Thursday, October 20, 2011

1981: And so you stand here with the years ahead

Who could even picture 2011 in 198?. By now I thought I'd be wearing a skin-tight silver catsuit and having pills for breakfast. Later I'd be parking my hoverboard outside a floating elipse-shaped office block. The only bit that's come true is the catsuit.

Life's not changed a great deal really, has it. We still listen to the same music we listened to all those years ago. So did you realise it was 30 years ago TODAY that the classic Dare album was released? Hands up who feels old. Again.

What a classic. I'm still wordperfect, and though some of it's dated - and I really couldn't care if I didn't hear Don't You Want Me for about 20 years - it's still amazing, and songs like Sound Of The Crowd or Open Your Heart transport me back to a time when it all seemed so new, exciting and the start of an amazing future. My life was changing at this time, and this was the soundtrack to that. (They milked it for singles though, didn't they? And what was all that 'Blue' and '100' stuff about anyway?).

This track especially reminds of this time in 1981, flirting silently with two girls on the bus that pulled up next to mine one Saturday morning on the way into town. They were the spit of the Human League girls, and my hair was over one eye.


  1. It was, and remains, a moment of pure pop perfection. It achieved that blend of up-to-the-minute musical technology with the familiar everydayness of the League themselves. No wonder you flirted with girls on buses who looked like Suzanne and Joanne. ALL girls in looked like Suzanne and Joanne.

    Thirty years, though? THIRTY??

  2. One of my all time favourite albums of all time. I even like the instrumental Love and Dancing version. Although my fave League song has to be (Keep Feeling) Fascination.

  3. As much of an indication of this album's brilliance was their severe difficulty in following it up, hence the big, familiar standalone singles of 1982 and 1983 that showed their desperation to still be remembered while the arguments carried on in the studio.

    And when Hysteria finally came out, it got panned. It was always on a hiding to nothing, really, but the 11 year old me thought The Lebanon and Life On Your Own (a song which rewrote the subject of Don't You Want Me, really) were very dull, and I still think they are. Louise was the exception, though - a gorgeous lyrical narrative as compulsive as Maggie May.

  4. Yes, while I liked Fascination, I was never mad on Mirror Man and was very disappointed with The Lebanon, though I quite like it now. Life On Your Own is never quite as good as it should have been.

    Sound Of The Crowd is my absolute favourite, though I had a disastrous karaoke experience with it recently.

  5. I'm just back from hols where an essential part of my poolside mp3 entertainment was Dare. I've lost count how many times I listened to it over the past couple of weeks... it still sounds so good. My favourite track on the album is Do Or Die.

    After 30 years, I only recently realised that the album version of "Sound Of The Crowd" is a re-recording. The single version (and the attendant remixes) have a slightly grittier and "lo-fi" sound by comparison. "Open Your Heart" has a lovely fresh, breezy feel to it. The b-side, "Non Stop" was a bit of a stinker, though.

  6. Re. "Blue", "Red" and "100". Here's what Wiki have to say about the significance of the colours on the single sleeves:

    At the time, as a short-lived marketing tactic, The Human League were labeling their singles "Red" or "Blue" to help buyers differentiate between the band's musical styles. "Open Your Heart" was the first to be designated "Blue". When they were asked why, Susanne Sulley explained that "Red is for posers, for Spandy (Spandau Ballet) types." Oakey added: "Blue is for ABBA fans."

    The Human League often added cryptic references to their productions and the record sleeve of “Don’t You Want Me” featured the suffix of “100”. This was a reference to The 100 Club, a restaurant/bar in Sheffield.

  7. That's interesting, thanks Sky. And i also didn't know that SOTC was a re-record. Must seek out the difference.

  8. ...although, three decades on, I'm still fucked if I know what "Make a shroud pulling combs through a backwash frame" actually means.