Crash (The Human League album)

Crash (The Human League album)
Studio album by The Human League
Released September 1986
Recorded Flyte Time, Studios, Minneapolis 1986
Genre Pop, R&B
Length 44:40
Label Virgin Records (Original UK release and later UK/US rereleases)
A&M Records (Original US release)
Producer Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
The Human League chronology
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]

Crash is the fifth full-length studio album released by the British synthpop band The Human League in 1986. Unlike the band’s previous and subsequent albums it is R&B influenced. Crash would provide the band with their second US number-one single "Human" the same year.



After spending two years recording their fourth album Hysteria, which only met with moderate commercial success the band struggled to record further material and by 1985 they had lost both Dare producer Martin Rushent and musician/songwriter Jo Callis. Virgin Records, worried by the lack of progress in their previously most profitable signing, called the band principals to a meeting where a solution to the impasse in the band was sought. As the problem was perceived to be the lack of production, it was suggested that the band take up an offer to work with Minneapolis based production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jam and Lewis had recently become in-demand producers following their huge global success with Janet Jackson's Control album. Jam and Lewis had developed an interest in the Human League after the success of their U.S releases; they were also seeking an opportunity to cross over into the mainstream pop and saw The Human League as the perfect opportunity.

In February 1986 The Human League were flown out to Minneapolis to work at Flyte Time studios with Jam and Lewis. After initial enthusiasm on both sides the working relationship began to break down. Jam and Lewis had total control over the final album and insisted that their own tracks take precedence over the Human League's. Jam and Lewis were also intolerant of the bands' laid back working methods and their musician's lack of technical ability.

Keyboard players Philip Adrian Wright and Ian Burden had been sidelined by Jam and Lewis. Wright (an original member) would not recover from the humiliation, and feeling redundant he immediately left the band on return to the UK, a year later Burden would follow him.

After 4 months in Minneapolis, Oakey pulled the band out of further recording and they returned to Sheffield leaving Jam and Lewis to complete the album using session musicians. Oakey said later:

We like to be in control in the studio. We don't like giving that up to a producer. That's why we had a big, final argument, and we just decided to go home and leave them to finish it off. It just got to the point of who had the power, and in that instance..."They were the men behind the mixing console, so they had ultimate control.

The album name was taken from a moment in the studio during the recording. Oakey described it thus:

It’s from a crash cymbal, because it’s a disco album again with lots of cymbals. One day somebody said “what sorts of cymbals do you want, a ride or a crash?”, and we thought “what a great title!

Although at the time the band had all but washed their hands of the album post production, when released it quickly became an unexpected success. One of the Jam and Lewis compositions, "Human", was released as the album's first single and became the Human League's second number-one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (no.8 in the UK). The Album itself was more popular in the U.S than the UK. Follow-up singles "I Need Your Loving" and the 1988 UK-only release "Love Is All That Matters" were not as successful. But the album had succeeded in returning the Human League back to mainstream prominence both sides of the Atlantic five years after their Dare album. Oakey with hindsight states that it was this album that saved the band’s career and one of the main reasons they are still recording today.

In 2005, Crash was re-issued with extended versions of the three singles.

Track listing

  1. "Money" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) 3:54
  2. "Swang" (Eiland) 4:36
  3. "Human" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) 4:25
  4. "Jam" (Oakey, Russell) 4:20
  5. "Are You Ever Coming Back?" (Oakey, Russell, Wright) 4:53
  6. "I Need Your Loving" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Davis, Eiland, Richey, Williams) 3:42
  7. "Party" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) 4:29
  8. "Love on the Run" (Burden, Oakey, Russell) 3:53
  9. "The Real Thing" (Burden, Fellows, Oakey, Russell) 4:17
  10. "Love Is All That Matters" (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) 6:05

Additional tracks

  1. "Human" (extended version)
  2. "I Need Your Loving" (extended version)
  3. "Love Is All That Matters" (extended version)

Album artwork

The out-of-focus cover photo was used to disguise the fact that it was taken at very short notice to meet a print deadline, after the disaster of the planned original photo shoot. Oakey originally wanted to return to the Vogue cover style of Dare artwork for Crash. He had persuaded Virgin Records to finance a studio photo shoot of the band with Vogue's Paris-based Photographer Guy Bourdin. The band were flown out to Paris for the two day photo sessions. However on arriving at Bourdin's studio it became apparent that he was only interested in photographing the two female vocalists Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall. Matters came to a head when Bourdin instructed the often-volatile Sulley to do a handstand wearing a mini-skirt, a pose she considered inappropriate. After she turned on Bourdin and the two clashed angrily, the photographer refused to work with the band and they walked out of the session with the loss of all fees. Oakey would later comment that we spent two days there, it took nine hours to set up one photograph and I daren't tell you how much money we spent.

Chart performance

Chart (1986) Peak
Canadian Albums Chart[2] 25
Dutch Albums Chart[3] 40
German Albums Chart[4] 14
New Zealand Albums Chart[5] 33
Swedish Albums Chart[6] 32
UK Albums Chart[7] 7
U.S. Billboard 200[8] 24
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart[9] 28


  • Ken Ansell: Cover Design
  • Gavin Cochrane: Photography
  • Steve Hodge: Engineer
  • Jimmy Jam: Producer, Bass, Keyboards, Synthesizers
  • Terry Lewis: Producer, Drums, Percussion
  • Philip Oakey: Synthesizer, Keyboards, Vocals
  • Philip Adrian Wright: Synthesizer, Keyboards
  • Susan Ann Sulley: Vocals
  • Joanne Catherall: Vocals
  • Ian Burden: Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
  • Jim Russell: Drums, Percussion, Programming
  • Paul Rabiger: Keyboards


External links

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