The Human League have an enviable back catalogue of nine studio albums, but the release status of each is confusing. Having just seen an excellent reissue of Secrets, now is a good time to review the situation. In this article, we will explore the current release status of each and suggest some suitable next steps.
The Golden Hour of the Future (compilation)
Originally released in 2002 and reissued in 2008 and 2009, all versions of this seem to have become fairly rare again, so this exceptional collection of early rarities is definitely in need of another reissue.
The debut album was originally released in 1979, and finally saw a CD release ten years later, with an incredible eight bonus tracks shoved on the end. It’s a fairly comprehensive collection of tracks from the era, and is widely available thanks to a remastered 2003 reissue. The original LP is also widely available, having been reissued on 180g vinyl in 2016.
There seems to have just been one track that didn’t make it onto the CD, but nothing too world changing: The Path of Least Resistance (Original Album Version)
As with the first album, this excellent release from 1980 was reissued on CD in 1988 and then remastered in 2003, and the LP was reissued on 180g vinyl in 2016. This is exactly how The Human League‘s back catalogue should be treated.
Again, there are a handful of rarities that didn’t make it onto the CD: Marianne (Alternative Version); Only After Dark (Single Version); and Toyota City (Long Version).
Dare / Love and Dancing
The outstanding Dare (1981) seems to have presented a few challenges for people who were trying to revisit The Human League‘s back catalogue, as the reissues are a bit of a mess. My favourite is probably the 2002 remaster that packages it with Love and Dancing and comes in book packaging, but having both releases on a single CD is a slightly odd decision. The double-disc box set from 2012 adds a host of bonus tracks, but inexplicably skips Love and Dancing and goes with Fascination! instead.
For me, therefore, a definitive reissue should include the original album as the first disc, plus b-sides Hard Times and Non-Stop. The second disc would include Love and Dancing in its entirety, followed by some or all of: The Sound of the Crowd (7″ Mix, Instrumental 7″ Mix, 12″ Mix, and Instrumental 12″ Mix), Love Action (I Believe in Love) (7″ Mix), Hard Times/Love Action (I Believe in Love) (12″ Mixes and Instrumentals), Non-Stop/Open Your Heart (Instrumentals), Do or Die (Dub), Don’t You Want Me (Extended Dance Mix and Alternative Version). Of these, only The Sound of the Crowd (Instrumental 7″ Mix) and Do or Die (Dub) are missing from recent reissues, but the track orders were all a bit messed up.
Although never properly released as an album in the UK, the 1983 Fascination! mini-album appeared on the tail end of the 2012 reissue of Dare alongside some bonus tracks. Logically, it should really be reordered and treated properly. The original album includes six tracks: (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Extended Version); Mirror Man; Hard Times; I Love You Too Much (Martin Rushent Version); You Remind Me of Gold; and (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Improvisation). Bonus tracks should include: Mirror Man (Extended Version); You Remind Me of Gold (Instrumental Remix); (Keep Feeling) Fascination (7″ Mix); Total Panic; and I Love You Too Much (Dub Version). All of which have been released somewhere already.
The 1984 follow-up to Dare saw a bizarrely rare remastered US CD reissue in 2005 with two b-sides and three extended versions which resurfaced in Japan in 2017, but otherwise vanished instantly without a trace, and hasn’t seen an LP release since 1984. All the foundations are there, and it’s definitely in need of a bit of love.
Several tracks did not make it onto this reissue: The Lebanon (Instrumental); Thirteen (7″ Version); The Sign (Extended Re-mix). The following have also appeared on other releases: The Lebanon (7″ Version); and Louise (DJ Edit). So nothing too major.
Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder
One of the best treated of all of The Human League‘s releases and side releases, Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder‘s 1985 side project saw a comprehensive 2003 remastered reissue with seven bonus tracks in the UK, and more recently, a limited US reissue in 2012 with three bonus tracks. Both are now relatively rare now, and could probably do with another outing at some point, ideally accompanied by an LP reissue as well.
As with Hysteria, the 1986 American album, while far from great, is also rather unloved. It was reissued in the US in 2005 with three extended versions, and then reissued again in Japan in 2017. While comprehensive enough, it omits a number of potential alternative versions, and could definitely do with a worldwide release and an LP reissue.
Several tracks did not make it onto this reissue: Human (Instrumental and Acapella); I Need Your Loving (Instrumental, Acapella, and Dub); Love is All That Matters (Instrumental and Acapella); and Are You Ever Coming Back? (Edit). The following have also appeared on other releases: Human (7″ Version); and I Need Your Loving (DJ Edit); and Love is All That Matters (7″ Version). So nothing too major here either.
Arguably The Human League‘s nadir, the original 1990 release of this album also suffers from appalling mastering, and hasn’t seen a reissue outside of Japan since. Tracks from the singles, including edits and William Orbit‘s remix of Heart Like a Wheel, have appeared on other releases in recent years, but there’s still plenty of scope for bonus tracks, including the dub mix of A Doorway and a suite of remixes of Soundtrack to a Generation. With a bit of curation, it would probably be a good single CD release (or even a passable double) with an accompanying LP.
Several tracks should be included on a future reissue: A Doorway (Dub); and Soundtrack to a Generation (Instrumental, William Orbit Mix, Pan Belgian Mix, Pan Belgian Dub, 808 Mix Instrumental, Dave Dodd’s Mix, and Acapella). The following have already appeared on other releases: Heart Like a Wheel (Extended Mix and William Orbit Mix); and Soundtrack to a Generation (Edit).
Between 1993 and 1996 was probably The Human League‘s most prolific period, with a fantastic album in early 1995, plus six single releases, each containing huge numbers of remixes. I could live without the remixes of Don’t You Want Me, which were commissioned for a single to promote the reissued Greatest Hits album, but Stay with Me Tonight and the tracks from the rare YMO versus The Human League single definitely deserve to be packaged with the album somehow. It’s long overdue a double CD and LP reissue, not having seen any sort of release since 1995.
A huge number of tracks could be considered for a future reissue. Following the logic of the Secrets reissue, the first disc should definitely include: Behind the Mask; Kimi Ni Mune Kyun; The Bus to Crookes; and Stay with Me Tonight. The second disc should include a selection of: Kimi Ni Mune Kyun (Extended Version), Tell Me When (7″ Edit, Utah Saints Mix 1, Mix 1 Edit, and Mix 2, Red Jerry Remix, Strictly Blind Dub, Overworld Mix and Edit); One Man in My Heart (T.O.E.C. Radio Edit, Extended, Unplugged, Nasty Sue Mix, and Nasty Sue Radio Edit); These Are the Days (Sonic Radiation Mix, Ba Ba Mix and Symphonic Mix, Overworld Mix, and Man with No Name Vocal and Instrumental); Filling Up with Heaven (Neil McLellan Vocal Mix and Club Mix, Hardfloor Remix and Vocal Remix, and ULA Remix); John Cleese; Is He Funny? (ULA Remix, Self Preservation Society House Mix, and Valentines Bonus Beats); Don’t You Want Me (Red Jerry 7″, 12″, and Dub Mix, and Snap! 7″ and 12″ Remix); and Stay with Me Tonight (Space Kittens Vocal Mix and Future Dub, and The Biff & Memphis Remix and Dub).
The exceptional 2001 comeback saw an unexpected three-sided white vinyl release for Record Store Day 2018, which was followed by a brilliantly comprehensive double CD release which is still widely available. All that remains is to make the vinyl more widely available again.
I think there are just a couple of tracks that didn’t make it onto this release: All I Ever Wanted (Tobi Neumann Remix) and Love Me Madly? (Toy Mix and Zenn Eternal Countdown Edit).
The decade between Secrets and Credo was far from quiet, with a whole suite of remixes released on The Very Best Of, followed by a large selection of reworkings of The Things That Dreams Are Made Of. Some of them are extremely good, so it would be nice to see them properly released at some point, but for now, this shouldn’t be a high priority.
Live at the Dome
I’m not quite clear why this 2005 CD exists, apart from just to repackage the 2004 DVD, which itself suffers in terms of sound quality in a couple of places. Not worth reissuing.
The most recent album is unlikely to see a reissue any time soon, but the original release from 2011 is still widely available on CD, with a rarer double vinyl release also floating around.
A future bonus disc would ideally include some of the many remixes that appeared on the singles: Night People (Single Version, Cerrone Club Remix, Mylo Remix, Emperor Machine Extended Vocal, Villa Remix); Never Let Me Go (Radio Edit, Italoconnection Remix Radio Edit and Remix, Aeroplane Remix Radio Edit, Remix Edit, and Remix, and DJ Pierre’s Afro Acid Mix); Sky (Fusty Delights Remix Edit and Remix, Plastic Plates Remix, The Hacker Remix, Martin Brodin Remix, and Marsheaux Remix Edit and Remix); and Egomaniac (Radio Edit and Instrumental). The single edits of Night People and Sky already appeared on the Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group collection.
It seems the most urgent thing to do is to release a double CD version of Octopus, followed by a remastered version of Romantic? with extra tracks. Then the existing reissues of Hysteria and Crash should see a wider release.