The Human League/Dare


The Human League are an English electronic music band formed in Sheffield, England in 1977. They achieved popularity after a key change in line-up in the early 1980s and have continued recording and performing with moderate commercial success throughout the 1980s up to the present day.

The only constant band member since 1977 is vocalist and songwriter Philip Oakey. Originally an avant-garde all-male synthesizer-based group, they evolved into a commercially successful synthpop outfit under Oakey’s leadership, yielding the group’s biggest-selling album, Dare (1981). Since 1987, the band has essentially been a trio of Oakey and long-serving female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley (who joined the band in 1980), with various sidemen. The Human League has influenced many electro-pop, other synthpop, and mainstream acts including Madonna, Moby,[1] Pet Shop Boys[2] and Little Boots.[3] They have been sampled and covered by various artists including Utah Saints, Ministry of Sound, Craig David, George Michael, KMFDM, and Robbie Williams.[4]

Since 1978, The Human League have released nine studio albums, 26 singles (including eight UK Top 10 singles with two #1 singles in the U.S./UK) and played over 350 live concerts. The band have sold more than 20 million records worldwide.

Dare (or Dare! in the U.S.) is the third studio album from British synthpop band The Human League.

The album was recorded between March and September 1981 and first released in the UK on 20 October 1981, then subsequently in the U.S. in mid-1982.

The style of the album is the result of the rapid evolution of The Human League from experimental avant-garde electronic group into a commercial pop group under Philip Oakey‘s creative direction following the departure of fellow founding members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh. Dare became critically acclaimed and has proved to be a genre-defining album, whose influence can be felt in many areas of pop music today.[1] The album and its four singles were hugely successful commercially, with the album reaching #1 in the UK and being certified Triple Platinum by the BPI. [Wikipedia]

The Things That Dreams Are Made Of—-Delivering a sound, that at the time was ground breaking and revolutionary, this opening track is simply a marvel…even all of these years later. Oakey delivers an almost monotone vocal that is in such contrast to the hyper synth lines, you are taken aback. For me, this was one release that started it all for me. this has incredible melody, a very ‘gay’ friendly sound and the synth that would define the next ten years. This remains just as fresh for me…this and Devo impacted me more than you could imagine…listen to this release and you will know why. This remains…genius!!!

Open Your Heart—-Even after all of the releases and all of the time that has passed, this remains my favorite Human League song ever. There is something about this song that touches my heart…the vocal is not wonderful, at times sounding really off-key and the melody is unremarkable, but the sentiment was against everything New Wave and perhaps that is the magic of the whole thing. The synth bass line is erotic and energetic, the sentiment and the true heartfelt delivery is remarkable. I listen to this song at least monthly…..and never tire of the pure sentiment of the whole damn thing. this is a piece of MY history!!!

The Sound Of The Crowd—-Ahhhh….Steven Polk…..I owe you dump trucks of gratitude for the impact that you made on my life during the days of my youth by introducing me to the joys of New Wave and the sound that would overtake a nation. This is energetic, robotic and deep in bass delivery and synth ministrations. The vocal is so monotone and cold, you wonder if Phillip knew Gary numan before any of us did. The simple fact of adding the girls to the mis delivered a contrast that made these songs unforgettable and irresistable. This remains invaluable to the sound of the music we listen to today…Kudos!!!

Darkness—-With a remarkable church organ synth sound, the song has a tone of actual darkness that envelopes you despite the increasing pop synths that take over. Setting the mood in the first bars of the song was genius, as it follows you throughout the entire track. Phillip sounds literally devastated by one source or another…actually delivering a vocal that has inflection and melody. This is splended…this IS and WAS the 80’s defined. This is a landmark recording!

Do Or Die—-Beginning with an almost Disco style synth line, the addition of machine generated high hats takes the intention in a new direction. Phillip delivers a vocal that is higher than normal, conveying an urgency that makes you wonder if this is a ‘cold war’ song. When the ladies enter into the mix, the song becomes even larger and adds a whole new layer. This is exquisite synth pop that you can not deny…these were innovators sharing everything they had to offer.

Get Carter—-I think about so many things when I hear this recording…I think about Kenyon College…the friends I made there, I think about Brian who changed my life without ever knowing it, I think about Steven who directed me into a love affair with music…I think about how empty my life would be without all of these things. BECAUSE MUSIC MATTERS!!! This has some remarkable high-pitched synths that are bordering on brilliant….the song has a ghostly and disembodied feel to it…this is remarkable, but feeds into the whole machine oriented music that this band made. this is a wonderful interlude.

I Am The Law—-This is deep in sound and delivered with an almost disembodied tone. Phillip sounds so disinterested and removed that you find it NECESSARY to pay attention. This is cold and made of steel….but you can’t turn away from the track. Truly a remarkable act of genius, this inclusion proved that the band was not afraid to think outside of the box….remarkable!

Seconds—-With a bit more of an aggressive synth line and a brilliant drum machine, this song is layered with all kinds of electronic sounds. You are sucked in from the very first strains and further enraptured when Phillip begins his deep and emotionless vocal. This is what synth driven music was supposed to be about…a certain message delivered with a huge dose of disinterest. This is remarkably brilliant.

Love Action—-With an almost irritating intro synth line, it takes a moment for the song to take shape. When Oakey delivers the first lines of the song, you know that you are home…this is a disinterested love song that is accentuated by brilliant pop hooks and the inclusion of the female vocals that became a stalwart sound of the band. this is brilliant, removed synth pop that is cold and calculated but magically makes you interested in this thing called love and causes you to become investigative…the fall of mankind!!!

Don’t You Want Me—-Perhaps the biggest song ever recorded during the 80’s synth movement, this really does nothing for me anymore. This produced all kinds of copy cat recordings and the video…well….brilliant. Oakey had his finger on the pulse of the electronic world and this was just the beginning of the mastery that the man and the ladies would produce together. Although this song has been over played and driven into the ground, the sound and the genius is still remarkable. The sold feeling of the song, combined with the emotional message is remarkable…for that, I will take this on my deserted island trip!!!

***** out of 5


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