Crash (The Human League album)
|Studio album by The Human League|
|Recorded||Flyte Time, Studios, Minneapolis 1986|
|Label||Virgin Records (Original UK release and later UK/US rereleases)
A&M Records (Original US release)
|Producer||Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis|
|The Human League chronology|
Crash is the fifth studio album by the British synthpop band The Human League, released in 1986. Crash would provide the band with their second US number-one single, "Human", the same year. It was produced by the American production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who also wrote several tracks, and unlike the band's previous and subsequent albums, it showcases a contemporary R&B direction.
After spending two years recording their fourth album Hysteria, which met with only moderate commercial success, the band struggled to record further material. By 1985, musician/songwriter Jo Callis had left the group. Virgin Records, worried by the lack of progress in one of their leading acts, called the band principals to a meeting where a solution was sought. As the problem was perceived to be the lack of production, it was suggested that the band take up an offer to work with Minneapolis based production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jam and Lewis who had written for and produced The SOS Band, Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal, and had just finished working on Janet Jackson's breakthrough album Control. They had developed an interest in The Human League after the success of their US releases; they were also seeking an opportunity to cross over into the mainstream pop and saw The Human League as the perfect opportunity.
In February 1986, The Human League were flown out to Minneapolis to work at Flyte Time studios with Jam and Lewis. After initial enthusiasm on both sides the working relationship began to break down. Jam and Lewis had total control over the final album and insisted that their own tracks take precedence over the band's material. Jam and Lewis were also intolerant of the band's laid back working methods and their lack of musical technical ability.
After four months in Minneapolis, a sidelined Oakey pulled the band out of further recording and they returned to Sheffield leaving Jam and Lewis to complete the album using session musicians. Oakey said later:
|“||We like to be in control in the studio. We don't like giving that up to a producer. That's why we had a big, final argument, and we just decided to go home and leave them to finish it off. It just got to the point of who had the power, and in that instance...They were the men behind the mixing console, so they had ultimate control.||”|
Keyboard players Philip Adrian Wright and Ian Burden also had been sidelined by Jam and Lewis. Wright would not recover from the humiliation and immediately left the band upon their return to the UK. Burden eventually quit the band in 1987.
The album name was taken from a moment in the studio during the recording. Oakey described it thus:
|“||It's from a crash cymbal, because it's a disco album again with lots of cymbals. One day somebody said “what sorts of cymbals do you want, a ride or a crash?”, and we thought “what a great title!||”|
Although at the time the band had all but washed their hands of the album post production, when released it quickly became an unexpected success. One of the Jam and Lewis compositions, "Human", was released as the album's first single and became the Human League's second number-one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and their first UK top-ten hit in over three years (no.8). Follow-up singles "I Need Your Loving" and the 1988 UK-only release "Love Is All That Matters" were less successful, failing to reach the UK Top 40. The album itself peaked at number 7 in UK (where it was certified Gold for sales in excess of 100,000 copies) and number 24 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. Oakey, with hindsight, states that it was this album that saved the band's career and one of the main reasons they are still recording today. However, he also stated in 1995 his disconcert with the record, saying: "The Jam and Lewis album [Crash] was just like being a puppet for four months. It was interesting to pick yourself out of the industrial north of England and dump yourself in Minneapolis. Great experience, but it just wasn't our album."
In 2005, Crash was re-issued with extended versions of the three singles.
- "Money" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) 3:54
- "Swang" (Eiland) 4:36
- "Human" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) 4:25
- "Jam" (Oakey, Russell) 4:20
- "Are You Ever Coming Back?" (Oakey, Russell, Wright) 4:53
- "I Need Your Loving" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Davis, Eiland, Richey, Williams) 3:42
- "Party" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) 4:29
- "Love on the Run" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) 3:53
- "The Real Thing" (Burden, Fellows, Oakey, Russell) 4:17
- "Love Is All That Matters" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) 6:05
- "Human" (extended version)
- "I Need Your Loving" (extended version)
- "Love Is All That Matters" (extended version)
The out-of-focus cover photo was used to disguise the fact that it was taken at very short notice to meet a print deadline, after the disaster of the planned original photo shoot. Oakey originally wanted to return to the Vogue cover style of Dare artwork for Crash. He had persuaded Virgin Records to finance a studio photo shoot of the band with Vogue's Paris-based Photographer Guy Bourdin. The band were flown out to Paris for the two-day photo sessions. However on arriving at Bourdin's studio it became apparent that he was only interested in photographing the two female vocalists Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall. Matters came to a head when Bourdin ordered Sulley to do a handstand wearing a mini-skirt, a pose she considered inappropriate. After she turned on Bourdin and the two clashed angrily, the photographer refused to work with the band and they walked out of the session with the loss of all fees. Oakey would later comment that we spent two days there, it took nine hours to set up one photograph and I daren't tell you how much money we spent.
|Canadian Albums Chart||25|
|Dutch Albums Chart||40|
|German Albums Chart||14|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||33|
|Swedish Albums Chart||32|
|UK Albums Chart||7|
|US Billboard 200||24|
|US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart||28|
- The Human League
- Philip Oakey: Synthesizer, Keyboards, Vocals
- Philip Adrian Wright: Synthesizer, Keyboards
- Susan Ann Sulley: Vocals
- Joanne Catherall: Vocals
- Ian Burden: Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
- Jim Russell: Drums, Guitar, Percussion, Programming
- Additional personnel
- Jimmy Jam: Producer, Bass, Keyboards, Synthesizers
- Terry Lewis: Producer, Drums, Percussion
- Paul Rabiger: Keyboards
- Ken Ansell: Cover Design
- Gavin Cochrane: Photography
- Steve Hodge: Engineer
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