Pieter | Johannesburg | 04/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album was just so right for its time. Kraftwerk, Bowie, Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Gary Numan had been paving the way in using the synthesizer in popular music, so the tuneful synth-pop of Human League's third album was received with open arms. The fashion magazine cover perfectly captures the atmosphere of rock's early 80s 'new romanticism'. After all these years, the synth & drum machine novelty has worn off, but this album remains a masterpiece on account of the quality of the songs. Phil Oakey's voice is perfectly framed by the female vocals and the arrangements are great. My favorites include the soaring Open Your Heart, the solemn lament Seconds, plus The Sound Of The Crowd, Do Or Die, Love Action and Don't You Want Me. This classic is definitely their best album and the recommended entry point for those wishing to investigate the band.
The Best of OMD
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
The Pleasure Principle
Upstairs at Eric's
The Human League, I Dare you
Peter Karsten | Australia | 12/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Human League have had many member changes over the years and after all this time are still together and performing with only Philip Oakey as the original recognised band member left along with Joanne Cathrall and Susan Ann Sulley to make the current group line-up.
The Human League has sold over 20 million records worldwide and as such have influenced many other electro-syntho-pop acts like Moby. The group has released nine studio albums since 1979, but there was one album above all the others that made their career, the one album they will always be remembered for, the one album that became the hallmark for all others to follow in regards to sound, influence and development, the one album that changed your perception of music forever.
It was 1981 (a good year); this was the year where four albums were to help influence my musical tastes (there were others of course later on, but these four were a strong starting point) in the 1980's and beyond: 1] Duran Duran, 2] Time, 3] Dare! and 4] Tonwelle, Tonwelle is one of my personal top 10 albums of all-time. There are other albums and groups which I will not go into here; needless to say by 1981 my musical journey was well underway.
Let's continue, 1981-82, this was the Human League's most successful period in their musical history when they released their third album Dare! Under a new direction from veteran producer Martin Rushent the first single from the album was `The Sound of the Crowd', and reached number 12 in the UK charts. But that was just a taste of better things to come. The next single `Love Action (I Believe in Love)' went to number 3 in the UK charts, the first and second singles were released before the album Dare! and it was because of their success that the album was commissioned by Virgin at the time, to this end once the album was completed a third single was released `Open Your Heart' and did just as well.
Dare! was released in October of 1981 and headed to the top spot-number one in the United Kingdom, and stayed there for four weeks and remained in the charts for 77 weeks between 1981-82 giving the band their triple platinum status. Due to the success of the album a fourth (controversial*) single was released `Don't You Want Me' in December 1981 and went straight to number one; the single became the Human League's biggest hit with over 2 million copies sold worldwide. Dare! was also released in the US and the single `Don't You Want Me' also hit the number one spot in 1982.
* Virgin executive Simon Draper, wanted `Don't You Want Me' to be released as a fourth single but Philip Oakey was against it believing that the song was weak and it could damage the band's success of Dare! but Phil was overruled, and the rest as they say is history.
In 1982 the Human League received the Best British Newcomer award at the annual British Music awards and producer Martin Rushent also gained the Best Producer award for his involvement on Dare!
Now having said all that, let's look at the other songs on the album:
`Things That Dreams Are Made Of'
The electro-drum beat is unmistakable in this song (the band became notorious because they did not use a human drummer, but a computer (tape machine) to record and play synthesizer drum beats) as well as being a slow tempo tune; again we hear the classic almost sterile sound of the early electronic music which became part of the `Romantic Movement' sound (directly or indirectly in various forms according the individual band tastes) in the early 80s.
An ambient almost Gregorian sound at the beginning of this song with Phil's voice giving an added surreal chant; this song is probable the darkest of all the songs on the album, again we can see how versatile this album is in sound and composition.
`Do Or Die'
This song seems to reflect an anti-government/society, anti-social/system type of awareness on a personal level as an individual, I maybe wrong but that's the impression I get when listening to it. Good musical mid-break within the song which could have developed as an added instrumental to the album all on its own.
A simple electro-introduction instrumental to the next song. (Could the title be a reference to the movie and to Michael Cain's character?)
`I Am the Law'
A slow song with Phil's unmistakable voice sounding on occasion lower to reflect a deeper meaning about authority's darker (seedy) side (cover-ups), which is appropriate as this song blends into the next.
As with the above explanation we see how the law (authority) deals with world events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as this song implies. On a subconscious level the distinctive singular repetitive electro-drum beat throughout the song reflecting the bullet sound as it is fired over and over again to enforce the gun shot (or shots) taken on that day in 1963.
All in all this album was ahead of its time, perhaps that's why it was unique and bold in concept, so totally different which is why, Dare! was a hit for the Human League. The album may seem dated now in regards to its music, but one must remember in 1981-82 it was avant-garde in its musical presentation and innovation; that is why, Dare! is considered a classic album, and why the serious collector has a copy in their collection.
The album itself seems to be a mix of many emotions I feel, and one needs to peel back the layers to understand the true meaning the group are trying to express, in events and or situations, possibly about themselves, their experiences or their thoughts of the moment.
On reflection the Human League were to never again have success with any of their future albums of the magnitude of Dare! Over the years they have had a flourishing musical career, but never to the scale during 1981-82, their best period in music as a group. That said the Human League is still around and performing if not for themselves but for the benefit of their fans-who wish to remember a better time when things in the world were so uncomplicated.
Special thanks to Wikipedia for additional information for compiling this review.