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Following the release of The Dignity Of Labour, the group decided they needed stronger backing than the tiny Fast Product label could offer. So, keeping Bob Last on board as their manager, they decided to put together a new demo tape with which to impress the major record companies.
They hit upon the ingenious idea of having a presenter to introduce the tracks on the tape. This was achieved by Philip pretending to be one 'Jason Taverner', and the hilarious results could not fail to make the record companies' A & R personnel to sit up and take note (see Rock 'N' Roll: The 'Taverner tape').
The Human League in concert
A number of record companies were soon offering The Human League recording contracts, and after much talk of a deal with new Polydor imprint Fiction (who had just signed The Cure), the group chose to sign with Virgin Records, who had had a hand in the release of The Dignity Of Labour and whose publishing arm had recently signed the group.
Rather than allow themselves to be lured elsewhere by the promise of large sums of money, they selected this label primarily because Virgin's Simon Draper offered them the level of creative control they desired.
Simon: "I was really taken with their version of You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling... they were a very original group. I attempted immediately to sign them and was successful." After the signing, the group embarked on an eventful European tour with one of their heroes, 'godfather of punk' Iggy Pop (pictured below).
Philip: "We went and turned up for a festival in Vienna, I think, or in France, but in one of them, I remember the booklet actually said 'England's leading gay group'. I was a bit worried 'cause I don't think any of us ever were gay... which is a bit unlikely, when you think about it, but it wasn't really a gay thing. It wasn't effeminate - it was somewhere in between. I did have about ten or fifteen years where I didn't wear any men's clothing, but it wasn't really women's clothing either. It was just... somewhere else."
Philip also formed a kind of mutual appreciation society with Iggy when he asked the former Stooge if he weight-trained. "He said 'yes', and I said that it showed, because he had a fantastic body, and he said 'you have too'. I was really knocked out by that - Iggy Pop actually said I have a nice body."
Ian also caught Iggy's eye. Philip: "Iggy used to go around kissing him all the time and say, 'I am gay, you know'."
At Hanover, the League faced a rather hostile anti-English audience, and were doubtless glad of their 'riot shields' as Union Jack flags were burned and various items were thrown at the stage. Philip: "People tore out metalwork from the toilets and threw it at us."
Iggy Pop tour poster
Around this time, the group also found themselves being pursued by a groupie, described by Martyn as "like a potato with blonde hair". Martyn: "The second thing she said to us was 'I'm a schizophrenic', and the third was 'Can you put me up for the night?' or something like that. We went to this restaurant and she just sat there, staring, not eating anything. In the end, we let her sleep in the car, just to get rid of her..."
Still, the League enjoyed the tour. On their return to England, Martyn declared, "It's great touring there. Pretty magnificent. It never stopped happening - complete excess from beginning to end."
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