ON THIS DAY: 1981: Sheffield's The Human League release their classic album Dare

The cover of The Human League's Dare album.
The cover of The Human League's Dare album.

Exactly 35 years ago today, Sheffield pop pioneers The Human League released the album which turned them into global stars.

It was on October 16, 1981 that Dare hit record shop shelves for the first time - and went on to become one of the defining albums of the 80s and one of the best of all-time.

The band's third studio album, it was recorded between March and September 1981 and went triple platinum in the UK, as well as selling millions more copies around the globe.

Containing smash hits such as Love Action, Open Your Heart and of course, Don't You Want Me, Dare was a departure from the band's previous experimental avant-garde electronic music into commercial pop under singer Phil Oakey's creative direction following the departure of fellow founding members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh.

In January 1981, the Human League consisted of just Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright with newly recruited teenage dancers/backing vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley.

After the acrimonious split of the original band in October 1980 and the subsequent recruitment of Sulley and Catherall, the new band had only just survived a European tour by bringing in session keyboardist Ian Burden to temporarily assist.

The Human League at the time of the release of Dare.

The Human League at the time of the release of Dare.

The first release from the now complete new team came in August 1981, "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" was the band's first major critical and commercial success and peaked at number three in the UK.

To set the scene for the album's release Virgin released one of the album tracks immediately in advance of the album. "Open Your Heart" went to number six in the UK singles chart, confirming the band's popularity.

Whilst it was still in the charts, Dare premiered to critical acclaim. It was also condemned by the Musicians' Union, who believed the new technology employed by the Human League was making traditional musicians redundant and a threat to their monopoly. Soon they would begin a "Keep It Live" campaign believing that bands like the Human League would be able to perform concerts at the touch of a button.

Virgin executive Simon Draper's next choice would be the track "Don't You Want Me", the conflicting male/female duet about jealousy and romantic obsession that Oakey had recorded with teenage backing singer Susanne Sulley.

Oakey was unhappy with the decision and originally fought it, believing it to be the weakest track on Dare; for that reason it had been relegated to the last track in the B-side of the vinyl album. Oakey was eventually overruled by Virgin.

It would go on to become the band's greatest ever hit, selling millions of copies worldwide and becoming the 25th highest ever selling single in the UK as of 2007) It was also the Christmas number one for 1981.

The album was a massive commercial success, selling in large numbers, taking it quickly to number one in the UK album charts in early November 1981.

By Christmas 1981 Dare had gone platinum in the UK, and the Human League had a number-one album and number-one single concurrently in the UK charts. Dare would eventually remain in the UK album charts for an enduring 71 weeks. A remix album based on Dare, called Love and Dancing, was released a year later in 1982.

The release of Dare! (the exclamation mark was added to the American release) in the US immediately mirrored the success of the UK and in mid 1982 it reached number three in the US Billboard 200 and the single "Don't You Want Me" was at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The cover art and other album artwork is based on a concept that Oakey wanted, that the album should look like an edition of Vogue magazine. The final design is a joint effort between Philip Adrian Wright (also the band's director of visuals) and graphic designer Ken Ansell.

In 2006, British Hit Singles & Albums and NME organised a poll in which 40,000 people worldwide voted for the 100 best albums ever; Dare was placed at no. 77 on the list.

The same year, Q magazine placed the album at number 19 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s."