The Golden Hour of The Future – Recordings by The Future and The Human League

Released in 2002, this CD finally shone official light of day on to early material by The Human League and immediate forerunners The Future that had been circulating in bootleg form for 20+ years. Hurrah!!! A compilation of this type had been mooted for official release long before – back in late 1981, Heaven 17’s ‘Penthouse and Pavement’ album inner sleeve advertised ‘The Future Tapes’ as a forthcoming release, for example.

The background story is even more involved than I was aware of and adds to the enjoyment of listening to this release now, albeit in some cases that is a pretty lo-fi experience, to be fair.

The Golden Hour of the Future - front cover design

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – front cover design

Like many a Human League fan, I expect, the first awareness I had of the band’s initial incarnation as ‘The Future’ came in 1980 reading the short and precise sleeves notes for the ‘Holiday 80’ EP, where the wonderful ‘Dancevision’ is described as “Recorded opposite Kelvin Flats, 1977 on budget Sony 2-track Nov 77 by Ian+Martin as The Future”. The next sighting is the aforementioned Heaven 17 mooted release of ‘The Future Tapes’, the release of which was blocked by the mark 2 Human League, by the sound of it.

The Golden Hour of the Future - rear case design

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – rear case design

The full fascinating history is spread across a number of pages on the wonderful (though now lacking in upkeep) Human League site Blind Youth. In shorter form, the history seems to go something like this;

  • The earliest recordings were made by Martyn Ware, Ian Craig-Marsh and Adi Newton as The Future.
  • With eight recordings obviously considered fit to share, approaches were made to a number of record labels, but in-person visits to them in London, accompanied by the recordings on a four-track tape reel for playback, did not go well, in some cases due to technical issues with the tape playback.
  • Adi Newton left the band (“deleted due to malfunction” was how a later pre-release described it) and after several months of just Ware and Craig-Marsh it morphed into The Human League, now with Phil Oakey on board as vocalist, with further early, somewhat primitive recordings being made.
  • Before their eventual recording contract with Virgin, a compilation tape was prepared, selecting a number of recordings from both The Future and The Human League. A small number of these tapes were sent to various record labels, but without success.
  • Following the release of the ‘Being Boiled’ single in June 1978, Fast Product sent out publicity packs to journalists and music industry contacts which included (along with a computer printout Human League manifesto and ‘Electronically Yours’ sticker) a tape that included ‘recent demo recordings’. Some time later were also press adverts from Fast Product which invited fans to ‘send us a tape and we’ll fill it’. When dubbed, these cassettes included a variety of the early recordings too, though it seems it was not simply one standard selection of tracks. Read more about what is referred to as ‘The Human League Cassette’.
  • Much later in 1978 or early 1979(?) a new demo tape (the third, as noted by ‘Jason Taverner’) was prepared and distributed to potential record labels with an aim of securing a recording contract from mainstream labels. These recordings were interspersed with Philip Oakey’s spoken word intros in the guise of an imaginary local TV celebrity, ‘Jason Taverner’. Not titled this at the time, that tape has subsequently become known as ‘The Taverner Tape’. (This proved successful in respect of Virgin helping to finance the band’s second release on Fast Product, the ‘Dignity of Labour’ 12” EP.
  • The Human League eventually signed to Virgin (apparently Island and Fiction were also contenders).
  • In 1981, British Electric Foundation planned to issue ‘The Future Tapes’, compiling a selection of the earliest recordings made by Ian Craig-Marsh and Martyn Ware (plus of course Adi Newton). Blind Youth documents in fine detail. As noted before, the release was nixed and never went into production.
  • A selection of tracks from these early tapes would appear across bootleg sources, including the ‘In Darkness’ LP and what would most often be referred to as ‘The Taverner Tape’.

Phew, got that?! In short, there is no definite single ‘tape’ that chronicles everything.

The Golden Hour of the Future - disc label design

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – disc label design

Wind forward a couple of decades… and 2002 saw a new lease of life for these never released tapes. This came courtesy of the success of Richard X, who famously had sampled the original ‘Being Boiled’ under the nom de plume Girls On Top for ‘Being Scrubbed’.

His subsequent involvement was what saw this CD, accompanying 12” EP and a digital EP, bring a huge amount of the tapes into official circulation at long last. This variety of releases across formats makes things a bit messy, mind you, rather than one single source. These Black Melody releases comprise the following…


The CD

‘The Golden Hour of The Future – Recordings by The Future and The Human League’ – CD first released in 2002 on Black Melody, MELCD4 /ENTER 666017046822. Later remastered and re-released in 2008, with a new catalogue number too, MELCD5/ENTER 0666017190822, and an additional re-press in 2009 that simplified the cover design by dropping the specialised inks and going for normal four colour process instead.

  1. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (4:48)
  2. The Future: Looking For The Black Haired Girls (3:40)
  3. The Human League: 4JG (3:36)
  4. The Future: Blank Clocks (3:20)
  5. The Future: Cairo (3:08)
  6. The Human League: Dominion Advertisement (0:25)
  7. The Future: Dada Dada Duchamp Vortex (5:49)
  8. The Future: Daz (3:40)
  9. The Future: Future Religion (3:44)
  10. The Human League: Disco Disaster (5:06)
  11. The Human League: Interface (2:59)
  12. The Human League: The Circus Of Dr. Lao (3:58)
  13. The Human League: Reach Out (I’ll Be There) Instrumental (3:55)
  14. The Human League: New Pink Floyd (2:14)
  15. The Human League: Once Upon A Time In The West (1:53)
  16. The Human League: Overkill Disaster Crash (V.1) (2:02)
  17. The Human League: Year Of The Jet Packs (5:25)
  18. The Future: Pulse Lovers (4:02)
  19. The Human League: King Of Kings (1:56)
  20. The Human League: Last Man On Earth (10:01)

‘Overkill Disaster Crash’ is an early version of what would become the B side of the ‘Empire State Human’ single, ‘Introducing’. ‘Last Man On Earth’ clocks in around 10 mins here – for some reason it was cut down in length for the digital download release of the album. The sleeve notes comment that it is from a piece that lasted

The Golden Hour of the Future - inner booklet spread 1

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – inner booklet spread 1

The Golden Hour of the Future - inner booklet spread 3

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – inner booklet spread 2

The Golden Hour of the Future - inner booklet spread 3

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – inner booklet spread 3

The Golden Hour of the Future - inner booklet spread 4

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – inner booklet spread 4

The Golden Hour of the Future - inner booklet spread 5

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – inner booklet spread 5

The Golden Hour of the Future - booklet rear page design

^ The Golden Hour of the Future – booklet rear page design


The 12” EP

‘Black Melody Presents Excerpts From The Golden Hour Of The Future. Unearthed Recordings By The Future & The Human League’ 12” EP (Black Melody, MEL3).

  1. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (V.1) (4:23)
  2. The Future: C’est Grave (3:04)
  3. The Future: Titled U.N. (3:06)
  4. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (V.2) (3:14)
  5. The Human League: Treatment (2:27)
  6. The Human League: Last Man On Earth (10:38)

The original 2002 12” vinyl issue was in a pressing of 2,000. Re-pressed In 2008 as a limited edition 300, according to the Blind Youth website entry about the release. Some points of note also from the same article:

‘Dance Like A Star (V.1) was likely recorded after ‘Dance Like A Star’ (V.2). They are both good, but notably different from one another. It’s a wonder that the track was never issued during the band’s initial lifetime.

‘Titled U.N.’ is a different recording of the track ‘Wipe The Board Clean’ which was first released back in 1981 on the British Electric Foundation cassette ‘Music for Stowaways’, as featured in an early VersionCrazy post.

‘Black Melody Presents Excerpts From The Golden Hour Of The Future. Unearthed Recordings By The Future & The Human League’ 12” EP label side A

^ ‘Black Melody Presents Excerpts From The Golden Hour Of The Future. Unearthed Recordings By The Future & The Human League’ 12” EP label side A

‘Black Melody Presents Excerpts From The Golden Hour Of The Future. Unearthed Recordings By The Future & The Human League’ 12” EP label side B

^ ‘Black Melody Presents Excerpts From The Golden Hour Of The Future. Unearthed Recordings By The Future & The Human League’ 12” EP label side B


The Digital EP

‘10 Track Digital Sampler’ EP (Black Melody, MEL 3D)

  1. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (V.1) (4:23)
  2. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (V.2) (3:14)
  3. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (V.1 Almost Instrumental) (4:21)
  4. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (V.2 Instrumental) (3:08)
  5. The Human League: Dance Like A Star (Incidental Music) (1:00)
  6. The Future: C’est Grave (3:04)
  7. The Future: Titled U.N. (3:06)
  8. The Human League: Treatment (2:27)
    • The track is Morale (Instrumental Demo) but mis-labelled Treatment on the label
  9. The Human League: Last Man On Earth (Full Version) (9:45)
  10. Martyn Ware Interview Podcast (13:13)

As well as containing four extra tracks compared to the 12” EP it should also be pointed out that the version of ‘The Last Man On Earth’ is the same length as to be found on the CD and vinyl – due to online store restrictions, the version included on the digital version of ‘The Golden Hour of The Future’ album is a short version of just 6’13” duration.

‘Dance Like A Star (Incidental Music) is exclusive to this release and was one of the tracks originally intended for inclusion on 1981’s ‘The Future Tapes’ aborted release. It is drastically unlike the other versions of that track.


Other releases

ClockDVA, The Future & Radiophonic DVAtions

5-LP Box Set (VOD Records, VOD136, 2015)

Adi Newton would of course venture on to Clock DVA after departure from The Future. In recent times, some boxed sets have been released amongst which there are further outings for these tapes. I’m afraid that they are beyond my budget, so details remain elusive on how they differ from the Black Melody releases. Timings seem the same to match similarly named tracks (if we assume that ‘Dance…’ is possibly V.2 of ‘Dance Like A Star’?… though ‘Medieval’ doesn’t match anything on those releases.

Record 1: ‘The Future’

Side One:

  1. Blank Clocks (3:20)
  2. Looking for (3:38)
  3. Pulse Lovers (3:59)
  4. Dada Dada Duchamps (5:49)

Side Two:

  1. Medieval (3:30)
  2. DAZ (3:38)
  3. Dance… (3:33)
  4. Future Religion (3:40)
  5. Cairo (3:09)

‘CLOCK DVA HOROLOGY IV 1976-1981’ (VOD Records, VOD159)

Even more recently and from the same source there comes a two x 7” + 320 page book set that includes one further track from The Future by way of ‘Looking for a Black Haired Girl (first The Future version)’ (4:33) – a different version from the Black Melody releases for sure.

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