Thursday, June 14, 2007

Number 603 - Human League


Number 603

Human League

"Human"

(1986)
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Genre:New Wave
Some say was the first Synth pop group in the world to have a hit song in mainstream pop music, personally i would say Tubeway Army's "Are Friends Electric?" in 1978 was first, but then i am not Ask.Com or a staffer from Rolling Stone. The cool thing (if you can say that) about the 80's if there was a hit mega smash song you could get the 12" single dance version of the song, its ok, you dont have to hide your 12" Picture enhance gold plated singles anymore. However the "Wake me up before you GO GO" is still one to keep in the attic along with your 's "Dont Worry, Be Happy" with 6 different dance versions *shudder*.
Synth pop's first international superstars, the Human League were among the earliest and most innovative bands to break into the pop mainstream on a wave of synthesizers and electronic rhythms, their marriage of infectious melodies and state-of-the-art technology proving enormously influential on countless acts following in their wake. The group was formed in Sheffield, England, in 1977 by synth players and , who'd previously teamed as the duo Dead Daughters; following a brief tenure as the Future, they rechristened themselves the Human League after enlisting vocalist Philip Oakey. The trio soon recorded a demo, and played their first live dates; they soon tapped Adrian Wright as their "Director of Visuals," and his slide shows quickly became a key component of their performances.
Signing with the indie label Fast, in 1978 the Human League issued their first single, "Being Boiled"; a minor underground hit, it was followed by a tour in support of . After a 1979 EP, The Dignity of Labour, the group released its first full-length effort, Reproduction, a dark, dense work influenced largely by Kraftwerk. Travelogue followed the next year and reached the U.K. Top 20; still, internal tensions forced Ware and Marsh to quit the group in late 1980, at which time they formed the British Electronic Foundation. Their departure forced Wright to begin learning to play the synthesizer; at the same time, Oakey recruited bassist Ian Burden as well as a pair of schoolgirls, and , to handle additional vocal duties.
The first single from the revamped Human League, 1981's "Boys and Girls," reached the British Top 50; recorded with producer Martin Rushent, the follow-up "Sound of the Crowd" fell just shy of the Top Ten. Their next single, "Love Action," reached number three, and after adding ex-Rezillo the League issued "Open Your Heart," another hit. Still, their true breakthrough was the classic single "Don't You Want Me," from the album Dare!; both topped their respective charts in England, and went on to become major hits in the U.S. as well. A tour of the States followed, but new music was extremely slow in forthcoming; after a remix disc, Love and Dancing, the Human League finally issued 1983's Fascination! EP, scoring a pair of hits with "Mirror Man" and "(Keep Feeling) Fascination."
The much-anticipated full-length Hysteria finally surfaced in mid-1984, heralding a more forceful sound than earlier Human League releases; the record failed to match the massive success of Dare!, however, with the single "The Lebanon" earning insignificant airplay. The group soon went on indefinite hiatus, and Oakey recorded a 1985 solo LP with famed producer Giorgio Moroder titled simply Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder. To the surprise of many, the Human League resurfaced in 1986 with Crash, produced by the duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; the plaintive lead single "Human" soon topped the U.S. charts, but the group failed to capitalize on its comeback success, disappearing from the charts for the remainder of the decade.
When the Human League finally returned in 1990 with Romantic?, their chart momentum had again dissipated, and the single "Heart Like a Wheel" barely managed to rise into the Top 40. The record was the band's last with longtime label Virgin; now a trio consisting of Oakey, Sulley, and Catherall, they ultimately signed with the EastWest label, teaming with producer Ian Stanley for 1995's Octopus. The album went largely unnoticed both at home and overseas, with the single "Stay With Me Tonight" issued solely in the U.K. A resurgent interest in synth pop and post-punk during the early 2000s enabled the group's 2001 album Secrets considerable press coverage, which saw the group update its early sound. Four years later, they released Live at the Dome. ~ Jason Ankeny
For Tubeway Army see Number 945
What does Rolling Stone think of Human League?
Despite frontman Phil Oakey's ridiculous lopsided hairdo and the presence of two northern England disco dollies who could neither dance nor sing, the Human League defined Eighties New Romantic cool. The band's 1982 trans-Atlantic smash, "Don't You Want Me" -- driven by devilish techno beats, Oakey's distinctive droll baritone, and its killer blue-collar refrain, "You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar" -- established the League as leaders of the synth-pop revolution. The track was also the blueprint for 1981's Dare, the League's best album and an underrated classic of the post-punk era. As the largely forgettable second part of this collection attests, the League never again lived up to Dare's prescience; their later brand of electro-trash doomed them to Eighties revival tours. Although the analog-synth grooves sound strangely primitive now, Very Best proves that the pop purism of early gems such as "The Sound of the Crowd" and "Love Action" will never be outmoded.

Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Human League?) and the Album ranked at Number (Justice League?)
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