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The League spent the early part of 1980 recording their second album and tracks for the Holiday '80 double single, which was released in April that year. The double single failed to trouble the UK Top 75 and Virgin swiftly replaced it with a three track single-disc version, which fared better.
The group's electronic sound was now beginning to grow again in popularity, as interest in the burgeoning New Romantic / Futurist scene developed.
Adrain, Ian, Martyn and Philip
This movement had grown out of London's glamorous Blitz club, which spawned a number of the characters who would rise to fame in the early part of the new decade, such as Steve Strange of Visage and Boy George of Culture Club. But The League had little time for these so-called Futurists...
Martyn and Philip in concert
Martyn: "It's a very old-fashioned view of futurism, which is like people walking about like Michael Rennie out of The Day The Earth Stood Still or something. That's not futurism - that's more nostalgia than anything else."
Philip later remarked, "I was doing all these Steve Strange things a long time ago, years ago when David Bowie first came 'round. I remember me and Martyn went to a party dressed up the first time we saw Roxy Music. Everyone thought we were Andy Mackay and Eno. But I've stopped doing all that now. It became a bit common, so I don't do it at all anymore."
Adrian: "We're surviving all these different fashions. When the Futurist thing stops, we'll carry on."
Still, when the group's second album, Travelogue, was released in May that year, it was more warmly received than Reproduction, reaching Number 16 in the UK charts and eventually spending an impressive 42 weeks in the Top 75.The album was generally brighter in tone than its predecessor, and most agreed that Travelogue demonstrated that the group were finally fulfilling their potential.
In support of the album, the group undertook what would be their final UK tour - twelve dates beginning on May 15th at the Mayfair in Newcastle, and ending on May 29th at Wakefield's Unity Hall. On this tour, Adrian directed the slides and lights from the stage, having previously worked off-stage. This was followed by dates in mainland Europe, including an Amsterdam show on June 10th, which was broadcast on Dutch radio.
By this time, The Human League were sufficiently prominent to receive a mention in a Top 10 hit by new wave band The Undertones.
Their My Perfect Cousin single included these cheeky lines: "His ma's bought him a synthesizer / Got The Human League in to advise her / Now he's making lots of noise / Playing around with the art school boys / Philip's trying to attract his attention / But what a shame - it's in vain - total rejection..."
Ian: "We haven't worked that out. We think it's all related to an interview that Martyn and Philip did on the radio, where Philip said something like 'rock and roll is dead, guitars are old-fashioned' - they perhaps took exception to that."
The Undertones' My Perfect Cousin sleeve
Travelogue was followed in June by the re-issue of Empire State Human, the first 15,000 copies of which were accompanied by a free single, Only After Dark. It sold more copies than the original release, though still not enough to crack the UK Top 40. The group were becoming increasingly frustrated.
Martyn: "We were on thirty quid a week each. Everybody's going, 'Oh, great albums, mate', you know, 'really influential', and people flying out from all over Europe and Japan and going, you know, 'What is it like, doing the industrial / post-industrial funk?' and all this stuff, and we're going, 'It's fine, but... we're actually skint'..."
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