Friday, September 09, 2005

Classic 12"s - Penthouse And Pavement

One of my all time favorite electronic records is the Human League's 1980 LP Travelogue, so when Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware left the band soon after it's release I was disappointed - and eager to see what they would do. Everyone knows what happened to their old band after they left - world chart domination for a couple of years. Ian and Martyn hooked up with singer Glenn Gregory and launched Heaven 17. Their debut LP was called Penthouse And Pavement and was released the same year as the Human League's breakthrough album "Dare". I snapped up both records and loved them equally. Unfortunately for Heaven 17, the general public preferred the Human League records. Heaven 17 didn't completely flop out in the charts - several of the singles were hits, and they also had a few more minor hits over the years. I always felt that they got the raw deal, because IMO their album is just as catchy, although in a much more sophisticated way. It's divided into two sides defined by the album title. It features a lot of the same synth sounds as it's peer, but stepped it up even further by incorporating the brilliant playing skills of a young unknown guitarist by the name of John Wilson. It's his tremendously funky bass popping that makes the songs on the A (Pavement) side of the record, and particularly the title track Penthouse And Pavement (12" Version), so freaking good. It's fluid and rubbery and brilliant. Also prominent here are the supremely soulful vocals of American r'n'b singer Josie James - she can actually sing, something those two lovely ladies in the League could never be accused of. Don't get me wrong, I love those girls, but Josie carries a tune with no bum notes. A seriously funky slab of classic synth pop.

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