believe in magic
heavenly recordings the first 30 years by robin turner
Heavenly was already a state of mind.
Seemed like the right time to make it something really special. We were all deeply immersed in music that we loved. None of us could believe our fucking luck, really. (Jeff Barrett)
It was thirty years ago today - or thereabouts - that Heavenly came to be. In celebration of this big ol’ birthday comes Believe in Magic - a chronicle not only of Foxbase Alpha, Working Men’s Club and 28 of the releases in between that got the label to where it is today, but also of the haircuts, nights down the pub, pencil-eraser-carvings, cheese toasties, acid houses, Sunday Socials and lost Weekenders - Yorkshire and otherwise - that are as much a part of its story.
As Jeff Barrett puts it at the beginning of the book, if there’s a continuous theme that runs through all of this, I think it’s that everything comes down to conversations with people about music. It might seem like it all starts with someone on one side of the counter who is selling you something, or someone writing excitedly in a magazine telling you about a band you need to hear, but I don’t think I’ve ever really seen things as one-way transactions. It’s more an ongoing dialogue, one that never really stops and helps to build up this growing soundtrack to our lives, something that’s passed from one person to another. That’s really the ever-present thread. That’s why we still believe in magic.
Though we are three decades distant from The World According to Sly and Lovechild, lineup changes, ups, downs, and a good few office cleanups under the label’s belt, the Heavenly firm continue not to believe their fucking luck; at still being here, keepin’ on keepin’ on doing what they love, and at being able to pass all of this - then, now, and next week - on to you.
‘Heavenly has always lived up to its name. Celestial tunes with the sublime sure guidance of Jeff Barrett. A beacon of integrity.’ Annie Nightingale
‘I feel very grateful and properly proud to have played a small part in this incredible story. MAGIC-FAITH-AESTHETICS. That to me is what Heavenly stands for.’ Nicky Wire
‘Heavenly is more than a record label, it’s the absolute nectar of all that’s brilliant in the culture of these island. I love the shit out of them and everything they stand for.’ Irvine Welsh
Lee Brackstone has acquired World English Rights from Heavenly Recordings in Believe in Magic: 30 Years of Heavenly Recordings by Robin Turner and Paul Kelly for publication on 12 November 2020 at White Rabbit Books.
Believe in Magic is a fully illustrated history of one of the most colourful and exciting independent British record labels; a label responsible for creating satellite communities of fans around the country and at all the major festivals.
After several years working at Factory and Creation, Heavenly Recordings was set up by Jeff Barrett in 1990 as the acid house revolution was in full swing; early releases set the tone and tempo for the mood of the decade to come - their first release was by perhaps the most revered acid house DJ of them all, Andrew Weatherall; and this was quickly followed by singles from St Etienne and Manic Street Preachers.
Heavenly was always different to other labels; more of a 'club' with a defiant spirit of inclusiveness, and in 1994 they set up The Heavenly Social, which alongside the Hacienda, became perhaps the most famous club in recent British history, where the Chemical Brothers made their name.
Over nearly 200 releases in thirty years Heavenly have consistently produced some of the most exciting music across all genres - dance, acid house, singer-songwriter, psych-garage - and this book collects rare photographs, ephemera, artwork into a celebration of a label that is, alongside Rough Trade and Factory, one of the most beloved institutions on the independent landscape. Running though the book are thirty stories, mostly told in the form of oral history by artists like James Dean Bradfield, Flowered Up, Beth Orton, Doves and Don Letts, which capture the presiding personality of the label, its bands and the people associated with its success
Saint Etienne exclusive edition
Spring b/w Spring (instrumental). Spring is taken from Saint Etienne’s debut LP, Foxbase Alpha. It is the first time it has been released as a single. The instrumental on the flip side is previously unreleased.
Working Men’s Club exclusive edition
Angel (part 1) b/w Angel (part 2). You may have heard Angel in all its 12 minute glory in WMC’s legendary live sets. Here’s the studio version, produced by Ross Orton, split over both sides of a 7”.