Over the last three decades, B.E.F.’s work has achieved a cult status and universal acclaim. Their 1981 debut album Music For Stowaways was recently hailed by Uncut magazine as one of the “50 Greatest Lost Albums of All Time” .
After the split of The Human League, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh’s first release as B.E.F. in 1980 was a collection of instrumentals entitled Music For Stowaways. The album was initially only made available on cassette and was inspired by the appearance of the first Sony Walkman (first marketed in the UK as the Sony Stowaway). There was also a vinyl release, Music For Listening To, mainly targeted for export sales, which was slightly truncated (with an additional track not found on the cassette). In the late 1990s, a CD release with this title combined the complete contents from both versions.

In 1982, with Heaven 17 already established with Glenn Gregory as the lead vocalist, Virgin Records released the B.E.F. album entitled Music of Quality and Distinction: Volume One on that involved other artists covering classic songs. The production was mainly in the Heaven 17/B.E.F. style (synthesisers and Linn Drums). Tina Turner’s version of The Temptations’ Ball of Confusion drew the attention of Capitol Records. Her next single, Let’s Stay Together, co-produced by Ware, peaked at No.6 in the UK Singles Charts and made the US Top 20.

B.E.F.’s album also featured covers by Billy Mackenzie’s The Secret Life of Arabia and It’s Over, Paul Jones’ There’s a Ghost in My House, Paula Yates’ These Boots Are Made For Walking, Gary Glitter’s Suspicious Minds, Bernie Nolan’s You Keep Me Hangin’ On, Sandie Shaw’s Anyone Who Had a Heart, and Glenn Gregory’s homage to Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman and Lou Reed’s Perfect Day.

It wasn’t until 1991 when Music of Quality and Distinction: Volume Two was released. The follow up album featured Tina Turner’s A Change is Gonna Come and Billy Mackenzie’s Free. A new version of Sly and the Family Stone’s Family Affair gave singer Lalah Hathaway and B.E.F. a Top 40 hit. Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside was another guest on the album, performing I Don’t Know Why I Love You. Scritti’s collaboration with Shabba Ranks on the pop-reggae version of She’s a Woman was recorded at the same sessions.

B.E.F. is currently working on Music of Quality and Distinction: Volume Three entitled Dark. “The album will consist of very dark versions of tunes that have to be of a certain type,” explains Ware. “It’s dark reinterpretations, primarily looking at things differently, from a lyrical point of view. It’s almost like a soundscape in much the same way as You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling on the Human League’s first album Reproduction.”

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DARK | BEFMQD3   Release Date: 2013-05-27


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