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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Penthouse And Pavement

Heaven 17

1981

Penthouse And Pavement
Album Summary

Penthouse and Pavement is the debut studio album by English synth-pop band Heaven 17. It was originally released in September 1981, on the label Virgin. "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" was released as a single, but did not achieve chart success, partly due to a ban by the BBC. The album sold reasonably well, but was not a great commercial success on release. It has since been regarded as "an important outing", is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, and was re-released in 2010 in a three-disc special edition. The title track was included on the soundtrack of the 1993 erotic thriller film Sliver.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.63

Votes

11264

Genres

  • Rock
  • Pop
  • New Wave

Reviews

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Thu Dec 23 2021
3

Oh this one was enjoyable if a little weird. Lyrics fit oddly well for the COVID era. Fave track: (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang. Should have been the theme song for Trump's presidency.

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Sun Oct 24 2021
1

Some albums age well, while others remain rooted in the time that they were made. Heaven 17 may well have been significant pioneers of synth-pop, leading the New Wave revolution in the early 80s, but this album is a difficult listen now. Over-pleased with the new technology that enables unnecessarily complex musical patterns, the attempt to be edgy with sixth-form political potshots is simply lost in the mix. How this ends up in any list of great albums is a mystery to me.

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Fri Feb 03 2023
1

So you're telling me it didn't chart successfully, and it didn't wow critics successfully either. Then why the fuck would this ever be on the list? As an example of complete and utter underwhelming mediocrity? A what not to do? Ain't nobody got time for that. It's shit. And I don't need to listen to shit for shit's sake.

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Mon Nov 27 2023
1

I’m beginning to suspect that the author of this list misunderstood the assignment. This is clearly just a list of 1001 albums he has heard.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
2

Heaven 17 experiment with 80's synth pop in an effort that almost feels like a summation of the musical movement. Unfortunately, they fail to capture any of the pop magic of other contemporaries when it comes to catchy ear worms.

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Wed May 19 2021
1

Favourite songs- Penthouse and Pavement, Play to Win, Song with no Name I'm not a big fan of synthpop but I feel there's a lot of better synthpop out there than this. Some songs feel almost annoying and immature on this album. Synthpop is also something that needs to be really well produced for me to enjoy it, and I think the production here was not amazing. Also, you look at a synthpop band like Kraftwerk, which were so ahead of the curve that you have to respect their inventiveness, but this is a record from a time where tonnes of bands were making stuff like this, so it doesn't even seem terribly original to me. Not a bad album, certainly not my style, but I would argue that this is not an essential album. On the first track, [We Don't Need This] Fascist Groove Thang, the verse has some cool melodic ideas, but then it descends into this really repetitive chorus, that infiltrates your ear in an unpleasant way. Also the percussion is some of the most annoying stuff I've ever listened to. Next comes the title track. It starts off with a cool riff played on a synth, but it almost sounds like a horn. The percussion here sounds a bit better. There's obviously another vocalist on this track too. The melodies are cool here too, catchy, but in a fun way. I'm not a huge funk fan either, but this was an enjoyable track, though it did not need to be almost seven minutes long, as there are a lot of parts where I feel a bit of a lull. Still a great song though. Play to Win is okay, not an amazing song, but it's got some nice moments. It was one of the shorter tracks on the record, which I appreciated, as a lot of songs were really stretched out. This was the perfect length. Again, some really repetitive motifs that got kind of annoying, but this was okay. Next on the record is Soul Warfare. I'm not really a fan of this song at all. The piano sounds really pitchy and kind of like a toddler's just playing at random points. Then the hook (which is a pretty appalling hook. Seriously, write a better chorus) sounds really pitchy again, and it bothers me a lot. Another overlong song. Geisha Boys and Temple Girls is fine, until you get to the chorus. It's so nursery rhyme-ish that it puts me off the whole song, which is a shame because I was enjoying the verse. The laser sound effects do really annoy me as well. Let's All Make a Bomb might be the most annoying song on the record. From the farting synths to the weird melody, this song just sucks. The Height of the Fighting just repeats, over and over and over and over... then the verse is really strange. I'm sure it was a big political statement at the time and stuff, but the song just isn't enjoyable to me. Song With No Name is kind of dark in an interesting way. I can see why someone would enjoy this, and it's not bad at all. Got some weird moments, but definitely a highlight of the record. The last song, We're Going To Live For A Very Long Time, is another very childish song. Super repetitive and annoying. Not a fan at all. So yeah, I wasn't a huge fan of this record, but I do see how some people would really like it if they were into this style of music. It's just not to my taste.

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Wed Jul 28 2021
1

Shallow and Pedantic. Bass player is fantastic. But everything else is pretty elementary. Seriously, I'm struggling to not turn this off. It's like that guy in school who thinks he's a good song writer and keeps trying to share his demo but it's god fucking awful. And he gets a record deal, which is stunning until you find out his dad owns the label.

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Mon Mar 28 2022
5

the lyrics are amazing. very interesting album to listen to. definitely gives a unique perspective to the time period. track 10 has serious thundercat vibes. i feel like i have been looking for this album since 2016.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

Maybe a little generous but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Fascist Groove Thang is great and although it lost me around tracks 3-4, the likes of Let's All Make A Bomb and The Height of the Fighting hooked me back in. It's very 80s in some ways but also still manages to sound futuristic to me.

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Fri May 14 2021
2

Not really an electronic person. Not surprised I didn't really enjoy it.

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Tue Oct 20 2020
1

Synthpop. Dammit. The worst thing to come out of the 80s. It's blippy-bloopy, arpegiated, slam-drum crap with Devo-esque non-singing vocals. Also, there are random saxophone solos inserted for some reason. I hate everything about this genre. In the interest of fairness, there ARE some pretty groovy guitar and bass tracks on this album that are not typical of the genre. They're just buried underneath so many layers of blippy-bloop that they lose their grooviness. Even throwing it that bone, this album is awful and gets one star.

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Fri Nov 12 2021
1

Its got groove. But somehow it feels very small, the sounds feel very small, and the vocals seem very of. This is pretty bad. 2/5 The further I progress, the further this uninterests me. Nothing happens. 1/5 It's like a parody. "Decline Of The West" is pretty good, but it's not on the original album, so I wont consider it in this context. But I will include it on my playlist instead of any of the other songs lol.

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Wed Mar 29 2023
5

Awesome new wave album with similarly awesome messages. The early songs on the record sound like Primus if it were a new wave band.

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Wed Dec 08 2021
4

This kind of early new wave/synthpop can be hit or miss due to it being so raw compared to what most people are familiar with, but I really enjoyed this album!

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Sun Jan 30 2022
4

You may know Human League for their synthpop masterpiece Dare. Well, just a couple years earlier their music was more avant-garde, like if postpunk went complete synths and pop. Moving in a more commercial direction, founding members Ware and Marsh broke off to form Heaven 17 to continue their more abstract sound, giving us this excellent entry. Lyrics are incredibly left-wing, reminds me of Gang of Four, to the point where they outright call Reagan and Thatcher starting fascist regimes in the first track. "Let's All Make a Bomb" is a celebratory mood to bring about the end of the world. Although not revolutionary, it's a fresh relief to hear unique subject matter in such an upbeat manner. The first half is all high-energy dance tracks, littered with repetitive catchy choruses and addictive beats. Clearly inspired by American disco, this is most evident in "Soul Warfare" with the signature guitar chords. Second half shifts to "electric" dark wave, still maintaining that groove off the first half, but much mellower and atmospheric. I love it all, this is exactly my preferred genre of pop music, danceable with highly varied synth tracks not afraid to get weird.

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Fri Apr 02 2021
2

It's OK as pure background music, but can't see it as anything else. The lyrics seem somewhat interesting, but I mostly didn't pay much attention.

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Fri Aug 20 2021
2

Penthouse and the Pavement has some sick bass playing throughout, but the title track has a standout bassline. The sound has perhaps not aged as gracefully and I find the songwriting a bit hit or miss.

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Wed Sep 29 2021
2

Quite odd.. Spotify wouldn’t let me listen to half the album. Otherwise very short

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Sun Jan 08 2023
2

I'm expecting another bad English New Wave band after looking at the cover of this album. Oh what a surprise I was right. This album was so bad it made me reconsider my enjoyment of other new wave bands.

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Mon Mar 18 2024
2

A haiku: Heaven 17? Heaven 2 or 3 at best Aren’t I clever?!

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Sun Mar 24 2024
2

Another album I'm wondering why it's on this list. This was a struggle to get through.

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Thu May 16 2024
2

I like a lot of 80s music but this was a lot of fluff (needs more pumping base). I think I just wanted them to be Depeche Mode and they aren't. Honestly, this is what people are probably thinking of when they say they don't like 80s music. And why was this album so friggin long?

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Wed Mar 13 2024
1

Shouldn't be on this list, in my opinion.

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Mon Mar 25 2024
1

WHO THE HELL IS PICKING THESE ALBUMS?! WHO DECIDED I NEEDED TO HEAR THIS?! 1/5

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Mon Apr 29 2024
1

Have never had a positive opinion of Heaven 17 – not sure why, just never had a good vibe about them… Could not have picked out a song of theirs – so it wasn’t anything experiencially-related, but it’s always been that way… Well – after listening to “Penthouse & Pavement” – my long-held disdain for Heaven 17 was absolutely dead on, as this album – as my good friend Keith is fond of saying – was fucking terrible!!! Not pretentious like many other “1’s” that I have given, nor was it mindless speed metal – which I have been known to trash – no, this was just a level of extraordinary suckitude that one doesn’t come across very often… The funniest part, was the ONLY song that I found even remotely listenable, was “Song With No Name” – which I’d probably give a 2-stars out of 7 – but after that, there was absolutely nothing else worth listening to, over the rest of the ONE HOUR & 22 MINUTE exercise of sonic futility… That was until Track #19 came on (i.e. I might have had listened to the deluxe version…) – and I was like, oh – that doesn’t suck as much as everything else… When I went to check what the title of said song was on TIDAL, I found it was called “Song With No Name – 12-Inch Version”… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Seriously, this was absolutely awful, and that’s ONE HOUR & 22 MINUTES of my life that I’m not gonna get back… Would honestly give this a “0” if I could, as listening to this actually pissed me off, but the site won’t allow it, so begrudgingly I’ll give it a 1…

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Thu Jan 28 2021
5

I have never heard of this band or album but it's great. 1981 is an interesting year in music and film and this album isn't an exception.

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Mon Mar 28 2022
5

Very lovely stuff. Funky vibes mixed with electronic. Overall i liked all trakcs but the ones that stood out: Bassy play in "Groove Thang" was epic good. Fully instrumental goodness "Declines Of The West"

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Wed May 04 2022
5

10/10 LOVED IT. So very classy and every song sounded too interesting. Favorite was probably let’s all make a bomb

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Wed Nov 09 2022
5

Despite growing up in the 80s, I haven't listened to a lot of Heaven 17 before. The album cover had me ready to like this album, and like it I did. I love this synth-driven, pop extravaganza. It addresses some pretty interesting topics (I enjoyed "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" as I placed my ballot into the collection box today). Some days the relative simplicity of a lot of the songs might not have appealed as much to me, but it was perfect today!

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Wed Nov 09 2022
5

This is a fine, fine example of early 80s British synth-pop, which is a genre I strongly connected to in my adolescence. Not that I knew this album, but I wish I had. It also gets points for the politics of the time. Coming today, on the U.S. election day, "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" helped me emotionally cope with a terrifying day. Maybe I can get through this with a defiant dance beat! Is it perfect? No. But it speaks to me and it made me happy today. And it has a perfect cover.

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Wed Jan 04 2023
5

Classic synth-pop album. Perfect in every way (lyrics, art work, song writing) and part of a perfect 3-album streak with its two successors, The Luxury Gap and How Men Are.

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Fri Feb 03 2023
5

Very quirky and fun album. Chaotic energy.

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Sun Apr 16 2023
5

I've been patiently waiting for this one. It's about as close as it gets to RCE, if not in terms of sound, at least in spirit. Though honestly soundwise it's not too far off. The Kraftwerk influence is strong, but it's tempered with a decent amount of soul to set it apart. Right down to the BEF acronym, and just look at that cover! Listening to this is like getting DNA test results back and finding out who your long lost father is.

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Sun Apr 16 2023
5

For some reason, seeing the cover made me think I would not like this - I think the ridiculousness of it was too tantalizing of a promise to be true - but luckily I was wrong, I loved it! The only thing I recognized was Fascist Groove Thang (I think from the LCD Soundsystem cover), but I liked most of these. I appreciate the political commentary, and the spare yet imaginative arrangements. The basslines in the first half of the album are so distinctive that I was shocked to find out that the bass player was not a part of the band - he was just some kid that happened to be at the local theater that one of the band members worked at when they were looking for a bass player. Really amazing story, well told here: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/heaven-17/we-dont-need-this-fascist-groove-thang

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Sun Jul 16 2023
5

This album STARTED by calling Reagan a fascist outright and saying the world is fucked and needs to change all will be one of the catchiest songs I've ever heard. This couldn't have possibly NOT gotten a 5 from me. Damn this is the kind of stuff I use this site to find.

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Fri Nov 17 2023
5

10/10 VERY ambitious for a pop album, but I guess that’s just how 80s UK was

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Fri Dec 01 2023
5

i agree with Dan LeRoy of AllMusic who felt that the album combined electropop with good melodies, and that Glenn Gregory was able to deliver the "overtly left-wing political" lyrics without sounding "pretentious"

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Thu Feb 15 2024
5

I didn’t know that this record is so good. It’s rough and very danceable. Perfect!

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Tue Feb 27 2024
5

A five star album, even before listening to it once again. The precision in the recording and the sound is incredible. It still sits well in the early 80's critiques of Thatcherism. Unlike most, it has aged incredibly well.

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Wed Mar 13 2024
5

5. One of my favorite albums on this list so far

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Thu Jun 13 2024
5

This makes me want to squirm around on the ground like God’s favorite bug 🐜🦟🐜🦟🐜🦟

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Mon Feb 08 2021
4

I had first heard of Heaven 17 through LCD Soundsystem's cover of "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang", but I had only heard their original and nothing else. I might be just be an easy mark for the exact combo of early 80s new wave/synthpop, but this was a fun surprise of an album for me. Probably just as easily cheesy and dated of its time if you're not a fan of the exact reference points. "Fascist Groove Thang" was what had attracted my initial attention, but the title track is also a banger

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Wed Mar 24 2021
4

BARNSTORMIN. WE DONT NEED THAT FACIST GROOVE THANG! solid electropop sound. lots of intense slap bass. Song With No Name is definitely weird. it gets weirder and weirder the longer it goes.

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Thu Jan 28 2021
4

It was a ripping day for GME, so listening to this 80s-casino-cocaine on trays by babes in roller skates-style music was hitting just RIGHT. Got a little weird towards the end but I wasn't paying attention. I would revisit though!

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Sun Feb 07 2021
4

An innovative album which improves with every listening.

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Fri Jun 11 2021
4

Het eerste nummer voorspelde voor mij niet veel goeds, maar erna werd de muziek iets toegankelijker, en vond ik het nog best goeie nummers

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Fri Jun 11 2021
4

Better than I expected. Funky bass lines/british 80s electronic music

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Wed Jun 02 2021
4

Extended version has some good songs would probably rate it possibly higher if they were on the original 9 track album. 2 former human league members and very of its time but would listen to it again so a good 4. The music and the lyrics are both fun with something to say.

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Wed Oct 06 2021
4

Неплохо, но местами прям не нравится

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Thu Jan 27 2022
4

An odd/fun album in the best possible way.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
4

banger - so much excellent groovy bass happening. quite odd as a concept, but enjoyed the listen

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Sun Feb 27 2022
4

02/26/2022 Fun synthpop from a band I’ve never heard of. Only half the album is available on Spotify, which was a bummer. But of those that I was able to listen to, they were tons of fun!

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Fri Apr 08 2022
4

Better than I remembered from when I owned this a long time past. Odd to think this was radio-friendly pop music 40 years ago!

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Fri Apr 15 2022
4

Wow. How. Interesting. 80s synth pop with very weird yet deeply topical lyrics. And some deftly executed experimental moments that make this record worthwhile musicaly speaking, too. Someone in this group pointed out with a snarl how the first track could have been used for Trump's campaign (I had not realized this song was the one covered by LCD Soundsystem, too). What more can i say? And what a great, sardonic artwork, to boot. I thought only Devo could pull off weird stuff like this. I was wrong. Thanks Dimery and co. Number of albums left to review or just listen to: more than 900, I've temporarily lost count here Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: approximately a half so far (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: a quarter Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): the last quarter

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Wed May 04 2022
4

"(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" is very catchy with the super speedy back beat and has a super cool bass jam in the middle -First couple tracks were pretty strong, back half wasn't as good. Whole thing gave me Talking Heads and David Bowie vibes

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Thu May 05 2022
4

Provocation: this has aged much better than Dare. Just saying.

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Thu Jun 23 2022
4

Kinda funky vibe, but in a way that was pretty good I think

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Thu Jul 07 2022
4

I loved the first track “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang.” This album is overall pretty cool, though I can see how some might get bored after hearing repetitive tunes in some songs.

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Fri Aug 05 2022
4

I love hearing Reagan hate though not all of the songs were jams. 7/10

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Fri Aug 05 2022
4

8/10. Cool album, it usually annoys me when Spotify only has the extended version of the album, but in this case I was left wanting more at the end of the album's run time so it was okay.

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Wed Sep 14 2022
4

Highlight: (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang

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Thu Sep 22 2022
4

Not much to say, aside from the fact that I like wobbly, nervy synth pop from this period very much. I only knew 'Temptation' prior to giving this a listen, fool that I am. There's a strain of peculiarly English glumness that runs through this otherwise twinkly offering that I find most appealing. Aside from the music, that's an all-timer of an album cover. Answering phones! Making deals! Getting paid! Truly, the most Thatcherite of new wave sleeve art imaginable, and I love it.

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Thu Sep 22 2022
4

Some bangers, Def an interesting type of music!

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Fri Sep 30 2022
4

I like the sound of this album a lot. Not every song did something I liked, but it was still interesting to hear. The themes in this album were definitely interesting. My favourite song was Play to Win.

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Wed Nov 09 2022
4

The kind of 80s brit pop that I tolerate more than enjoy, this one had me bopping along pretty good.

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Thu Nov 10 2022
4

Never heard of this before. I see new wave and think ew no I will not enjoy, then I see synth pop and my interest is back... the first song seems like it could be stressful but then I am actually really enjoying it. It's juicy 80s synth goodness and I like the message. I see radio 1 banned this debut single/opening track for fears it libelled Reagan haha I love that. Also really like the title track, really funky. Ok I officially love this album it's super fun. Groove Thang is great, also Soul Warfare and Geisha Boys and Temple Girls were highlights too. Glad I've been introduced to Heaven 17 now.

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Sun Nov 20 2022
4

Left wing lyrics over industrial electronic dance music is a proper mood and Heaven 17 deliver an ambitious and unusual album. Ahead of its time in many ways and an admirable record.

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Wed Dec 14 2022
4

"Penthouse and Pavement" is the debut album from English new wave and synth-pop band Heaven 17 consisting of Glenn Gregory (vocals), Martyn Ware (piano, synths, percussion, vocals) and Ian Craig Marsh (synths, sax, percussion). Ware and Marsh formed this band after breaking away from The Human League. They actually first formed the production team British Electric Foundation which was credited with the production of this album. Critics called this electro-pop with good melodies. I'd agree there..very much sounding of the early 1980's. Although the singles didn't fare as well, the album stayed in the British Top 100 for 77 weeks. Side A or the Pavement Side starts with the first single "(We Don't Need This)Fascist Groove Thang" which was a song banned by the BBC for its commentary on the political Right particularly Ronald Reagan. A poppy song with a very quick beat and mechanical sounding which goes funky towards the end. A synth jam opens their second single, the title track "Penthouse and Pavement." This is kind of groovy. A very busy song with all that's going on. Female backing vocals. A cool guitar/synth ending. OK, this sounds a lot like The Human League. He's going the motions during the day and is free at night. "Play to Win," the third single keeps up the up the quick, poppy pace. Just go for it in life. "Geisha Boys and Temple Girls" open Side B or the Penthouse Side. It sounds like "Close Encouters" with keyboards and laser sounds. Well, we're in that era. I think about forget trying for boys and girls to get along. Their last single and far and away my favorite song on the album is "The Height of the Fighting (He-La-Hu)." A dance groove, mechanical. A deep male voice saying two words and the singer responding. Great, great vocal chorus repeating the title. Very similar to Depeche Mode. An anti-war song. A happy-sounding song "We're Going to Live for a Very Long Time" ends the album. Another song with a very catching chorus. A positive song about people living people together with opposite views. This album definitely throws you back to the early 80's with a few extremely good songs. I can't say this quite as good as The Human League's "Dare" released around the same time. This album is a great example of early 80's synth pop genre.

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Fri Dec 16 2022
4

I’m honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I think for new wave, I either need it to be as soulful as this or still have some of that post-punk energy. Otherwise, I don’t really care for synthpop. B

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Fri Dec 16 2022
4

I dug this. Love all the frantic funky guitar and bass mixed with synth and drum machine. Some nice sax samples in there too. 3.5/4

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Sun Dec 18 2022
4

I love this record *almost* all the way through, but it is a very strange album indeed. The mix is weird as fuck, the arrangements are weird as fuck, and it is delightfully subversive dance music. Though its classified more ass synth-pop or new wave now, this record kicks off with a really strong funk bent that I just dig. its Side B slows down a bit, but mainly because side A features John Wright’s funky-ass bass playing that really makes it all work for me.

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Sun Dec 18 2022
4

This is a reason why I am taking part in this listening exercise: to hear albums like this that I had little to no knowledge of. I enjoyed it, need to listen more.

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Mon Dec 19 2022
4

Interesting synth techno pop album, enjoyed the beats and the lyrics, would listen again

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Fri Dec 23 2022
4

J'ai aimé cet album: ceci est un appel à l'aide.

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Wed Jan 04 2023
4

Compliments to these guys for making a synth pop album that I thoroughly enjoyed. Favourite track: Song With No Name.

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Wed Jan 04 2023
4

Interesting synth pop album. Most of the songs are just okay, but my favourite track by far was the highly Kraftwerkian I'm Your Money, and I loved the weird arpeggiated synths on Geisha Boys and Temple Girls.

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Wed Jan 18 2023
4

I really liked this!! I love 80s synth pop and this is about as 80s synth pop as you can get. Bummer the BBC banned their single, thus inhibiting the success of this album. This is probably a 4.5 for me.

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Thu Jan 19 2023
4

A fun little synth pop album, pleasant listen, not too long. Saved tracks: Soul Warfare, The Height Of The Fighting, Song With No Name

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Wed Feb 01 2023
4

8/10 - funky nice to listen to

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Thu Feb 16 2023
4

High points: (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, Soul Warfare. Reminds me of: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the lighter side of New Order

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Fri Feb 17 2023
4

It's not an album I would necessarily put in the 1001 challenge, but... Wow, I loved the unusual synthesizer sounds and kind of sarcastic vocals. "Let's All Make A Bomb" is a killer track. I think I loved that album.

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Fri Feb 17 2023
4

Ramdomize system is good sinxe a couple album. One of my favorite genre. weird just enough, nice use of the synth, album cover is cool.

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Fri Feb 17 2023
4

Great New Wave album that makes me think of early Men Without Hats stuff. Don't know how it got on this list, but was glad to hear it.

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Fri Feb 17 2023
4

This would be a 3.5 but for the purpose of this challenge I'll give it a 4. Note sure if it's an essential but I'm glad I listened to it. Quirky synthpop with lots of irony and... well, synths.

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