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Heaven 17 – Penthouse and Pavement (1981)

July 25, 2018

[Album 610/1001]

My esteemed colleague Bruce @ VinylConnection wrote a splendid post last year, Top Ten Excuses for Buying Records.

I believe that his reason #8, Owning the CD doesn’t really count, applies here.

For you see, Heaven 17’s debut album is divided into a pair of distinct sides: Pavement Side (side 1) and Penthouse Side (side 2).

Listening to the continuous running order of a compact disc? It just wouldn’t be how the artist intended for it to be consumed.

How could I do such a thing, a mere 37 years after its release, to Heaven 17?

By the same logic, a stream would have been equally inappropriate.

Therefore, the $5.95 LP investment…justified!




Admittedly, some of my enjoyment of this record likely stems from its purchase experience.

Last week, I had the pleasure of going on a mini-road trip with a few friends, making stops at Backbeat Books & Records in Perth and Vinyl Destination in Merrickville.

I scooped this in Perth (along with Oracle and Odessey, which was at the very top of my wish list!) before picking up a Billy Joel live LP & a Kate Bush single in Merrickville.

Seeing as I will remember acquiring this record at a good price on a good day with good company, Heaven 17 was already off to a strong start.

I also decided to heed the advice of Scar from the Lion King &/or The Boy Scouts: Be prepared.

As an avid food label ingredient reader, after noting the primary instrument for 2 of the 3 members, I was prepared for this to be synthpop with an emphasis on the synth.Penthouse_and_Pavement

Though unlike my experience with groups like Depeche Mode or New Order, where I’m well aware that they have capable guitarists, the relative absence of guitars with this relatively unfamiliar group didn’t bother me.

Strangely, or even ironically given my usual preferences, perhaps it was their unwavering commitment to the synth-heavy format that made Penthouse and Pavement all the more palatable?

I think I must admire that sort of dedication – if you’re going to go synth, might as well go all in.

When two thirds of the band contributing Synthesisers is simply insufficient, why not bring in additional musicians to play ‘Synthetic Horns’ and ‘Guitar Synthesisers’?!



Verbalize the Positive

Cheers to Bryce/Jim/Pat for an enjoyable record investing day!

From → 1980s

  1. “Go Synth!” – what a great exhortation and also a promising 80s throwback band name.

    And what a fun post – record hunting, road trips, synth pop (and a shoutout – thank you!).

    I recall side one track one – the single I think. It was pretty catchy as I recall.

    • My thanks Bruce – and anytime!
      Yes, I gather the single was actually banned – from what I read, that hurt the commercial prospects at the time.
      It seems like in 2018, getting banned/boycotted would only increase the commercial potential!

  2. I remember his post and agreed with him 100% and I might have even thrown one in, but can’t remember now. Nice find! My only question on this album is with all the synths, why weren’t the vocals synthesized as well?

  3. I suppose you could listen to the tracks of Side One on the CD, then hit Pause, go get a drink or whatever, then come back an dplay the tracks of Side Two after your brief intermission…

  4. Road trip and record shopping – a perfect day! That much synths though… I dunno, man… I’m glad you dug it, though!

    • Road trip, records, and fish tacos + craft brew for lunch made for a nice hat trick!
      I think with synths, I like when there’s a little, then I lose interest when they seem to drive the song. But curiously, I now also seem to like it when it passes the point of being so synthy that I can’t help but cheer for it!

      • Do you suppose there’s a kitsch value you to it once it crosses that line, like they’ve gone full synth so you just have to cheer for them? I (usually) can take a little synth but not a whole lot. Except for Rush. Because RUSH.

      • I imagine that’s the case – I’m like that with tracks too.
        Generally I’m a minimalist (drum + bass + guitars + vocals) and complain when something feels like it’s overproduced. But then when something is so ridiculously over the top with dozens of tracks, it starts to be appealing again!

  5. Reason #8 is my new favourite reason.

    • I should print out Bruce’s ‘reasons for justifying record buying list’ for when I’m out in the shops!

  6. I bought a 1981 compilation yesterday with the song Penthouse and Pavement on in it

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  1. 1981 | 1001albumsin10years

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