Have you heard it on the news About this fascist groove thang Evil men with racist views Spreading all across the land
Good job the situation has changed so drastically in the last 38 years and so we can look at Heaven 17 (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang as a simple historical curio, eh readers?
Democrats are out of power Across the great wide ocean Reagan's president elect Fascist God in motion
I have Mrs 1537 to thank for hipping me to Heaven 17, long dismissed by me* as fluffy 80’s nonsense sort of along the same lines as Kajagoogoo and Dollar. Although something dully nagged at me about the fact that they took their name from Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.
The music is interesting, lurching, dry, pasty-faced funk. The first couple of times I listened to it I scrabbled to gain any toehold on it at all, the rhythms changed constantly, the tune was elusive and I found it really disconcerting. What you need to do is just concentrate on Glenn Gregory’s voice (and the beat), it pulls you along and through and before you know it you’re marching on the nearest outpost of right-wing imperialist oppression. True story.
Gregory has a deep, rich tone – no wonder he was Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware’s original choice for vocalist in the Human League. But I should look a little deeper and listen to what he is actually singing, as I think there may be some kind of coded political message here.
Generals tell him what to do Stop your good time dancing Train their guns on you and me Fascist thang advancing
The BBC banned the single, as they feared it libelled Reagan, with almost 4 decades of hindsight I’m inclined to agree to a point, although RR’s rather simplistic gunslinger-based approach to global politics meant that I spent far too much of my young life wondering if I ever would get a chance to grow up, get an office job, go bald, own a Saab and get married than I should have**.
(Everybody move to prove the groove) (Everybody move to prove the groove) (Everybody move to prove the groove) (Everybody move to prove the groove) (Everybody move to prove the groove) (Everybody move to prove the groove) (Everybody move to prove the groove) (Everybody move to prove the groove)
I rather like this simplistic, if slightly tongue-in-chic, dancefloor radicalism. Wikipedia will tell you, rather loftily. that Heaven 17 have ‘adopted the lexicon of funk’ to decry fascism – that’ll show the bastards! If only my grandparents had had similar recourse they could have spared my granddad several years of his life in Germany.
Whatever, (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang is a cracking 12″ and an essential staple for anyone wanting to rile up dancefloors historical and current, which is what matters when all is said and done.
The B-side ‘The Decline Of The West’, sometimes attributed to Heaven 17’s B.E.F alter ego^^, is a really great track too. It sounds to me now like Vangelis sound tracking Fallout 3, but I wonder how it sounded to our forefathers lacking these same reference points. It is atmospheric, pessimistic and slightly ominous, which correct me if I’m wrong are the 3 Kittens of the Apocalypse. It also has a little interlude at the end which reminds me of ‘Gail’ by Alice Cooper (from Raise Your Fist And Yell), oddly enough.
Sisters, brothers, lend a hand Increase our population Grab that groove thang by the throat And throw it in the ocean
I picked up the RSD 2016 180g re-release of this 12″, it is nice but I reckon I would have been just as well served picking up an original for a fraction of the price. Still isn’t that just the fate of us record collectors in thrall to our overlord, that fascist groove thang?
*without actually hearing a note of theirs since the early 80’s, of course.
**sadly, I have had ample time to devote to all those activities^.
^apart from the Saab, I like that bit of being boring and old at least.
^^British Electric Foundation, since you ask.