Ah...what it was to be 13 years old, without a care in the world and living through an era when pop music was colourful, flamboyant and full of character (unlike the plastic autotuned talentless pretty boys and bimbos of today). Two debut albums of 1984, both with similar titles, hit my radar and have pretty much stuck there ever since, mainly because of their superb songwriting but also because they're quite simply brilliant albums. Howard Jones Human's Lib was the first and Nik Kershaw's Human Racing was the other. I have to admit to being a huge fan of both this and follow up, The Riddle, before my teenage interest wandered off to pastures new. I bought the singles, the remixes, the albums (like you did back then). I've found it quite remarkable and an incredible oversight that Human Racing has never been revisited before and has, for a number of years, been totally out of print. So when I discovered that Universal were to finally dust off the masters and reissue it on their new 'Re-presents' imprint I was pleasantly surprised. My faith in catalogue departments has taken a battering recently with lack lustre reissues and over-priced, underwhelming 'super-deluxe' editions so it's nice to know that the biggest player of them all, Universal, has finally decided they have gold that is worth mining.
The album itself is a product of it's time. No doubt about it but listening to it again it's astounding just how good it still is. Superbly dynamic and brilliantly arranged with an emphasis on melody and hooks. Catchy choruses a-plenty, guitar solos and the customary 80s keyboards and brass section. The four singles released were radio friendly slices of pop/rock that touched on thought provoking lyrics backed up by memorable tunes.
Included here are the remixes that graced the obligatory 12" format of the day (RIP real format), many available on CD for the first time. Typical of their time, they rejigged the tracks, looped various aspects of it and gave it a punchy back beat. Some of them went on a bit, got a little annoying and probably drove you nuts but listening to them today makes me realise just how superior the sound was to the saturated, compressed and ear-fatiguing trash of today.
Amusing notes from the man himself who, almost 30 years later, is able to recall his memories as an emerging artist in a business that has now changed beyond recognition (and not for the better).
Finally, the remastering is quite simply brilliant. Sadly, nobody is credited in the liner notes but whoever did the job should be proud of their effort. Amazing clarity and detail, superbly balanced with incredible dynamics. Sounds very faithful to the original vinyl. No ridiculous compression and artificial boosting of levels here. Turn it up and be moved by the sound. Exactly how a good remaster should sound.
At £9 this is a brilliant value reissue in every way and hopefully Universal will see fit to at least do the same with The Riddle which is as equally deserving.
Also, let's hope the 'Re-presents' imprint brings us many more forgotten gems that deserve another spin in these dying days of physical media.