Saturday, February 09, 2008

489. The Human League - Dare! (1981)

Track Listing

1. Things That Dreams Are Made Of
2. Open Your Heart
3. Sound Of The Crowd
4. Darkness
5. Do Or Die
6. Get Carter
7. I Am The Law
8. Seconds
9. Love Action (I Believe In Love)
10. Don't You Want Me


When people ask you to give them a list of 80's songs, I would bet that many of us would have Don't You Want Me in the top 10, along with Rio and Take On Me as one of the most recognisable ones. It is surprising therefore that it is included in an album which is actually much better than that song.

The immediate first impression of Dare! is one of doubt, is this a good album or just 80's swill? But repeated listening inform you on why this is actually a great album, these songs subtly burrow down into your mind in such a way that by the third time you hear them you know it all by heart, catchy is an understatement.

But then this isn't just a simple pop album, there is a darkness present in the mood of the whole album that takes it to a whole different level, it is not the wilful perversion of morals of Soft Cell, it is something different, quite depressed while putting on a brave face.

This is a weird mix of the good and the very good often masked as 80s lowest common denominator pop, but it is just so much more.

Track Highlights

1. Love Action (I Believe In)
2. The Things That Dreams Are Made Of
3. The Sound Of The Crowd
4. Don't You Want Me

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The album was named after a Vogue magazine cover and is also incorporated into the lyrics of the song "Things That Dreams are Made Of". Philip 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?"

Almost universally critically acclaimed in the UK, the album featured strongly in the year end polls for 1981. Noted music critic Paul Morley wrote in the NME, many ways it challenges the very conventions of pop music and the essence of innovation. What is it all for? I think that ‘Dare!’ is one of the great popular music LPs.

The album's critical success was also echoed commercially as it sold in huge numbers taking it quickly to number one in the UK album charts in early November 1981. It was expected to be the finish to an enormously successful year for the band. But because of its extraordinary commercial success Virgin executive Simon Draper decided he wanted lift yet another single from the album before the end of 1981.

Draper's choice would be the track "Don't You Want Me", the conflicting male/female duet about jealousy and sexual obsession that Oakey had recorded with teenage backing singer Susanne Sulley. Oakey was unhappy with the decision and originally fought it, he believed it was the weakest track on Dare and 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. Although Oakey believed the track wasn't good enough to be a single, 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.

Love Action:

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