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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City, clubland, theatre, dockland, 20 Oct 2005
By 
Chris (E. Midlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Penthouse And Pavement (Audio CD)
Amazon reviewers are a self-selective sample, aren't they? Chances are we're only here to tell you that this is the 'best album of all time'. I won't go that far, but I will suggest that Heaven 17's 'Penthouse and Pavement' is one of the most important albums of the 80's. Why? First off, it did 'classy' infinitely better than London's queeny Soho New Romantics ever did 'classy'. As a concept album, 'P&P' tells a great story about Thatcherite-era consumerism while affirming an deep-rooted confidence that Sheffield was always going to sound cooler than London. It's also packed - like every other Marsh/Ware product - with great production tics that transcended the obvious. The unsung hero of the piece is guitarist/bassist John Wilson whose gorgeous playing shapes tracks like Play To Win. To a die-hard synth freak, Wilson opened my mind to the beauty of the guitar rather than fearing it as an instrument of Satan. A year later I was listening to Chic and thanking H17. As a teenage Human League fan I was overawed how smart, grown-up and ahead of its time up 'P&P' sounded. Almost a quarter of a century later, this middle-aged father still reckons he was right first time around.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye to the pavement, hello to my soul, 3 Nov 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Penthouse And Pavement (Audio CD)
Possibly one of the first concept album of the 80's and filling in some of the themes previously touched on the Human League's 'Travelogue'.
There are two strains of thought that course throughout 'Penthouse and Pavement'. 'Groove Thang', 'Geisha Boys and Temple Girls', 'Lets All Make A Bomb', 'Height of The Fighting' and 'We're Going To Live for a very Long Time' hold a mirror up to the world at large and report back on the distortions locked in their subjects; US Politics and their effect on the world, Religious implications and their impact on relationships, The possibility of nuclear war (a subject that mattered greatly in '81), war (in general) and religious extremes.
'(We don't need this) Groove Thang' sets the tone for the rest of the album; a serious 4/4 workout full of chants and a slinky bass line similar to what Frankie would do three years later on 'Two Tribes' and so good, it was banned by the BBC.
'Penthouse and Pavement', 'Soul Warfare', 'Song with No Name' and 'Play to Win' look inwardly at 80s Britain; principally the rise of the yuppie - their focus on money, their empty relationships with money, cocaine, the beginning of privatisation and Thatcherism (most critics lazily assumed that Heaven 17 were celebrating the lifestyle little realising that Gregory, Marsh and Ware were all Socialists).
Sounds drab eh? Not a bit of it - this is music for the mind, heart, soul and the feet. This album is fuelled by early analogue electronics that most modern bands would kill for, looping over this - some of the most killer bass lines; generating precision but fluid rhythms you can't help but move to. There is now an import version of the album available which features one of their greatest 12"s; 'I'm your Money', which explores similar themes to the album and sounds like Detroit techno at least seven years before it existed. Celebrate and vaporize.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best album by Heaven 17, 7 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Penthouse And Pavement (Audio CD)
As a whole, an album of two halves. The first half is very upbeat and funky. The second half is Heaven 17 at their best.
'Let's All Make A Bomb' is my favourite track on the album, in both lyric/music terms.
This album does sound somewhat dated in terms of production quality, but it does not disappoint with it's clever lyrics and melodies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A departure from the Human League in more ways than one !!!!, 3 Sep 2003
By 
Mr. A. R. Banyer "Tony Banyer" (Gt. Yarmouth , UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Penthouse And Pavement (Audio CD)
Having been a fan of the Human league since the release of "Fast 4 - Being Boiled" - I still remember the day I sat reading Melody Maker at the Bus Station amd cried (litterally ) when I read that they had split.
So many bands bands , when they split are Not equal to what they were as a WHOLE (look at the JAM for instance).
But out of one band sprung another band " Human League Mk2 " and a "project" - BEF.
For once two exceptional and totally different identities sprung from one.
As most people know Phil and co. were the more successful of the 2 with "DARE" hitting #1 and "Don't you want me baby " making the coveted No1 Xmas slot.
But that is not to detract from BEF (Martin and Ian ) who with the aid of an actually better singer in Glen Gregory (after rescuing him from his job in a butchers shop) - made an extremely impressive debut album "Penthouse and Pavement",
With the very polished and professional "Jazzfunk " PENTHOUSE side of the album - SUPERB ..!!
And the more League-esque PAVENENT side , they were instant winners.Musically if not financialy.
A departure from their older style but immaculate in content and production , I found my tears were shed in vain , as I now had twice as many great records to buy (Theirs and the Human Leagues)
God bless sheffield !!!!!!!!!!!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new romantic classic, 17 Dec 1999
By 
Justin Steed (Paris, France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Penthouse & Pavement (Audio CD)
Capatalist hip - maybe not the most promising intro, but this is a classic of its time. Heaven 17's debut album following the split from the Human League influenced many, and it's no exaggeration to say that the house and dance movements derived to a great extent from the work of Gregory, Oakey, Marsh and Ware. Check this out if you want to see how it all began. Mind you, without hearing it on vinyl you'll miss the continuous end to "we're going to live for a very long time" which was recorded all the way to the final groove. Ask your parents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The packaging screams product , the music proves otherwise., 4 May 2009
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Penthouse And Pavement (Audio CD)
If any album ,superficially at least , seemed to embrace the precepts of Thatcherism and monetarism it's Penthouse and Pavement by Heaven 17.The cover shows the band embracing corporate culture with ultra sharp pin stripe suits and all the (then) accoutrements of high flying executives. Right down to it's B.E.F.( "British Electric Foundation") logo this album seems to be screaming product rather than endeavouring for any artistic credibility.
That is until you hear the music .Martyn Ware had stated that pop music was something to be enjoyed ,that it couldn't change the world It is, he said," A confection". Yet the songs on Penthouse and Pavement were hardly lightweight wispy throwaway ditties. Recorded "dry"( a technical term for an absence of reverb ) the songs, specifically those on the old vinyl side one-dubbed the "Funky" side- absolutely wallop out of the speakers. There is genuine sonic clout on Penthouse and Pavement and it still sounds great today.
This clout, this aggression came not just from the bands chosen themes. Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh ,especially Ware, were still seething at being kicked out of The Human League and this fuelled a creative binge which meant the second ,more electronic side, of the album was recorded in just one week. All this , and of course some terrific songs mean that Penthouse and Pavement is one of the great pop albums from the early eighties.
Despite the cover -a part of their distinctly anti-rock stance and a send up of artists as multinational assets- the band were not above social polemic and anti-establishment subversion. Single "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" ,written between President Reagan's election and inauguration, was a protest at the shift to the right wing .The album though is aspirational though what it actually aspires to has been misconstrued. Songs like the brilliant "Play To Win" are about breaking free from home , from the norm and heading out into the world and not about striving for success and monetary gain.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice start, 10 Aug 2005
By 
Coincidence Vs Fate (Middle England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Penthouse And Pavement (Audio CD)
Now, I was one of those devastated when the original Human League split up, but I began to realise that I'd have twice as many records to buy!
H17 started their career strongly with two magnificent singles We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thang and I'm Your Money (sadly never released on an album), both of these tracks were logical progressions from the Human League sound perfected by messrs Ware and Marsh.
They then decided that since they were finally free from the restraints of the Human League's "synthesisers only" policy, they would spread their wings and throw a few other instruments into the mix. This is where I think the Heaven 17 story goes a little awry. As much as I adore tracks like Penthouse & Pavement and At The Height Of The Fighting, which included "guest artiste" John Wilson on bass and guitar (who was he anyway?!), other tracks such as Play To Win are a total shambles.
Overall this is their strongest album as subsequent outings tried a little too hard to jump into the charts, though to be fair they didn't do too badly with Temptation, etc.
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Penthouse And Pavement
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