It is now more than 37(!!!) years since the April 1981 release of the 45 which took the new-look The Human League into the charts and onto our television screens via Top of the Pops. Synth-pop had duly arrived with a bang.
The Sound of The Crowd was an extraordinary single that still sounds superb all these years on. It was full of catchy little chants such as ‘Get Around Town’ and ‘Arse Around’ (sorry that should read ‘Pass Around…but I’m sure the way it was put down on record was deliberate) and yet it was impossible to fully sing along to without making an idiot of yourself thanks to phrases like ‘Make a shroud pulling combs through a backwash frame” which I’m sure is one that Ian McCulloch has always wished he’d come up with.
This was the first release in which Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall featured as backing vocalists to Phil Oakey. There can be no argument that their contributions were every bit as vital as the tune itself in creating the pop hooks which made it such a natural tune for daytime radio.
The visual element they brought with them was also a huge factor in raising the profile of the band – if you want evidence for that claim then just look at the fact the first TOTP appearance came when the band was sitting outside the Top 50 ; the show’s producers obviously believed that the contrast between these two young and attractive teenagers and the bloke with the funny haircut would get people talking.
Further evidence that TOTP saw the band as naturals for the show? The second appearance came a few weeks later when the single was at #15….having dropped down from #12 the previous week, thus breaking the rule-of-thumb on the show in those days that you would only be invited to perform if your song was rising up the charts.
I’m sure that many who had been interested in the band from the early days would have been appalled at the apparent sell-out. The Sound of The Crowd was a million miles away from Being Boiled and about half that distance from Empire State Human but there were no grumbles from me as the song became part of the soundtrack of my final few weeks at school and its follow-ups were aired at the student union disco nights as I found my feet at University.
Here’s some cuts straight from the 12″ vinyl:-