BEF Music for Portable Cassette Players on Reissue

by coldwarnightlife

The departure of Ian Craig Marsh and Martin Ware from the Human League was engineered by their record company and manager to allow the act to develop in more commercial directions. The first two albums from the Sheffield-based electro pioneers had been received with enthusiasm by the cool crowd, but they weren’t paying the bills back at Virgin HQ by themselves. A plan was cooked up, therefore, to kick Ware out of the band he had created and have it continue based around the singer he had brought in.

Let me glow

To his credit, Marsh was prepared to follow Ware out of the door. Instead of creating a new version of the League, they diversified. First, they went into music production, setting up the British Electric Foundation as a vehicle for working with other artists. They also founded their first “client.” Heaven 17, with a mate of theirs who was working as a snapper in London, but that is a story for another day. For our purposes, what matters is that the BEF production team released a cassette of electronic music that continued the lineage that had started with The Future, moved into the Human League, and emerged with the ambition to take synth music into the mainstream.

Music for Stowaways was specifically created for the compact cassette tape. Sony had given their portable music players the name, Stowaway, before settling on the genre-defining Walkman. Ware and Marsh loved the idea of the device, and they went into the studio with some friends – including Adi Newton and Glenn Gregory – to create a single-format release with early adopters in mind. With eight tracks, the original March 1981 release was a glimpse into the future.

In 2023, Music for Stowaways is getting an expanded edition release on two other formats: vinyl and CD. The track listing is set out below.

A1 | 1 B.E.F. Ident
A2 | 2 The Optimum Chant
A3 | 3 Uptown Apocalypse
A4 | 4 Wipe The Board Clean
A5 | 5 Groove Thang
A6 | 6 Music To Kill Your Parents By
B1 | 7 The Old At Rest
B2 | 8 Rise Of The East
B3 | 9 Decline Of The West
B4 | 10 A Baby Called Billy
B5 | 11 Honeymoon In New York
B6 | 12 B.E.F. Ident

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