A Young Person’s Guide To: Heaven 17 – Temptation

Heaven 17 [L-R]: Ian Craig Marsh, Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware

Heaven 17 [L-R]: Ian Craig Marsh, Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware

There are many examples of a song which started out its life strongly enough, only to get mixed and remixed within an inch of its life so that each subsequent iteration removes something from the song until it lies dead at your feet. Depleted and exhausted. Then there’s the example of Heaven 17‘s top selling UK hit “Temptation.” It started out good and got better and better over the years as it was reanimated and re-released.

Virgin | UK | 7" | 1983 | VS 570

Virgin | UK | 7″ | 1983 | VS 570

Heaven 17: Temptation UK 7″ [1983]

  1. Temptation [edit]
  2. We Live So Fast

The track began its commercial life as a 7″ edit from the song on H17’s “Luxury Gap” album. This was the single [#7, if you’re counting] that finally catapulted the band into the upper reaches of the UK top 10, where it reached an acme of position #3 in the spring of 1983. The song was not one of my favorites off of the album. Carol Kenyon’s strident soul queen vocals were not exactly my cup of tea, and her delivery really sort of grates on my ears. I felt that this track was nowhere near the caliber of the preceding single [“Let Me Go”] that stiffed magnificently in the UK to Martyn Ware’s and my eternal confoundment. Obviously, the citizens of the UK disagreed with this hypothesis. Having the track cut short here, didn’t cause me to wail and gnash my teeth any.

Virgin | UK | 12" | 1983 | VS 570-12

Virgin | UK | 12″ | 1983 | VS 570-12

Heaven 17: Temptation UK 12″ [1983]

  1. Temptation [12″ remix]
  2. Who Will Stop The Rain [12″ remix]
  3. We Live So Fast [12″ remix]

H17 welivesofastUS7AH17 whowillstoptherainUSP12AThe 12″ version of the A-side was modestly extended to a not very long 4:37. About 90 seconds longer than the 7″ and a minute more than the album. The strangest thing by far about it was the choral blast edit [no more than a second in length] that opens the mix up and was cut from the buildup to the climax of the song. I wondered about this for decades and recently, on one of their great podcasts, Ware and Gregory played a song that I hadn’t heard before: “East River” by the Brecker Brothers. They admitted that they loved the choral stab as used in that cut, so they emulated it on “Temptation.” But the 12″ is so short, one can barely notice the extra padding it carries, next to the LP version of the track. Buying this at the time paid much fatter dividends with the two B-sides, remixed much more adventurously from two of the great album cuts from “The Luxury Gap.” In fact, each of these tracks were released as single A-sides in The States.

Virgin | UK | 12" | 1993 | VST 1446

Virgin | UK | 12″ | 1993 | VST 1446

Heaven 17: Temptation ’93 UK 12″ [1993]

  1. Temptation [Brothers In Rhythm remix]
  2. Temptation [Brothers In Rhythm remix edit]
  3. Temptation [orchestral theme from from Temptation]

With Heaven 17 having dropped off of the face of the earth following their “Teddy Bear, Duke + Psycho” album of 1988, Virgin worked that back catalog action a decade later with their “Higher + Higher” compilation. The thought was to have post-modern mixes of H17’s biggest single to possibly reactivate the public’s interest in the comp. Did it ever! Against all odds, the ensuing remix made number three in the UK charts a full decade after the original! What Brothers In Rhythm did with the song sounds phenomenal to me.

The long acoustic guitar [!] buildup takes the number into Gipsy Kings territory, which is not as strange as it seems. Around the same time, The Gipsy Kings remixed a Bananarama cover of the old Doobie Brothers [!?] “classic” “Long Train Running.” The Kings had to do it under a nom du disque, Alma De Noche, due to label politics, but the fusion of flamenco and house music wasn’t as bad as it could have been. In fact, if it could get me to actually sit through “Long Train Running,” it might be a good thing!

If flamenco guitar could ennoble the Doobie Brothers, imagine what it could do with a song miles better. The pacing and remix of this track gets a new lease on life with this version to the point that I quickly preferred it to the original version. Carol Kenyon gets de-emphasized in the mix and the Spanish spices add much flavor to the song.

Virgin | UK | CD+DVD | 2006 | CDVX 3022

Virgin | UK | CD+DVD | 2006 | CDVX 3022

Heaven 17: Greatest Hits UK CD+DVD [2006]

  1. Temptation (Edit)
  2. Come Live With Me
  3. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  4. Play To Win
  5. Penthouse And Pavement
  6. I’m Your Money
  7. The Height Of The Fighting (He-La-Hu)
  8. Let Me Go
  9. Temptation (Original Demo)
  10. We Live So Fast
  11. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry
  12. Sunset Now
  13. This Is Mine
  14. And That’s No Lie (Edit)
  15. Contenders (Edit)
  16. The Foolish Thing To Do (Version 1)
  17. Trouble
  18. The Ballad Of Go Go Brown (7” Version)
  19. Train Of Love In Motion (7” Version)

After the very successful re-issue of “Temptation” pretty much pulled the band out of the freezer and made them a going concern again, they’ve released three more albums and even a live album. Thirteen years after “Temptation” got a second wind, Virgin was again compiling a compilation. This time of the group’s full run of singles while on the label. A tape of the demo version of “Temptation” had been discovered in the home of Glenn Gregory’s mother, who gave them the tape. Whatever genius made the decision to include the demo instead of the familiar hit version of the song, deserves endless accolades, since the demo version of “Temptation” is infinitely better than any version of the song I’d heard previously!

For a start, the instrumentation is completely synth driven with fat, pulsating bass synths anchoring the song. The tune here has a walking bassline not a million miles away from the one on Soft Cell’s megahit version of “Tainted Love” which was probably the reason why it changed so much on the final version, but I’m here to tell you, that if you like electronic music, this is the go-to version, oh yes. In fact, the cut sounded so absolutely contemporary in 2006, it staggered the imagination. Even better, the female vocals were by a German student they invited to their studio and her deadpan sprechtgesang delivery stimulates the Dieter center of my brain to no end. In short, the demo avoids completely everything I found less than stellar about the original and then ramps up the glory from there.

Just Music | UK | CD | 2008 | TAO 028

Just Music | UK | CD | 2008 | TAO 028

Heaven 17: Naked As Advertised UK CD [2008]

  1. Being Boiled
  2. Geisha Boys And Temple Girls
  3. Temptation [with Billie Godfrey]
  4. Penthouse And Pavement
  5. Party Fears Two
  6. Don’t Fall
  7. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  8. We Live So Fast
  9. Empire State Human

In 2008, this odd little CD snuck out and it remains the last Heaven 17 album to see release [so far]. It consists of a mix of new versions of old songs [probably as arranged for live performance], a few covers [Associates, Human League], and new song that was left over from Glenn Gregory’s Ugly project [“Don’t Fall”]. Something nice for the merch table. The version of “Temptation” here is what concert goers who’ve had the pleasure would be familiar with as it features the band’s very capable, longtime female vocalist Billie Godfrey. She sings the song in the classic single mode with the benefit of being much less strident than Ms. Kenyon was to my ears. In fact, she gives me new appreciation for the “soul mix” of the track that I had previously lacked. Martyn Ware has a challenge to any would-be vocalists who want to sign with the group. You have to sing “Temptation” better than Ms. Godfrey does! Best of luck there.

There [there] | UK | DVD+CD | 2012 | TTDVDCD001

There [there] | UK | DVD+CD | 2012 | TTDVDCD001

Claudia Brücken: This Happened UK CD [2012]

  1. Kiss Like Ether
  2. Sequentia
  3. Dr. Mabuse
  4. Cloud 9
  5. Snobbery And Decay
  6. Temptation [demo version]
  7. When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time
  8. Running Up That Hill
  9. Dream Within A Dream
  10. p: Machinery
  11. Night School
  12. Home (Tonight)
  13. Absolutely Immune
  14. Duel
  15. Thank You

After hearing the demo of “Temptation” in 2006, I thought, “wow – the only way this could be better was if Claudia Brücken were the female vocalist!” The next year, friends of the late Billy MacKenzie held a tribute concert where they performed songs by themselves as well as Billy. Since Glenn Gregory was friends with Brücken from way back, it was an easy matter to ring her up and have her sing the demo version of the song live in concert. Four years later, they repeated the feat with cameras and hard drives recording for Ms. Brücken’s “This Happened” concert spectacular at Scala Theatre and finally my fevered dream became flesh in sound and vision. That’s a pretty long and winding road over the last 30 years for the most durable of Heaven 17’s hits.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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

  1. Echorich says:

    One of the most beautiful things about Temptation is that the band embrace it. They have never shied away from the importance of the song, such as chosing to pretentiously leave it out of sets, but instead center their live shows around it. For many years I have tried to decide if I like the running order of Luxury Gap and still mix it up to suit my mood. It is certainly the brightest song on the album and sits, for me best as the album opener. I adore the choral vocal stab of the 12″ mix but I have to agree, the original demo is the best version! It’s almost motorik and thoroughly sleazy. You also got it right with the Billie Godfrey version of the song from Naked As Advertised. Her vocals really compliment the electronic sheen of this version. Glenn sounds like he’s really thought about the lyrics in his delivery as well.

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  2. zoo says:

    So, Monk, did the recent appearance by Heaven 17 on Later With Jools Holland, in which they closed the show with this song, inspire this post?

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – Not really. I was just listening to my H17 boxed set o’ god® and absolutely loving the demo version. I didn’t know they were on Jools Holland but that’s not relevant because I don’t watch TV …on my TV or web devices. Takes up too much time.

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  3. I’ve liked the song through all its permutations, but I think I’ve missed out on the demo version — so I’ll save myself for Frau Brücken’s () version, which I am confident will be superb. I do prefer Billie Godfrey’s version to the original album version as well, but always saw the song as a white-soul rave-up and have waited patiently for a real old-timey soul group (originally I though Gladys Knight and the Pips, but now I guess Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings have the mantle) to do an interpretive take.

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