From the ashes of the original Human League rose two enormous eighties bands – the new, “improved” Human League, and Heaven 17. The latter had the amazing voice of Glenn Gregory, and in the 1990s turned out to be an extremely competent live act, but remained often a little too experimental, and often just plain dull. There’s still plenty in their back catalogue that’s worth exploring.
After an iffy start with (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, more memorable due to its controversial side than anything else, the string of hits from their second album (Temptation, Let Me Go, Come Live with Me, etc) were more than enough to gain them a place in history.
Where to start
Of the available singles albums, Greatest Hits (2006) is probably the best, given the bonus disc and early version of Temptation. Even if you never buy anything else, this will have a decent slew of hits and rarities on it.
What to buy
Their second album The Luxury Gap (1983) is probably their best, so is a good place to start diving deeper. Naked as Advertised (2008) will give you a good mix of some of their less common songs in contemporary versions. All their albums have their ups and downs, but the most recent Before/After (2005) is among the more consistent, so might be worth a punt as your third choice.
Don’t bother with
Pleasure One (1986) or Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho (1988) – there are only a handful of decent songs between them. The first remix album The Remix Collection (1993) is good, but the later Retox/Detox (1998) is uniformly dreadful.
The 1992-1993 remixes are generally surprisingly good, as is much of the entirely forgotten 1996 album Bigger Than America. If you’re able to find a copy of the latter, there’s plenty to enjoy.
- B.E.F. – 1981-2011 (May 2013)
- Preview – B.E.F. for Music of Quality and Distinction Vol. 3 – Dark (June 2013)
- Heaven 17 – Naked as Advertised (November 2013)
- Heaven 17 – We Live So Fast (February 2014)
- B.E.F. – Music of Quality and Distinction Vol. 3 – Dark (August 2014)