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League Unlimited Orchestra – Love + Dancing

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Post in an occasional series of reviews of top Remix Albums from the 80s and 90s

Love and dancing have been intertwined for centuries. There’s something about the rhythm and movement of music that can bring people together in a way that transcends words. And when it comes to dance music, few bands have captured the magic of this connection as well as The Human League.

Released in July 1982 by Virgin Records it was issued under the band name “The League Unlimited Orchestra” as a nod to Barry White’s disco-era Love Unlimited Orchestra, the album was principally the idea and work of producer Martin Rushent and contains dub-style, largely instrumental remixes of songs from the band’s multi-platinum selling album Dare (1981), along with a version of the track “Hard Times”, which had originally been the B-side of the single “Love Action (I Believe in Love)”.

The producer had been listening to hip hop DJ Grandmaster Flash and played his music to front man Phil Oakey, who also enjoyed it. After seeing the DJ in New York, Rushent felt he could recreate his scratching style with tape scrubbing. With this in mind, he suggested creating a dub remix of the second single from Dare, “Love Action (I Believe in Love)”, by chopping the song up and adding effects. This would allow Virgin Records to release it on the B-side of the single, as the label was eager to rush-release singles from Dare, leaving the Human League and Rushent without time to record new B-sides. Besides the “Love Action” remix, the producer ultimately created three or four other similar dub remixes to other songs from Dare. Further inspired by the music he would hear in clubs across New York, he ultimately proposed to the Human League that he create an instrumental remix album of Dare, hoping that it would exemplify his production skills and “establish a new benchmark for electronic dance pop.”

Formed in the late 70s, The Human League was one of the pioneers of the synth-pop and new wave music scene. With a sound that combined elements of electronic music and futurism, the band quickly became a favourite among music lovers and fans of the emerging dance music scene. But what set The Human League apart was their ability to infuse their music with a sense of love and romance.

For many fans, The Human League’s music was more than just a backdrop for a night on the dance floor. It was a reminder of the power of love and the joy that can be found in a shared experience. With its upbeat tempos and infectious rhythms, the band’s music was the perfect soundtrack for falling in love or rekindling a relationship.

And of course, the music of The Human League was meant to be danced to. From the synth-pop anthems of “Fascination” to the electronic beats of “Mirror Man,” the band’s music was designed to get people moving. And for many fans, the experience of dancing to The Human League’s music was a transformative one.

But despite their success, The Human League was never content to rest on their laurels. Throughout their career, the band continued to push the boundaries of dance music, incorporating new sounds and styles into their music. Whether it was the futuristic beats of “Being Boiled” or the soulful grooves of “Human,” the band always managed to stay ahead of the curve and keep their fans engaged.

And even today, more than 40 years after their formation, the music of The Human League continues to inspire and captivate listeners. Whether it’s through nostalgic memories of the dance floor or a newfound appreciation for the band’s innovative sound, their music remains as relevant and timeless as ever.

The album was extremely well received. In a contemporary review, Paul Morley of the NME hailed Love and Dancing as an “exclamation mark” to the success of Dare, which he felt was “one of the great popular music LPs,” and described its artful style as “the sound of ‘love in fairyland’ being launched into wonderland.” Ian Birch in Smash Hits called the album an “odd item” and wrote: “Is it a stopgap measure or a fearlessly new way of presenting old tracks? It’s neither really. Instead, the new window dressing produces some jaunty and occasionally jolting electronic effects. Ideal for watching Ceefax to.” Among retrospective reviews, William Ruhlmann of AllMusic wrote that “if you always thought ‘Don’t You Want Me’ was a great track with obnoxious vocals, this is the album for you.” 

Reviewing the 2002 re-release for Record Collector, Daryl Easlea and Joel McIver wrote that “Love and Dancing sounds pretty much as you’d expect, and only dated in the way that Giorgio Moroder’s productions with Donna Summer sound. Thankfully recorded before the Fairlight sampler had fully taken hold, it sounds like the last post in the ’80s for real, organic synthesiser music, if there could ever be such a thing. It’s great fun.”

In conclusion, the music of The Human League is a testament to the power of love and the transformative power of dance. With their unforgettable melodies, infectious rhythms, and soaring vocals, the band created a body of work that continues to inspire and uplift listeners to this day. Whether you’re dancing the night away or simply enjoying a quiet moment at home, the music of The Human League will always bring a sense of love and joy to your life.

“Making Love and Dancing was the most creative experience I’ve ever had in my life. Something that has been difficult to top. I haven’t gone anywhere near it since. That’s probably why I gave up record production for so long. It’s like why astronauts go a bit loopy after they’ve got back from the moon. You’ve walked on the fucking moon, what are you gonna do now?” Martin Rushent, 2005[citation]

Top 50 12 Inches of the 80s What's it all about?

Inspired by all the lists you see on FaceBook saying “Post your favourite albums, but don’t say anything about them…” I thought, hell I’m gonna say a bit about them and why they’re special. As a general rule I have chosen particular extended vinyl versions of the tracks for various reasons, amongst them they extend the length I can listen to them, and they often add extra ambience to the Radio Friendly 7″ version.

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