Heaven 17, a British band you probably missed.

They might be well known in the UK, but in North American and around the world Heaven 17 went under the radar. But I tell you, if 80s synth pop is your thing, then you must read on.

Heaven 17 came to be out of an idea called the British Electric Foundation. This was supposed to be a production company, and although albums were released under that company, Heaven 17 became its main (and pretty much only) project. One of the Heaven 17 founders is Martyn Ware, who also happened to be one of the founders of the Human League. So with that resume we’re already up for a good start.

They have several albums, their latest being from 2017, but the album I want to highlight is The Luxury Gap. Released in 1983, this one made a big splash in the UK. The song Temptation made it to the Top 2 on the UK charts, and The Luxury Gap quickly made it to platinum (is that a thing anymore?). Some of the themes on this album are about the working and middle classes struggle in an industrialized world. Something that is not quite out of fashion yet, unfortunately. Just replace industry with tech or AI, and you’ll see what I mean. So you will not be surprised to know one of the songs in the album is called Crushed by the Wheels of Industry. Which, by the way, happens to be my favourite one.

The band was heavily influenced by soul and, surprise surprise, electronic music. They admit being fans of Kraftwerk. And you can also hear some sounds that reminisce from the Human Legue, which begs to ask the question of how much influence did that band had on Ware, and how much influence did he have on The Human League.

Smash Hits magazine cover with a Heaven 17 photo on it.

So to wrap this up, if you, like me, are into fishing for music jewels from the past you might have missed back then, then The Luxury Gap comes highly recommended. You should also check out Penthouse and Pavement, their first album, which is another interesting one.

If you would like to find out more about them, here’s their history on the bands official website.

Also, here you can find a link to an article about them on Smash Hits magazine – 1983 (UK).