Reproduction (album)

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Studio album by The Human League
Released October 1979
Recorded 1979 at Workshop Studio in Sheffield
Genre New wave, electronic, synthpop
Length 43:33
Label Virgin
Producer The Human League, Colin Thurston
The Human League chronology
Holiday '80
Singles from Reproduction
  1. "Empire State Human"
    Released: 12 October 1979
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Smash Hits 8/10[2]

Reproduction is the debut album released by British synthpop group The Human League. The album was released in October 1979 through Virgin Records.


Reproduction contains nine tracks of electronic/synthpop with some elements of industrial music, and was recorded during six weeks at The Human League's studio in Sheffield. The recordings were co-produced by Colin Thurston, who had previously worked on some key new wave recordings such as Iggy Pop's Lust for Life and Magazine's Secondhand Daylight, and would go on to produce numerous hit albums of the 1980s, most notably for Duran Duran. The album was composed and engineered by The Human League (Oakey/Ware/Marsh) and Bob Last for Virgin Records, 1979. The album also features The Human League's cover version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", a hit single back in 1965 for The Righteous Brothers.


The cover features the feet of a man and two women seemingly standing on a number of naked babies. This was at the instruction of the band but bandmember Martyn Ware described how the band's brief was misinterpreted by the record company's art department:

"We said we wanted an image of a glass dance floor in a discotheque which people were dancing on and beneath this, a lit room full of babies. It was meant to look like a still from a film – like some kind of dystopian vision of the future – but it just looks like they're treading on babies. We were quite upset but at that time, it was too late to change it.."[3]

Commercial reaction[edit]

The album was a commercial failure upon its initial release in October 1979, but it was re-issued and charted almost two years later in August 1981, earning a Silver disc by the end of the year and peaking at no.34 in early 1982. The album spent a total of 23 weeks on the album chart and was later certified Gold by the BPI in 1988.

The only single released from the album was "Empire State Human" which initially failed to chart, but was re-released in June 1980 (with a free single taken from the band's second album Travelogue) and reached #62. The band's debut single from 1978, "Being Boiled", was not included on the original release of Reproduction, but was added as an extra track on all CD issues from the late 1980s onwards. A re-recorded version of that single's B-side, "Circus of Death", was however included on the album.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Almost Medieval" – 4:43
  2. "Circus of Death" – 3:55
  3. "The Path of Least Resistance" – 3:33
  4. "Blind Youth" – 3:25
  5. "The World Before Last" – 4:04
  6. "Empire State Human" – 3:17
  7. "Morale...You've Lost That Loving Feeling" – 9:39
  8. "Austerity/Girl One (Medley)" – 6:44
  9. "Zero as a Limit" – 4:13

The following tracks were first added when the album was released on CD in 1987:

  1. "Introducing" – 3:19
  2. "The Dignity of Labour part 1" – 4:22
  3. "The Dignity of Labour part 2" – 2:53
  4. "The Dignity of Labour part 3" – 3:56
  5. "The Dignity of Labour part 4" – 3:52
  6. "Flexi Disc" – 4:11
  7. "Being Boiled" (Fast Version) – 3:54
  8. "Circus of Death" (Fast Version) – 4:38

Introducing was originally the B-side of the Empire State Human single. The instrumental The Dignity of Labour tracks had been released as an EP in 1979 alongside Flexi Disc (a tongue-in-cheek in-studio meta-conversation between the members of the band and their manager, Bob Last, about their plans to include a flexidisc with their EP and what to put on it). The last two tracks were the A- and B-sides of the band's debut single, Being Boiled, released prior to their signing to Virgin. The 'Fast Version' (so-called because of the label the single was released on – Fast Product) of Circus of Death is shorter than the original single version as it has not got the spoken end of the song.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
UK Albums Chart[4] 34