BURNING THE GROUND EXCLUSIVE 1984
“The Lebanon” is a song by the British Synthpop group The Human League. Written jointly by lead singer Philip Oakey and keyboard player Jo Callis, it was recorded at Air studios between 1983-1984. Originally an album track on Hysteria, it was released as a single in the UK and the U.S. and was the first single to be released from that album.
“The Lebanon” was released as a UK single in April 1984. It failed to make the impact expected by the band and Virgin Records in the charts after the number two success of “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”, only reaching #11 in the UK Singles chart and #64 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on September 6, 1984.
The song was conceived, written and recorded at a time when the band was under considerable pressure to provide Virgin Records with a follow up album to equal the enormous international success of Dare. The band had taken up residence in the £1000 a day Air Studios; they were there a full year and were agonizing (and arguing) over every note of every track.
“The Lebanon” was a radical departure from what was accepted as the soft synthpop sound of the Human League and could almost be described as rock. The track opens with a heavy bass guitar riff by Ian Burden before launching into some high tempo keyboards. The use of guitars by the band was not lost on music critics, who brought up the “no guitars rule” that the band originally had in 1981.
The lyrics were an attempt to make a political statement on the Lebanese civil war which had been exacerbated by Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon of 1982.
It was suggested that The Human League were too ‘lightweight’ to make heavy political comment and “should stick to pop and love songs”. They were criticized at the time for being banal and “out of their depth”. Later in 2007 the lines “Before he leaves the camp he stops, He scans the world outside, And where there used to be some shops, Is where the snipers sometimes hide” would be described as the ninth-worst lyrics ever in an anti-award called ‘Taxing Lyrical’.
Oakey takes the criticism in very good humour and is actually proud of the worst lyrics award. Human League singer Susan Ann Sulley justifies the song, saying that it was because they “wanted to speak up for the little people, It’s what we do, we speak up for the little people”. She goes on to say that the band just wanted to say something about the situation in Lebanon at the time and was not trying to be political for the sake of it. The band even managed to offend the subjects of the song, as they used the title “The Lebanon” which is considered by the Lebanese to be the Israeli term for the country not the correct “Lebanon”.
The music video for the song was filmed in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London, UK in April 1984. The video at first sight appears to be filmed at a Human League concert with the band playing live on stage. The concert was in fact fake, and was filmed in takes as the band mimed to playback. The audience were invited extras and bit part dancers were placed in the front of the stage. This is very noticeable when the camera pans onto the audience where certain extras desperately try to play up for their ‘shot at fame’.
Even though it was a faux concert, the band’s appearance on stage is notable for its layout and behaviour. The three vocalists are in a straight line at the front of the stage, a very energetic, hyperactive Susan Sulley on the left, a serious Philip Oakey in the centre and a cool, laid back, sashaying Joanne Catherall on the right, with the instrumentalists to the rear. This arrangement and personality traits can still be seen today when the band plays live.
The Lebanon (Extended Version) 5:52
The Lebanon (Instrumental) 5:04
Vinyl: Near Mint
Sleeve: Near Mint
||U.S. Billboard Hot 100
||U.S. Billboard Dance Club Plays
Label: Virgin – VS 672-12
Format: Vinyl, 12″, 45 RPM
Released: 23 Apr 1984
Credits: Mixed By – Hugh Padgham
Producer – Chris Thomas, Hugh Padgham, Human League, The
Written-By – Callis*, Oakey*
Find The 12″ On DISCOGS
Turntable: Pro-Ject Debut III
Cartridge: Ortofon Super
Stylus: Ortofon OM Stylus 30
Bellari VP130 Tube Phono Preamp
Soundcard: ESI Juli@
VPI HW 16.5 Record Cleaning Machine
Brother MFC-6490CW Professional Series Scanner
Adobe Audition 3.0 (Recording)
Adobe Photoshop CS5
All vinyl rips are recorded @ 32bit/float
Downsampled to 16bit 44kHz using Adobe batch processing
FLAC (Level Eight)
Artwork scanned at 600dpi PNG format, resized to JPEG format for posting.
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