Heaven 17 were not even intended to be a group. The British Electric Foundation, or B.E.F., for short was born out of the collapse of the original Human League, and the brainchild of Martyn Ware, that band’s leader. B.E.F. was less a record label, more a portfolio of future musical projects of which Heaven 17 would be just one. Ian Craig Marsh, co-founder of the Human League, would join Ware along with Glenn Gregory as lead vocalist the man who would have been the original Human League singer had he not been unavailable
Within a week, they had written and demoed a new song, ‘(We Don’t Need That) Fascist Groove Thang.’ Listening back to a song written in late 1980, it’s astonishingly prescient. The purely electronic template, the driving musical philosophy of the Human League, had been modified with the addition of funky slap-bass guitar, and treated dance-floor piano. Released as a single, it became NME’s record of the week. The song managed to mention the words ‘fascist’, ‘Hitler’, ‘racist’ and was promptly banned from being played by the BBC. ‘One of the reasons the BBC said it couldn’t be played was they thought Ronald Reagan could sue them over it’, said Ian Craig Marsh in 1981 about the song’s most controversial couplet: ‘Reagan’s president elect/Fascist god in motion.’ Their first album, Penthouse And Pavement, is, and remains, a modern classic.