Dare (album)

Dare (released as Dare! in the United States) is the third studio album by English synth-pop band The Human League, first released in the United Kingdom in October 1981 then subsequently in the US in mid-1982. The album was recorded between March and September 1981 following the departure of founding members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, and saw the band shift direction from their previous avant-garde electronic style toward a more pop-friendly, commercial sound led by frontman Philip Oakey.

Studio album by
Released16 October 1981[1]
RecordedMarch–September 1981
StudioGenetic Sound (Streatley, Berkshire)
The Human League chronology
Love and Dancing
Singles from Dare
  1. "The Sound of the Crowd"
    Released: 24 April 1981
  2. "Love Action (I Believe in Love)"
    Released: 31 July 1981
  3. "Open Your Heart"
    Released: 2 October 1981
  4. "Don't You Want Me"
    Released: 27 November 1981
  5. "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of"
    Released: 21 January 2008

Dare became critically acclaimed and has proved to be a genre-defining album, whose influence can be felt in many areas of pop music.[4] The album and its four singles were large successes, particularly "Don't You Want Me". The album reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and has been certified triple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

A remix album based on Dare, named Love and Dancing, was released in 1982.


In January 1981, the Human League consisted of Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright with newly recruited teenage dancers/backing vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. After the acrimonious split of the original band in October 1980 and the subsequent recruitment of Sulley and Catherall, the new band had only just survived a European tour by bringing in session keyboardist Ian Burden to temporarily assist. The band were deeply in debt and only barely commercially viable. Under pressure to produce results from Virgin Records, original members Oakey and Wright returned to Monumental Studios in Sheffield to start recording demo tracks. They recorded the track "Boys and Girls" from the 1980 tour, which Virgin then quickly released as a single. The style of "Boys and Girls" was more reminiscent of the band's earlier work. Sulley and Catherall, who were busy with school, appeared on the cover of the single but did not perform on the track itself. The synthesiser work was basic as Oakey and Wright admitted they lacked the skill of former members Marsh and Ware. When "Boys and Girls" peaked at number 47 on the UK Singles Chart, Oakey realised that he would need to bring in experienced personnel to take the band in the more pop and commercial sounding direction he wanted.

Oakey's first move was to invite guitarist and keyboard player Ian Burden from their 1980 tour back to join the band full-time. As a trained musician, not only were Burden's keyboard skills vastly superior to Oakey and Wright's but he instantly proved to be an adept songwriter as well. Virgin had suggested that Oakey needed professional production and paired him with veteran producer Martin Rushent, an expert on emerging music technologies of the time. Rushent would move the band to his Genetic Sound Studios in Reading both due to the "unhealthy" atmosphere at Monumental Studios in Sheffield caused by the Human League sharing it with Heaven 17, and that Rushent's studios were better-equipped for the type of music the band was making. A downside would be that the distance would cause problems for Sulley and Catherall who were taking their final school exams at the time and had to be bussed down from Sheffield regularly.[5]

The first result of their recording sessions was released in April 1981 entitled "The Sound of the Crowd". The final addition to the band would be Jo Callis, the former guitarist and songwriter of punk rock band the Rezillos, who quickly had to learn to play synthesisers.

The first release from the now complete new team came in July 1981, "Love Action (I Believe in Love)", which peaked at number three in the UK. The band now had much new material to work with and set about arranging it into a viable album. By September 1981 the prototype album was ready to go and provisionally entitled Dare, after a Vogue magazine cover (U.K., April 1979, Gia Carangi). Oakey explained the story behind the album name at the time:

I like it because the Mekons used to have a song called "Dan Dare". In fact, it was ripped off from a cover of Vogue about two and a half years ago. They had a whole series of covers which featured just one word like "Success", "Red" and "Dare". I shouldn't say that, should I?[6]

To prepare for the album's release (set for the end of October 1981), "Open Your Heart" was released - it went to number six in the UK. It was accompanied by a high-end promotional video. When the album was released, it was condemned by the Musicians' Union, who believed the new technology employed by the Human League was making traditional musicians redundant among other concerns; they would begin a "Keep It Live" campaign believing that bands like the Human League would be able to perform concerts at the touch of a button.[5]

Virgin executive Simon Draper's next choice would be the track "Don't You Want Me", the duet that Oakey had recorded with teenage backing singer Susanne Sulley. Oakey was unhappy with the decision and originally fought it, believing it to be the weakest track on Dare; for that reason, it had been relegated to the last track on the B-side of the vinyl album. Oakey was eventually overruled by Virgin.[5] It would go on to become the band's greatest ever hit, selling millions of copies worldwide and becoming the 25th highest ever selling single in the UK (as of 2007).[7] It was also the Christmas number one for 1981.


The album was a massive commercial success, reaching number one on the UK Albums Chart in its second week of release. The album's release was expected to be the climax of an enormously successful year for the band, but Virgin Record's Simon Draper decided he wanted an additional single from the album before the end of the year.[5] By Christmas 1981, Dare had gone platinum in the UK, and the Human League had a number-one album and number-one single concurrently on the UK charts. Dare would eventually remain on the UK Albums Chart for 71 weeks.[7] A remix album, called Love and Dancing, was released in July 1982.

International releasesEdit

The single "Don't You Want Me" had been released with an expensive and elaborate promotional video created by film maker Steve Barron. Music video was a relatively new phenomenon and cable TV station MTV had only just started up to capitalise on this new media but had very little material to work with. Virgin Records syndicated the video to MTV which was played around the clock. Because of the interest the video generated in "Don't You Want Me", Virgin licensed the release in the US of the single and the album. The licensee for the US was A&M Records who renamed the album Dare! The addition of the exclamation mark was because A&M wanted to differentiate their (US) release from Virgin's original release in the UK. The release of Dare! immediately mirrored the success of the UK; and in mid 1982 it reached number three on the US Billboard 200 and the single "Don't You Want Me" was at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Although critics were not as universally applauding as in the UK, the commercial success of Dare! would set the scene for the band's return to the US charts a number of times in later years.

Dare earned considerable income for record labels Virgin and A&M; in Virgin's case, it gave the label the first chart-topping album since Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells in 1973. "Don't You Want Me" was the label's first ever chart-topping single. The success of Dare was responsible for saving the label from impending bankruptcy. A very grateful Richard Branson sent Philip Oakey a motorcycle as a thank you present, but Oakey had to return it as he couldn't ride it.[5]

As well as the commercial success in the US under A&M, in 1982 Dare was also highly successful in Australia, Japan, France and Germany. Dare has been re-released a number of times since its original creation. The 1997 U.S. CD release on Caroline Records included the additional B-side tracks "Hard Times" and "Non-Stop". In 2002 (UK)/2003 (U.S.), another re-release combined Dare and Love and Dancing on one CD. In 2012, a 2-CD box set compiled Dare, several bonus remixes and an expanded version of the Fascination! EP, which was released separately in Japan in 2015.[8]


Dare internal gatefold artwork 1981 – Sulley and Catherall

The cover art and other album artwork is based on a concept that Oakey wanted, that the album should look like an issue of Vogue. The final design is a joint effort between Philip Adrian Wright (also the band's director of visuals) and graphic designer Ken Ansell. Its typography closely resembles the cover of Vogue's April 1979 issue, which inspired the album's title. Oakey is solo on the front cover with Sulley and Catherall on the internal gatefold, Wright on the back cover, and Callis and Burden on the inner sleeve. The artwork has been reproduced in numerous forms for the various re-releases and sold as posters.[9]

Explaining why the band's portraits are close cropped and the girls had their hair tied back for their photographs, Susan Ann Sulley explains, "we wanted people to still be able to buy the album in five years, we thought that hair styles would be the first thing to date. We had no idea people would still be buying it 25 years later."

Critical receptionEdit

Dare was almost universally critically acclaimed in the UK. In Melody Maker Steve Sutherland celebrated the fact the album would irritate guitar-rock traditionalists, saying, "All let's-pretend-pompous it's cornily consistent, cultured, crude, elegant, cheap ... anything you want it to be. Me? I think it's a masterpiece. Sure to upset some, sell to millions more and so it should the way it tramps all over rock traditions. A trite sound, a retarded glam image and a mock respect. All the appeal in the world ... Dare should show up the pathetic farce of pop mythology once and for all."[10] Smash Hits critic David Hepworth called it "chock-full of precise, memorable melodies delivered with style and humour".[11] Noted music critic Paul Morley wrote in the NME, "Dare is the second intoxicating intervention to be produced out of the great split [referring to Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware leaving the first incarnation of the Human League, and their album Penthouse and Pavement released with their new band Heaven 17], and already it's the first Human League greatest hits collection ... Much more than ABBA or whoever you like, the Human League signify that deliciously serious, sincerely disposable MOR music can possess style, quality and sophistication ... I think that Dare is one of the GREAT popular music LPs."[12]

In the US, Rolling Stone rated Dare four out of five stars, with reviewer David Fricke commending the Human League for finding "an appealing balance between modern technique and tuneful charm" on an album of "artfully grabby" songs.[13] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice was less impressed, giving it a "B−" grade and remarking that "Philip Oakey comes on like three kinds of pompous jerk."[14]

According to the book Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, renowned music critic Lester Bangs died of an accidental drug overdose while listening to Dare.[15]


Dare featured in numerous year-end polls for 1981.[16] It was ranked the sixth best album of 1981 by the NME,[17] and was voted Album of the Year in the 1981 Smash Hits readers' poll.[18] Martin Rushent received the Brit Award for Best British Producer at the 1982 ceremony for his production on Dare, while the band won the award for Best British Newcomer.[19]


Retrospective professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [20]
BBC Online5/5[21]
Mojo     [22]
Muzik     [23]
Q     [24]
Record Collector     [25]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [26]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[27]

Dare has appeared on several lists of the greatest albums of all time. Sounds magazine ranked it the 81st best album of all time in 1986, and the 44th best album of the 1980s three years later.[29][30] In 1990, Dare was listed by Rolling Stone as the 78th best album of the previous decade.[31] Q placed the record at number 69 on its 2000 list of the "100 Greatest British Albums Ever";[16] the same magazine, in 2006, ranked Dare the 19th best album of the 1980s.[32] In 2006, British Hit Singles & Albums and NME organised a poll in which 40,000 people worldwide voted for the 100 best albums ever, with Dare placing at number 77.[33] Slant Magazine listed it in 2012 as the 86th best album of the 1980s.[34] In 2013, NME ranked the record 111th on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[35] Meanwhile, Uncut ranked Dare 132nd on its list of the 200 greatest albums of all time in 2015.[36] Paste placed Dare at number 34 on its 2016 list of the best new wave albums.[2]

The album was also included in the 2018 edition of Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[37] Based on Dare's appearances in professional rankings and listings, the aggregate website Acclaimed Music lists it as the most acclaimed album of 1981, the 36th most acclaimed album of the 1980s and the 270th most acclaimed album in history.[16]

25th anniversaryEdit

Dare Tour 2007 artwork – Sulley, Oakey, Catherall

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Dare (and the 30th anniversary of the formation of the band), the modern-day Human League (Oakey, Sulley and Catherall from the original 1981 band line up) conducted a special Dare 2007 tour of the UK and Europe playing the original album live in full during November and December 2007. An updated version of the album's cover artwork, now with recent photographs of Sulley, Oakey and Catherall in the style of the original artwork, accompanied the advertising for the tour.[38]

Martin Rushent, interviewed in the July 2010 issue of Sound on Sound magazine, said he was working on a remastered 30th anniversary edition of the album which would include new mixes of its tracks using real instruments rather than synthesisers.[39] However, Rushent died in June 2011 with the project unreleased.


Dare was one of the Virgin Records albums selected for special picture disc release to mark the 40th anniversary of the group's erstwhile record label.[40]

Track listingEdit

Side 1
1."The Things That Dreams Are Made Of"Oakey, Wright4:14
2."Open Your Heart"Callis, Oakey3:53
3."The Sound of the Crowd"Burden, Oakey3:56
4."Darkness"Callis, Wright3:56
5."Do or Die"Burden, Oakey5:25
Side 2
6."Get Carter" (instrumental)Roy Budd1:02
7."I Am the Law"Oakey, Wright4:09
8."Seconds"Callis, Oakey, Wright4:58
9."Love Action (I Believe in Love)"Burden, Oakey4:58
10."Don't You Want Me"Callis, Oakey, Wright3:56
CD bonus tracks (Caroline Records, CAROL 1114-2, US, released 1997)
11."Hard Times"Oakey, Wright, Callis5:42
12."Non-Stop"Callis, Wright4:15
  • Track 11 was the B-side of the "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" single. Track 12 was the B-side of the "Open Your Heart" single.
Dare/Fascination! 2CD box set bonus tracks (Virgin Records, CDVD 2192, UK, released 2012)
11."The Sound of the Crowd" (12" version)Burden, Oakey6:28
12."Don't You Want Me" (extended dance mix)Callis, Oakey, Wright7:31
13."The Sound of the Crowd" (instrumental)Burden, Oakey4:12
14."Open Your Heart/Non-Stop" (instrumentals)Callis, Oakey/Callis, Wright8:41
15."Don't You Want Me" (alternative version)Callis, Oakey, Wright3:57


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[41]

The Human League

Additional personnel

Studio equipment usedEdit

The following studio equipment was used in the recording of the album:[42]



Certifications for Dare
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[63] Platinum 50,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[64] Platinum 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[65] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[66] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[67] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[68] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "The Human League Dare". BPI. Archived from the original on 7 May 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b "The 50 Best New Wave Albums". Paste. 8 September 2016. Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b Nelson, Brad (17 May 2020). "The Human League: Dare". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 23 May 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  4. ^ Dee, Johnny (2005). "The Human League: Dare". Q (special ed.).
  5. ^ a b c d e Windle, Robert (2010) [2001]. "The Human League Biography Part 2: 'Our music beats the best ...'". Electronically Yours. Opium Visuals. Archived from the original on 9 August 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007.
  6. ^ Birch, Ian (1–14 October 1981). "The Big League". Smash Hits. Vol. 3, no. 20. London. pp. 4–6.
  7. ^ a b Roberts, David, ed. (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
  8. ^ "Dare, The Black Hit of Space". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007.
  9. ^ http://www.the-black-hit-of-space.dk/dare.html. Retrieved 8 August 2007. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  10. ^ Sutherland, Steve (17 October 1981). "Boast in the machine". Melody Maker. London. p. 13.
  11. ^ Hepworth, David (15–28 October 1981). "The Human League: Dare". Smash Hits. Vol. 3, no. 21. London. p. 25.
  12. ^ Morley, Paul (17 October 1981). "Surprise! ...the love of human MOR-als". NME. London. pp. 41–42.
  13. ^ Fricke, David (13 May 1982). "The Human League: Dare". Rolling Stone. New York. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (13 April 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Archived from the original on 7 March 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  15. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (2000). Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-0509-1.
  16. ^ a b c "Dare". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on 10 October 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  17. ^ "1981 Best Albums And Tracks Of The Year". NME. 10 October 2016. Archived from the original on 22 October 2021. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  18. ^ "Best Album: 'Dare' The Human League". Smash Hits. Vol. 3, no. 26. London. 24 December 1981 – 6 January 1982. p. 23.
  19. ^ "1982". Brit Awards. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  20. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Dare! – The Human League". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2005.
  21. ^ Bell, Nigel (November 2002). "Human League – Dare (21st Anniversary)". BBCi. Archived from the original on 20 February 2003. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  22. ^ Bungey, John (May 2012). "The Human League: Dare / Fascination!". Mojo. No. 222. London. p. 102.
  23. ^ Bell, Duncan (November 2002). "The Human League: Dare". Muzik. No. 90. London. p. 94.
  24. ^ "The Human League: Dare". Q. No. 101. London. February 1995.
  25. ^ Easlea, Daryl (June 2012). "Dare/Fascination | The Human League". Record Collector. No. 402. London. Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  26. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "The Human League". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 397. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  27. ^ Sheffield, Rob (1995). "Human League". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 186–187. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  28. ^ Mulholland, Garry (May 2012). "The Human League: Dare Deluxe Edition". Uncut. No. 180. London. p. 92.
  29. ^ "All Time Top 1000 Albums". Sounds. 1986. Archived from the original on 10 July 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021 – via rocklist.net.
  30. ^ "Critics' Top 80 Albums of the '80s". Sounds. No. 'Exit the '80s'. 30 September 1989.
  31. ^ "The 100 Greatest Albums Of The 80s". Rolling Stone. 1990. Archived from the original on 14 July 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021 – via rocklist.net.
  32. ^ "40 Best Albums of the '80s". Q. No. 241. London. August 2006.
  33. ^ "Oasis album voted greatest of all time". The Times. London. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original on 8 April 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  34. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  35. ^ Barker, Emily (25 October 2013). "The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: 200–101". NME. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  36. ^ "The 200 Greatest Albums of All Time". Uncut. No. 225. 2015.
  37. ^ Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael (2018). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. London: Cassell. ISBN 978-1-78840-080-0.
  38. ^ "The Human League Live". susanne-sulley.net. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  39. ^ Buskin, Richard (July 2010). "Human League 'Don't You Want Me'". Sound on Sound. Cambridge. Archived from the original on 19 May 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  40. ^ "Human League". virgin40.com. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  41. ^ Dare (album sleeve). The Human League. Virgin Records. 1981. V2192.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  42. ^ Davis, Michael (December 1982). "Taking the all-synthesizer sound to the Top Ten". Keyboard. San Bruno.
  43. ^ Kent 1993, p. 143.
  44. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 6461". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  45. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Human League – Dare" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  46. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  47. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Human League – Dare" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  48. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e dischi (in Italian). Retrieved 29 May 2022. Select "Album" in the "Tipo" field, type "Human League" in the "Artista" field and press "cerca".
  49. ^ Okamoto, Satoshi (2006). Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Oricon Entertainment. ISBN 978-4-87131-077-2.
  50. ^ "Charts.nz – The Human League – Dare". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  51. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Human League – Dare". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  52. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Human League – Dare". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  53. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  54. ^ "The Human League Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  55. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1982). "The Top 200 LPs: January–December 1981". BPI Year Book 1982 (5th ed.). London: The British Phonographic Industry Ltd. pp. 50–53. ISBN 0-906154-03-0.
  56. ^ Jones, Alan; Lazell, Barry; Rees, Dafydd (1982). "The Top 200 Albums (UK)". Chart File 1982. London: Virgin Books. pp. 78–81. ISBN 0-907080-49-9.
  57. ^ Kent 1993, p. 434.
  58. ^ "Top 100 Albums 82". RPM. Vol. 37, no. 19. 25 December 1982. p. 19. ISSN 0315-5994. Archived from the original on 17 January 2021 – via Library and Archives Canada.
  59. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1982" (in Dutch). Dutch Charts. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  60. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1982". Recorded Music NZ. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  61. ^ Rees, Dafydd; Lazell, Barry; Jones, Alan (1983). "The Top 100 UK Albums". Chart File Volume 2. London: Virgin Books. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-907080-73-1.
  62. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1982". Billboard. Archived from the original on 15 April 2020. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  63. ^ "Platinum and Gold Singles 1982". Kent Music Report. No. 453. 28 February 1983. Retrieved 10 November 2021 – via Imgur.
  64. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Human League – Dare". Music Canada. 1 April 1982.
  65. ^ "Dutch album certifications – The Human League – Dare" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 16 July 2022. Enter Dare in the "Artiest of titel" box. Select 1982 in the drop-down menu saying "Alle statussen"
  66. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – The Human League – Dare". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  67. ^ "British album certifications – Human League – Dare". British Phonographic Industry. 26 April 1985. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  68. ^ "American album certifications – Human League – Dare". Recording Industry Association of America. 14 July 1982.


External linksEdit