Sunday Telegraph Australia 1982
TOP OF "NEW POP" CROP
The Human League are the latest example of the British New Pop to grace our shores.
New Pop? That simply means they're willing to admit to the traditional rock
ambition of wanting to make it big.
Perhaps the first sign of the trend was Adam and the Ants, but they've been
swallowed up now by the demands of the glossy teen magazines.
Duran Duran are another example but despite their recent tour the suspicion
still lingers that what we like best was their film clips.
The Human League, the most palatable of the New Pop groups arrived in
Australia Last week and founder member Phil Oakey, readily admitted their
affection for ABBA.
"Most of us really like ABBA," he said. "We think they do the job really well.
They make high quality stuff that is very saleable."
That's the formula which has won The Human League sales of more than
800,000 for their latest album, Dare, in the U.K. alone.
Naturally they're delighted, especially considering the alternatives.
"Things in England are getting pretty desperate," Adrian Wright said.
"The chances are when you leave school you won't lead a normal existence.
There's very little work. That means you're living on £120 a week in some
horrible little dive somewhere. It's pretty difficult to live like a human being."
Phil's experience was a little different. "I stopped work three years ago,
then I was a hospital porter and ifI worked an extra shift on the weekend I
could bring home £90 a week. Now I'm getting £100 pounds a week, so
we're not substantially better off."
Then he paused to look around the suite high in one of Sydney's best hotels.
"Well, we are better off really because our standard of living is very high."
Of course there are pressures involved in a very successful band. But there are
also special joys.
"I think if we're careful we needn't worry about money if we do one more album
like Dare," says Phil.
Then we could work on something that, was bigger like a film or a musical."
That sounds as if they're planning their future with as much care as say, Bucks
"Oh they're very good friends of ours," Phil said.
"We go out with them sometimes, they're the only group we do go out with."
"They're very different to us," Joanne Catherall points out.
"To them it's strictly a job. They're told what to do."
"Every member of Bucks Fizz is a better singer than anyone in The Human
League, " Phil says.
The Human League has existed in different forms since 1978 but this is the
lineup that has acheived most success.
But then, two of the original members left to form Heaven 17, and the B.E.F.
To avoid law suits, Phil had to pick up the reins to satisfy European tour
committments and then kept the band going.
Not long after, in true ABBA tradition, he started looking for a couple of girls
to add to the band.
A former girlfriend of his saw the two, then schoolgirls, at a disco and
For Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley, it's led to a whirlwind change to
"Everything happens so quickly, we didn't have time to think
about it," Joanne says.
"Then someone said the other day the record might reach No 1 in the
American charts, That's when you think 'Oh gosh is this really happening?"
"What really made it go," Phil says, "was getting Ian Burden and Jo Callis in,
and writing good songs. "America proved that. They don't know anything about
the group over there, but they've gone out and bought the record in droves."
The English rock paper 'Melody Maker' called their music the true New
Motown, and said The Human League were one of the worst groups in the
world attempting to do justice to some of the greatest songs composed.
There's nothing complex about their hit making capacity, according to Phil, part
of the credit lies with producer Martin Rushent, who brought a much needed
polish to their studio performances.
But most of all, Phil stresses, It's because they are pop fans themselves.
"I love pop music," he confessed, "I think it's a really good thing. I think it helps
When they finish their Australia tour, they will visit Japan, Canada and Iceland
before returning home.
Iceland? "We're doing it as our good turn for the year," Phil explained, "because
they made us No 1.