Released in 2006 on Virgin/EMI, this package is by far the best available collection of hits, singles, and favorites from synth pop trio Heaven 17. Pretty much unknown in America, Heaven 17 scored a number of hit singles and smash albums in the early to mid 1980s in the U.K. and much of Europe. In America, they are best known for their lone Hot 100 charting single "Let Me Go", which climbed to #74 in 1983 and still finds a place on a number of 80's compilations today. In the U.K., they are best known for the #2 1983 smash "Temptation", which is their biggest single there.
The CD clocks in at 76 minutes, making almost full use of the 80 minutes CD capacity by including 19 digitally remastered tracks, covering the band's successful, and not so successful, output from 1981 to 1988 on Virgin. The DVD features, as far as I know, all 13 of the band's promo music videos in addition to a few extras.
The highlight is the CD audio remastering by Donal Whelan at Hafod Mastering, finally bringing a previously unheard clarity, dimension, and punch to these recordings. These tracks sound wonderful, and the audio upgrade alone is enough to add this collection to your cart! Even the liner notes make a reference to the band thinking that this is how these tracks were meant to be heard, only that technology was limited at the time. "It sounds tremendous, by the way. It brought a tear to my eye, for real", stated Heaven 17 member Martyn Ware.
All tracks are the original album versions, except for 7" edits of "Temptation", "And That's No Lie", and "Contenders" in addition to 7" versions of "The Ballad Of Go Go Brown" and "Train Of Love In Motion". Considering official 7" edits exist for a number of other singles presented here -- including "Come Live With Me", "Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry" and "Penthouse And Pavement" -- the tracklisting isn't really consistent, as if the label had randomly picked edits over album versions. I think all 7" edits/versions should have been presented here, with the original album versions available on the 2006 remastered albums.
Now on to the DVD -- Region Free and PAL format. The tracklisting: 1 Penthouse And Pavement, 2 Let Me Go, 3 Temptation, 4 We Live So Fast, 5 Come Live With Me, 6 Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry, 7 Sunset Now, 8 This Is Mine, 9 And That's No Lie, 10 Contenders, 11 The Foolish Thing To Do, 12 Trouble, 13 Train Of Love In Motion. Extras -- 1 Temptation '92, 2 Penthouse And Pavement '93. The extras are simply early 90's remixes of the original tracks using both original video footage and some random promo video footage from over the years.
The DVD was produced by Abbey Road Interactive, a studio that is usually known for doing good to stunning work for the EMI label -- excellent audio/visual DVD hits packages for The Human League and John Lennon come to mind. I was let down with their work on the DVD here, which may just stem from the budget given to the studio from EMI.
Abbey Road is known to reissue their promo videos with a remastered soundtrack. Unfortunately, this release is missing a remastered soundtrack on a number of videos, yet the sound on a number of other videos is in fact remastered! It's almost as if Abbey Road randomly chose videos for which to include the remastered sound. Some videos feature the audio as brilliantly remastered as the sound on the CD, yet other videos feature a mediocre mastering. Even a few videos suffer from a horrible mastering, if I can even call it that, since it's probably just the original audio that accompanied the original video source. It's almost like Virgin/Abbey Road put out a half finished product. What a shame!
"Penthouse And Pavement", which is the first track on the DVD, uses the original poor quality soundtrack. Suddenly, the sound improves greatly when we get to the second track, "Let Me Go", which is not quite as sharp as the CD version. "Temptation", on the other hand, sounds like it was lifted directly from the remastered CD. Then we come to "We Live So Fast", which is rather poor, but "Come Live With Me" in it's edited 7" version sounds as crisp as the original version on the CD. "Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry" follows and sounds as poor and distorted as "Penthouse And Pavement"!
That's not to say that these videos aren't worth watching. Actually, the picture quality isn't that bad. If I had to guess, these videos more than likely were pulled from their original source masters. Considering the age of these releases I can't really expect better quality than what is presented here, since some of these promos were naturally grainy with mediocre lighting and spotty darkness, such as 1981's "Penthouse And Pavement" and 1983's "Temptation". Other videos look pretty good for their age, including 1982's "Let Me Go" (maybe because it's in black and white?) and 1983's "Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry".
In any case, this CD/DVD package is a very enjoyable release with the excellent CD sonic upgrade and generous 19 tracks. (And yes, that "Temptation [Original '81 Demo] is worth checking out!) The DVD, despite it's faults, is still a nice addition to the package, even if a number of the videos are very cheesy! All in all, 4 stars for a package that could have benefited from a remastered video soundtrack on ALL promos and for the random use of edits on the CD. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this compilation.