Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
August 18, 2012 5:58 AM   Subscribe

"Reagan's president elect...." 30+ years ago Heaven 17 released their first single, (WE DON'T NEED THIS) FASCIST GROOVE THANG. Stop your good time dancing, 'cause here they are three decades later (still) performing it at Abbey Road studio and sounding pretty fine. Turn volume up before playing.
posted by Dean358 (22 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's missing the fantastic bass part but it's still good.
posted by jdfan at 6:15 AM on August 18, 2012


Gah, they outsourced the bass track. It was nervous, it was sloppy, and it was the best part of the song. You can listen to it here.
posted by Wolof at 6:16 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Snap!
posted by Wolof at 6:16 AM on August 18, 2012


I was just listening to Heaven 17 yesterday for the first time in ages. Damn they were/are good! The way they provided a soundtrack for the excesses of the Thatcher years and simultaneously subverted the hell out of it was just sublime.
posted by merocet at 6:23 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


How they got the bass part done is a good story in itself:

Pretty early on we'd recorded 'Facist Groove Thang' and the backing track was down and we'd got this gap in the middle - a standard middle eight gap - and Martyn said, 'Why don't we do something really stupid like have a disco bass solo.' We didn't know any bass players who could do any more than play rubbish one note bass lines. At the time to get some money together I was working as a stage hand at the Crucible Theatre just doing the panto and shifting scenery. I asked in the green room if anyone played bass and this really quiet, nice guy called John Wilson put his hand up and said he played a bit. I said, 'Brilliant. At lunch time can we go to yours, get your bass and you can come to the studio and play it.' We got the bus to his, picked up his bass came to the studio and we recorded it in one take. He's left handed but hadn't restrung the bass, just learned how to play it upside down. He said, 'Is that OK? Because I don't usually play bass... I'm more of a rhythm guitar player.' And we said, 'Really? Can we go back to your house and get your rhythm guitar?'

Love Heaven 17. Just love them.
posted by daveje at 6:58 AM on August 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


BBC 6 Music is a fantastic station.
posted by quarsan at 7:30 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I hadn't heard this is so long, thank you!
posted by marimeko at 7:46 AM on August 18, 2012


I still know all the words, and I haven't listened to this in far more years than I'd care to admit. What a great band. And they still sound great.
posted by biscotti at 7:47 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


> You can listen to it here.

Thank you! God, I loved that single; it helped me through the early Reagan years, before I discovered Minutemen and the Mekons. I'm glad the band is still together and sounding pretty fine, but I'll stick with the original, thanks.
posted by languagehat at 8:01 AM on August 18, 2012


I'm not a huge fan of Heaven 17 (Oh, BEF, so much squandered potential...) but this is a pretty awesome video.

As the YouTube comment says, accurately:
If anybody ever says to you that 80s bands´╗┐ were rubbish, just show them this. Brilliant.

I have a dream of an album of cover versions with Neubauten, OMD, Cabaret Voltaire and Test Dept covering this one song.

I can't help wondering if the backup singers were born when the song was released.
posted by Mezentian at 8:09 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a dream of an album of cover versions with Neubauten, OMD, Cabaret Voltaire and Test Dept covering this one song.

Throw in DAF and the mysterious Grauzone and you've got a record.
posted by item at 8:20 AM on August 18, 2012


Does everyone already know that

- they took their name from a fictional group mentioned in A Clockwork Orange,

- Der Mussolini, by DAF, mentioned by item, is very similar.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:33 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The way they provided a soundtrack for the excesses of the Thatcher years and simultaneously subverted the hell out of it was just sublime.

Yep. Wikipedia tells me that along with Orange Juice's "Rip It Up" and Blancmange's "Living on the Ceiling," "Let Me Go" was one of the first commercial hits (well, a hit in the US anyway) to feature a Roland TB-303. Besides, it's just a fucking great dreamlike song that still sends chills up my spine to this day.
posted by blucevalo at 9:01 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There were a few UK radio stations who were a bit reticent to play it (because of the political lyrics). John Peel of course played it. "Don't know why the BBC have banned this" He said. "Obviously they don't want to upset the fascists"
There's also this observation by Bob Last, the producer of the track.
posted by Webbster at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I absolutely wore out a cassette version of Penthouse and Pavement in various crappy car stereos back in the day. Love this.
posted by N-stoff at 9:38 AM on August 18, 2012


I always loved the line "Reagan is president elect", as it puts this song in a very specific timeframe (between November 4, 1980 and January 20, 1981). Way to date your song!
posted by KindredCoda at 12:58 PM on August 18, 2012


I can't believe no one's mentioned the deconstructed version of this song by the Fire Engines, a great and influential Scottish group who broke up after one album and three singles. This version was recorded for a John Peel's show. Being a naive foreigner, I thought it was the original for a long time.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:07 PM on August 18, 2012


Yeah, missing awesome bass, but this was awesome, and a bloomin' anthem from my youth!
posted by mattoxic at 4:02 PM on August 18, 2012


I love the '80s new wave/new romantic political dance anthems. I wish there was a cognate for those types of songs today, but I haven't found one.
posted by padraigin at 9:53 PM on August 18, 2012


Love that story about how the bass part came about. And Wilson's bass on "Penthouse and Pavement" is even better.

What ever happened to that guy? I know he was on a couple of tracks on the next album, but after that?
posted by pascal at 10:29 PM on August 18, 2012


Gone AWOL. The band lost touch with him in 86. They've made attempts to find him since but with no success.

You can see Wilson playing on Penthouse and Pavement, and indeed he's playing his bass upside down! He was only 17 at the time, appropriately.
posted by daveje at 2:55 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


> You can see Wilson playing on Penthouse and Pavement

Thanks, that was fun—and the general vibe, sassy, sexy, and subversive, reminded me strongly of Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.
I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it.

  —Emma Goldman
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on August 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


« Older We decided to have a little fun with the app and s...  |  Collector's Weekly offers us a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments