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The Human League “Dare!” (1981)

When Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware left the Human League following the release of the band’s second album “Travelogue”, one would have thought that the sole remaining member Philip Oakey would have either called it a day, or risked a solo career. When the music press revealed that he was re-assembling the new Human League with an unknown Bass player ( Ian Burden), a slide projector operator (Philip Adrian Wright), two girls he had met in Sheffield club with no musical experience whatsoever (Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley), and a guitarist from the long defunct Punk band The Rezillos (Jo Callis), many must have thought that Oakey had lost the plot, and the world was half expecting the next appointment to ba a fire eating lion tamer from Halifax. Virgin uneasily supported Oakey’s moves and recording started on the band’s 3rd album “Dare”, with The Stranglers producer Martin Rushent at the helm. Musically, Oakey wanted to retain the mechanical, industrial synthesised instrumentation and style, but introduce a Pop and Dance element to make the music a more viable proposition to the growing New Romantic following. He suceeds, and “Dare” is THE best Pop/Synth/New Romantic album of the era, a culmination of great Pop songs, dark vocals, and simple, crisp instrumentation, resulting in a number one album in the U.K. and a top 5 success in the States. There are many highlights, from the pure Pop duets “Don’t You Want Me” and “Open Your Heart”, the brilliant Dance numbers “Sound Of The Crowd” and “Love Action”, the upbeat “Things That Dreams Are Made Of”, and the paranoic “Darkness”. A masterpiece of it’s time, and Oakey would never be able to recapture this moment again. The album gave us an excitement that no one had come close to. –Ben H

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