Record Review: The Human League – Holiday ’80

Virgin | JPN | EP | 1980 | VIP-5906

Virgin | JPN | EP | 198i | VIP-5906

The Human League: Holiday ’80 JPN EP [1981]

  1. Marianne
  2. Dancevision
  3. Toyota City [long]
  4. Rock ‘N’ Roll/Nightclubbing
  5. Being Boiled

1981 was when The Human League got a death-grip on my cerebellum when after knowing about this band for almost two years, I finally heard the music I’d read about. Early in 1981 I heard Virgin’s “Cash Cows” comp with “The Black Hit Of Space” and honestly, I should have been sold at that point. That it took until the Canadian “Sound Of The Crowd” EP for me to actually purchase some of their music was shameful in the extreme. By the time that “Dare” was released on the UK I was kind of frothing at the mouth to obtain it. Within weeks afterward I was on such a Human League jones that I immediately bought the first two non-hit albums to an amazement that continues to this day.

human league - holiday'80UK2x7AThis disc was the deluxe Japanese edition of a UK 2×7″ [left] released a month before the “Travelogue” album hit the UK charts in May of 1980 with a thud that shocks in retrospect, given the ride that Gary Numan was having at that time on the charts. One would have thought that the more esoteric Human League still might have had some impact better than the top 50. Technically the A-side here was a dynamic re-recording [this time in stereo] of their debut single “Being Boiled,” but the first track was “Marianne,” a non-LP B-side.

How ecstatic I was when I heard this song for the first time! This was a bit of patented glamrock stomp executed completely with synths and its loping, white noise backbeat sure beat the crisp, lifeless digital samples of the Linn Drum that were stamped all over “Dare” to hell and back. The arrangement of this one with Martyn Ware’s excellent countrepuntal backing vocals perfectly offsetting Phil Oakey’s sonorous declamations was complex left-field technopop at its finest. The whole affair had more than a whiff of Wendy Carlos mixed with late 60s garage rock. The cold ending on the last “Marianne!” from Ware was a classic league moment and one of my all-time favorite songs by that band.

“Dancevision” was an old instrumental demo from the Human League precursor The Future. It had a brash quality as befitted a song recorded in two-track in 1977, but one day someone will score a film with those old demos and maybe it’ll get a third reissue that I can afford. The next track here was another instrumental, though “Toyota City” only got released on the “Travelogue” album and on this Japanese EP. It’s the one track here missing from the UK “Holiday ’80” 2×7″ and more to the point, the long 5:33 version here only was substantially longer than the 3:22 edit on the “Travelogue” album.

“Rock ‘N’ Roll/Nightclubbing” really should have been a club hit at the very least. The first Human League album had raised eyebrows by their perfect cover version of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and it let the world know that Martyn Ware would have a yen for transgressive electronic cover versions of pop hits near and dear to his heart going forward. Here the Gary Glitter UK A-side [not the hit US B-side instrumental version] made a coherent pairing with the Bowie/Pop classic. The glam stomp latencies lurking below the surface of “Marianne” became overtly manifest here. Only the tempo change as the faster “Rock ‘N’ Roll” slowed to the leaden, feline “Nightclubbing” was slightly jarring.

Finally, the last song here was the second version of “Being Boiled” that dominated the first two months of 1982’s music listening for me. As much as I liked “Dare,” it was the preceding album and this song in particular, that gripped me and would not let go. Once I had “Dare” I wanted more…fast! I was certainly not disappointed by moving backward on the group, but the truth was, it was following The Human League after “Dare” that really came up wanting. Their stronger, early material didn’t help matters at all in this regard.

“Being Boiled” played like a YMO electrofunk track that attained that special something extra courtesy of Phil Oakey’s utterly batty lyrics. The white noise handclap explosions® employed here were exactly the kind of lovable sounds that digital drum machines would all but eliminate from the musical landscape for a good twenty years going forward. Sigh. This fine EP was possibly the best single Human League record one might own if you could only own one.

My eternal regret was that when the CD of “Travelogue” was released in 1988, it had all of the tracks here on it… with the exception of the 5:33 long version of “Toyota City.” In 1988, the $5-6 in trade value that this JAPANESE PIC-LABEL EP brought me at Murmur Records clouded my better judgement as I thought at the time that I didn’t need a longer version of a track I had on CD on vinyl! Oh me of little brains! Of course, this has been on my want list for years now and it’s a record hard to own for less than $20. The Human League probably peaked with this EP and the Human League BSOG one day will demand the cash sacrifice for this record.

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About postpunkmonk

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20 Responses to Record Review: The Human League – Holiday ’80

  1. nick says:

    That elusive Japanese 12″ with the huge pic label has been on my wants list for a number of years – what a beauty ??? I’ve only ever had the 3 track single 7″ of Holiday 80 but i’ve also never liked Rock ‘n’ Roll so was only ever the b-sides that i played. Glad they were on the cd of Travelogue. The long version of Toyota City was also on the b-side of Only After Dark, which i got as a double pack with Empire State all those many years ago…..queue B Movie

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Nick – Wow, I seem to have a faint notion of the long version of “Toyota City” being on the “Empire State Human”/”Only After Dark” 2×7″ but it slipped the failing memory banks whilst frantically hammering out today’s post. Thanks!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Nick – Also, for what it’s worth, I assure you that the long version of “Toyota City” on a Japanese 12″ pressing will sound oh so much better than on a freebie 7″ UK single! But I still envy your “Empire State Human” 2×7″ even if I would never play it. I should own every Human League single through “Fascination.” On principle. What Human League singles do I have?

      • The Sound Of The Crowd CAN EP
      • Love Action UK 12
      • Love Action US 7
      • Open Your Heart UK 12
      • Don’t You Want Me UK 12
      • [Keep Feeling] Fascination US7
      • [Keep Feeling] Fascination UK CD3
      • [Keep Feeling] Fascination US EP
      • The Lebanon UK 12
      • Life On Your Own UK 12
      • Louise UK 12
      • Heart Like A Wheel USP CD5
      • Soundtrack To A Generation UK CD5
      • Tell Me When US CD5
      • In other words, I’m missing all of the best stuff!!

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      • nick says:

        i’ll have to give you that one…there will never be an argument from me about the quality of Jap pressings and that 12″ is particularly wonderful too .

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      • tim says:

        Exception to “the best stuff” being “Human,” one of the vilest 80’s songs this side of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          tim – Even “Don’t Worry – Be Happy” was better! By best stuff, I meant music released pre “Dare” era!”

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        • nick says:

          true, but that was down to Jam & Lewis wasn’t it ?

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          • tim says:

            No, I wouldn’t say Jam & Lewis so much as atrocious lyrics.
            I cheated on you, hey no bad, I cheated on you, too.

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            • postpunkmonk says:

              tim – In a nutshell, hardly the stuff of pop dreams, and yet… Billboard #1. Ouch! The pain!! The schmaltz!! Insult to injury? I own a compilation with the 12″ version of said crime against the former good name of The Human League.

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              • Tim says:

                “Human” was the nail in the coffin of the early 80’s new wave acts. There was less than worthy material made by a lot of other acts but nothing compares to the sheer drop in quality of what came before to what was. I’d……I’d…….I’d…..rather listen to Huey Lewis and the News than this song.

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  2. Echorich says:

    Marianne is massive. Musically, emotionally (yes, cold synths and strong vocals CAN have emotions), it is like a musical defibrillator.
    Taking both a Glitter and a Bowie/Pop song and bringing them to a minimalist interpretation was just genius. The bpm shift is a thing of wonder as Rock + Roll devolves into Nightclubbing. HL took Nightclubbing to its sleazy, voyeuristic roots.

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  3. Gavin says:

    Swoon.
    I would love that 12″ pic label.Have the 2×7″ signed by all three original members,but still…
    Love the early version of Marianne,”Living on a Bombsite” which I have on the Travelogue demos tape.
    Have the 7″ of “Only after Dark” too with the extended TC.The Future recordings are amongst my favourite electronic tracks in my collection.Between them and The Taverner Tape there are so many goodies…

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  4. Echorich says:

    Bit o’ trivia, what Heaven 17 song owes quite a lot to Marianne?

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  5. Tim says:

    Details announced for the Human League set.
    That DVD with the tv appearances,,,,,,I have the Pet Shop Boys Ultimate and the dvd is…….dull. YMMV/

    http://www.superdeluxeedition.com/news/the-human-league-a-very-british-synthesizer-group-four-disc-anthology/

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Who cares about how boring the TV appearance DVD might be… Can anything top the coved art for sheer boredom??!! That’s the worst thing I’ve seen with the Human League name on it ever!! Disc three has some possibilities. I find it interesting that they are still going back to Classic League [Ware/Wright] for this box even though to my knowledge they do not touch that material ever in performance. Unlike Heaven 17, who have [rightfully] taken ownership of that period even though Glenn Gregory was never there.

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      • Tim says:

        I agree, the cover, um, well, it’s not art, um, yeah, the cover is foul. The Dead or Alive one is funny on a couple of levels, is it a Sophisticated Boom Box or Do You Spin Me Right Round Before The Rinse And The Spin Right Round in your Maytag? And the Erasure one I like bunches as it has a retro feel to it….that and it name checks ”Star” which for me is one of their stellar singles.

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