REMIXES & RARETIES REVIEWS

 

www.playlouder.com November 2005
LT

A less enticing offering from the decade of glum miners and the lizard lady is this collection of remixes and rarities from the Human League. They were a band whose pop brilliance lay in their ability to craft pop gold out of electronica's glassy minimalism, so the extended versions featured here never really work. So an 'album version' of 'Being Boiled' is, well, over-boiled; while the extended dance mix of 'Don't You Want Me' drags one of their finest simple pop records into tedium, likewise an extended version of 'Together In Electric Dreams' is similarly ruinous.

 

www.2-4-7-music.com November 2005
Alan Sergeant

The gods honest truth of the matter is we can’t get enough the eighties, can we? And with the exception of exhuming Falco, Baltimora, Michael Hutchence, Paula Yates, Divine and Stuart Adamson and putting them in a supergroup of dead 80s icons fronted by Holly Johnson we can’t do much more than we are doing in dragging it kicking and screaming into the new millennium. Why do we do it? Why do bears shit and moonwalk in woods? It’s part of the human condition. When we’ve exhausted our own energy reserves we go back and find another stock to plunder. When Brit Pop of the mid-nineties raided the tomb of 60s London, it came back with a ready-made plan and vision replete with blazers and muttonchops. It’s only natural in an era of instant messaging, instant coffee, instant passports, instant translations, instant wealth and instant meals that we seek an instant solution to a no less instant loss of direction. And short of being able to whack it in the microwave and put it on full for 30 seconds this is what the eighties provides: a clearer vision – a workplan. And this autumn sees the release of the latest workplan for work-shy listeners: the
Human League’s ‘Original Remixes and Rarities’
a blissfully enjoyable rifle through the underwear of 80s synth-pop featuring a full 75 minutes of bleeping, blooping, buzzing mayhem. 12” extended remixes of ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’, ‘Don't You Want Me’, ‘Mirror Man’, ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, ‘Electric Dreams’, ‘The Lebanon’ plus bright and eager b-sides like ‘Hard Times’, ‘Total Panic’ and’ Non-Stop’.

In an era when the 12”extended remix largely consisted of a smidgen of stuttering, acapella and a series of interminable instrumental passages Human League were a rarity, providing genuinely alternative listening of ideas cut ordinarily to the brief demanded by the charts. This is the Human League divested of the pop gloss and anticipating the sophisticated New York clubsound of Madonna and Benitez by years.

Standout moment: ‘Don’t You Want Me’ Extended Dance Mix. Proof that Oakey and Co scored ‘Holiday’ and ‘Borderline’ as far back as 1981.

****

 

www.barcodezine.com November 2005

You can always tell when Christmas is approaching, because all the big retro-eighties bands get their retrospectives ready for the festive season. EMI has been particularly busy this year – but I’m not complaining – I grew up with this stuff and it will always remain fonldy etched in my memory.

 

Granted, synthesiser pop doesn’t always sound as futuristic and complimentary today as it did 25 years ago, but The Human League are one of the few exceptions. This is likely because they didn’t use synthesisers in the same way as prog-rock bands first did, but they experimented with the new analogue technology almost as soon as they stumbled upon it – and that ethos – if nothing else still carries through today.Then of course there is the nostalgia factor, and Original Remixes & Rarities is dripping with it, right from the opening album version of Being Boiled and 12” Version of The Sound Of The Crowd – the production is particularly inventive on this track depsite the technological limitations of the era - both tracks still sound like pre-eighties, alternative electro-pop.

 

Yet it should be remembered that this album features remixes & rarities, therefore many tracks do not necessarily have as much appeal as the instantly catchy singles. The renowned Don’t You Want me (Special Extended Dance Mix) is very slow and plodding at 7:29 minutes, as is one of my favourite League tracks, Life On Your Own. Then of course, with increasing success, Oakey and Co’s later tracks became increasingly less experimental and more commercially inclined.(Keep Feeling) Fascination (Improvisation) sounds very basic, with very annoying repetitively sequenced parts – the birth of the sequencer certainly contributed to some truly horrible cut and paste experiments.

 

The best tracks for me include the very early opening tracks, and the dirgy, guitar-driven The Lebanon (12” Extended), and Human (Extended Version), which is a simply timeless track that will always sound great. This time, songwriting pretty much conquers all. Lowlights include some rather miserable B-sides, such as Hard Times (Love Action B-Side), and Non-Stop (Open Your Heart B-Side)... in fact pretty much all of the B-sides featured on this 14-track compilation are poor.

 

If you’re looking for Human League revisted, stick to an everyday compilation, there are enough of them around. Original Remixes & Rarities is for those who are looking to plug some gaps in their collection and is likely appeal to collectors first and foremost.

 

www.clubbingmagazine.com 2005

CA

In a time where electro is having its renaissance on the dance floor as something new and fresh, I have to say nothing compares to the original pioneers of electronic music. In the early 80´England was the main power behind new wave, new romantic and electro pop music and Philip Oakey, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh were behind some of the most outstanding music of the era in the form of The Human League. The Human League has over many years influenced the club music that we know today and on this compilation some of the rare and hard to find remixes, only 12” releases and b-sides can be found; “Being Boiled” (their first release) “Hard Times”, “Sound Of The Crowed”,“Non-Stop”, “Mirror Man”, “Fascination”, “Human” and “The Lebanon”. Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh left The Human League after the first two albums and formed BEF (British Electric Foundation) and their own band Heaven 17.

7/10

 

Mixmag January 2006

Ralph Moore
Armand , Moby , Mylo and Felix da Housecat all owe a debt to the synthesiser hooks (and outfits) of Human League . If Kraftwerk embody Germanys unique , robotic prototype take on techno - and their robotic influence can never be underestimated - then Sheffield outfit Human League picked up the baton , adding studio boffins , a waitress or two from a cocktail bar and a songwriter called Phil Oakey who understood the transcendental power of pop music . Still very much alive (they ripped Homelands to shreds this year) , this new collection sums up why . From proto-classic `Being Boiled` to the political pop of `The Lebanon` , these mixes stretch and morph the original tracks to six-minute marathons .
4/5

 

www.remembertheeighties.com March 2006
Craig Martin

A new album by the Human League has been something of a rarity in recent times, with only a sparse three studio albums hitting the shelves in the last fifteen or so years, but when they do arrive the group certainly continues to deliver. The good news is that this compilation provides a good stopgap while fans can continue to look forward to some new studio material, as this CD offers much more than the standard 'Greatest Hits' package.
This 14-track re-mastered compilation, chronicles well the first half of the group's career, with remixed 12" tracks taken from their first half-dozen albums, from 1979's 'Reproduction' and up to and including 1986's 'Crash'. There are also a few other rarities thrown into the mix. Depite not being a huge fan of remixes, the tracks contained here have been handled with care and remain interesting and pretty faithful to the originals, without going off on too many tangents. It was encouraging to see that the point was made in calling this compilation 'original remixes' rather than 'remixes', as we may have ended up with an entirely different package, had a DJ been allowed to run loose in 2006 with these tracks... enough said!
Most of the major hits are here in their 12" form, including 'Don't You Want Me', 'Mirror Man', '(Keep Feeling) Fascination' and 'Human'. The ever catchy and popular, 'Together in Electric Dreams' (strictly not a Human League track, but the solo venture by Phil Oakey) seamlessly fits well into this package. Included is a complete version of the well-liked 'The Sound of the Crowd' (which not surprising, is a mainstay of their live set) as well as a welcome inclusion of 'You Remind Me of Gold', which was originally the B-side of 'Mirror Man' and makes it's CD debut here. One minor gripe with the group's career spanning well over 25 years and 9 albums is that there must still be some unreleased tracks in the vaults, and this would have been an ideal opportunity to showcase these in a compilation like this, but I suppose you can't have everything!
If you've played your Human League Greatest Hits CD to death, and want to try something a bit more varied, give this compilation a spin for a very enjoyable hour or so. At the same time why not try and attend one

 

www.totalmusicmagazine.com 2005

If, like us, you loved the League Unlimited Orchestra remix of the mighty Dare (entitled Love And Dancing), then this is almost certainly going to float your boat as the 12” remix format suited the League’s angular synth-pop like Keith Harris's right hand fits the loveable Orville. This will also satisfy all you Human League train-spotters as the vast majority of the material here has never made it onto CD before, or only as extra's on single releases. Whether Oakey and Co. will ever again scale the dizzy musical heights of the Dare era is a moot point, but this is a timely reminder of just what a great pop band they really were back in the day.

 

www.allmusic.com new
Andy Kellman

A grab bag of extended mixes and otherwise neglected moments from the Human League's catalog, focusing on
Dare! through Romantic?, Original Remixes & Rarities is a useful accessory for fans but — unsurprisingly — it's not the least bit essential for anyone else. Highlights include the extended versions of "Sound of the Crowd," "Don't You Want Me" (which is also instrumental), "Life on Your Own," and "The Lebanon," as well as a dub of "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" and the relatively irascible version of "Being Boiled" that appeared on Travelogue (the only inclusion that dates from the League's pre-coed lineup).

3/5