Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Howard Jones • Human's Lib

Howard Jones

See, I still think one of my favorite musicians from the 1980s is Howard Jones, and I remember clearly the first time I heard the music. It was his first album, Human's Lib. The album was released in the Spring of 1984, when I was living in New York City. When I first saw the music video for "New Song", I know I had to run to my import store in the West Village, and get this album. It wasn't long before I had it in my collection, and a new obsession kicked in.


Like the best of albums, Human's Lib had a journey, with highs and lows, introspection and shouts of joy. Jones was on the forefront of an electronic/synth movement in music, having started on piano at age 7. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was writing his own music, and looking for a label. He was signed in 1983 by WEA in the UK and Elektra in the U.S. I loved his music, his songs, his joy, and his voice. And yes, I loved his look. He managed to bring New Wave to the table, with style and flair. And it all started with my first look at the music video for "New Song", which made it to #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.

After the joy of "New Song", the follow-up was anything but expected. I mean, who expected this cute Englishman to be asking the eternal question, "What Is Love?" Jones combines melancholy with yearning to bring the human condition into question. The video is beautifully shot, perfectly complementing a great song. "What Is Love?" also cracked the Billboard Hot 100, making it to #33.

Since I purchased it, I loved Human's Lib, start to finish. And I began to get tickets to any show that was near me. I think I saww Howard playing in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and several places in New York, including Radio City. Howard would be great, and bring Jeb Hoile, his full-time mime to round out the show. I would love when I heard the ethereal beginning of "Hide & Seek", the third single off the album. Though not released in the US, it did make it to #12 on the UK Singles Chart.

Just when You didn't think Howard could deliver yet a different sound, he releases the video for "Pearl In The Shell". Once again, this was not released in the US, but it met great success in the UK, making it to #7 on the Singles Chart. With horns blaring and drums beating, the song has a wonderful throwback quality, somehow bringing Memphis Soul into British New Wave to make some great Pop music. Enjoy "Pearl In The Shell".

You can still purchase Human's Lib on iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Howard Jones, visit his official website. You can also follow him on Twitter or 'like' his Facebook page. You know, it has been a while, but I think I have a hankering to see Howard Jones live once again. Hope he comes to play near me soon!

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