It was the summer of 1980 when I heard this in a local record shop not far from where I lived with my parents and brothers. It was in the box of singles marked ‘Just In’ and I remember thinking that I was dead clever at picking up so quickly on something so utterly quirky, mesmerising and unique. It was a single I bought with money for my 17th birthday.
My bubble got burst about three days later when my mate’s big brother, who was very much into weird electronica music and hated, with a passion, the new-wave guitar bands that I was such a fan of, took immense pleasure in pointing out that I’d bought a re-released single and that if I really thought I was cool in my choice of music and wanted to stay ahead of the game, I had to be a bit sharper.
And while I wasn’t among the first to pick up on The Human League, I’m still proud that I knew a bit about them before the the astonishing success they enjoyed from late 1981 onward when they unleashed the magnificent pop opus that was Dare.
Empire State Human is a magnificent record. I cannot to this day understand why it failed to chart on its original release in September 1979. It wasn’t as if radio stations were totally adverse to electronic pop as Gary Numan was riding high in the charts throughout that year. It’s one of those songs that sticks with you when you play it and you just cant get it out of your head. And its not an unpleasant feeling.
mp3 : The Human League – Empire State Human
It also added to my fascination with NYC, a city that as a teenager seemed to be the most exciting, exotic and vibrant on the planet. But it may as well have been on the moon such was the cost and ability to visit there back in the early 80s. Changed days for young folk nowadays.