Albums I Want to Be Buried With: Heaven 17, “Penthouse and Pavement” (UK vinyl version)

Okay, this is one of those instances where I have to specifically delineate which version of an LP I want in the casket.  Because what we would consider the American version of this LP – which would have  been simply titled Heaven 17 – has some rearranged tracks and misses one important audio trick.


Once upon a time, there was an experimental synthesizer band from Sheffield, England called The Human League.  At the time, the lineup consisted of Martyn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh, Philip Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright.  They released a few albums under that name, and had some UK hits like “Being Boiled” and “Empire State Human,” as well as a disco hit called “I Don’t Depend on You” (under the nom de plume of “The Men”), but then a fallout between the members caused Ware and Marsh to leave The Human League.  Oakey and Wright soldiered on, added some members – including two teenage girls – and released the album Dare, and its worldwide smash “Don’t You Want Me.”

But what happened with Ware and Marsh?

They added a new vocalist, Glenn Gregory, and recorded a few singles as part of something called BEF – the British Electronic Foundation.  Eventually that evolved into Heaven 17 – yes, you do get bonus points for knowing that the name came from the book A Clockwork Orange – and the group released one of the best electronic albums of the early 1980’s, Penthouse and Pavement.

Now the last time I mentioned that I wanted a specific pressing of an LP in the afterlife casket, it was New Order’s “Power, Corruption and Lies” – for the specific reason that it contained two songs on the American pressing that were not on the UK pressing.  In this case, however, I would prefer the British pressing of Heaven 17’s “Penthouse and Pavement” rather than the American pressing, in that there are some different running orders and a very special phonographic gimmick on side 2 that does not exist on the US copy.

See, this classic album contains tracks like “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” which was a killer dance track and got lots of airplay on college radio.

Penthouse and Pavement also had such other early 1980’s dance club classics as “Let’s All Make a Bomb,” “The Height of the Fighting,” and “Geisha Boys and Temple Girls.”  It also has a song called “For a Very Long Time,” with a running time of – well, infinity.  It’s that song that contains the audio trick.  It’s the fifth and final song on side B of the vinyl album, and as the song blends into a repeating refrain, “For a very long time… for a very long time… for a very long time…” the tonearm drifts into the runout groove (the closest groove to the record label) – but the song continues to play!  This trick has been done with other albums, I believe Def Leppard’s Pyromania album has a runout groove trick, and so does one of Ringo Starr’s solo albums.

Still, if you want one of the seminal 80’s British rock/dance albums in your afterlife collection, you can’t go wrong with Heaven 17’s Penthouse and Pavement.  Just make sure you’ve got the UK version, not the American one – unless you actually want the song “Let Me Go,” and don’t mind that “For a Very Long Time” is about 2 minutes long.