10/02/2005


Formed in Sheffield in 1977 by Martyn Ware, Ian Craig-Marsh and singer Adi Newton, former hospital porter Phil Oakey was invited to join The Human League, he says, just because he was tall. Their debut single, "Being Boiled," was voted NME's single of the week in the summer of 1978. It didn't chart then, but got to number 6 when reissued in 1982.

Their EP, Holiday '80', got them on Top Of The Pops, and a modestly successful debut album Reproduction was followed by Travelogue, which charted at 14 in May 1980.

Ego problems between Martin and Phil worsened as Oakey naturally became the band's focus. So in October, Ware and Marsh jumped ship (to form Heaven 17) just ten days before a major tour was due to start. Within days, Oakey spotted Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley at Sheffield's Crazy Daisy Disco and asked them to join.

1981 was the year that the Human League went big time. "Boys and Girls" was the first single with the girls and another new face, Ian Burden, on bass and synth. It scraped into the charts at 48 in February. A couple of months later, "The Sound Of The Crowd" went to 12. Shortly after that, guitarist Jo Callis joined the band. "Love Action" went to number 3 in July. "Open Your Heart" reached 6 in October, and everybody's soundtrack for Christmas 1981 was the chart topper "Don't You Want Me Baby." These all came from the 5 million copies plus Dare album which made the band a mega act on either side of the Atlantic.

The hits kept coming in 1983 with "Fascination," "Mirror Man," and "The Lebanon," even though band members were feeling the pressure of trying to come up with a worthy follow up to Dare.

1984's Hysteria went Top 3 in May and October. That same year, Oakey also collaborated with his mentor and biggest influence, Eurobeat maestro Giorgio Moroder on the top 5 single "Together in Electric Dreams" (they subsequently cut a whole album called Chrome).

Burden and Callis left before 1986's Crash album. Produced by the Minneapolis R&B team Jam/Lewis, this duo, the band themselves acknowledge, saved the Human League. Off Crash came the "Human" single which got 8 in the UK but was a massive number 1 in America.

The Human League will release their recently announced compilation Original Remixes & Rarities on Nov. 7.


Material courtesy: secretrecordslimited.com