TRUE CONFESSIONS : TEMPTATION

I wonder if some of you were imagining that I was going to say something ridiculous along the lines that Temptation by New Order wasn’t in fact the greatest 45 ever released.  Ha!

This piece is, instead, about the Heaven 17 song which reached #2 in the UK singles chart back in April 1983, another of those songs that seems to be just about universally loved but has never been regarded as much cop here in Villain Towers.

I was a fan of Heaven 17 before its release and remained so afterwards but this, by far their biggest hit and best-known track was one that I usually lifted the needle over which meant that when I played Side 2 of The Luxury Gap LP, I went straight to its second track, the rather schmaltzy Come Live With Me.

Temptation annoyed me from the outset.  I thought it was tuneless and I wasn’t a fan of the OTT and occasionally screeching co-vocal courtesy of Carol Kenyon.  My mood wasn’t helped by the fact that having experienced flops with all the excellent singles from Penthouse & Pavement as well as the superlative Let Me Go, the band were now regulars on Top of The Pops with the worst thing they had done to this point in time.  I despaired, again, at the poor taste being demonstrated by the record-buying public.

Even today, if it gets aired at one of the retro nights I occasionally drop into, I’ll sit on my backside and sulk rather than strut my stuff on the dance floor.  And as I do, I will quietly laugh at any couples who use the occasion to act out a Glenn/Carol sing-song fantasy with one another.

mp3 : Heaven 17 – Temptation

I’m sort of enjoying doing these negative pieces for therapeutic reasons.  But please, as ever, feel free to disagree.

JC

PS : BONUS POSTING ON THE WAY LATER TODAY….TRY NOT TO MISS IT!!!!

 

A BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED BREAK-UP SONG

Heaven 17 had gotten a fair bit of attention in the UK due to the fact that their debut LP, Penthouse and Pavement, released in 1981 was probably the first overtly political synth-pop album. Lead single (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang firmly nailed the colours of the band to a left-wing agenda with its lyrical attacks on Thatcher and Reagan leading to the usual pourings of outrage and anger within the British tabloids and the inevitable banning of the track by the BBC.

There were other songs on the album that were critical of the political system and the increasing shift to the ‘greed is good’ mantra that would come to dominate the decade. It was a strange album in that none of its five singles (from just nine tracks) got anywhere near the Top 40 but the LP went Top 20 and was in the charts for months. It was as if everyone who went on a peace march or other sort of demonstration, such as in support of the striking miners, was determined to get on board with this most unlikely of protest records.

What came next was a big surprise. Heaven 17 dropped the politics and went for the pop on the follow-up The Luxury Gap, released in April 1983. The change of direction paid off as it yielded two Top 10 hit singles and another that went top 20. It has to be said that the members of the group were still at pains to say that their politics hadn’t changed and they were happy to lend their support to various causes.

There was one single that preceded the release of the second album. It failed to chart at the tail end of 1982, stalling at #41, but of all the Heaven 17 songs over the years is the one that I remain most fond of.

It’s a superbly produced and moody piece of synth-pop, with a lyric that reads as if it belongs to a tear-jerking ballad.

Once there was a day
We were together all the way
An endless path unbroken
But now there is a time
A torture less sublime
Our souls are locked and frozen

Once we were years ahead but now those thoughts are dead
Let me go
All hopeless fantasies are making fools of me
Let me go
I walk alone and yet I never say goodbye
Let me go
A change of heart a change of mind and heaven fell that night
Let me go

I tried but could not bring
The best of everything
Too breathless then to wonder
I died a thousand times
Found guilty of no crime
Now everything is thunder

Daytime all I want is night-time
I don’t need the daytime all I want is night-time

The best years of our lives
The hope of it survives
The facts of life unspoken
The only game in town
I’ll turn the last card down
And now the bank is broken

Found guilty of no crime
They were the best years of our lives
I’ll turn the last card down

**I am surprised that nobody has ever taken the lyric and see how it would work with the tune slowed right down.

Having said that, maybe it’s best left alone as it is one of the most enduring and least dated of the tunes from the era:-

mp3 : Heaven 17 – Let Me Go (extended)

As ripped from a piece of vinyl that is will have its 35th birthday later this year.

JC

** after typing out the post, I learned that the band had actually done this back in 2011

mp3 : Heaven 17 – Let Me Go (acoustic version)

Not really sure about it to be honest…too much like the sort of interpretations you find on annoying TV talent shows.