|Musicfolio.com||Reviews & Recommendations|
|And who will have won, When the soldiers have gone?
From the Lebanon
-- The Lebanon
|The Human League
|"The Human League began in the late 1970s as
the brainchild of two computer operators, Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware, from
Sheffield, England. They tried a number of names including the Dead Daughters
and the Future until settling upon the Human League after former hospital
porter, Philip Oakey, joined the group. Adrian Wright joined shortly thereafter
to prepare slide shows for projection during the group's live performances. The
first single, Being Boiled, was released in 1978...
(...) In October 1980 the group split in half. Ware and Marsh left to begin a project called the British Electric Foundation whose first spinoff was the group Heaven 17 and their hit (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang. Of the remaining Human League pair, only Philip Oakey was a performer. With determination to complete a European tour, Adrian Wright began learning to play synthesizer and two female singers, Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall, were recruited from among the dancers at Sheffield's Crazy Daisy disco. Bassist Ian Burden was also added as a temporary groupmember.
1981: Ian Burden became a permanent member and synthesizer player Jo Callis was recruited from the group the Rezillos. This lineup completed the Human League's third album, its breakthrough and masterpiece Dare by the fall of 1981. The new single from the album was Don't You Want Me?. It quickly reached #1 in the UK and became a pop and dance smash in the U.S. in early 1982.
(...) Hysteria appeared in May of 1984. The album was a success worldwide, but the League began to lose their following in the U.S.
(...) Released in the fall of 1986, Crash featured an elegant pop sound. The lead single Human was a massive worldwide success. It was their biggest hit since Don't You Want Me? and brought the Human League their second #1 hit in America."
-- andwedanced.com/1982/hlea482.htm, 1982
"We really liked what pop music had turned into with David Bowie - suddenly there were new sounds. I lived my life for Bowie and Roxy Music for four or five years - I don't think I could have got through my adolescence without them, but they were using traditional instruments because that's all there was. We were interested in innovation. Suddenly, there were synthesizers and we were knocked out. Hearing Walter Carlos' soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange totally launched us into it."
-- Phil Oakey, The Human League
½ 1979: Reproduction
"The trio of Marsh, Ware, and Oakey all handled vocals and synthesizers to create a set of grim, rigid tracks that revealed a greater lack of humanity than even Kraftwerk. It's a surprise that Human League hit the British charts at all (with the single "Empire State Human"), since this could well be the most detached synth-pop record ever released."
-- John Bush, AMG
"Already, the band's synthesizer textures and Oakey's mannered voice were starting to lean in a pop direction, but much of this album retained the austere tone of earlier synthesizer groups such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. "
-- William Ruhlmann, AMG
"The Human League were purveyors of the synth-pop movement of the early 80's and Dare is their landmark album. The album would be worth buying for 'Don't You Want Me' alone. The song is an 80's (and all time) classic with its film noir lyrics and rich synthesizers. One might think of the album as a one-song wonder, but that is hardly the case. Other great tracks include 'The Sound Of The Crowd', 'Get Carter', 'Things That Dreams Are Made Of', 'Love Action' & 'Seconds'. The three-pronged vocals and dueling synths create a moody, electric piece of music. "
-- Thomas Magnum, amazon.com customer review
¾ 1984: Hysteria
"What's most exciting about Human League's fifth LP (third in America) is that it demonstrates the band's consistent development and progress. Many predicted "one-hit-wonder" status after 1982's mega-hit "Don't You Want Me." They were wrong. Hysteria, with an increased presence of bass and guitar, proves that Human League is no longer simply a synth band. It is a rock band that's synthesizer-based. And they've taken a leap forward lyrically as well. "
-- CMJ, via CDnow.com
½ 1986: Crash
"This is when The Human League lost their edge and were most consumed by writing pop hit songs. Sure the single 'Human' was their second #1 hit in the US after the glory of 'Don't you want me?' in 1981, but the whole album is as dull and lame as the single itself. Avoid it!"
-- Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 8/01
The Human League seem desperate to re-capture the glory of "Dare". On their 6th Studio album, "Romantic", they seem a little lost. While the songs are strong, the production lets the group down. It's surprising to find that William Orbit is responsible for the production, considering his recent achievements with Madonna. Still there are a few gems to be found, Heart Like A Wheel is as catchy as any of their early singles, and Rebound and The Stars are Going Out in hindsight seem ahead of their time. Its when the Human League try hard to write pop songs (Lets Get Together Again) that things fall apart, however this album is worth tracking down as, surprisingly, there are no tracks from "Romantic" included on the recent "Greatest Hits".
¾ 1995: Octopus
"On Octopus, frontman Philip Oakey has given up on the notion of appearing even remotely current, and concentrated instead on re-creating the sound of the band's early-'80s hits. The results, unfortunately, are even more dire than they were the last time around. While the lead-off track, 'Tell Me When', has a sort of perverse attraction for the sheer precision with which it reconstructs songs like '(Keep Feeling) Fascination' and 'Don't You Want Me', that stunt works only once. The rest of the album is consumed by desperation and offers ample proof that Human League has simply run out of time. "
-- John Sakamoto, www.canoe.ca/JamAlbumsH/humanleague.html
¾ 1998: The Very Best of The Human League
13 classic Human League hit singles + liner notes.
¼ 2001: Secrets
"This is as clean and authentic as synth-pop can aspire to be in the year 2001 without sounding outdated. A relatively large number of instrumentals (7 out of 16) are dispersed throughout the album, but far from being annoying fillers, they point to the synth layering expertise that the League have developed over the years. The first single 'All I ever Wanted' is a disco-ish attempt at reproducing the fame and chart success of 1984's 'Don't you want me?'. But the rest of the album offers catchy, melodic and fresh synth driven tunes, that will please the fans and might very well earn them a new following. Most of the songs on this album are intended to be commercial pop singles....and with Depeche Mode and New Order back at the top of the charts this year, the release of Secrets' is most timely, and may very well bring the League back to the charts, 20 years after they first topped it. Recommended picks: Shameless, Reflections".
-- Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 8/01
½ 2011: Credo
Tracklisting: 1. Never let Me Go 2. Night People 3. Sky 4. Into The Night 5. Egomaniac 6. Single Minded 7. Electric Shock 8. Get Together 9. Privilege 10. Breaking The Chains 11. When The Stars Start To Shine
"With OMDs re-emergence and renewed interest in Sheffield compatriots Heaven 17, the timing seems right for a new album from The Human League. Lead singer Philip Oakeys been relatively busy, dueting on both Pet Shop Boys This Used to Be the Future and with Little Boots in 2009. So, having only done short tours since 2001s criminally overlooked Secrets, what does the band David Bowie described as "the sound of the future" sound like today; in the future, essentially? Apparently little has changed: a characteristically manifesto-like title, nocturnal themes (Into the Night, Sky, Night People) and Oakey exchanging call/response vocals with Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall across the throbbing crunch of electronics. They swing between Being Boiled and Heart Like a Wheel within every song, while seldom matching those heights. (...) At times Credo sounds like The Human League of today trying to be The Human League of the past, which makes for uncomfortable listening. That said, its probably still better than it has any right to be, given the time between the groups hits and their missing out on chart positions nowadays. They remain more influential than influenced, but this album adds little to their reputation. Although 10 years old itself, Secrets is a far stronger starting point for anyone interested in the 21st century phase of this classic bands career."
-- Tom Hocknell, bbc.co.uk, 3/11
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