Dare - The Human League

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    Dare (released as Dare! in the US) is the third studio album by British synthpop band The Human League. The album was recorded between March and September 1981 and first released in the UK on 16 October 1981, then subsequently in the US in mid-1982.

    The style of the album is the result of the drastic change from a experimental avant-garde electronic group into a commercial pop group under Philip Oakey's creative direction following the departure of fellow founding members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh. Dare became critically acclaimed and has proved to be a genre-defining album, whose influence can be felt in many areas of pop music. The album and its four singles were hugely successful commercially, with the album reaching #1 in the UK and being certified Triple Platinum by the BPI.

    Dare is the third studio album from the Human League but differs greatly from their previous two, Reproduction and Travelogue. This is due to a split in the original line up, the subsequent reformation of the band with new personnel and the difference in musical style under Philip Oakey's direction.

    In January 1981 the Human League consisted of just Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright with newly recruited teenage dancers/backing vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. After the acrimonious split of the original band in October 1980 and the subsequent recruitment of Sulley and Catherall, the new band had only just survived a European tour by bringing in session keyboardist Ian Burden to temporarily assist. The band were deeply in debt and only barely commercially viable. Under pressure to produce results from Virgin Records, original members Oakey and Wright returned to Monumental Studios in Sheffield to start recording demo tracks. They recorded the track "Boys and Girls" from the 1980 tour, which Virgin then quickly released as a single. The style of "Boys and Girls" belonged to the original, now defunct Human League. Sulley and Catherall who were busy with school, were not used other than for publicity. The synthesiser work was basic as Oakey and Wright admitted they lacked the skill of Marsh and Ware. When "Boys and Girls" peaked at number 47 in the UK, Oakey realised that he would need to bring in professional help to take the band in the more pop and commercial sounding direction he wished.

    Oakey's first move was to invite guitarist and keyboard player Ian Burden from the tour back to join the band full-time. As a trained musician, not only were Burden's keyboard skills vastly superior to Oakey and Wright's but he instantly proved to be an adept songwriter and composer as well. Virgin had suggested that Oakey needed professional production and paired him with veteran producer Martin Rushent, an expert on emerging music technologies of the time. Because of the "unhealthy" atmosphere at Monumental Studios in Sheffield caused by the Human League sharing it with new band Heaven 17 (containing ex-Human League members Ware and Marsh), Rushent moved the band to his Genetic Sound Studios in Reading. In addition Rushent's studios were better-equipped for the type of music the band was making. A downside would be that the distance would cause problems for Sulley and Catherall who were taking their final school exams and had to be bussed down from Sheffield regularly.

    The first result of their recording sessions was released in April 1981 entitled "The Sound of the Crowd"; it would be a defining moment for the band. With the sophisticated synthesiser work of Burden aided by Wright, Oakey's deep baritone lead vocal and for the first time female backing vocals from teenage dancers (now full vocalists) Sulley and Catherall it would prove to be the band's keystone sound. The final addition to the band would be the experienced guitarist and songwriter Jo Callis formerly of punk rock band The Rezillos, who quickly had to learn the synthesizer.

    Oakey accepts that Martin Rushent's adept sequencing and programming skills brought a professional edge to the band's sound, and added many new elements and techniques. Oakey, Burden, Wright and Callis set about writing new material, bringing in Sulley and Catherall from Sheffield as often as they were available. The aim was another album for the Human League within a year. Virgin were at this point lukewarm but keen that the band released another single as soon as possible.

    The first release from the now complete new team came in August 1981, "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" was the band's first major critical and commercial success and peaked at number three in the UK. It brought the band to the forefront of public attention and would also see Virgin give the green light for an album release with a 6–12 month timescale. The band now had much new material to work with and set about arranging it into a viable album. By September 1981 the prototype album was ready to go and provisionally entitled Dare, after a Vogue magazine cover (U.K., April 1979, Gia Carangi). Oakey explained the story behind the album name at the time:

    “I like it because The Mekons used to have a song called 'Dan Dare'. In fact it (album name) was ripped off from a cover of Vogue about two and a half years ago. They had a whole series of covers which featured just one word like 'Success' , 'Red', and 'Dare'. I shouldn't say that should I? ”
    To set the scene for the album's release Virgin released one of the album tracks immediately in advance of the album. "Open Your Heart" went to number six in the UK singles chart, confirming the band's popularity. Virgin began heavily advertising the release of the new album, set for the end of October 1981. "Open Your Heart" was accompanied by a futuristic looking promotional video, a rarity at the time. Whilst it was still in the charts, Dare premiered to critical acclaim. It was also condemned by the Musicians' Union, who believed the new technology employed by the Human League was making traditional musicians redundant and a threat to their monopoly. Soon they would begin a "Keep It Live" campaign believing that bands like the Human League would be able to perform concerts at the touch of a button.

    Virgin executive Simon Draper's next choice would be the track "Don't You Want Me", the conflicting male/female duet about jealousy and romantic obsession that Oakey had recorded with teenage backing singer Susanne Sulley. Oakey was unhappy with the decision and originally fought it, believing it to be the weakest track on Dare; for that reason it had been relegated to the last track in the B-side of the vinyl album. Oakey was eventually overruled by Virgin.[3] It would go on to become the band's greatest ever hit, selling millions of copies worldwide and becoming the 25th highest ever selling single in the UK (as of 2007). It was also the Christmas number one for 1981.
    Dare
    Track Listings:
    The Things That Dreams Are Made Of 4:14
    Open Your Heart 3:53
    The Sound Of The Crowd 3:56
    Darkness 3:56
    Do Or Die 5:23
    Get Carter 1:02
    I Am The Law 4:14
    Seconds 4:58
    Love Action (I Believe In Love) 4:58
    Don't You Want Me 3:56
    Total Time: 40:46
    Artist Name(s):
    Ian Burden – Synthesizer
    Jo Callis – Synthesizer
    Joanne Catherall – Vocals
    Philip Oakey – Vocals & Synthesizer
    Susan Ann Sulley – Vocals
    Philip Adrian Wright – Synthesizer & Slides
    Additional personnel

    Martin Rushent – Programming
    Dave Allen – Programming, assistant engineer
    Recorded at – Genetic Sound Studios, Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Cover Design – by Philip Oakey, Philip Adrian Wright, Ken Ansel
    Producer(s):
    Martin Rushent
    Release Year: 1981
    Style:
    Synth-Pop
    Album Type:
    Studio
    Formats:
    Cassette, Compact Disc, Digital / Download, LP 33 1/3
    Cover & Packge Design:
    Philip Oakey, Philip Adrian Wright, Ken Ansel
    Studio Name:
    Genetic Sound
    Label / Publishing
    Label Name:
    Virgin, A&M (US)
    Catalog Number(s):
    204 104, 204 104-320, CS-4892
    Location:
    Streatley, Berkshire
    Sources
    Synthesizers Used
    Album Locator
    [+] Amazon
    [+] Amoeba
    [+] Discogs
    [+] Ebay
    [+] Google
    [+] YouTube


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