Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Let Me Go" by Heaven 17

Song#:  1374
Date:  03/12/1983
Debut:  80
Peak:  74
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Martyn Ware and Ian Marsh got their first taste of success as founding members of the Human League. The band issued a pair of gold albums in the UK before clashes within the group caused Ware and Marsh to leave. Philip Oakey retained the Human League name and went on to success with their album "Dare" and it's #1 single "Don't You Want Me." Ware and Marsh then went on to form Heaven 17. With vocalist Glenn Gregory, the trio issued their UK debut album, "Penthouse and Pavement," in 1981. Although the LP featured no major hits, it would eventually do well enough to reach gold-level in the UK. As the band recorded new material for their next album, their label decided to break them in the US. They took six tracks from their debut and paired them with three new tracks for a self-titled album that featured this first single. It got a little traction thanks to its #4 showing on the US dance chart, but it never broke wide and therefore just spent a month on the pop chart. It didn't do a whole lot better in the UK where it fizzled at #41. It would be the band's only charting song in the US. The trio finally broke wide in the UK with their next LP "The Luxury Gap." The album would go platinum and featured their biggest hit, the #2 "Temptation."

ReduxReview:  I was aware of Heaven 17, but had not heard any of their songs until I encountered this one on an 80s compilation. I'm not sure why this song did not catch on more. I wouldn't peg it for a Top 10, but it certainly deserved a Top 40 showing. Maybe the darker tone didn't set well on pop radio. Not sure. Whatever it was, it's a shame as this song and the UK version of their LP "The Luxury Gap" (which included this song) are terrific and remain touchstones of 80s British new wave. It's a bummer "Temptation" didn't catch on in the US. That song is even better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The trio got their name from the 1962 novel "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess (which was later made into the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film). In the book, Burgess mentions that the band The Heaven Seventeen is at #4 on the chart with their song "Inside." The band is also mentioned in the film version in the record store scene. One woman asks another what record she will buy and lists a few artists including The Heaven Seventeen.  2) When Human League initially formed, their original choice for a vocalist was Glenn Gregory. Unfortunately, he ended up being unavailable so they found Philip Oakey. When forming Heaven 17, Ware and Marsh once again contacted Gregory. He was available this time around and the trio was off and running.


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