www.icnewcastle.co.uk 29th October 2006
Still in a League of their own

It's getting on for a quarter of a century ago now, but I still vividly remember the stupefying effect The Human League's Phil Oakey had on my mother the first time she saw him on Top of the Pops.

Tottering on high heels, caked in make-up and bare-chested to reveal pierced nipples, the synth-pop band's front-man certainly knew how to grab an audience's attention, whether you loved him or loathed him.

Although the Human League are still going strong, these days Phil has toned down his look considerably.
He admitted he dropped the slap when the passage of time finally caught up with his famous long on one side, short on the other hairstyle.

He said: "Because my hair fell out, I couldn't really do the glam thing any more, unless I went completely over the top and started wearing a wig, so the image started fading off. I think people probably take me a little bit more seriously these days! But I've got to say, I miss it. I loved glam . . . it was my thing."

The Human League enjoyed huge success in the 1980s with hits like Mirror Man, (Keep Feeling) Fascination and the UK and US number one, Don't You Want Me?.

Nowadays, the band exist mainly as a live entity, although they do have plans to record in the near future.

They frequently tour the UK and Europe but are still based in Sheffield, a place they've always been proud to call home.

Phil explained: "I've never moved. I've actually been in the same house for 20 years. We've never really made quite enough money to move away!

"We didn't exactly make a decision about it, but we knew living in London wouldn't do us any good. Maybe we'd have gone to Los Angeles if we had made an absolute fortune, and tried to get into the music for films business, which pays very nicely."

Phil got a pleasant surprise - and, I'd imagine, a handy financial windfall - recently, when Robbie Williams covered one of the League's lesser-known hits, Louise, on his new Rudebox album of electronica-inspired material.

Phil said: "I really quite like it from a lot of points of view. I was always going to like it because I'm so touched he would do such a nice thing as cover one of our more obscure songs.

"It's actually gone in a direction that I really understand.
"I thought it was going to be huge because it's produced by William Orbit, who did some of my favourite singles such as Black Coffee by All Saints.

"But they've taken it in a nice, simple direction instead, which is great."