Want List: B.E.F. “Music For Stowaways” On LP + CD…Finally!

Ian Craig Marsh + Martyn Ware were the busy 1981 production duo British Electric Foundation

It was some time in February that chatter in the back channels from chasinvictoria and Echorich alerted me to the fact that the famous B.E.F. tape-only album “Music For Stowaways” was coming to both the PVC disc and the silver disc in a few months. And then we had an email from AdeW just minutes ago jolting me out of my stupor. Reminding me that I had neglected to post on this topic…until now.

B.E.F. music for stowaways

In 1981, “Music For Stowaways” was a cassette only release, designed for the brand new Sony Walkman, which had not yet gotten it’s now familiar branding. Upon its 1979 launch, the player was called by various names depending on the territory it was sold in. In Australia and Sweden, it was the Freestyle. In America, the Sound-about. But in the UK it was known as the Stowaway; hence the title of this tape. It was only by 1980 that it rebranded globally as the Walkman®…the iPod of its day!

I bought one of these limited edition UK tapes that was numbered in an edition of at least 10,000 back when it was new. I didn’t like buying pre-recorded tapes as the quality could be very low, but with nine tracks, and an elaborate fold out package, this was calling out hard to the Heaven 17/Human League fan in me who wanted all I could get my hands on that fateful year. In America, we got something a little different to this tape issued on LP.

The “Music For Listening To” LP was for American export only through Virgin’s Caroline imprint. It contained most, but not all of the tape tracks, and an additional song, “A Baby Called Billy.” I eventually got one of these in the early 90s for better quality than the tape of those songs. In 1997, there was even a US CD of this release with all of the tracks from the tape and LP for ten cuts of left field instrumental synthiness. So I didn’t waste much time in buying one of these, as well. Alas, it was one of the CDs my wife had in her car the fateful day her 2004 Honda Civic SI was stolen! I’ve been without a CD of this music ever since. There has since been a B.E.F. boxed set with it in there, but that sold out blazingly fast!

Cold Spring Records | UK | CD | 2023 | CSR310CD

B.E.F.: Music For Stowaways UK – CD [2023]

  1. B.E.F. Ident 00:34
  2. The Optimum Chant 04:11
  3. Uptown Apocalypse 03:11
  4. Wipe The Board Clean 03:47
  5. Groove Thang 04:07
  6. Music To Kill Your Parents By 01:26
  7. The Old At Rest 05:37
  8. Rise Of The East 02:53
  9. Decline Of The West 07:11
  10. A Baby Called Billy 04:02
  11. Honeymoon In New York 02:16
  12. B.E.F. Indent 00:36

Thanks to Cold Spring Records in the UK for giving us another chance for this music on the silver disc! The CD features the first nine tracks as on the 1981 tape, plus the bonus tracks of “A Baby Called Billy” as well as the B.E.F. tracs “Honeymoon In New York,” which appeared on the B-side of Heaven 17’s “At The Height Of The Fighting” single. Cold Spring have also pressed LPs of this title, normal black as well as a limited edition of 500 yellow copies, which have all sold out from the label exclusively. So that bird has flown. The black pressing below is still plentiful.

B.E.F. music for stowaways LP
Cold Spring Records | UK | LP | 2023 | CSR310LP

The posting today is timely since the album will be released this Friday, April 21st. And through this Thursday, the pre-order price is discounted for the CD and LP. The CD is £9.99 but £11.99 on the 21st. The LP is £19.99 in pre-order and £22.99 from the 21st onward. Shipping for the CD is good at only $7.23 for the USA from Cold Spring’s Bandcamp store, but the US distributor Forced Exposure will be carrying the title on CD and LP from May 5th for domestic purchase. I may just go all-in on the CD from the label before Thursday. We’ll see how the numbers stack up in this week’s budget. If it’s calling to you then D.J. hit that button!


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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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15 Responses to Want List: B.E.F. “Music For Stowaways” On LP + CD…Finally!

  1. Gavin says:

    I received the yellow pressing a couple of weeks ago and it is exquisite.
    Had “Music for Listening to” for decades,but years of DJing “A baby called Billy” at London clubs means that it is now somewhat shabby.


  2. Nick says:

    Giddy Gavin is just showing off again!
    Cold Spring haven’t been very forthcoming when I was chasing my yellow lp that I got via Bandcamp along with a cd copy. Eventually they told me they weren’t dispatching until the cd was released and dispatched together.
    I’m just fingers-crossed that it will still arrive… very much looking forward to it..


  3. Jon J says:

    I was just about to click BUY on Bandcamp last night then balked at the shipping. Amazon had it, but I try not to give them any more money when possible. I eventually ordered from importcds.com–CD $15 + tax and shipping $2.99. I’ve had them bookmarked for awhile, but this is my first time ordering from the Illinois company.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jon J – Welcome to the comments! I had not checked importcds.com yet but they are a vendor I’ve used before and often seek titles at. They are a great place to look for something. Their pre-sale prices on boxed sets can be astounding.


  4. Andy B says:

    I’ve ordered the CD from Lexer Music along with a few other items that are yet to be released. As all items will post together it will be late May before mine arrives.
    I’ve heard some, but not all, of the tracks previously. So I’m excited to hear tracks that are so old and yet new to my ears. B.E.F really did record some interesting tracks not a million miles from their early Human League instrumentals. I wonder if there’s anything else in the vaults.


  5. FINALLY! Ten years ago, Medical Records in Seattle was working on a vinyl reissue of “Stowaways” and tapped me to write liner notes. (Martyn & I had a great chat for them!) But ultimately Virgin decided to hold on to the rights with an eye towards doing their OWN reissue. So glad somebody finally did it and, from the sound of things, did it right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      kurtbreighley – Liner notus interruptus sounds absolutely ghastly! How painful to hear that you had to wait a decade for the thread to get picked up! But at least it did happen!


  6. Andrew says:

    The CD fits nicely in the Penthouse and Pavement box from a few years ago to accompany the disc of early demos that came with that set, making it a more complete box set now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Andrew says:

    Well, that box is already full to the brim, but the new CD sits on top of all the contents and the lid goes comfortably on top. Well happy with this!


  8. Pingback: Want List: Electronic Sounds #101 Offers The Blue Hit Of Space With Martyn Ware 7″ | Post-Punk Monk

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