Long before the Human League made one of the most brilliant pop records of the '80s, and even before the group made a song about a record that was so big that it ate up every record shop in existence, there was the Future: an all-electronic experimental/pop group that would later become the Human League. This compilation of demos -- over one-third recorded as the Future, the remainder as the Human League -- predates the group's contract with Virgin. The majority of these demos have more in common with fellow Sheffield tape-and-electronics manglers Cabaret Voltaire than the groups the Human League would eventually rub shoulders with on the U.K. charts -- like, say, ABC (yet another Sheffield group). To get a rough idea of what they were about in these days, combine the eerie sounds made by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop with film soundtracks and Giorgio Moroder's productions for Donna Summer. The opening "Dance Like a Star" is a crude disco song with a pounding rhythm, decaying keyboards, all manner of strange effects, and a halfhearted/half-bored vocal turn from Philip Oakey. "Looking for the Black Haired Girls" contains violent screams from a woman and gunfire over a primitive funeral march. "Dominion Advertisement" had to be inspired by Raymond Scott; over fluttery wobbles of electronics, Oakey endorses a drug that will perk you right up. Fans who don't appreciate the group's first two albums shouldn't even entertain the thought of picking this up. But if you have equal affinity for both "The Dignity of Labour" and "Empire State Human," this will make for a fascinating listen.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman