Ahoy! Nightrider here! In this edition of Hidden Gems, we’ll take a brief look at The Human League with their timeless album “Dare.”
“Dare,” released on October 16th, 1981, is a critically acclaimed masterpiece that, to this day, is a genre maker that still influences pop music. Their most famous hit from the album, “Don’t You Want Me,” became an international monster that stands the test of time. However, I won’t be talking about “Don’t You Want Me” since the talking has been said and done since 1981.
“Dare,” as a whole, is the kind of album that makes one think; what is the meaning of each song? The mysterious nature of “Dare” is intentional because band leader Philip Oakey wanted people to talk about their songs and have them think at the same time. I had to look up some of the songs to get what the songs mean! Because of this deliberate obscurity, “Dare” is still as fresh as it was when it hit the stores 37 years ago as of this writing.
Now a few highlights from three songs of “Dare” that I recommend before listening to the entire album:
- “Darkness” is simply about having a nightmare after reading a horror novel. Written by band member Philip Adrian Wright, the eerie sound and change of drum beats gives one a sense of dread coming for you. At one point the lyrics confuse the listener with the sounds of colors and the sights of sounds, adding even more anxiety to the narrator’s fear within the nightmare.
- “Do or Die” also has a simple premise: dealing with a girlfriend that causes trouble. The use of African drums with a Latin feel turns “Do or Die” into a dance song; it is that good! The chorus steadies the beat, the riffs make your head move, and the instrumental bridge is best heard with no interruptions; you’ll want to listen to this song over and over.
- Things get dark with “Seconds.” At first, I thought that this song is a tale of insults at an unknown offender. It turns out that “Seconds” is about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald; the biggest giveaway was the lyric “The shot that was heard around the world for a second.” Unnamed throughout the song, Oswald is constantly getting ripped by Oakey.
In conclusion, “Dare” has definitely stood beyond the test of time. The Human League were ahead of their time for better or worse (they were condemned by the Musician’s Union for the band’s use of synthesizers that would soon replace entire bands by a machine with one button; that foreshadowing came true in a sense). I would play the original LP of “Dare” any day and not get bored.