This week, as part of the ongoing process of digitizing my vinyl — a project which really should have been done a decade or two ago, and is now largely redundant due to everything being online already, but that it amuses me to carry on with — I found myself listening, for the first time in ages, to Heaven 17.
This is like hopping on a time machine straight back to the early Eighties. Heaven 17 perfectly encapsulates a certain mood of that era — a giddy, heedless youthful optimism that I don’t think exists anymore. The Seventies were finally over and now the future could begin, and we were going to get it right this time. Even now, knowing how things turned out, I find I can get caught up in it for three or four or seven minutes at a time. (Lengthy remixes were de rigueur during this period.)
Weirdly, many of H17’s lyrics are vaguely Marxist, with income inequality a recurring theme1 — which is totally incongruous with their sleek, spotless technopop sound.
That’s right, I said “technopop.” I know that’s a dirty word to some people, but I was a sucker for it back then, and I guess I still am.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain” was never my favorite Heaven 17 song. (That would be “Let Me Go,” or maybe “We Live So Fast.”) But this week, for whatever reason, it has tunneled so deep into my head that it’s actually driving me crazy. My hope is that by foisting it on the general public I will be able to relieve myself of the curse.
So: approach with caution. (Unless you are immune to technopop, which I think a fair percentage of the population is.) If you find yourself suddenly wanting to party like it’s 1982, don’t say you weren’t warned.