on 8 November 2012
A time capsule of past futures, old futures, all futures can sometimes be the right futures.
All the soundscaping here sounds so far away in the future still I just can't wait till it arrives!
The Dr who's of modern music. New Moderns!
79's a good year for time travelling to the future.
Travelogue-ing the synth, to bright warm and new colourful sound hues and textures, simply wonderful.
Points of clarification.
Being boiled was eventually a huge hit single in early 82, No.6 uk charts.
Dare is Not the first fully sequenced album (as another reviewer here erroneously states) nor was it the first to feature the linn drum.
Herbie Hancock And Donna Summer Both used it on their 1980 albums respectively 'textures' and 'Grand illusion' were their tracks, released around september 1980 after they were recorded.
Talking heads 1980 album also used fairlight by the glutenous dozen!!
And trevor horns 'adventures in modern recording' started very early 81 released september 81 was the zietgeist of the whole medium!
There you have it.
And the pete shelley homosapian album used sampling and synths etc well before 'Dare
There are quite a few albums prior to dare to use all that kind of drum and sequencing techology! Just look for it you will find it, And to the fullest.
Reproduction, remains a bastion, of analogue electronic sound and imagery, the height of creativity the hieght of imagination and way ahead on many levels.
A marvellous album and truly fantastic synthiaship!
on 1 February 2003
They'll always be best remembered for "Dare", but I still think the Human League were at their best as a 3-piece experimental outfit before their acrimonious split in late 1980. No conventional instruments were used; this album proudly announces in the credits "Contains vocals and synthesisers only". This was released at a time when Gary Numan led the way in electronic music, with John Foxx releasing his first solo LP since splitting up Ultravox (who themselves were finishing off their comeback album with Midge Ure) and OMD delivered their debut, which owed so much to the sounds the Human League had already created.
Recorded at their own cut-price Monumental Pictures facility in Sheffield, the sound of "Travelogue" is much clearer and more epic than on their debut LP "Reproduction", but again with a Kraftwerk influence present throughout. The pulse beat and white noise of "The Black Hit Of Space", with Phil's narrative of a number 1 record that consumes the universe, gives way to the brilliant cover of Mick Ronson's "Only After Dark" (featuring a tremendous vocal performance by Phil Oakey and Martyn Ware).
The album progresses through the epitome of wage slavery in "Life Kills" and the desperation of fleeing from oppression "Dreams Of Leaving" before the League return to their roots with an edited mono mix of "Toyota City", from their Fast Product days.
The second side (the LP was originally only 10 tracks long) kicks off with the rumbling stage favourite "Crow And A Baby" (still can't see what this one was about) and "The Touchables" before an impressive version of the Gordon's Gin TV ad theme. A mighty re-working of the "Being Boiled" debut single comes next, with a vicious electronic handclapping beat and the addition of the "Boys Of Buddha" horn synthesiser. Then the best track (and probably my favourite Human League song of all): "WXJL Tonight", about the plight of a fully-automated radio station threatened with closure due to falling ratings as its soul (i.e. the staff) has been lost. The intro to this song still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up; a salutary tale of the perils of allowing technology to take over.
The CD also includes both sides of their disco non-hit as The Men, "I Don't Depend On You" from a year before (complete with female backing vocals - a sign of things to come?) The rest of the "Holiday '80" double single is also here; the "Rock 'N' Roll"/"Nightclubbing" medley which gave them a minor hit, "Marianne" (whose rhythm track resurfaced on the "We're Going To Live For A Very Long Time" on Heaven 17's debut album) and "Dancevision", an instrumental from Ian & Martyn's pre-League days in The Future. There's also the first post-split League single "Boys And Girls" and its b-side "Tom Baker", neither of which are historically relevant to this LP but (despite the first appearances of Joanne & Susanne) sound more like "Travelogue" than "Dare", particularly the latter with its similarity to "The Black Hit Of Space". Not bad, considering the League by this time consisted of Oakey, a synthesiser and the two girls (Adrian Wright hadn't started to play and compose until "Dare").
The electronic bands that followed and had success a year later would definitely have taken this as their template and you really cannot blame them. Great tunes, mostly thoughtful lyrics and a good base to build on; such a shame it all went so wrong for them later in the year when personal differences caused the break-up, but at least it all turned out well in the end...eventually.
on 6 June 2011
By 1980 The Human Leauge (still consisting of Oakey/Marsh/Ware), had decided to forget about the distasters of the year before and think about new possibilties. 'Travelouge' is a prime example of the late MK1 Human Leauge, not as poppy as 'Dare', but not as grim and forboding as 'Reproduction'. However 'Travelouge' has that wonderful spark of creativity that all early Human Leauge tracks had, (even Dare). Travelouge does contain a lot of covers, like 'Gordon's Gin', 'Only After Dark', and, on the extra tracks 'Rock'n'Roll/Nightclubbing'. Aside this, there is a brilliant stereo remix of 'Being Boiled' (included on the Holiday '80 EP). 'Being Boiled' may be the Leauge's original signature song from two years earlier, but this final version beats them all in being the most modern, dark sounding version with a violent, thumping clap beat and loud, accentuated synths over the top. Other tracks include 'Toyota City', an ambient, oscilating track, the strange 'Crow and a Baby', which I don't think I will ever know the meaning of, and the haunting and brilliant 'W.X.J.L Tonight', along with the equally brilliant'The Black Hit Of Space'. All these tracks (plus the extras), make up a creative and very listenable album which has some real quality. The extra tracks include the slightly scary 'Tom Baker', (originally a single), and the more conventional 'I Don't Depend On You'/'Cruel', which was a single realeased under the name of 'The Men'. 'Dancevision', oddly, is included, which is one of the many demonstration tracks by Ian Craig-Marsh and Martin as The Future back in 1977. ('Dancevision' is also included on the 'Golden Hour Of The Future' EP). Overall, 'Travelouge' is a excellent listen that really emphasises the MK1 Human Leauge in all their glory (as Travelouge took them into the charts). If you are a fan of early synth music as well, (Gary Numan/Carbaret Voiltare), then I strongly reccomend this album.
The League's finest hour is also a key work in the canon of '70s/'80s electronica and fit to rank alongside Bowie's 'Low'. Worth owning if only for the supercharged reworked of 'Being Boiled', the defiantly bleak 'Life Kills', and the hilariously doomy version of 'Rock 'n Roll. Dark, compelling and endlessly inventive.
on 15 April 2003
This is the greatest electronic album ever made; The 'Pet Sounds' of the 80s, the analogue equivalent of the Ark of the Covenant... Why? Okay, ready? Let's do it...
Travelogue runs the gamut of emotional lyricism; steeped in comedy (Black Hit of Space), love (The Touchables) & paranoia (Life Kills, Dreams Of Leaving, WXJL Tonight) - more so than what you'd expect from other electronic outfits of the time. And if that's not enough the music is still fresh now; The Black Hit of Space and the re-vamped Being Boiled are laden with rhythms that today would be classed as Hip-Hop and Electro/Techno respectively.
Dreams of Leaving is Oakey as a businessman/politician living in fear at his place of work - trying to escape to a new life to the sound of possibly 4-5 early instrumentals sequenced together. What you get is the most breathtaking track on the album.
The album finishes (on the vinyl version) with WXJL Tonight -where Oakey is the last human DJ in a future society of automatic radio stations. Towards the end as Oakey starts shouting, pleading with the audience not to leave him, you'll feel a chill run down your spine. Listen to the voice of Buddha...
on 20 May 2014
If your only exposure to Phil Oakey and Co is the likes of "Don't You Want Me" then their pre - "Dare" material may come as a bit of a surprise: It's more J G Ballard than Giorgio Moroder, as though they're playing with the idea of commercialism rather than being a part of it. Sheffield's answer to Kraftwerk? Yes, but there's a lot more going on here.
I find this and "Reproduction" (their first venture) much more imaginative than their later releases, science fiction meets existentialism via a bloke with a lop-sided haircut - approach with the knowledge that it's hugely camp and tongue-in-cheek and take it from there!
on 1 March 2007
This is my favourite all-time League album, after risking it on cassette shortly after Dare surfaced and won me over. Unlike the more obtuse Reproduction this album has an eye on commercial success as well as it's tongue in cheek! Maybe a few too many covers for everyone's taste at the time, the sounds created here wrap themselves around Phil's odd yet intriguing lyrics. Practically any League fan knows both versions of Being Boiled, and this album features the proper Stereo re-recorded one (not the stereo-reverbed revamp of the classic mono Fast Version).
This remaster is very welcome, and generally brings the tracks to life compared to the 1990 CD issue. It does occasionally reveal flaws in the source ofcourse (some nasty distortion on chimes in "Toyota City", the odd click or two in "Black Hit") but these are minor. Most of the bonus tracks have remastered brilliantly, including extra hihats in Rock-n-Roll that I'd not really picked up on before. Interestingly the remaster has removed the high-pitched (earth?) noise evident in intro to "Black Hit", which makes you wonder what else may have been cleaned off that track as a result! Why 4 stars? The artwork is not as good as the original CD, seems slightly faded with white edge on the black frame, and worst of all the inner tray lining has adverts for the back catalogue (whilst Reproduction reissue doesn't resort to this tacky insert). This slightly spoils the overall presentation, but hey, it's a bargain and a classic!
on 2 September 2010
If you are a fan of electronic music the first two Human League albums are a must to own. Being a Sheffielder and remembering the heady days when these lads could be seen regulaly in the local pubs I will have some bias towards the Human League and rated them better the The Cabs and up there with The Com Sat Angels. A superb album with Phils lyrics and Ian Marsh and Martyn Wares music standing the test of time unabowed. Life Kills is well worth taking notice of in todays rush about world and other tracks such as Dreams of leaving, The crow and the baby and Being boiled are gems. Over all Travelogue and Reproduction are two pieces of musical genius that everyone should have in thier collection.
on 1 April 2015
I have had a copy of this album since it was first released in 1980. On good old vinyl (it still plays perfectly), and then on CD (now on my third copy, so that goes to show just how indestructible CD's actually are). Travelogue is my favourite Human League album - it is not as 'cold' as Reproduction, although it is still very dark in places, qv. 'A Crow And A Baby'. However, the pop sensibility is starting to percolate through; 'Life Kills', the superb rework of 'Being Boiled', and the lo-fi sci-fi of 'The Black Hit Of Space', will all generate earworms. The icing on the cake, though, has to be the wonderful 'WXJL Tonight', a sad paean to the death of the proper local radio station: "Ten thousand Watts of power/News headlines on the hour/Our music beats the best/You just don't need the rest." It stuck with me the first time I heard it, and I still love it, 35 years later. The CD remaster is crisp, although the original vinyl version was pretty good anyway. There are some interesting bonus tracks, too. I have them as vinyl singles, so the CD saves me from playing them, as some are rather obscure. For example, there are the tracks 'Boys And Girls', and 'Tom Baker', which was the first single released after Human League mk.1 split up. Awkwardly, this was Martyn Ware, and Ian Craig Marsh, who were the musicians, who then became BEF/Heaven 17, and Phil Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright, who were the vocalist and visuals man respectively. The two Phils didn't really play anything, or have a plan of action, the trouble being that they had a Human League tour imminent. So they went clubbing. And Phil Oakey saw two 18 year old schoolgirls, Joanne Catherall, and Susanne Sulley dancing in Sheffield's 'Crazy Daisy' nightclub. Oakey persuaded them to join the Human League. 'Boys And Girls' is the first record they sang on. The rest is history. The other rare track here is 'I Don't Depend On You', credited to 'The Men', which is actually Human League mk.1, performing a track written for the raunchy dance troupe Hot Gossip. It's a good pop song, which should have made the charts. All in all, Travelogue is possibly the most complete Human League album, and well worth a listen, even now.
on 11 May 2009
Both epic, in terms of scope and ambition, and personal, Phil Oakey's lyrics often dealt with issues and opinions on the world; this is a quiet masterpiece from the Sheffield-based pioneers of electronica. Different from their later more commercal synth-pop, this was recorded by the band's first incarnation: Oakey, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, and is more experimental, more futuristic and utterly thrilling on its first release. The sounds still stand up today, and it's easy to see how the League have influenced a host of modern electro bands.