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on 24 October 2011
A nice package comprising the two Music of Quality Albums, plus bonus tracks mainly instrumentals, plus Music for Stowaways and a preview of the next album 'Dark'. Also includes facsimiles of the single covers plus a nice poster. Although a big Heaven 17 fan I had not previously heard much of this material an I was pleasantly surprised by the majority of this collection. Volume 1 is the stand out set as it presents a variety of music given the 'electronic' treatment. Ball of Confusion, There's a Ghost in my house and Wichita Lineman are the highlights. Volume 2 is too 'soulful' for my liking as it is not personally my favourite genre of music. However, you would have to be very hard hearted not to be moved by the Green Gartside version of I don't know why I love you but I do.

I was looking forward to the Music for Stowaways album the most, some of the instrumentals are of their time and could be regarded as simplistic and repetitive now. Decline of the West and Honeymoon in New York are classics, but I was shocked by the very crude edit of Decline of the West - how did that make it on to the final release? Disappointing - although it is available in its full glory on the remastered Penthouse and Pavement. 'Smalltown Boy' plus the new material featured in the recent Roundhouse Gigs suggest that the new album might be worth checking out when it is released in Spring 2012.

Overall a bit of a mixed bag -excellent packaging, some stand out tracks, but the 'Decline' edit is inexcusable.
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on 22 October 2011
Right, I have just received this box set and admit I only really purchased it to get my hands on a remastered version of the seminal Music For Stowaways. Well I never would have guessed it... What do I discover upon playing the CD back? Only that Decline Of The West one of the best tracks from Music For Stowaways has been cut! Extraordinarily badly cut I might add, and quite unnecessarily in my view. Why has this been done? Well I can only assume it was for reasons of space, so that an extra track could be tagged on to the end. But to spoil an album like this so that you can include a seven minute demo taster for the next B.E.F. release - Music Of Quality and Distinction Vol 3 is really ham fisted and cheap. You either value the material you are releasing or you don't. If you don't then why, as in this case, bother re-issuing it at all?

When you consider the time and effort put in to the earlier excellent Penthouse and Pavement Heaven 17 release, to discover this sloppy lazy editing is really annoying. I can't believe Martyn Ware sanctioned this?! It's not even as if this version has been done with any thought or care - the music just starts half way through with absolutely no regard for the original dynamics of the track.

I know that the full version of Decline Of The West is available on the reissue of Penthouse and Pavement and I'm assuming that was why it was considered okay to cut it here, but really this is surely not the point. An album like Music For Stowaways should be respected as the pioneering electronic work it so surely is, not ruined to make room for a demo!!! This is not good enough I'm afraid and completely at odds with the quality one used to expect from a B.E.F.release.

I'm sure there are other fans out there who, like me, have been waiting for Music For Stowaways on CD for a long time. Now when it finally gets an official release we are given this tossed off version seemingly with the approval of one of its originators. A begrudging two stars but only because I now have Glenn Gregory's rendition of Wichita Lineman on CD for the first time.
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on 20 November 2011
The British Electric Foundation at it's finest.If your in to early Heaven 17 this is for you. Really well produced.
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on 26 January 2016
Way back in the 80's I bought the cassette "BEF Presents" and I loved it, but obviously cassettes do not last very long, so I lost all the music. I've been searching for years to try and find a replacement and here it is at last. I have to admit the tracks themselves might not be quite 5*, but there are some real gems here and I was so happy to get a digital copy at last.
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on 19 October 2013
The cd compilation is great as some of the earlier disks I could not get anymore. Very pricey but availability rare so you pay what you can. H17 and BEF brings back superb memories from the 80's
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on 19 November 2014
Underrated album from the other half of what was the original Human League - brings back a lot of memories
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I had really been looking forward to hearing this, having enjoyed, but never owned, the first "Music of Quality and Distinction" album back in 1981.

Sadly this whole box is a huge disappointment, even that first album. There are one or two impressive performances on the first disc, in particular Sandie Shaw and Tina Turner, but that first disc unfortunately comes over as a bit of a novelty album, partly down to outlandish choices of material ("Suspicious Minds" by Gary Glitter), and partly down to outlandish choices of performer (Bernie Nolan?... Paula Yates???). The inexperience of the guys back then is also shown in some rather thin and "safe" production, as if they were rather in awe of either the performers or the material, or perhaps both. Billy MacKenzie tackling Roy Orbison's "It's Over" should be a cast-iron masterpiece, but it is badly handled - not one of Billy's best performances to be sure, but a decent production team could surely have rescued it.

The second disc, a similar set from 1991, is much more polished, as the production is buch bolder and clearer. Unfortunately, although the artists involved are, in the main, superior to the first selection, including Billy Preston and Chaka Khan alongside the return of Billy MacKenzie and Tina Turner, none of the artists really deliver outstanding performances; so the overall impression is of a rather sterile set of tracks, perfectly pleasant, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The third disc contains a number of tracks from their early 1980s "Stowaways" side-project, and they unfortunately are little more than self-indulgent attempts to take forward the Human League sound circa "The Dignity of Labour", of two years earlier. I can understand the guys wanting to do this at the time, as the League's increasing profile around then must have raised many questions regarding their own contribution, prior to the split in 1980. However, these tracks are tedious and almost entirely without merit. There are three further tracks on this CD, two backing tracks from earlier sessions, and one track (an advert!) from next year's "Music of Quality and Distinction: Volume 3 - Dark", a pretty nondescripit run-through of Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" sung by Billie Godfrey, who is coincidentally currently lead singer with Heaven 17.

Overall, I really could not recommend that anyone buy this box, as the material on all three CDs, apart from the novelty appeal of a few tracks, is uninspired and clearly not as good as it should be. It is very nicely presented, with a full colour booklet, a poster, and five card mini replica sleeves featuring five of the singles released by the project. Still one to avoid, sadly.
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on 14 November 2011
I have the original vinyl box set and to have the tunes now on CD is brilliant. They sounded good back "in tha day", and now they sound just as great. Paul Jones Ghost in My House is pure genius .. as is Bernie Nolan (yes from those sisters!) with You Keep Me Hanging On ..

Overall - a must have for your collection :)
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