Living To Music – The League Unlimited Orchestra ‘Love And Dancing’




YEAR: 1982

This Sunday (July 3rd), at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. Full lowdown here:

The League Unlimited Orchestra’s ‘Love And Dancing’ was a seminal dance album, yet, despite it’s commercial success at the time, it’s something that many people will be completely unaware of nowadays. However, if I mentioned the classic Human League LP ‘Dare’, which included major hits like ‘Don’t You Want Me’, ‘Love Action’, ‘Open Your Heart’ and ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’, most people would know exactly what I was talking about.

‘Love And Dancing’ is basically the remix version of ‘Dare’, with producer Martin Rushent stripping the tracks down and dubbing them up, creating a dancefloor masterclass in the process. The name, League Unlimited Orchestra a play on Barry White’s legendary Love Unlimited Orchestra – the group of musicians who in the early ’70s  provided a cornerstone of what later became known as Disco, via White’s solo tracks and their own recordings, most notably ‘Love’s Theme’ (1973).

I always had this earmarked for Living To Music, but when I heard the sad news of Martin Rushent’s passing earlier this month (June 4th), I wanted to feature the album at the earliest possible opportunity. I’ve outlined its importance to me on a personal level in this post:

Your own memories are always welcomed, and, should you join us for Sunday’s session, it’d be great if you could leave a comment here after you’ve listened to the album sharing your impressions – how the music affected you, who you listened to it with, where you were, plus anything else relevant to your own individual / collective experience.

Love And Dancing Wikipedia:

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19 Responses to Living To Music – The League Unlimited Orchestra ‘Love And Dancing’

  1. jez June 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    A great album

    Up there with Night Dubbing (although perhaps not quite as consistently good as that masterpiece).

    The version of Don’t You Want Me in particular is well worth checking out.

  2. greg wilson June 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    I’d beg to differ there, but to each their own. Besides, ‘Night Dubbing’ owes its inspiration to ‘Love And Dancing’, so regardless of personal preference, props to Martin Rushent for his innovation.

  3. minibreakfast June 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Had never heard of Night Dubbing; just been listening on Spotify and it’s incredible! Now have a used vinyl copy on way via eBay. Thanks Jez for the tip! God I love the internet.

  4. pablo contraband July 1, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Great choice of album

  5. the saucer people July 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Very sad to hear the passing of Martin Rushent last month and when you trawl through the paragraphs strewn across the web in remembrance you are struck by the silence..very few posts of articles include any of the music he made and really that is the whole point in some ways and choosing ‘Love And Dancing’ to listen to and celebrate his life and passing is really touching and heartfelt in my opinion.

    It is pretty difficult to image the Buzzcocks,, The Stranglers, Joy Division, Altered Images and of course The Human League Mark II to the more obscure releases such as J.J. Burnel’s solo material or Pete Shelley’s for that matter (which I actually think his is best material, the “dub” and remixed versions of ‘Witness The Change’ and I’ Don’t Know What It Is’ which is contemporary with Dare and sounds just as good) without the guiding hand of sonic hierophant Martin Rushent.

    As a 11/12 year old punk at the start of the eighties I already has a small collection of (unknown to me at the time) Martin Rushent produced records such as Buzzcocks, Stranglers, Joy Division (and 999 *cough!*) and though I had bought The Human League’s Reproduction and Travelogue albums (20p ex-library stock and I thank to this day whoever bought the records for Staveley library in the late 70s/early 80s as every month they would sell some of the stock and I was the number one buyer, anything mentioned in the NME that I used to deliver on my paper round was bought!) but by the time of ‘Don’t You Want Me’ and the fact even my mum knew who Phil Oakey was, my Human League obsession had waned.

    I remember being very sniffy about ‘Dare’ (my younger sister had it for christ sake!) when it came out but when I heard the remix of ‘Do Or Die’ on the Methods Of Dance compilation which I played to death I remember thinking “so it sounds so different from the album version because a producer has “remixed” the track..the penny had dropped!) and I am pretty sure that was the first time I became consciously aware of who Martin Rushent was….So as soon as the Love And Dancing album came out I bought it much to my equally precocious by then 13 year old friends chagrin…a “pop” record!?

    Well, thats my own micro memory and actually looking back it was probably that Martin Rushent edit of ‘Do Or Die’ that got me into electronic dance music…

    Over the years I have always returned to the Love And Dancing album and have been listening to it while writing…still blows 99% of today’s dance music out of the water with its power, clarity and sense of overwhelming presence..but I am an old bastard now so I guess I would say that wouldn’t I?

    ps> Let us not forget the groovyfucker of a record he did for Tirk back in 2007, the second half of the dub of ‘Itchy Hips’ in particular is Rushent as his finest and it showed the consequences of living off the ‘Dare’ royalties has not in anyway diminished his production majesty….after the itchy Hips single I really thought his was back in the game but aside from a track by a band called the Pipettes (how Sarah Records cute ugh) he produced it seems it was a one off, but I guess on a personal level it was a record of validation…maybe Tirk should re-release it with some new mixes *heavy hint*

  6. the saucer people July 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    Whoops, its this Sunday that the collective listening experience is taking place, tomorrow in fact! I thought it was last week hence my comments above…well its too late to delete my post above now, sorry for jumping the gun on this one…I shall play the League Unlimited Orchestra’s ‘Love And Dancing’ tomorrow at nine…until then I am going to sit in a darkened room and hang my head in shame!

  7. Paul Wright July 4, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    I knew many of the major hits this album has adapted and they’ve been big favourites ever since hearing them as a kid. Finding myself digging more and more into sounds from this era I was really looking forward to this album.

    Awesome listening experience, really love how the tracks are built and the experimental feel with different effects and styles. I think the League Unlimited Orchestra is very apt for their style, at times a real symphony of sounds. I Christened a new pair of headphones listening and it sounded ace!

    Here’s a bit from what I heard:

    Hard times- Nice reversed beats, excellent electronic sound from the off. Great panning, nice punctuated and syncopated bass sounds. Classic sounding synth. Quite a symphony of overlaid sounds. Really eighties sounding vocals. Whale echo sounding synths, nice jingly percussion.

    Love Action- What a track this is! Big smile listening to this! Absolutely incredible synth work. So gentle and with so much depth…it’s like listening in 3D love it! Lovely twinkly overlays, some mad work on the vocal too. The whole thing just combines so so well!

    Don’t You Want Me- Another big favourite this one. Even had a version of it on my BBC computer when I was 11; used to piddle round with the envelope settings (strings of numbers in brackets) to alter the sounds. The track builds lovely, the bassline interplay on this track is superb. Great harmonies, loads of syncopation/dubbed out effects…brilliant!

    The Things That Dream- This was new to me yet sounded familiar…mad beginning with a ship sounding like it’s leaving port. More electronic feeling than the last few tracks, Orbital sounds springing to mind loads listening to this even a bit of prodigy (skylined?).

    Do Or Die- Nice dubbed out and bongo sounds…great! At times almost sounds like a mad game of space invaders. Some very cool trailing and acoustic tripping sounds on this!

    Seconds- sounds like a detonation, great cosmic feel towards the end of the track.

    Open Your Heart- More stellar sounding work on this, in flavour with the previous track.

    Sound Of The Crowd- A classic riff with some pretty mad vocals.

    It’s mad to think and appreciate the scale and influence this music has had, hats off to Martin Rushent.

    This is definitely on repeat, fantastic choice!

    All The Best

  8. TC July 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    So many memories for me are tied up in this work. I, like saucer people above, got a bit sniffy about everyone all of a sudden liking my fave band. Teenage music snobbery! However, I did love the Dare album despite their sudden pop success colouring my opinion. Hard Times and Things Dreams are made of being firm faves still. The creativity of Martin Rushent’s work here is really ground breaking and despite the use of a lot of outdated 80’s synths used, the sounds are still today really powerful and heavyweight. In the space that L2M offers to tune in in a different way I heard things I hadn’t noticed before. Like the similarities to contemporaries New Order and even later Electronic, particularly with the more pop aspects. Great stuff. Brought a smile to my face remembering many a time on the dancefloor living it up to Hard Times. Ah so long ago…..

  9. David Pickering July 5, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    For me , this album has stood the test of time alot better than ‘Dare’.

    I can still listen to this from start to finish (which I did admitedly on the Saturday NOT the Sunday) but I can no longer listen to ‘Dare’ in full. This is no doubt due to the over exposure of some MASSIVE hit singles on the Radio over the years.

  10. greg wilson July 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Although ‘Love And Dancing’ was a big commercial success, and is the second most successful League album, peaking at #3 in the slipstream of ‘Dare’ and spending a full year on the chart, it was never given the credit it merited as a seminal dance album – being viewed at the time as very much a Pop LP.

    As I was listening to it through headphones in my hotel room in Guernsey, where I’d flown for a festival last Sunday, it occurred to me that had it been released in 1992, not 1982, it would be widely regarded as one of the great dance LP’s, revered by the Rave generation alongside innovative electronic albums by acts including Orbital, The Orb and Future Sound Of London.

    It was so ahead of its time that, ten years on, when this whole new generation might have embraced it as one of their own, it lay pretty much forgotten in the past, despite the impressive success it had enjoyed following its release.

    It’s only during more recent times that it’s begun to receive a fresh appreciation, as DJ’s dig around the 70’s and early 80’s gaining new inspiration from the old. Almost 30 years on ‘Love And Dancing’ still sounds vital, illustrating just how ahead of the curve it actually was.

    As I’ve stated, it was a key album for me on a personal level, and is still a rich source of inspiration. RIP Martin Rushent – a true sonic sculptor.

    Just ahead of the L2M session I put an edit of ‘Don’t You Want Me’ (the LUO rather than HL version) on my SoundCloud page – you can check it out here:

  11. the saucer people July 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Glad to see I was not alone in my teenage music snobbery TC! I think Greg hit it on the nail with his remarks that it simply was far too ahead of the curve sonically speaking for it to have the impact it did, it is almost as though it has had to wait thirty years for an audience to emerge who can really appreciate its true genius (but ain’t that the way of all “art” that is too new, too radical, simply too “out there” for it to have a context in which to appreciate it)…aside from the small band of electronic music freaks like us who have always understood its real value of course!

    The fact that it was the second best selling album on the back of ‘Dare’ and made it to number three in the charts coupled with its radical sonic agenda should mean “classic” status alongside Trans Europe Express et al and yet it simply fell down the memory hole…again this suggests its true worth as a radical work of art (though it is pretty weird when you think about it, Van Gogh couldn’t sell a single painting, surrealism and dadism were all but forgotten till the sixties, no-one bought the Velvet’s Banana album when it came out..usually the lack of appreciation means no commerical success but not in this case).

    Hopefully with nearly thirty years of distance behind us and the children of the children of the children of the revolution now approaching adulthood, a new appreciation of Martin Rushent should emerge and he can rightfully take his place in the history of electronic dance music albeit posthumously (ain’t that the way as well).

    As a final note, I have always thought that one of the main reasons Martin Rushent “retired” from the music industry was the fact that ‘Love And Dancing’ was not critically understood..can you imagine making a record of that depth and complexity and it gets seen almost as a novelty record at the same time producers like Conny Plank, Arthur Baker and John Robie and even Trevor freakin Horn are been musically canonised (thats not to say they do not deserve it but you get my point).then to top that, in the late 80s and 90s along comes the kind of music you had pretty much laid the template down for years before and no-one gives you any credit or mention….I think I would have thrown my arms up in disgust and walked away too!

    ps> killer edit on ‘Don’t You Want Me’ , needs a proper release!

  12. cez July 6, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Adored this album! Brought constant smiles to my face, great experimental sounds that brought back flashes of life as a teenager living to these sounds, excellent… my favourite actually being ‘these are the things that dreams are made of’ …. sinking into the heaviness of an atmospheric vibe. I’m still listening to it!

  13. greg wilson July 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    Reading through some of the great comments here, I’ve some thoughts on the reason why this album, and Martin Rushent as a pioneering electronic dance figure, have never received their proper dues.

    Given that the pre-split pre-Dare Human League had such a cutting-edge credibility, the introduction of the girls and the subsequent success of ‘Dare’ was seen by many as a total sell out. They were accused of the mortal sin of ‘going pop’, with many of their former fans blindly failing to acknowledge that they’d just recorded a classic album. In short, they were the victims of their own success and the more records they sold the less credible they were regarded. ‘Love And Dancing’ was obviously caught up in all this backlash and, rather than there being a realisation that this was a truly groundbreaking piece of work, I’d imagine it was critically downplayed by many as a re-hash of ‘Dare’ – I’m sure there was much cynicism, the band being accused of milking the gullible public of more money. I’d be interested to see what the reviewers were saying about it around the time of release, and if anyone really stuck their neck out declaring it a landmark record.

    I was a black music specialist at the time, and things were about to change in a big way via the emergence of Electro. However, we still hadn’t reached the point where tracks from this album could have been played on the black scene, given their pop associations (in the same way that ‘The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Reels Of Steel’ didn’t take off in the black clubs here following its release in 1981, because it included sections of ‘pop’ tracks from Blondie and Queen). It’s crazy now thinking back, but that was the way it was – it wasn’t the music that was a problem, but the vocal parts, which were just that bit ‘too white’ for the black scene back then.

    So it was an album mainly sold to a more mainstream audience, people who were largely new fans of the Human League on the back of ‘Dare’ and the singles it contained. It would have barely touched the specialist dance audience, who were then totally black music based, and would have been ignored by many DJ’s on the Futurist side of things, given the Human League had supposedly sold out and were no longer regarded as the innovative band of ‘Being Boiled’, ‘Empire State Human’ etc.

    So Martin Rushent’s innovation was obscurred because of his association with a previously innovative band who’d lost there way by selling a million. Sometimes people just can’t see what’s before their eyes (or hear what’s before their ears).

  14. BrianE July 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    What an awesome album. Would love to know how long this took to put together. Maybe there are out-takes in an undeground lab somewhere, and if so this is one album in particular I would love to hear the ‘mistakes’ or the material that was destined not to see the light of day ( with most albums there usually is something). The feel of the album to me is that of a brilliant, at times crazy scientific mind experimenting with sound! Certainly some of the sonic textures sound like world war 3 has broken out (start of seconds for example). Although the ‘Human League’ 80’s feel is always there, MR takes this on to another planet and level completely. Not having heard much Human League I could not reference the original tracks in my head very much and so I was approaching this album from a completely new perspective. I don’t think MR leaves any production technique out. No sonic stone is unturned: Reverb, delay, pitch shifting, reverse sounds, filters, EQ, Pan etc. It’s all there and more!. I think this should be on the listening list of every student of music production and engineering.

    To list all of the things I found interesting would bore everyone to death as it would go on forever……… Just would like to mention a couple of things however. Love the big reverb on the snare at the opening of ‘Hard Times’ When the chords come in the snare changes to a really ‘flat sound’.great contrast! ‘The Things That Dream’ has incredibly atmospheric opening with great panning. The melody sounds so light in contrast when it comes in over the sequenced drums.

    One More? OK………… After the four to the floor bass drum in ‘Love Action’ there are two different hi hat sounds at differnt pitches (one in each speaker).

    Better shut up now…….. needless to say I enjoyed it and once again Living To Music has enriched my life. AWESOME! Cheers Greg!

  15. Alexis July 10, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    I liked the mixes but kept waiting for the vocals LOl!!!!

  16. Nadia July 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Sorry for the late reply,

    Listening to this made me think about the limitations I worked within as a music fan at that time. I worked in oppositions so much. Authentic versus plastic, commercial versus independant, technology versus feel, good versus evil, love versus hate. A world in black and white…or black versus white…another false opposition. I think I would have taken sides against this…I wouldn’t have had the understanding to grasp it. I think my opinion would have been hardened partly in response to Phil Oakey’s intellectualisation of pop as being the transcendent form…. Morleyesque post-modern bollocks. Listening again made me realise how much i had to learn and that i am more likely to let myself love things i don’t quite understand.

  17. gina July 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    definitely prefer the league unlimited version of all the songs, especially love action. really stood out for me. we listened to dare first at CAS and then LUL. back in the 80s i thought human league were too “pop”, and frankly it was dare that you’d hear on the radio, but the LUL’s love action is just a good dance track. i shouldn’t be so prescriptive in future! thank goodness for internet radio now, as well.

  18. CousinConnor July 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Hey Greg

    big fan of your edits and compilations over the years and lovin’ the blog which I’ve just stumbled upon. Love and Dancing ! … I was thirteen years old when I bought this record in Cruisin Records in Welling , Kent a suburb on the edge of south east of London …. It’s important to remember that back then so much music was bought on first impressions of the album cover ! There was no other reference than hoping that one of the bigger harder teenagers would ask for a record to be played in the shop that you actually liked ! I remember not knowing that the album was a remix project of Dare (Which I loved) and the thrill of hearing these new versions when I got the LP home just blew me away . I specifically remember hearing the sound switch from left to right and back again in the headphones and just thought it was like nothing else I’d ever heard. Around the time 82-83 my paper round money was being blown on commercial soul artists like George Benson, Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross … I remember actually buying Luther’s Busy Body LP at the same time as Love and Dancing . Looking back on it now L&D was so important to my future listening tastes and as much as I still love soul and Funk I always get a buzz out of dance music records with an alternative vibe …. Love and Dancing played a major part in that process for me . I missed the collective listen on the 3rd July but Love & Dancing will be on the ipod tonight for my commute home ! All the best Greg

  19. rob jay October 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    fab piece of vinyl i still treasure from my youth , so well produced and still more than stands the test of time . RIP . soft cell did their remix lp about same time too , i always seem to think of both if i think of one of them , cos each was played inside out for years 😉
    good times

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