Human League essential

REVIEW: ‘The Essential Human League’ – The Human League

“The Essential Human League” (2020)

Now don’t be tricked with this title, “Essential”. Other hits packages have tempted with ‘definitive’ and ‘complete’ and been far from it. This is another of those. “Essential” is not everything! One look at the tracklisting and you instantly spot NO “Tell Me When” and NO “One Man In My Heart” among others. This is actually a best of and some from the group’s Virgin years, which does, happily, include their best known hits, from “Love Action” to “Fascination” and “Mirror Man” to their chart topper, “Don’t You Want Me?”.

“The Essential…” DOES feature all of their singles and album tracks right up to 1990, including some new William Orbit remixes of “Heart Like A Wheel” and “Soundtrack To A Generation” and covers a 3CD set that also drops in Phil’s pairing with Giorgio Moroder on “Together In Electric Dreams”. For anyone that’s been to a Human League concert in recent years or seen them at festivals, this serves as yet another reminder of their glory days in the 1980’s, when the trio really did rule the airwaves and the charts globally with quirky numbers such as “Louise” to the sublime and outstanding “Human”.

“Essential” also drops in from the very beginning with their 1978 debut, “Being Boiled” to their very first chart appearance with “Empire State Human”, the following year. As the group built up their fanbase, the singles got more and more higher up the charts, from “Boys And Girls” to “The Sound Of The Crowd” as the 1980’s dawned. It was 1981 that ‘The League’ really arrived, with three consecutive top ten hits that year, “Open Your Heart”, the completely brilliant “Love Action (I Believe In Love)” and their Christmas number one, “Don’t You Want Me?”. From the moment the world heard that classic first line, “you were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar”, Phil, Joanne and Susan were made.

A re-release of “Being Boiled” along with “Mirror Man” and “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”, kept the top ten hits coming into 1982 and out the other side. “The Lebanon”, “Life On Your Own” and “Louise” didn’t quite hit the mark during 1984, but the group were back on top the following year with the aforementioned “Human”. It seemed our love affair with the Human’s waned again soon after with “I Need Your Loving” and “Love Is All That Matters” missing the chart completely, only returning at the beginning of the 90’s with “Heart Like A Wheel”, which is presented here with the William “Frozen” Orbit remix as well as the follow up single, “Soundtrack To A Generation”, which sadly was not a hit.

The rest of CD3 is made up of album tracks from the era and begins with “The Path of Least Resistance” from their debut release, “Reproduction”, in 1979. “Travelogue” (1980) is represented with “WXJL Tonight” and “Only After Dark”. Also included from “Travelogue” is the ode to the fourth Doctor, “Tom Baker”! In all, there are 41 tracks here that cover a twelve year period, the first twelve years of The Human League and many would say, the most important. What’s great about this, is you don’t have to get all of the albums out separately and play them, because they’re all here on one and even if you only play your absolute, all time favourite tracks, the next one is never too far away! Yay!

You can buy “The Essential Human League” by clicking this link

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!
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