Single Of The Week 28/10/96

Single Of The Week is where I review a single I'm particularly enamoured of at the moment. It might be a brand spanking new release, or a classic from decades past that I just feel like going on about.

The Human League

Oddly enough, I've chosen this semi-eponymous Human League classic this week not because of its intrinsic merits (which are numerous), but because of Jimmy Barnes. Barnsey's greatest hits album (imaginatively titled Hits) debuted at #1 on the Australian charts last week. It's packed to the rafters with hits, but only features one #1 single, 1987's 'Too Much Ain't Enough Love'. Apart from a blatant disregard for grammar, this song's most noteworthy feature is that the opening bars feature a drum pattern which is, for all intents and purposes, identical to the one on 'Human'. So there you go.

The single itself represented a mixed blessing for the Leaguers in 1986. It returned them to #1 in the US, four years after they first ascended that summit with 'Don't You Want Me?'. This was due in no small part to the production and writing skills of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who are now most famous for their work with Janet Jackson but were the producers du jour for a whole stack of artists back then. (Trivia fact: in the penultimate episode of Filthy Rich & Catflap, made around this time, Richie and Eddie go to a series of nightclubs and every one is playing a track produced by Jam & Lewis.) In fact, it emerged later that most of the Crash album, from which 'Human' (a Jam/Lewis composition) was extracted, featured sessions musos rather than the League, and that the producers clashed with Phil Oakey over his ability (or otherwise) to sing. Even on the back of the single, there's a picture of the boys alongside the band members.

Whether this is entirely fair is debatable. The B-side of the single is 'Human (Instrumental Version)', and it has to be said that without the vocals, the song is wholly unremarkable. Add in Phil Oakey, Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall, though, and it becomes pretty darn listenable. The League haven't topped the US charts since, but they did return to the Top 10 last year with the single 'Tell Me When'. You could call it a comeback, but when the band averages four years between albums, it seems churlish.

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