Vinyl Moments – The Human League – 1980-1981

Last week’s vinyl moment ended with Heart, which provides us an opportunity to cross over to The Human League and listen to Open Your Heart, from their 1981 album Dare, which we listened to here in its entirety a long time ago.

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This era of The Human League provides some interesting opportunities, but I’ve started with the Holiday 80 EP. Exactly where it belongs chronologically is a matter of some debate, but it almost certainly doesn’t belong here – most of it was recorded around 1980, but it was reissued as a reminder of their earlier times in 1981.

The single actually includes an exclusive track, a version of Marianne, but it’s nothing particularly special, whereas Being Boiled definitely is, even in the less atmospheric Travelogue version which appears here.

Open Your Heart should probably next, but in my infinite wisdom, not having heard it for a while, I flip straight to Side B for Non-Stop. That turns out to be a bit of a mistake – it’s cheesy in the extreme. I can’t help but feel rather glad when it ended, as it gives me the opportunity to move on to Love Action (I Believe in Love).

Chronologically, this should have come earlier actually – I got a bit confused. My version is the 12″, which mixes from Hard Times into the title track over the course of ten minutes or so.

This turns out to be a particularly well scratched 12″ single (in fact, it almost looks intentional) so what should have been ten minutes is inevitably rather shorter. Both Hard Times and Love Action are good songs though, and the longer track did at least give me the chance to sit down and gather my thoughts.

It’s strange in retrospect to think that this was the second single from the album, giving them not only their first top ten hit, but also a top three smash. Don’t You Want Me, which we think of now as their definitive hit, wouldn’t appear as a single till the end of the year.

Love Action, meanwhile, has been happily skipping to itself. The LP version of Dare comes next, and unfortunately we don’t have time for the whole thing. I opt for Things That Dreams Are Made Of (no “the” on this release, for some reason) since it’s my favourite song on here. Finally, Dare, in its rather beautiful gatefold packaging, provides The Human League with an opportunity to sound as good as they can.

Since I skipped it earlier, I decide to let the album continue playing, with Open Your Heart. It’s so much better than its b-side – and gave the League a sturdy second top ten single back in 1981.

The final record in this set is the 7″ single for Don’t You Want Me, but in their infinite wisdom both tracks on there are lifted directly from the album. Since it’s easier to just turn the current record over, I decide to finish with Don’t You Want Me.

That turns out to be easier said than done. My turntable isn’t in the best lit part of the house – it does have a little light on it, but I’ve never found it to be a lot of use – and so locating Don’t You Want Me is a little difficult. Finally getting there, it’s difficult not to be struck by the song. It’s so good.

So this particular vinyl moment may have been a little confused, but in the end, it brought us to Dare, one of the best albums in the history of pop music. So no complaints here.

I do own more Human League vinyl, of course, but that will have to wait for another vinyl moment. This is the last in this series – the next should follow in the summer.

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