It was 1977 in Sheffield. Ian Marsh, Adolph 'ADI' Newton, and Martyn Ware formed The Future, inspired by Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express and Donna Summer's I Feel Love.
As the band developed, the influence of Punk, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Walter Carlos, and John Carpenter began to show. After a few shows and the disinterest of their tapes by record labels, ADI left the band and formed Clock DVA.
Phil Oakley was asked to join the band simply because 'he looked like a pop star.' Phil did not play any instruments and had no money for a synth, but he could sing. After Ian and Martin were blown away by lyrics Phil wrote to Being Boiled, they changed the name of the band to The Human League. The name was taken from the sci-fi board game Star Force.
This collection brings together early recordings from the pre-Virgin period and includes tracks by The Future and The Human League which have remained officially unreleased until now.
My favorite song from The Future period is Blank Clocks. The song does not sound at all like Human League: it sounds much more like Clock DVA. Blank Clocks has two voices trading phrases back and forth.
I also like The Future song Daz . Daz has a lot of echo and a voice saying "Daz." Again, the sound is much more experimental than the Human League sound you know from their records.
On this CD I like five songs from The Human League period. Opening track Dance Like A Star sounds very similar to the Human League sound we know already. Phil Oakley's voice is distinctive and the music is solid. The 12inch which Black Melody released as a companion to this CD has two versions of Dance Like A Star. It also has Last Man on Earth (from this CD) plus two tracks exclusive to the 12inch.
My favorite track on this CD is 4JG. It is an instrumental that has the same dry crunchy electronic sound that the Berlin label Shitkatapult has specialized in. I could listen to this track over and over.
Disco Disaster sounds like an early cousin to Being Boiled. It is a vocal track with background vocals and a beat. The recording is low budget, but the song rises above those limitations.
The instrumental version of Reach Out I'll Be There (the Motown classic) is a highlight for me. There is energy in the track, and it does what the best cover version do: interpret rather than recreate.
New Pink Floyd is an instrumental which embeds a bass part like the Pink Floyd song Meddle in a Dr. Who styled track. Year of the Jet Packs is an instrumental that has fun sounds like steam being let off in rhythm.
Of mention is The Future song Cairo, which sounds like the music from Star Trek when an exotic space girl dances on a strange planet. Dominion Advertisment is a mock ad for a feel good drug, forecasting the rise of drugs like Prozac. Once Upon the Time in the West sounds like one of the instrumentals from side two of David Bowie's Low.
This CD is a kick. I never loved The Human League, but I like this CD a lot.