Saturday, April 18, 2020

Human League still searching for their first big hit

Human League : Marianne

By April of 1980, it had been a year since David Bowie called The Human League the future of rock. Now they were being ridiculed by an Undertones song climbing the UK charts called "My Perfect Cousin ("His mother bought him a synthesizer / Got the Human League in to advise her"). They may have been famous but they still hadn't recorded a hit.

The EP they released, Holiday '80, would not change the band's fortunes. The songs include a reworking of the 1979 single "Being Boiled", a cover of Gary Glitter's "Rock N Roll",  the Bowie-penned "Nightclubbing" and, as the lead off track,  "Marianne". Every sound but the vocals is made with a synthesizer, which rivals Gary Numan and Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark could not claim. 

Despite failing to reach the Top 40, Top of the Pops invited The Human League to perform "Rock n Roll" on the show. What you don't see is the contribution of Adrian Wright. At the time he was "Director of Visuals", running slideshows and lighting during concerts.

A new album, Travelogue, would be released in May but this version of Human League would not last. Co-founder Martyn Ware would leave with the year to form Heaven 17, leaving Phil Oakley little but the name and a tour starting up within days. He'd hire two teenage girls to join the band as back up dancers and vocalists.By necessity Wright would have to learn to play synthesizers. A quick learn, he's co-write the UK#1 and US#1 hit "Don't You Want Me".

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