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The Human League

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Biography

Synth pop's first international superstars, the Human League were among the earliest and most innovative bands to break into the pop mainstream on a wave of synthesizers and electronic rhythms, their marriage of infectious melodies and state-of-the-art technology proving enormously influential on countless acts following in their wake. The group was formed in Sheffield, England in 1977 by synth players Martyn Ware and Ian Marsh, who'd previously teamed as the duo Dead Daughters. Following a brief tenure as the Future, a period during which they added and lost synthesizer player Adi Newton and enlisted vocalist Philip Oakey, they rechristened themselves the Human League. The trio recorded a demo and played their first live dates. The slide presentations of "director of visuals" Adrian Wright quickly became a key component of their performances. After they signed with the indie label Fast, the Human League issued their first single, "Being Boiled," in 1978. A minor underground hit, it was followed by a tour in support of Siouxsie & the Banshees. After a 1979 EP, the instrumental The Dignity of Labour, the group released its first full-length effort, Reproduction, a dark, dense work influenced largely by Kraftwerk. Travelogue followed the next year and reached the U.K. Top 20. Still, internal tensions forced Ware and Marsh to quit the group in late 1980, at which time they formed Heaven 17. Their departure forced Wright to learn to play the synthesizer; at the same time, Oakey recruited bassist Ian Burden as well as a pair of teenagers, Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, to handle additional vocal duties. The first single from the revamped Human League, 1981's "Boys and Girls," reached the British Top 50. Recorded with producer Martin Rushent, the slicker follow-up "Sound of the Crowd" fell just shy of the Top Ten. Their next single, "Love Action," reached number three, and after adding ex-Rezillo Jo Callis, the League issued "Open Your Heart," another hit. Still, their true breakthrough was "Don't You Want Me." The classic single, as well as parent album Dare!, both topped their respective charts in England, and went on to become major hits in the U.S. as well. A tour of the States followed, but new music was extremely slow in forthcoming. After a Rushent remix disc, Love and Dancing, the Human League finally issued 1983's Fascination! EP and scored a pair of hits with "Mirror Man" and "(Keep Feeling) Fascination." The much-anticipated full-length Hysteria finally surfaced in mid-1984, heralding a more forceful sound than earlier Human League releases. The record failed to match the massive success of Dare!, however, with the single "The Lebanon" earning insignificant airplay. The group soon went on indefinite hiatus, and Oakey recorded a 1985 solo LP with famed producer Giorgio Moroder titled simply Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder. To the surprise of many, the Human League resurfaced in 1986 with Crash, produced by the duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The plaintive lead single "Human" soon topped the U.S. charts, but the group didn't capitalize on the comeback success and disappeared from the charts for the remainder of the decade. When the Human League finally returned in 1990 with Romantic?, their commercial momentum had again dissipated. The single "Heart Like a Wheel" barely managed to rise into the Top 40. The record was the band's last with longtime label Virgin. As a trio consisting of Oakey, Sulley, and Catherall, they ultimately signed with the EastWest label and teamed with producer Ian Stanley for 1995's Octopus. The album went largely unnoticed both at home and overseas, with the single "Stay with Me Tonight" issued solely in the U.K. A resurgent interest in synth pop and post-punk during the early 2000s enabled the group's 2001 album Secrets, which saw the group update its early sound, considerable press coverage. In 2002, previously unreleased recordings of the Future and the embryonic Human League were compiled for The Golden Hour of the Future. Steady touring continued for several years, as documented on Live at the Dome. Additionally, there were performances of Dare! in its entirety and a Steel City Tour with Heaven 17 and fellow Sheffield natives ABC. The Human League remained connected to their local roots in the studio as well. Credo, released in 2011, was produced by fellow Sheffield natives I Monster. The career-spanning anthology A Very British Synthesizer Group was issued five years later, promoted with performance dates across Europe. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Don't You Want Me
  3.   Human
  4.   (Keep Feeling) Fascination
  5.   Love Action (I Believe in Love)
  6.   Mirror Man
  7.   The Lebanon
  8.   The Sound of the Crowd
  9.   Being Boiled
  10.   Together in Electric Dreams
  11.   Seconds
  12.   All I Ever Wanted
  13.   These Are the Days
  14.   F.M.
  15.   Electric Shock
  16.   Reflections
  17.   Shameless
  18.   Don't You Know I Want You
  19.   I Need Your Loving
  20.   Love Is All That Matters
  21.   Hard Times
  22.   Never Give You Heart
  23.   Happening Woman
  24.   Stylopops You Broke My Heart
  25.   No Time
  26.   Martyn Ware Interview Podcast
  27.   Overkill Disaster Crash
  28.   Open Your Heart/Non-Stop
  29.   When the Stars Start to Shine
  30.   Sky
  31.   Night People
  32.   Never Let Me Go
  33.   Breaking the Chains
  34.   Nightclubbing by Soulwax
  35.   Last Man on Earth
  36.   Reach Out (I'll Be There)
  37.   Dada Dada Duchamp Vortex
  38.   Dance Like a Star
  39.   A Doorway
  40.   You'll Be Sorry
  41.   Tranquility
  42.   Sin City
  43.   Ringinglow
  44.   The Snake
  45.   Love Me Madly?
  46.   Nervous
  47.   Rock 'n' Roll/Night Clubbing
  48.   Dancevision
  49.   Marianne
  50.   Toyota City
  51.   Dreams of Leaving
  52.   Only After Dark
  53.   The Dignity of Labour, Pt. 1
  54.   Introducing
  55.   The World Before Last
  56.   The Path of Least Resistance
  57.   Circus of Death
  58.   Almost Medieval
  59.   Soundtrack to a Generation
  60.   So Hurt
  61.   The Sign
  62.   I'm Coming Back
  63.   Heart Like a Wheel
  64.   The Real Thing
  65.   Party
  66.   Life on Your Own
  67.   Louise
  68.   I Am the Law
  69.   Get Carter
  70.   Do or Die
  71.   Darkness
  72.   Open Your Heart
  73.   The Things That Dreams Are Made Of
  74.   Empire State Human
  75.   I Love You Too Much
  76.   You Remind Me of Gold
  77.   Tell Me When
  78.   One Man in My Heart
  79.   Words
  80.   Filling Up with Heaven
  81.   Never Again
  82.   New Start
  83.   Privilege
  84.   Into the Night
  85.   The Dignity of Labour, Pt. 4
  86.   Thirteen
  87.   King of Kings
  88.   Pulse Lovers
  89.   Interface
  90.   Disco Disaster
  91.   Future Religion
  92.   4JG
  93.   Mister Moon and Mister Sun
  94.   Men Are Dreamers
  95.   Release
  96.   Brute
  97.   Lament
  98.   122.3 BPM
  99.   Cruel
  100.   The Touchables
  101.   Crow and a Baby
  102.   Austerity/Girl One
  103.   Morale...You've Lost That Loving Feeling
  104.   Rebound
  105.   Get It Right This Time
  106.   Kiss the Future
  107.   Betrayed
  108.   Stay With Me Tonight
  109.   Jam
  110.   Swang
  111.   Money
  112.   Treatment
  113.   Titled U.N
  114.   Cruel Young Lover
  115.   SH5
  116.   Get Together
  117.   Egomaniac
  118.   Once Upon a Time in the West
  119.   New Pink Floyd
  120.   The Circus of Dr Lad
  121.   Daz
  122.   Blank Clocks
  123.   Liar
  124.   Ran
  125.   Boys and Girls
  126.   Gordon's Gin
  127.   Zero as a Limit
  128.   Rock Me Again & Again & Again
  129.   Love on the Run
  130.   Are You Ever Coming Back?
  131.   House Full of Nothing
  132.   C'est Grave
  133.   Single Minded
  134.   Total Panic
  135.   The World Tonight
  136.   Year of the Jet Packs
  137.   Let's Get Together Again
  138.   Flexi Disc
  139.   Blind Youth
  140.   Life Kills
  141.   Looking For the Black Haired Girls
  142.   Tom Baker
  143.   WXJL Tonight
  144.   John Cleese; Is He Funny?
  145.   Give It Back
  146.   Cairo
  147.   The Star Are Going Out
  148.   Non-Stop
  149.   Jupiter 4C
  150.   The Black Hit of Space
  151.   The Dignity of Labour, Pt. 3
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