The Human League are an English electronic new wave band formed in Sheffield in 1977. They had an early hit with their debut single "Being Boiled", then achieved greater fame after a membership change in 1980. Originally an avant-garde all-male synthesizer-based group, The Human League evolved into a commercially successful synthpop band under the leadership of vocalist and frontman Philip Oakey with visuals man Adrian Wright. The line-up changes of 1980 saw the departure of Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware to form British Electric Foundation and Heaven 17. In their place came female singers Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall, shortly followed by Ian Burden (ex Graph) and Jo Callis (formerly of Peel favourites The Rezillos and Peel session band Shake). Dare (1981), the band's most popular album, yielded the single "Don't You Want Me" (co-written By Callis, Wright and Oakey), a No. 1 hit single both in the UK and the USA and in many other countries. The song is seen as the beginning of the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US. Other international hits include: "Love Action", "Open Your Heart", "Mirror Man", "Fascination", "The Lebanon", and "Human" (their second US No. 1). Since 1987, the band has essentially been a trio of Oakey and female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley flanked by various musicians and songwriters. During their thirty-year career The Human League have released nine studio albums, four EPs, 30 singles and several compilation albums. They have had five albums and eight singles in the UK Top 10 and have sold more than 20 million records.
Links To Peel
Peel discovered The Human League in 1978, when he was sent a copy of the band's first single, "Being Boiled", by the Fast Product label (also responsible for early releases by The Mekons and Gang Of Four, among others). So impressed was the DJ with the song that he invited the Human League to do what turned out to be their only session for his show. Peel played successive tracks from their studio albums Reproduction (1979, described as "largely disappointing") and Travelogue (1980) and The Dignity of Labour and Holiday '80 EPs. He also played both sides of the first post-split single "Boys and Girls" on its release in early 1981 as well as the more successful follow-ups and first chart hits "The Sound of the Crowd" and "Love Action (I Believe In Love)". The more left-field tracks from no.1 album Dare were also featured.
The group's debut single "Being Boiled" played by Peel in 1978 eventually went Top 10 in January 1982 on the back of the group's mainstream success with new material. Peel played 'The Dignity of Labour Pt. 1' in February 1982 (after a listener had requested he play the whole EP), commenting that "...having considerably embarrassed Phil Oakey at the National Rock and Pop Awards by going over and telling him how good I thought they (Human League) were and how good my son William thinks they are as well, I thought it was the very least that I could do", adding afterwards "They have come quite a long way since then, haven't they?" He showed no interest in successive output, geared towards chart success, but nonetheless when the band released the single "Louise" (from Hysteria,1984), introducing it on Top Of The Pops from 22 November 1984 (TOTP) Peel called it "one of their best songs, I think". The DJ played Human League's number one single "Don't You Want Me" when standing in for Jackie Brambles on day-time radio on 05 April 1993.
One session only. The session version of "Being Boiled" was released on Movement: BBC Radio 1 Peel Sessions 1977-1979 2xCD, 2011 (EMI – CDPEEL 7779).
- Being Boiled / No Time / You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling / Blind Youth
Full session never officially released. 'No Time' is an early version of a track later entitled 'The Word Before Last' as featured on the Reproduction album together with 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling' and 'Blind Youth'.
Other Shows Played
The list below was researched only from the database of this site, Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive and Ken Garner's Peel Sessions. It is almost certainly incomplete. Please add further information if known.
- 30 April 1979: The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 2 (12" EP – The Dignity Of Labour Pts. 1-4) Fast Product VF1
- 01 May 1979: The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 4 (12" EP – The Dignity Of Labour Pts. 1-4) Fast Product VF1
- 11 October 1979: Empire State Human (LP – Reproduction) Virgin V2133
- 22 October 1979: Almost Medieval (LP – Reproduction) Virgin V2133
- 16 January 1980: Being Boiled (v/a album - Fast Product - The First Year Plan) Fast Product F11
- 09 April 1980: Rock And Roll / Nightclubbing (double single - Holiday ‘80 EP) Virgin SV105
- 14 April 1980: Rock 'N' Roll / Nightclubbing (Holiday '80 EP) Virgin SV105
- 22 April 1980: Marianne (Holiday '80 EP) Virgin SV105 (JP: 'here's something for my perfect cousin')
- 20 May 1980: The Black Hit Of Space (LP – Travelogue) Virgin V 2160
- 26 May 1980: Dreams Of Leaving (LP – Travelogue) Virgin V 2160
- 29 May 1980: WXJL Tonight (LP – Travelogue) Virgin V 2160
- 09 June 1980: The Black Hit Of Space (LP - Travelogue) Virgin V 2160
- 23 June 1980: The Black Hit Of Space (LP - Travelogue) Virgin V 2160
- 26 June 1980: Being Boiled (7" Being Boiled/Circus of Death) Fast Product FAST4 (re-issue)
- 02 July 1980: Life Kills (LP - Travelogue) Virgin V 2160
- 30 August 1980 (BFBS): Marianne (single - Holiday '80) Virgin SV105
- 16 February 1981: Boys And Girls (7") Virgin VS 395
- 01 March 1981 (BFBS): Tom Baker (7" - Boys And Girls) Virgin VS 395
- 26 April 1981 (BFBS): The Sound Of The Crowd (Add Your Voice) (7") Virgin VS 416
- 30 April 1981: The Sound Of The Crowd (7") Virgin VS 416
- 23 July 1981: Love Action (I Believe In Love) (7") Virgin VS 435
- 30 July 1981 (BFBS): Crow And A Baby (album - Travelogue) Virgin V 2160
- 26 October 1981: Get Carter (album - Dare) Virgin V 2192
- 26 October 1981: I Am The Law (album - Dare) Virgin V 2192
- 11 January 1982: Seconds (album - Dare) Virgin V 2192
- 24 February 1982: The Dignity Of Labour (Pt. 1) (12" - The Dignity Of Labour Pts. 1 - 4) Fast FAST10
- 31 May 1982: The Sound of the Crowd - album version (album - Dare)
- John Peel 1982 edited 2: Don't You Want Me (Extended Dance Mix) (12")
- 16 May 1984: Rock Me Again And Again And Again And Again And Again And Again (Six Times) (album - Hysteria) Virgin V2315
- 19 July 1984: Being Boiled (7") Fast Product FAST 4
- 05 April 1993 (John Peel Is Jakki Brambles): Don't You Want Me (7") Virgin VS 466 (JP: 'This was a number 1 in 1981 when I was about, ooh, about that high and as pretty as a picture.')
- 03 January 2002 (Radio Eins): All I Ever Wanted - Alter Ego Remix (12" promo) Klang Elektronik KLANG 62
Top Of The Pops
- 25 December 1981 (TOTP): Love Action (I Believe In Love)
- 18 November 1982 (TOTP): Mirror Man #09
- 25 December 1982 (TOTP): Don’t You Want Me (video clip)
- 05 May 1983 (TOTP): (Keep Feeling) Fascination #03
- 22 November 1984 (TOTP): Louise #26 (JP:'That’s The Human League and “Louise”... one of their best songs I think. I mean I know you don’t care what I think, but I thought I’d tell you anyway')
- 28 August 1986 (TOTP): Human #10