Saturday, April 18, 2020


Let's not forget the full glory of the title, not least as it is the how and why they happened to be together that underlines this piece. Hearing a snatch on the radio, I rather guess most civilians assume this to be the Human League, so similar it is to the template already riding high the charts. Indeed, wise to that, the record company contrived to include the song on 1988's Greatest Hits collection of that band. But it wasn't, it arising purely from the serendipity of movie producer Steve Barron rejecting Giorgio Moroder's original choice of singer for a tune he had been hired to write.

Electric Dreams was a film made by Barron, earlier better known as the director of innumerable music videos, such as Take On Me/Aha and Money For Nothing/Dire Straits. In truth, that is as much as you need to know about the film, it being somewhat lightweight tosh, with a soundtrack album, Electric Dreams, featuring many of the great and the good of the day. As I look back at this, Jeff Lynne jostling with Culture Club, plus a couple of Moroder instrumentals, it is remarkable how little else has stuck. It is, really, only the Oakey/Moroder collaboration I can recall. Or anyone else recalls. Room for confusion arises in that the duo produced an album called Electric Dreams. The song and several more they cooked hastily together. Again, only the title track has had any real posterity.

Be My Lover Now/Oakey & Moroder

Moroder seems an interesting guy, and certainly lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Whilst his website might describe him as the founder of disco, a claim he seems on shaky ground with, it correctly asserts he was a trailblazer of electronic music, seeing the more popular opportunities in synthesisers , still then more the domain of serious prog-rockers. I had not before appreciated that the song, Son of My Father, taken to the UK chart by band Chicory Tip, was one of his writes. Pretty slim fare, it's true, but it was certainly the first synthesiser led track I can recall on Top of the Pops. As a producer and studio mogul, Moroder pumped out a slew of singles, embracing the twin idioms of disco and electronica. If by attrition alone, some of these had to be hits, with Donna Summer's I Feel Love being his biggest and best known breakthrough. If many of his themes and backing tracks sounded the same, that seemed no bad thing, and he took the launch into film scores. Here, Midnight Express was clearly his high water mark, but the list of his other involvements is immense, from work with David Bowie and Blondie. And Electric Dreams, of course.

The Chase (Midnight Express)/Giorgio Moroder 

A couple of decades silence and he was again suddenly the rage, taken up by Daft Punk and celebrated once more, delighting in being able to remind the world of his modest contributions to music.....

Giorgio by Moroder/Daft Punk

Phil, or Phillip, as he now prefers, Oakey, has also made the most of his opportunities. As lead singer for Sheffield electronic noise terrorists, The Human League, beleaguered and embattled by lack of success, he was left high and dry when the musicians in that band left for Heaven 17,  alone, with only the name of the band. By some enormous quirk of fate he hired a couple more players, added in two schoolgirls he had seen dancing at a club and they were huge. And rightly so. Dare, courtesy some fabulous songs, strident yet simple synth melodies, Oakey's shaky stentorian voice and the glorious naffness of the girls, leapt into the charts as an album, the singles vying with each other to get higher and higher than the one before. Culminating, inevitably, with the joy of Don't You Want Me, number one forever over the Christmas and New Year of 1981 into 82, buoyed by a never more memorable video. If their pinnacle, it certainly wasn't all they had, that line up managing a decent follow-up ahead of creeping personal differences. Another rebirth, as Jam and Lewis picked up the band and gave them a shake, and provided much of the material, with Human shaking the rafters worldwide. Since then they plod on, Oakey, the girls and whomsoever, surviving on the oldies market and the flurries of hope that each new release provides. I think I would certainly still cross the street to see them live.

Never Let Me Go/The Human League

So, the actual song? Well, as described, Barron suggested Oakey and, seemingly, ten minutes in the studio and it was the first take that was used, achieving a 1984 number 3 hit in the UK, but only featuring in the Billboard Dance Chart, if still a not unhealthy 20. In their (electric) dreams, not.


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