“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!