Review of Dare Album by Human League

Whilst it seems the industry has little by the way of collective conscience, we at Contact Music are never short of a metaphorical finger or two to wag at it. Today's hot topic (again): reissues, flogging a dead horse, or money for old bloody rope, discuss. We feel that what was a stream of nostalgic reminders-of-a-blinder has in the last few years become a tidal wave, now apparently synchronised with the gift and card industry in a weirdly cynical act of symbiosis. Old indie band needing a quid? Father's Day. Celine Dion?...well, the list goes on. Grrr.

Human League Dare Album

It's a little easier (But not much, shiny marketing types) when the stuff being "Introduced to a new generation of potential fans" is work like Dare, one of the finest British albums of the early 80's and at the time seemingly being one off a production line of Paul Morley's New Pop phenomenon, later followed in 1982 by the likes of ABC, Haircut 100 and Adam Ant. Predictably it would all end in tears (Usually reported in the gossip outlet of the time, Smash Hits), but it's no understatement to say that the oldies (but goodies) everybody knows by heart - Love Action, Sound of The Crowd and the still ubiquitous Don't You Want Me - helped shape the mould for both synth pop and euro disco long into the decade in which it was created.

As with all classic albums, Dare arrived in adversity, the semi-bobbed Oakey having dispensed with former cohorts Marty Ware and Craig Marsh, the pair going to form Heaven 17. Under normal circumstances this may have been a smart career move, but as the duo were in fact the only members who could play any instruments (Live, other remaining Leaguer Adrian Wright chipped in with a mean slide show, but no chops to speak of) it smacked a bit of cutting his nose to spite his elegantly rouged face. Cue Martin Rushent, veteran producer of the Buzzcocks and owner of a ton of shiny new state of the art studio equipment. Oakey duly arrived there with a handful of ideas and precious little else, but with public expectations lowered, the recruitment of teenage duo Susanne Sully and Joanne Catherall proved to be the final piece of a jigsaw that would see the new line up's début album go on to sell five million copies.

"Remastered" (It says here) the Deluxe Edition of Dare follows a cover mount give away of the original in 2008 via that last bastion of the Northern working classes, the Daily Mail. Despite the familiarity of the content, it's still without argument one of the pop records of its era, and remains even with the unnecessary boffinery timeless. Steeped in lore of Kraftwerk and Moroder, it had depth well beyond its well-worn singles - the hedonistic optimism of Things That Dreams Are Made Of, doppelgangered by the chilly versioning of the theme tune to nasty proto-gangster flick Get Carter are both masterfully executed - and Oakey's baritone was for a time seemingly the only male voice on national radio.

By contrast the paraphernalia surrounding this double release is comprehensive, but superfluous. Not got another two versions of Mirror Man? Knock yourself out here then. Do you really, really, want to keep feeling that Fascination? Ditto. Rushent claimed during the remastering process to have scrapped the original synthesisers in favour of real instruments, but there's little evidence of this amongst a ton of cheesy, Dave Lee Travis era sounding instrumentals for which frankly the term 'disposable' fails to do any kind of justice. Take our advice; the best way to appreciate Dare is to play it's ten tracks in sequence, and loud. Anything else as they once said, is just a distraction.

Andy Peterson

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