Timehop Tunes

The Human League Dare

This week's Timehop Tunes delves back in time to The Human League's pivotal 1981 release Dare.

To coincide with Ministry of Sound's forthcoming 80's Mix compilation, this week's Timehop Tunes delves back in time to The Human League's pivotal 1981 release Dare

Following the departure of founding members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, there were doubts as to whether or not the band would be able to reproduce the same success of their previous records. Nobody expected that they would go on to create a modern day, genre-defining masterpiece.

With Phillip Oakley stepping in to take the creative reigns, the Berkshire synth-poppers were provided with the fresh aesthetic they had been looking for. Still to this day, the influence of Dare  can be felt in a vast range of popular music. 

The album received both critical and commercial acclaim, with the album reaching #1 in the UK and being certified Triple Platinum by the BPI.

Without question, the most well known track off the album is the classic "Don't You Want Me," whose subject matter takes the form of a conflicting male/female duet focusing on themes of jealousy and romantic obsession. It is underscored by two backing synthesiser samples and Rushent's LM-1 sequence with Burden's core keyboard background.

The track is different to the rest of Dare, not only for its pop sound but also because it features a female joint lead vocal. Against Oakey's wishes, it was released as a single in November 1981; the song then became the band's biggest hit and one of the highest selling singles of all time in the UK.

This single was released in unison with a very expensive and elaborate promotional video, which was a very new concept for the time. As a result of this, "Don't You Want Me" received a huge level of exposure and was pretty much played on repeat on newly established cable TV channel MTV. 

Subsequently, Virgin went on to license both the single and the album for American release on A&M records, adding an exclamation mark to the end of the title in order to differentiate it from it's British counterpart. 

The release of Dare!  mimicked the success of the British release and charted at number 3 in the US Billboard charts, with "Don't You Want Me" charting at number 1. 

Dare  earned considerable income for record labels Virgin and A&M; in Virgin's case, it gave the label the first chart-topping album since Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells in 1973. "Don't You Want Me" was the label's first ever chart-topping single. The success of Dare  was responsible for saving the label from impending bankruptcy.

A very grateful Richard Branson sent Philip Oakey a motorcycle as a thank you present, but Oakey had to return it as he couldn't ride it. 

The cover art and other album artwork is based on a concept that Oakey wanted, that the album should look like an edition of Vogue magazine. When asked why the faces on the cover were cropped to show only the faces of the women, Oakley responded saying, "We wanted people to still be able to buy the album in five years, we thought that hair styles would be the first thing to date. We had no idea people would still be buying it 25 years later."

Words: Louis Curran

20 Oct 2014