on 15 July 2010
Lacking the polish of their commercial mega-hit Dare and later efforts such as Hysteria and Octopus, Reproduction is an intriguing reminder of what made Human League so interesting in the first place.
Before enlisitng two schoolgirls to go on tour with them, the League were a group of idealistic young blokes from Sheffield with a manifesto to create ground-breaking elecronic music without the support of any traditional 'rock' instruments. They definitely succeeded in their aim, and the 17 tracks on this remastered LP are testament to this success.
My favourite songs here are the doom-laden Circus of Death and Blind Youth - the latter reminiscent of something fellow synth pioneers Blancmange might have released - and I also love early singles, the anthemic 'Empire State Human' and the simply brilliant 'Being Boiled'. The raw energy and mordant wit that runs through the album is what made the band so original, and the irony-free cover of Righteous Brothers' You've Lost That Loving Feeling' is simply the icing on the cake.
Commercial success meant that the band would never quite scale such artistic heights again, but this and the equally stirring Travelogue stand as examples of how synth pop truly began.
on 1 March 2007
Not as immediate as Travelogue. I wasn't sure whether to buy this remaster, but am glad I did! The artwork is very similar to the original '88/'90 cd issues (transparent liner tray but no pictorial ads for the rest of their back catalogue), including the spines - and the disc is now a printed picture disc. More important is the music, ofcourse. This remaster has kept all the integrity of it's predecessor (note the CD version of "Path..." is not the original 1970's release)whilst removing a lot of the hiss and heaviness. "ESH" shines now, slightly re-eqd to improve it's punchiness, and the bonus "Introducing" is not purely lifted from a very crackly single (as per previous CD). Most of the bonuses are probably still from vinyl, but if they are someone has done a very good job in removing as much surface noise as they could. Overall this get 5 stars because of price, packaging and sound, and the fact it's made a difficult album sound a wee bit more accessible.
on 12 April 2005
My older bro brought this album home one day long ago (1979 in fact). Already blown away by lashings of Jarre, Isao Tomita and Kraftwerk, this made a huge impact.
The sheer...weirdness of it all was incredible. As arty and poppy as you could wish, the League were intend on doing things differently. Here was their debut manifesto; a stark collection of pop gems like Empire State Human, Blind Youth (a reply to the 'no future' ethos of punk) and the stunning cover of You've Lost That Loving Feeling (later also covered by Erasure) set out their case impeccably. Contrast this with the searing Almost Medieval and the album version of Circus Of Death and you've a totally absorbing package.
The Fast Product stuff sounds great. I love the slightly rough feeling of the intro to Being Boiled ("Ok...ready...let's do it!") and Oakey's spoken intro to Circus Of Death. I still don't know whether that Daily Telegraph reference is true or not!
The League were incredibly influential. On here it's not hard to see why...
on 26 October 2014
Great first album by the original version of The Human League.
Don't buy expecting Dare or anything similar - this is experimental, challenging, ground breaking early proto synth pop with some great songs thrown in like Empire State Human, Almost Medieval and Circus Of Death.
Very, very good, only docked one star because their second album Travelogue was even better and I can't give them both five stars!
Highly recommended and ground breaking.
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!
on 14 February 2003
Well, it is surprising me no one dared to review the album debut of, probably, Sheffield finest.
Forget the "Dare" sound and immerse you in one of the strong rings of the electronic/syntpop chain which started with Suicide, continued with Kraftwerk went through the Municsound and so on (put Soft Cell after Human League for continuity).
Dark, stark but enjoiable; on CD with bonus tracks from the singles too.
If you like electroclash you should love it, while you might love it without loving electroclash.
Next, you should check "Travelogue" and "The Golden Hour".
Remember: no guitars allowed!
on 15 September 2014
What can one say? Marvellous, i just could'nt put this akbum down, i bought this album in early 1987 (because i wasnt allowed to buy it earlier) id turned 14, and i bought it from knights record shop on botanic ave belfast, id managed to get the great travelogue there as well, 6 weeks earlier, but reproduction stunned me at the time, i was hearing this at a time when acid dance house and sampleplay backand di4tal recording was the norm, and people referred to analogue anything as something anacronistic from 50 yrs earlier type of thing. And still i heard precision, intelligence, and most of all, the future, it was still futuristic to me that late, and it still is, what a pallete of sound, i remember listening to this on cassette on tyrella beach on a vry sunny day, able to see the mournes and the sea and sands, and my we headphones took me away to another universe, i love and treasure these memories, they made me. and carol shaw, you do talk bollocks! Luv.
on 26 May 2007
You can take this album on a couple of levels - the first steps along the way for a classic 80s band? The early experimentation of some pop icons? The first stirrings of a new sound? It was certainly cutting edge for it's time, with basically keyboard, vocals and electro percussion. This was the synth pop sound, not synth rock as per Duran and Depeche. And it's raw, not all polished up like the sound became by the mid 80s with Erasure etc.
Question is, why would anyone want to listen to this in 2000 and something, some 20 to 30 years on? Well, because behind some bad lyrics and some squeaky fx that are in there just for the point of it, you have some classic tunes, that still reward a listen. Blind Youth has a euphoric melody line, and a great chorus. It just gets into your head and sticks. Being Boiled is another great tune, once you get behind the slightly basic sounding keys. Empire State Human is a bit cheesy but chorus, melody etc are top notch. And that's the thing, the tunes and the sounds are put together with real art and style and they are very good indeed in parts. You will hum some of the songs for days and nobody will have a clue what you are singing.
Plus, you get the cover of You've Lost, which is deconstructed into a 9 and a half minute model of restraint. Brilliant. On the shoulders of this album, climbed any number of giants of the 80s. And it is still good to listen to today.
As an aside, I picked this after listening to the Nick Rhodes Only After Dark compilation of obscure synth rock and pop. That's great too. Check it out.
on 5 May 2010
I was browsing some of my early disc purchases on Spotify recently, whereupon I came to 'Reproduction' the first full album by the Human League.
When I first heard the loudening opening beat leading into 'Almost Medieval' that was it - it all came back to me. When initially heard this - way back when, it was without par. It was new and exciting. Listening to it again I was surprised that again, it was still fresh and exciting and to be honest, still without par.
It is a great example of the new wave of electronica that burst onto the music scene in the late 70's/early 80's and does not (to my ears) sound dated at all, and I have kept reasonably up-to-date, with the latest music over the intervening years. It possibly even sounds more 'edgy' than I recall first time around. Much more depth than the more pop orientated 'Dare' - which again is a great album, but definitely more mainstream/pop.
Great riffs, fantastic pace and Phil Oakeys's deep voiced gravitas makes this a 'must listen' to all true music affectionado's.
on 9 March 2007
amount of tracks:9
the period between late 79 and 82 saw the birth of what came to be known as the new romantic period. this featured bands (and they were REAL bands unlike the studio-created pretenders of today) like spandau ballet,visage,soft cell, depeche mode,joy division,simple minds, tubeway army etc. as 1983 kicked in all these bands moved into pop mainstream and embraced the horrendous production values that permeated all recorded music for the next 7 years. the human league were no different. they hired two girls and went mainstream pop. you cant blame these bands of course, they obviously smelt the £ and they all made very nice careers. but the music suffered as a result and consequently people forget about the earlier period when all the above named were making some very interesting music indeed and that particular couple of years saw pop at its very darkest.
the league were a prime example. two albums were released during this period, travelogue and this one, reproduction. bear in mind that this was real music, regardless of the fact it was made on synth. it was long before the days of sampling and pro-tools where any idiot who knows a couple of chords on the keyboard can make himself sound much better than he/they really are, as per 'groups' nowadays. this was still very organic and extremely clever and inventive stuff. taking their cues obviously from bands like kraftwerk, tangerine dream and bowie, the human league came up with a great little album here full of very intriging songs, including a truly weird version of 'youve lost that lovin feeling' preceded by 'morale', a kinda spoken word intro. when i first heard it i went 'what?!' but it actually works in a demented kind of way! the real highlights however, are the first three tracks plus the single 'empire state human'(havent heard the bonus tracks on the remaster so cant comment)'circus of death' and'path of least resistance' especially are simply little masterpeices and pop never really got any darker than this. even in their full on pop years(which still had some great moments), oakey still came up with some very deep and dark stuff, especially on the b-sides of singles which kinda showed where his true feelings still laid. all in all, this was a great little group and phil oakey is a very under-rated and talented writer. if you like substance in your pop music, look no further than this album