Melody Maker June 1978

Electronic music with heavy-heavy sinister overtones. “Circus Of Death”, for example is all about the end of the world and is GRIM. Haven’t a clue what the other side’s about, but it mentions Buddha a lot if that’s any help. The machines are taking over.


Slash Magazine 1978


Throbbing Gristle, The Normal etcetera now prove to have been merely a chip off the circuit board. The Human League are part of a rapidly forming new area of experimental music that not only eschews traditional instrumentation but attempts to redefine the listener’s views of music as a listening experience. Not even the safe old 1, 2, 3, 4 intro remains. Synthesizer and rhythm machine provide a loping structure to one of the most obscure lyrics you might hope to encounter in this day and age. If you’re interested in that “death of rock n roll” concept, check it out. If you’re not, buy a pail of sand and immerse your head in it.


NME July 1990

Stuart Maconie

”Circus Of Death”, basically an apocalyptic Hawaii Five-O episode from hell, caught the listener mesmerised in the headlights. Were we supposed to laugh? What was this spoken preamble about lyrics extracted from 20-year old Guardian articles? What had Steve McGarret to do with it?...Being Boiled”, an icy, primitive attack on “the hypocrisy of Buddhism” is one of those records that has actually got better with the passage of time; its Spartan textures perfect for a post-Acid House generation. It is also the only pop song ever to emply the word “sericulture”.

Dave Thompson
The Human League's first single was released in June 1978, then revived four years later in the wake of the band's big-time breakthrough. And anybody picking it up in the hopes of hearing even a glimmer of their recent hits
Dare was only three months old, "Don't You Want Me" was still the U.K. number one would have had their faith in pure pop melodicism shaken to the core. Cut at a time when only vocalist Phil Oakey, of all the '80s-era Leaguers, was actually in the band, both "Being Boiled" and "Circus of Death" are experiments in synth attack. Purposefully grinding, fiendishly grueling, they are beautiful in the same way that slabs of gray concrete can be beautiful, and about as colorful. As musical statements, of course, they are worth more than most of the records the group went on to make; more, too, than Oakey's original bandmates, Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware, would create with their own new band, Heaven 17 it was from records like "Being Boiled" and, alongside it, early efforts by Ultravox, Rikki & the Last Days of Earth, the Normal, and so on, that the entire synth pop movement drew its first breaths, but the likes of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, too, can be detected reflected by its monochromatic sheen. So yes, "Being Boiled" probably would have shocked the fashion-frenzied fan club that raced out to pick it up. But it would have educated them as well, and that was well worth the price of a single 45.



Uncut Magazine 2001 new

David Stubbs

Eventually included on the 1980 Travelogue album and featuring the original line-up of Phil Oakey, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, this is a crude but effectively thense prototype of electro-pop, though Oakey has subsequently admitted to having little idea as to the meaning of lyrics such as "Listen to the voice of buddah/Saying stop your sericulture"...


Q Special Editon January 2005 new

Steve Malins

Sheffield becomes a hotbed of futuristic activity.

Released through Edinburgh-based independent Fast Product Records in June 1978, Being Boiled falls somewhere Suicide and Kraftwerk in its droning, repetitive power. Phil Oakey’s lyrics appears to reference sericulture (silk-worms are dropped into boiling water to remove their skins) as an image of genocide, or perhaps he just liked the sound of the word. Either way, his deadpan croon signalled the mergence of a new underground of British electronic music. The Human League re-recorded Being Boiled for 1980’s Travelogue LP and it finally became a Top 10 hit in January 1982