Dare!/Love and Dancing

by: The Human League

The Human League's epochal breakthrough album, host to the 1981 mega-hit "Don't You Want Me" and the source, therefore, for the myriad sound-alike synth poppers that poured ceaselessly out in its wake, Dare remains one of the keys to truly understanding all that transpired during the early '80s, from the advent of MTV, through to the "British Invasion" of Duran Duran, Culture Club et al. Though one can argue (quite convincingly) that the entire new romantic movement was little more than a semi-vampiric reaction to the excesses of punk, it also represented the first musical movement since glam rock to openly place style on as high a pedestal as substance -- musically and otherwise. That was a lesson it learned wholly from Dare, and it's a testament to the pervasiveness of the entire genre that this album, at least, still sounds as fresh as it ever did. Sadly, the same cannot be said of what initially appears to be a generous sweep of bonus tracks. Looking to up the parent album's club success even further, the Human League created a subsidiary album of instrumental dance remixes, rounding up all but two of Dare's contents in extended and exaggerated form. Despite mocking their presumptuousness by crediting several tracks to the League Unlimited Orchestra, the group nevertheless completely overshot the mark, by failing to acknowledge that Dare worked because it was not targeted at any specific audience. Love and Dancing, on the other hand, was geared exclusively to club-hoppers, presumably to be devoured one track at a time. As a protracted listening experience, then, it rapidly loses its appeal, winding up somewhere between 40 minutes trapped inside a hip elevator shaft and an absolutely interminable 12-inch remix. Let Dare end where it ought to end and ignore the rest of the CD. ~ Dave Thompson

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