Crash (The Human League album)

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Human League Crash.jpg
Studio album by
Released8 September 1986
StudioFlyte Time Studios, Minneapolis
GenrePop, R&B
LabelVirgin (UK), A&M (US)
ProducerJimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
The Human League chronology
Singles from Crash
  1. "Human"
    Released: 11 August 1986
  2. "I Need Your Loving"
    Released: 10 November 1986
  3. "Love Is All That Matters"
    Released: 3 October 1988

Crash is the fifth studio album by British synthpop band The Human League, released on 8 September 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.[1]


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.[1] Jam and Lewis had written for and produced the S.O.S. Band, Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal, and had just finished working on Janet Jackson's breakthrough album Control.[1] 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.[1]

In February 1986, The Human League were flown out to Minneapolis to work at Flyte Time Studios with Jam and Lewis.[1] 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.[2] 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.[citation needed] 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."[3]

However, in 2015, producer Jimmy Jam mentioned that the primary source of tension between The Human League and Jam and Lewis was largely due to the issue of background vocals. Jam thought Sulley and Catherall were good singers, but wanted to use them for the spoken parts on the single "Human".[1] Jam and Lewis brought in their session vocalist Lisa Keith, who along with Lewis performed the background vocals. This caused a rift between the producers and the group, which was started by Catherall who was discussing the issue with Oakey at the time of recording Crash.[1] Catherall didn't like the idea of another female voice on the album, while Jam and Lewis thought Keith's vocals added to the songs. Jam explained:

The next day we got to the studio. Phil was seeing one of the girls in the group named Joanne. And she was the one raising a stink about the other girl being on the song. Phil walked in and told us, “I have to say. I don’t like the idea of another girl being on our record.” We said, “What?” He repeated, “I have to say. I don’t like the idea of another girl being on our record.” We said, “Oh. We get it. We got you. You just have to say it. We got it. Perfect.” We called the record company and told them, “We either have your first single or a record that is off the album. And you guys can figure out how you want to handle it.” I told Jordan Harris, who was the Virgin/A&M Records A&R at the time that, “We think the song is perfect the way it is. We don’t want to change anything about it. And by the way, the songs we wrote, we’re going to finish them the way we want to finish them. That’s the way it should be. The songs they wrote they can finish them however they want to, but our songs we’re going to finish them the way we want to finish them.” And he said, “That sounds fair. It makes total sense.” I said, “So we’re not taking the girl off ‘Human’ because we think the song sounds perfect the way it is.”


In 2005, Crash was re-issued with extended versions of the three singles.


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".[4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[5]
The Philadelphia Inquirer2/4 stars[6]

Ken Tucker of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the album a two stars out of four rating, stating that the groups collaboration with Jimmy Jam and Terry Leiws "should have been exciting, but instead they are merely fitfully enjoyable since the melodies are wispy and the vocals weak."[7][6]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Money" (Ian Burden, Philip Oakey, Jim Russell) – 3:54
  2. "Swang" (David Eiland) – 4:36
  3. "Human" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) – 4:25
  4. "Jam" (Oakey, Russell) – 4:20
  5. "Are You Ever Coming Back?" (Oakey, Russell, Philip Adrian Wright) – 4:53
  6. "I Need Your Loving" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Randy Davis, Eiland, Langston Richey, Danny Williams) – 3:42
  7. "Party" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) – 4:29
  8. "Love on the Run" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) – 3:53
  9. "The Real Thing" (Burden, Steve Fellows, Oakey, Russell) – 4:17
  10. "Love Is All That Matters" – (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) – 6:05

CD bonus tracks

  1. "Human" (extended version) (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) – 5:04
  2. "I Need Your Loving" (extended version) (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Davis, Eiland, Richey, Williams) – 7:16
  3. "Love Is All That Matters" (extended version) (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) – 7:47


The Human League

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


Chart (1986) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[8] 32
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[9] 25
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[10] 40
European Albums (Music & Media)[11] 22
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[12] 14
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[13] 33
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[14] 32
UK Albums (OCC)[15] 7
US Billboard 200[16] 24
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[17] 28


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[18] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Gold 100,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Williams, Chris. "Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have become synonymous with recording excellence". Wax Poetics Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  2. ^ "Artist Chart History – The Human League". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  3. ^ Humberstone, Nigel (April 1995). "Phil Oakey: The Human League". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Human League Crash". All Music. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b Tucker, Ken (26 September 1986). "Albums". Section J. The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 28. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  7. ^ Tucker 1986.
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. p. 143. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0755". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  10. ^ " – The Human League – Crash" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  11. ^ "European Hot 100 Albums" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 3 no. 40. 11 October 1986. p. 17. OCLC 29800226. Retrieved 16 April 2020 – via American Radio History.
  12. ^ " – The Human League – Crash" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  13. ^ " – The Human League – Crash". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  14. ^ " – The Human League – Crash". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  16. ^ "The Human League Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  17. ^ "The Human League Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Human League – Crash". Music Canada. 28 November 1986.
  19. ^ "British album certifications – Human League – Crash". British Phonographic Industry. 6 October 1986. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Crash in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]