Q Magazine November 1995

John Aizlewood


The League on video in all it’s flawed glory

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, of Phil Oakey attending Nottigham’s Rock City nightclub shortly after his legendary haircut (half close crop, half cascading looks across his right eye). Why, he was asked, have such a cut? After all, he’d be recognised wherever he went; hhe’d get neither peace nor privacy. “Aah,” replied the great man, “but that’s exactly why I had it done”. He always did make the perfect pop star.

Oakey looked the part, no matter how gormless his occasionally bearded bandmates appeared. When, however, Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall joined, Oakey had his foils, as well as two people who wore as much make-up as he did. Whatever they wore, however peripherally they thrilled, they always looked fabulous (excepting the feeble video to the hopeless I Need Your Loving when Sulley began to resemble Theresa Gorman).

The ‘80s videos are very , well, ‘80s: Love Action (I Believe In Love) and Life On Your Own’s nods to The Graduate and The Omega Man respectively; the wonderful coats and baffling plot line to Don’t You Want Me; Oakey’s daft mullet on The Lebanon and Life On Your Own and the painted house on (Keep Feeling) Fascination. Whatever, wherever The Human League’s monkey really did go, it certainly wasn’t squandered on videos. Heart Like A Wheel (naughtily, the sleeve says it’s Love Is All That Matters) and Soundtrack To A Generation suggest that one day Romantic? will be rehabilitated and the sole track from Octopus, Tell Me When, is confirmation that they can still do it musically. Who, truly, cannot adore them?****


Melody Maker November 1995


Forget The Beatles, Queen or anyone else with a spurious claim: The Human League invented pop video. Alright, so they might not have been the first bunch of musicians with funny hairdos to have a camera pointed at them, but they were the first to compress an entire mini-series’ worth of intrigue, romance and suspense into the space of three-and-a-half minutes. But this is only half the reason why this is a must-own collection. The other half is the window it provides to the most ridiculous outfits/make-up/haircuts/dancing of the era. In fact, it’s the ultimate video set from the ultimate pop group.


NME November 1995

ROMO GODFATHERS ahoy! From no-budget Sheffield Kraftwerk-soundalikes pretending to be Sex Robots from Future Death World to mainstream emperors of opulent electro pop, the League have always had a big sign above their stylishly sloping fringes with the words “Ridiculous Art School Arse” on it. And yet it’s hard to dislike anyone shameless enough to still dress, even today, like poncey sixth-formers at a New Romantics disco in 1981. Especially with totally wizard songs like “Sound Of The Crowd”, “Mirror Man”, “Louise” and even the much-maligned “Lebanon” as a soundtrack. You can measure out the ‘80s by Phil Oakey’s barmby haircuts and the zippy visual effects here – what else can you expect from a mere video? Eh?