Monday, February 6, 2017

"The Lebanon" by Human League

Song#:  1933
Date:  06/09/1984
Debut:  87
Peak:  64
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave

Pop Bits:  After the worldwide success of their influential Dare album, members of the Human League were struggling to assemble their proper follow-up. A couple of stop-gap hit singles, including the #8 "(Keep Feeling) Fascination," kept their fans occupied, but they would have to issue a new full album soon. With mounting pressure from their label, the band went into the studio with their Dare producer Martin Rushent, but the sessions were not working out and in frustration, Rushent left the project. Producer Chris Thomas stepped in, but he also took a hike after a while. Finally, Hugh Padgham (The Police, Genesis) arrived and finished out the sessions. After two long years, Hysteria was finally ready. This political-leaning first single traded in the band's new wave synths in favor of a more guitar driven rock sound. In the UK it was marginally successful getting to #11, however it was a dud in the US stalling quickly in the lower half of the Pop chart. Although two other singles from the LP would to Top 20 in the UK, this would be the only one to chart in the US. As a result, the album flopped and folks began to wonder if Dare was just a fluke.

ReduxReview:  Yikes. This was just the wrong song to issue as a single. Like a couple of other UK synthpop bands who decided to take a serious, guitar-driven turn, this was not gonna work. Plus it was not representative of the other tracks on the album, which were more in-line with their signature sound. It was a stupid move on the label's part and it sent the band into a bit of a spiral. It's too bad because I rather liked the Hysteria album. Critics were not fond, but I thought there were several solid tracks on the record and I probably listen to it now just as much as I do Dare. I believe the band just overthought the whole thing. It would have been better to quickly get an LP together with Rushent at the helm like they did for Dare. However, I'm not sad about what they came up with. I rather liked it. I like this song as well, but it was not a good single choice. They should have gone with "Louise" (see below).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Initially, it was hoped the first single from the album would be the track "Louise." Pegged by several critics as the best song on the album and a hit in the making, it was written as a follow-up to the band's #1 hit "Don't You Want Me." The lyrics have the couple from "Don't You" having a chance encounter four years later. Unfortunately, the label chose "The Lebanon" as the first single. After a second single and a significant delay, "Louise" was later issued as the LP's third single. With little promotion, it got to #13 on the UK chart. The song has been covered by several artists including UK superstar Robbie Williams, who included the tune on his 2006 album Rudebox, which was his seventh #1 studio album in a row in the UK.  2) Hysteria also included one cover tune. The track "Rock Me Again and Again and Again and Again and Again and Again (Six Times)" was originally recorded in 1974 by R&B singer and James Brown protégé Lyn Collins. It was released as a single and got to #53 on the R&B chart. The song was co-written and produced by James Brown.


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