Thirty years old. Yep, let me say that again, this is thirty years old. VIrgin have finally given us a "deluxe" version of one of the best albums of the 80s. The whole thing comes in a nice box with the two CDs in replica vinyl sleeves for Dare and Fascination. Also included are a thin booklet with lyrics, etc and replica prints of the Dare-era singles, which is a nice touch.
Before I tell you what I think of the Deluxe edition, here's a quick history lesson; four blokes from Sheffield were (along with the four blokes from Dusseldorf) your reviewers' heroes. The Human League MK1 were tremendous, a band who were "The Untouchables" (pun intended) in their originality and their craft.
I saw them once at Tiffany's in Coventry as a fourteen year old with my mate. A great night. Several years later we saw them on the Dare tour at Coventry Theatre, though for some reason Susanne stormed off half way through a song. Not sure why. I remember a great version of Destination Venus that night.
I was pretty devastated as a 15 year old when they split up, with Philip and Adrian keeping the name and releasing the fantastic "Boys and Girls".
Then, something special happened. Apparently (in other words, just what I've heard) they'd listened to Pete Shelley's fantastic "Homosapien" and decided that Martin Rushent was their man. The rest is history, of course. Out popped the first single from the partnership "The Sound Of The Crowd" and the League never looked back; they were established. They've had their ups and downs over the years and released albums of various quality, but really they have never equalled or bettered Dare.
The album has a single at more or less every turn, obviously "Love Action", "Open Your Heart", "Don't You Want Me" and "...Crowd" WERE singles, but "Things That Dreams Are Made Of", "Do Or Die" and "Darkness" could easily have graced a seven inch piece of plastic. Only really "I Am The Law" lets the side down, but that's being cruel. Ok, so that Linn can grate sometimes, but really that's being overly critical. This album is a masterpiece, easily up there with "Trans Europe Express" and other giants of the electronic medium.
Now onto the meat of the deluxe edition, the music. Now, I'm the kind of bloke who can't really tell if stuff has been remastered or not and this album sounds no different to the 2003 Dare/Love and Dancing: 21st Anniversary Edition
to me, but there you go.
Most of us are probably interested in the extras and it's nice to get the extended versions of "Sound Of The Crowd", "Don't You Want Me", etc along with the superb instrumental of "Open Your Heart/Non Stop". However, there are some glaring omission - where's the excellent "Do Or Die" dub mix that appeared on the "Methods Of Dance" LP? Or the vocal version of "Hard Times"? And why include "I Love You Too Much"? Maybe, I'm being picky but not including that great dub mix is such a shame. It seems odd not to include the 7" version of "Fascination" too.
This is an album that admittedly I don't play very often any more so it was a nice surprise to hear those tracks again. I was surprised how well they have stood the test of time, particularly the album tracks such as "Darkness" and "Seconds". With the extras, it was nice to hear "You Remind Me Of Gold" again. I'd forgotten just how good that track was, along with the instrumental version.
Anyone remember the band playing "Do or Die" live on the Saturday night "adult" version of Tiswas? Can't remember the name of the programme, but it was a great performance. I seem to recall the superb Fashion were on that once too.
Obviously, I'm fairly pleased with this deluxe edition; the packaging and detail are nice, but the whole thing is tempered for me by the omission of one of their best tracks. Still, stick it on and rejoice at Phil and Adrian at the top of their game.
Whilst I still prefer the original Fab Four material rather than the post-split albums, this is a million times better than any album they have released since. There have been some highlights obviously on each album, but really the quality of Dare has never been bettered or even equalled on Hysteria, Crash, Romantic, etc.
I wonder if those albums will ever get the Deluxe treatment? Virgin, can we have some China Crisis deluxe editions now, please?