Herald Sun Australia 1982
WORTH A MILLION
The Human League crowd on to the balcony of the Presidential Suite at the plush Sebel Townhouse in downtown Sydney.
"Where are the department stores?" asks the League's singer Philip Oakey. "We
must check out some this afternoon for clothes and make-up".
Philip wears more make-up than his girlfriend, Joanne Catherall, who's also in the
League - Ian Burden, who plays synthesiser, wears no make-up at all.
The Human League are the new champions of the ever-rotating English rock scene
they've bypassed a flagging Adam Ant in record sales and, more lucratively, have
just become the first English New Romantic band to seriously dent the American
When they arrived here last Sunday, they were greeted with news that "Don't You
Want Me was now an American Top 10 single - with Dare not far behind.
And the difference between a Top 10 album in America and England? "Oh, about a
But then, 21-year-old Oakey has a cool strategist's eye for spotting a millon-dollar
chance in the bustling world of rock.
The Human League had been going two albums and some years before internal
disagreements tore it apart, and two founder members split.
Oakey siezed the chance to re-build the band his way - bringing in two
new synthesiser players and two girls, Joanne Catherall and Suzanne
Sulley, he'd spotted dancing in a disco.
"The first time I saw them, I thought 'these girls are worth a million',"
"No one else saw it at first, but I was always sure of them myself -
especially after I'd taken them to a studio and discovered they could sing
"And now, if our single does as well as 'Dare' we will have a million - so
they haven't done anything to disprove the theory anway."
A million and love too - Oakey and Joanne are tipped to be married. But
you asked Susanne to join the band first," needles Joanne gently. "Ah
well," shrugs Oakey.
The New Romantic movement is so often publicised for the foppish,
peacock-bright clothes worn by the bands and fans, sometimes the
changes it's made to the sound of pop have been overlooked.
Human League, Soft Cell, Visage, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox and a host of
others have virtually disowned the electric guitar as a lead instrument -
and drums as the basis of rhythm - stressing the ercolating, computer-
measured beats and beeps of synthesisers.