“Dare” by The Human League - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1981Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

Musical and personal differences between founding band members Martyn Ware and Philip Oakey saw the two-year-old fourpiece fracture in the springtime of 1980. With the intervention of manager Bob Last, an amicable financial arrangement was reached, resulting in the artistic conclusion that Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh would front a new group, Heaven 17, and Philip Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright would continue as The Human League. Borne of desperation, Oakey's first move turned out to be genius, inviting two random girls who were on a Sheffield club night out, Susan Ann Sulley (17) and Joanne Catherall (18), to join his group as dancers and incidental vocalists. Respected local synth player from Graph, Ian Burden, was drafted in, with Oakey later commenting that he gave the whole group a new sense of dance rhythm that was previously lacking. Being introduced to Martin Rushent was the next crucial piece of the jigsaw. The 32-year-old producer was on his A-game lately with The Stranglers, Buzzcocks, Generation X and Dr Feelgood to name but a few. “The Sound Of The Crowd” got the new group off to a flyer, giving them their big breakthrough hit, reaching #12 in the early summertime, a huge relief for all parties. It would be re-recorded for the album, but stands as an all-time classic either way. The final piece of the Human League mkII jigsaw was the recruitment of guitarist-turned-synth man Jo Callis, the former Rezillo having been introduced via Bob Last. More fantastic hit singles followed via “Love Action (I Believe In Love)” (#3) and “Open Your Heart” (#6).

Ian Burden gave some background on the album which soon followed: “I think the Dare! album is largely the product of Jo and Philip, with me playing second fiddle and Martin Rushent taking command of recording in terms of schedules and engineering. Adrian wrote some lyrics and brought some charming one-finger ideas to 'his' songs. That was the team. The girls were either recorded seperately in Sheffield, or at Genetic studios during their time out from school work. I don't really remember them being around very much - although I do remember treading water in the swimming pool with Joanne. She told me that she wanted to go university - to study philosophy.” I don't think there's much doubt that this formula, and the quality of the work, was more appealing than Human League mkI. The long-player saw release in October, 1981, and was a huge success, the public being sold on the sound and the image, as the album rose all the way to #1. Closing the album is “Don’t You Want Me?”, released at the behest of the label against the wishes of a reluctant Oakey, who was worried that “a nasty song about sexual power politics” was good for album filler only. The fact that it became Christmas #1 in the UK, was the biggest selling single of the year, the 5th best-selling single of the decade and made #1 in the US later in 1982 suggested otherwise. A nice wee Christmas bonus that!

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:14] 7.6.png The Human League - Things That Dreams Are Made Of (Phil Oakey, Philip Adrian Wright) New Wave
A2 [03:53] 8.4.png The Human League - Open Your Heart (John Callis, Phil Oakey) New Wave
A3 [03:56] 9.7.png The Human League - The Sound Of The Crowd (Ian Burden, Phil Oakey) New Wave
A4 [03:56] 5.3.png The Human League - Darkness (John Callis, Philip Adrian Wright) New Wave
A5 [05:23] 5.1.png The Human League - Do Or Die (Ian Burden, Phil Oakey) New Wave
B1 [01:02] 5.0.png The Human League - Get Carter (Roy Budd) Film Score / Incidental
B2 [04:14] 6.6.png The Human League - I Am The Law (Phil Oakey, Philip Adrian Wright) Songwriter
B3 [04:58] 7.5.png The Human League - Seconds (John Callis, Phil Oakey, Philip Adrian Wright) New Wave
B4 [04:58] 8.0.png The Human League - Love Action (I Believe In Love) (Ian Burden, Phil Oakey) New Wave
B5 [03:56] 6.8.png The Human League - Don’t You Want Me? (John Callis, Phil Oakey, Philip Adrian Wright) Pop

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