced the short sighted policy of trading off “redundant” music. Buying the CD fo a title meant that I usually traded my LP copy of same to the used record store for credit that I could use on new-fangled CDs! I know. Mea Culpa! I still have not been able to find the exact pressings I stupidly sold of some core collection LPs to re-buy even decades later! But I certainly latched onto the 1st UK CD pressing of this title with due haste. Its only gaffe is that on the final track, where the LP featured a locked groove that repeated the final lyric phrase “for a very long time” ad infinitum, the CD repeats the phrase for four to six times before fading far too early for my tastes.

There were no bonus tracks, but I liked the job the Virgin art department at making the accompanying booklet. It was miles better than many Virgin 1st pressing CDs of the period [Simple Minds, JAPAN]. And this is the copy of the album that I listened to for 23 years. US Caroline released a domestic CD of this title [for the first time] in 1997 with two bonus tracks, the first such beast, but the cuts were the “I’m Your Money ” and “Play To Win” 12″ extended remixes. Nothing to motivate a re-purchase. Yet.

Virgin | UK | 2xCD+DVD box | 2010 | CDVX 2208

Virgin | UK | 2xCD+DVD box | 2010 | CDVX 2208

Heaven 17: Penthouse + Pavement UK 2xCD+DVD Box [2010]

Disc 1: Penthouse And Pavement [Remastered]

  1. [We Don’t Need This] Fascist Groove Thang
  2. Penthouse And Pavement
  3. Play To Win
  4. Soul Warfare
  5. Geisha Boys And Temple Girls
  6. Let’s All Make A Bomb
  7. The Height Of The Fighting
  8. Song With No Name
  9. We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time
  10. I’m Your Money [12″ Version]
  11. BEF: Decline Of The West

Disc 2: Lost Demos 1980

  1. Penthouse And Pavement [Original Demo]
  2. [We Don’t Need This] Fascist Groove Thang [Original Demo]
  3. Play To Win [Original Demo Instrumental]
  4. Soul Warfare [Original Demo]
  5. BEF: Are Everything [Original Demo]
  6. BEF Ident [Alternate Version]
  7. BEF: Decline Of The West [Alternate Version]
  8. BEF: Rise Of The East [Alternate Version]
  9. BEF: Music To Kill Your Parents By [Alternate Version]
  10. BEF: Uptown Apocalypse [Alternate Version]
  11. BEF: A Baby Called Billy [Alternate Version]
  12. Rhythmic Experiment 1
  13. Rhythmic Experiment 2
  14. Boys Of Buddha Experiment
  15. At The Height Of The Fighting [Original Rhythm Track]
  16. Rhythmic Loop Experiment
  17. Funky Experiment
  18. Song Experiment
  19. Heavy Drum Experiment
  20. Play To Win [Original Demo With Vocals]

Disc 3: DVD

  1. Heaven 17 – Penthouse And Pavement Promotional Video
  2. The Story Of Penthouse And Pavement 2010 Documentary

This was a great DLX RM that I didn’t wait too long [okay about a year, but that’s fast, for me] in purchasing. The first disc was a good, non-brickwalled remastering of the initial album with three extra tracks. In an of itself, this was not a highly compelling remaster of the album proper. The one significant benefit it brings to the table is on the final album track, “We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time,” it lets the infamous locked groove of the LP version loop for over a minute before fading down. Personally, I’d have opted for at least five minutes since the room is on the disc.

What tipped my wallet so quickly was the second disc that Martyn Ware dug up from the H17 archives. It’s chock full o’ unreleased demo versions instead of yet more remixes or B-sides. Since I made my own H17 boxed set in 2007, and remastered it in 2010 [just like the majors!] I was covered with all the B-sides and remixes I could want. But demos? Now we’re talking! It’s great fun to hear the sketches that the album was built upon, and though some of these are remarkably similar to the finished product [particularly the BEF material], others are delightfully raw reminders of life before the Linn Drum!

Finally, the second disc contains the BBC documentary, aired in 2010, outlining the making of “Penthouse + Pavement” with the “Penthouse + Pavement” video thrown in for good measure. Bad measure, more likely, since the video as mastered at the wrong aspect ratio! But the BBC documentary is gold. I can’t stress how happy I was to get this after hearing about it tantalizingly online. More amazingly, it is a NTSC O DVD for my ease of viewing! The program is even better than just a look at a classic album. It also doubles as a history of the formation of H17 since P+P was effectively their debut album following the split with The Human League.

– 30 –

 

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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7 Responses to A Young Person’s Guide To: Heaven 17 – Penthouse + Pavement

  1. I remember getting this record so clearly — I was in Miami at the time and when I first heard that crazy synth intro for “Geisha Boys and Temple Girls” (I opted to play the Penthouse side first, a fateful choice!) I just lost my mind when it finally coalesced into the song! I was hooked! Still a masterpiece.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – I always wondered why a record called “Penthouse + Pavement” would begin with the “Pavement” side first. I agree with your choice, except for that “We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time” is no longer the endless finale to the album. And that is a crazy synth intro for “Geisha Boys + Temple Girls,” isn’t it? In fact, the whole song is absolutely batty! The lyrics prove that they didn’t need Phil Oakey one bit! The W. Carlos influence is very pronounced there on the synth playing, which is to say, everywhere!

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  2. Echorich says:

    I bought the Arista release specifically for the songs that were new, but I to this day don’t see how the band let this get out of their hands as they seemed to be so involved in the Virgin release. There is no flow to the Arista release to the point the Who’ll Stop the Rain feels like a throwaway on this album, where it is perfectly at home on The Luxury Gap. Let Me Go is way too lush for
    P + P and doesn’t have any “experimental” feel to it at all. I would have preferred the I’m Your Money b-side Are Everything on the Arista release over either track. But the most egregious error in my mind was deleting The Height of the Fighting which to this day is my favorite H17 track.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – It is astounding that Arista could cherry pick a track they’d probably just recorded for their next album like that. So you’re a “Height Of The Fighting” man? Do you have any idea where “He-La-Hu” comes from? It sounds like a quote to my ears; but from what? I simply love the garish Jill Mumford painted “Dan Dare In Hell” cover to that single.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Echorich says:

        Everything on Height Of The Fighting just works…the opening submarine/morse code/percolator synth line and then the funky synth approximation of a bass line just gear you up for an ascending trip. The single cover cover certainly captured this…outer space to a funky martial beat. The police siren brings an air of danger and maybe renegade action – which was the point of P + P to begin with.
        I remember someone once reviewing P + P a few year on, maybe after the first attempt at a reissue by Virgin, that stated the band was misguidedly reaching for the yuppie ideal. I disagree with that wholeheartedly. I think the aim was to subvert the powers that be and every song speaks to that. Nuclear Power, Corporate greed, societal fakery… Martin, Ian and Glenn were certainly not concerned with fame and fashion lyrically.
        I was listening to all version of Are Everything while writing this and still think this should have been the bridge single between P + P and LG.

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  3. Eklektro68 says:

    Hi Monk, but I think you’ve made a mistake by saying that the first US pressing of Penthouse + Pavement leaves out “At The Height of the Fighting” from its track listing. Rather, it is “Let’s All Make a Bomb” that was omitted from the original US pressing, not “Height of the Fighting”. Other than that, you are spot on about the other omissions from the original US pressing.
    I am new visitor at your website and I must say that I am very impressed by your breadth of knowledge and easy-going style of writing. Cheers!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Eklektro68 – Welcome to the comments! That’s a great handle you have there. You are so correct! Thanks for the gentle correction [since edited on the post]. I hammer these posts out during my lunch hour and my fingers often fly at speeds in advance of my aging brain! I have a lot of knowledge because I’m old. It sort of comes with the territory [one hopes]. Stick around for the discussion. I’m not going anywhere after nine years.

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