Dare to be different

Human League

1980: the iron hand of Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government was firmly in power and the record industry was beginning to tighten its belt along, with everybody else.

We persevered with post-Rezillos band Shake, but Sire Records never really got their promotional weight behind us, and distribution and sales suffered as a result. We parted company with Sire and recorded more tracks, intended for independent release on Bob Last’s Pop Aural label. But times were lean, we were incurring debt and pretty much unable to continue trading, and so Shake were put on hold for the time being.

My next band, Boots For Dancing, seemed unwilling to grasp opportunity, so it was time for me to move on again. I was feeling a little jaded and felt that a revitalising change might be in order. “You don’t understand – we coulda had class, we coulda been contenders, we coulda been somebody…” But I was now on a journey, a quest to find the New Sound.

The charts of the day were a curious mix of disco, the tail-end punk, Two Tone ska, Blondie and ABBA. Music technology was rapidly advancing and electronic instruments were becoming more affordable. The emergence of Gary Numan, a re-invented Ultravox, John Foxx and Spandau Ballet, plus leftfield underground experimental acts like The Normal and Throbbing Gristle, suggested that electronic music was becoming populist.

Through mutual manager Bob Last I’d been spending time with electro pioneers The Human League, initially helping band member and friend Adrian with his writing. I’d followed their early progress with interest; I liked the quirky style of their songs and unique sound. This opportunity was perhaps the revitalising change I desired…

Before I knew it I was spending almost every alternate week in Sheffield, the League’s home town, helping write and record the material which would ultimately comprise Dare. After which nothing would quite be the same again.

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