The 'Bigger Than America' album is being released by Cleopatra Records in the States within the next couple of months.

Sev - 7/10/97

Executive Summary
Heaven 17 release their first album in eitght years this Autumn.
Titled Bigger Than America, the album has been conceived
as a sequel to their acclaimed debut Penthouse & Pavement.
It will be preceded by the single Designing Heaven.
As a prelude to the new material, Heaven 17's label, Eye of the Storm,
invites you to listen to this executive summary of the bands career to date.
These six songs set the scene for a most welcome return of a band
whose vision remains as distinctive now as it was when they first began
to move our feet, hearts and minds 15 years ago.

PRCD 322


  1. (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
  2. Wichita Lineman
  3. Let Me Go
  4. Temptation (Remix)
  5. Come Live With Me
  6. (And That's No Lie)

Bigger Than America reviewed by The LEXICON

(This is from Issue 2, Issue 1 is online here, Issue 2 is available by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Issue 2 also has an interview with Martyn Ware)

Heaven 17 "Bigger Than America" (Eye of the Storm- UK) - 1989's Teddybear, Duke and Psycho was about as disappointing an album as could be imagined from Heaven 17. Most fans, as the years wore on, began to realize it was probably also the bands swan song, which made it doubly disappointing.

But the gods of good fortune (and Commerce) have now favored us with a brand new collection from the "godfathers of pop". Bigger Than America marks the first all new collection from the band since 1989 (they've had three best of collections meanwhile). It was, as they say, well worth the wait.

Try to get by the first single, "Designing Heaven". Maybe one day it will be considered a classic like "Let Me Go" or "Penthouse and Pavement", but it's doubtful. The song lacks energy or a good melody, seemingly constructed with out a real master plan. Add that to the opening track "Dive" which has even less energy and direction. With these two opening tracks out of the way the album suddenly opens up, like Dorothy landing in Oz. The band seems invigorated by going back to the old analogue synths (a fact proudly noted in the liner notes). Gregory's voice has never been better and stronger, he uses it to push the songs to even greater melodic heights and often duets with himself to form great harmonies. The band has wisely added to that a liberal, but not overbearing, use of back up singers, which has filled out the songs rather than drowned out Gregory.

The music also is far more powerful than past efforts. Albums like Pleasure One and Teddybear seemed overly loud and overly full of tons of instrumentation, yet curiously flat. Now that the band has scaled back the sound seems, ironically, fuller, richer. They actually seem to get a "warmer" sound out of the old synths. Stand out tracks include the should-a-been first single "Freak", "Another Big Idea" and the title track.

This is easily their best work since Penthouse and Pavement or How Men Are. No US Domestic release has been announced.

There is also a German CD single for "Designing Heaven" with mixes by Altern-8 and Gorgio Moroder. Non of the remixes set the song on fire, but seem serviceable enough for clubs. No b-sides or unreleased songs. From the UK there was released a 2 cd set for the single. All together 9 tracks, they do not contain the "Pei" mix from the German single, but do have 5 mixes not on the German single, including a version auf Deutsch ("Den Hemmel Designen") and several remixes by Giorgio Moroder.

Bigger Than America reviewd in A to Z - the official ABC fanzine

It's bee eith years since their last album 'Teddy Bear, Duke and Psycho' in which they've been written of as forgotten about. Now Heaven 17 return with 'Biger Than America' (WEA PROP236). The new record sounds fresh, contemporary and very Heaven 17, reminding us of the 'Penthouse and Pavement' sound, due to the use of analogue synthesizers. All the songs have been written with the group in it's familiar line-up (Ian Craig Marsh, Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware) and the perform it all themselves as well (although Angie Brown provides backing vocals). The group hasn't lost any of it's skills sounding convincing throughout the whole album. The lyrics are strong and interesting while the beats are all there, embedded in subtle arrangements. There are possible dancefloor favourites such as the excellent 'Freak' and 'Unreal Everything'. There are more great tracks however such as the lovely 'Do I believe' and the tuneful 'Maybe Forever'. Heaven 17 fans will not be disappointed in this long awaited return. 'Bigger Than America' is a good and enjoyable comeback. Let's just hope it will take them less time to come up with their next album.

4/5 - Melvin Welters

There is also an interview with Martyn Ware (as well as plenty of great info on ABC) in the latest issue of A to Z. To obtain a copy write to Melvin Welters for details.

The Guardian

SIXTEEN years after their epochal Penthouse And Pavement debut and nine after their last album, Heaven 17 have hardly changed. Even the sardonic slogans in the CD booklet could be remnants of their days as groundbreaking electro-popsters. But no, they have aged - you wouldn't have caught Glenn Gregory sonorously intoning `I'm scared of the 21st century' (from Freak!) in 1981. Other than that, though, things are much the same - just less melodic. Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware still produce plinky, one-tempo backbeats, going jungle on The Big Dipper and houseish on Resurrection Man. Gregory's lyrics are disillusioned, even morose: `Pray for me as I disappear . . . change my life till nothing remains,' he says on the closing An Electronic Prayer. We Blame Love has the closest thing to a tune, which brings us to the crux of the matter - their status as godfathers of techno is unchallenged, but these songs are hollow and too samey.

Section FRIDAY, page 12, col 4. 1997 Mar 14

Bigger Than America reviewd by Future Music

Heaven 17's comeback album has already been criticsed in much of the music press. On first listening this is understandable because, as the band freely admit, this is not a singles' album, so don't judge it on just one spin - take your time and listen to it track by track and you'll be pleasantly surprised. There are no outstanding tracks such as those classic singles Come Live With Me or Temptation, but there a are some top cuts nontheless. It's unmistakable Heaven 17 throughout - more so, in fact, than the bands last 2 albums. They have rediscovered the analogue synths, the effective arrangements and the simple hooks that deliver the goods without fuss. They have rediscovered the vibe that first made Penthouse and Pavement such a refreshing outing in 1981. There are some 90's moments and some single material but overall the feel is retro.
Whether there is room for an album of this 'age' in 1996 is, of course, questionable. But what is music of 1996 anyway? With the instrumentation of techno stepping back in time and the Britpop movement worshipping the 60's, who knows? Heaven 17 say it's Future Retro. I'd say if it sounds good there is always room. And after a few listens this starts to sound pretty darn good.

3.5/5 - Andy Jones.

My review of "Bigger Than America"..2/21/97

Dan Gillespie Houston, Texas U.S.A

I managed to get a copy of the new Heaven 17 from our local import store..and i must say! Its the best.....i have not taken it out of the cd player since i bought it. The albums starts RIGHT off with a great song DIVE which reminds me of Let me go (you guys who say you dont like this song...WAKE UP!) ....simply super!..the album backs off just a little bit with Designing Heaven..which i like..but don't expect to be a classic...The next really hot song on the album is "We Blame Love" this is right on target guys! WOW! and then "BIGGER In America is even better! The only song on the album i Dont like to be honest is..."Freak"..i just can't get into it. I could rave on and on about each song..but there is no need...THIS ALBUM SPEAKS FOR ITSELF! it is truly a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 Bravo!
I look forward to the next release!
And hey! give us lads in America a break...were not so bad.

Bigger Than America reviewed by Hiroyuki Mizukami

To me, the songs of the new album resemble their early works in The Human League, or the songs in Erasure's "I say I say I say" for which Martyn Ware worked; they seem to stress on the electric sound itself, rather than the melody. Although the sharpness of Glenn's voice and eventually the melody is to some extent diminished (blurred), every sound we can hear in every song is so strong and brilliant that I'm addicted to the new release. But what's the seeming hostility for America...?

Bigger Than America reviewed by China

Its a bit of a mixed bag to say the least. It starts off with lots of la la las then goes into the verses where G.Gregory sings over some fairly minimal modern synth fx. Glenn's voice sounds more delicate than in the 80s and it really does interplay beautifully with the fx. The lyrics are typical H17 political comment, smack up to date and very good with it. However, in spite of a very convincing start the chorus is a real downer, very weak indeed. A synthpop chorus by numbers with none of the reassurance of their old hits. Imagine the chorus to Temptation with all the oomph taken out. Thats why it got the 'dated' commment in Melody Maker I reckon. Not having heard the album I hesitate to say this, but maybe they've more work to do on the new sound.

And from Melody Maker (thanks China)

A bad review here but also a couple of twat reviewers. I'm sure Neil is aware that they might challenge his market, too.

Heaven 17 'Designing Heaven'

Everett True [Melody Maker Journo]:
The comeback single from the early 80s band now trumpeted as "Godfathers of techno" (At least by their own PR). A rather weak Human League pastiche dribbles out of the CD speakers (Some things never change)as Neil cracks open the champagne.

Neil Hannon (lead singer of The Divine Comedy, who have had several UK hits of the Cocktail-lounge-Lothario-Bacharach-flavour in recent months):
"I thought Kraftwerk were the godfathers of techno. This sounds a bit like all those Human League comeback attempts. In the early Eighties Heaven 17 had such a specific sound because synthesizers had such a specific sound. Now, there are all these crazy sampling sequencers, and they just sound like everything else. This sounds very dated. Emasculated. They haven't aged well. Remixes by Georgio Moroder? That says it all. It's unfortunate, because I rather liked them in the early days. All of you bands making comebacks: stop. Now."


Heaven 17 are back with a new album after an eight-year sabbatical. Musically, BIGGER THAN AMERICA, marks a return to the electronic roots that initially made them an influential group. Lyrically it will raise as many questions as their radical albums, Penthouse And Pavement and the Luxury Gap. Sounding much as they did many years ago, this is sharp, social comment you can dance to.

Al Crawford Review

Still not heard the album but are interested?
Got Shockwave installed?
Try the Bigger Than America Jukebox.