15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Excellent reissue of League#1 debut plus...,
This review is from: Reproduction (Audio CD)
Reproduction remains a powerful debut, maybe not as potent as the follow-ups Travelogue (1980) or Dare! (1981), but with the eight bonus tracks it remains a classic collection of early electronica. Human League#1 came out of the same Sheffield electronic movement as Cabaret Voltaire- a band they would have much in common with in their early incarnation (for the roots see The Golden Hour of the Future)Listening to Reproduction now it's surprising how much HL#1 have in common with other proto-electronic/post-punk bands of their era, notably CV, OMD, Simple Minds, Suicide & Throbbing Gristle. Perhaps it was the aftereffect of the Winter of Discontent, or maybe it was the zeitgeist of genocide & war- but Reproduction fits well with the rise of Cold War paranoia: the League at one with their grim surroundings, reminding you of Pere Ubu when they recorded The Modern Dance. Here they were then cutting edge- much further ahead than Joy Division were & preceding acts such as Depeche Mode & Soft Cell. A very pure electronic sound is heard thoughout- from single Circus of Death (two versions) to the po-faced take on You've Lost That Loving Feeling (which recalls the Future cover versions)- this is like a whole album of Warm Leatherettes! Perhaps it was the curious haircut, too much Kafka, but Reproduction remains kind of heavy- the ideal music to read JG Ballard to! (Ballard's so-called 'urban disaster' trilogy being the ideal reading matter: Crash, Concrete Island & High Rise)
Blind Youth as 1980's Life Kills show how indebted early Soft Cell were to the League & has the amusing line "dehumanisation is a big word/it's been around since Richard the third!" The best track from Reproduction remains single Empire State Human (which they memorably performed on the Whistle Test)- a kind of Nietszhean ambition thing that precedes (or predicts?) Madonna (we also get Empire's b-side Introducing...which is as good as anything from the second side of Low) The Dignity of Labour (Parts 1 to 4) remains interesting & can easily be traced in a forward movement to many electronic artists since (...the usual suspects I expect) Flexi Disc remains another post-modern joke, which is nice...Finally we get the Fast-versions of Being Boiled & Circus of Death- which are superior to later takes; this is the same Being Boiled that Midge Ure's Fade to Grey would remain rather indebted to & the same one recently sampled on Liberty/Richard-X's Being Nobody. Its theme of sericulture remains a curious choice in those bleak times- but bless Phil Oakey anyway! Like Eno's synths of Virginia Plain, the electronic sounds here still sound like something from the future, rather than the lazy-assed nostalgia routinly applied to the 80s.
Reproduction remains an album worth tracking down for anyone who has a passing interest in electronic music- though it's hard to reconcile the band here with the bland material they would put out a few years later (eg Mirror Man, Sunset Now!) But that's a different story I suppose...The bonus tracks make this a worthy purchase, as The Golden Hour of the Future- though the true classic albums (Travelogue,Dare& Penthouse & Pavement) would still follow. Pity it would influence kack like electroclash (that's soooooo 2001!)- as like albums such as Empires&Dance, Fourth Drawer Down & Replicas, there is much more interesting music here than a vague blend of goth & romo would suggest!