Released today in 1984: The Lebanon

Virgin VS672

Virgin VS672

The subject matter for this The Human League single was the civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990). It broke out following an increase in sectarian tensions which had been evident since the country had had its independence declared by France in 1944. In April 1975, Christian militia, claiming that guerrillas had attacked a church in Beirut, ambushed a bus in the same district, killing 27 Palestinian passengers; these incidents are usually cited as starting the full-scale civil war.

Matters escalated in 1982 when, following the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to Britain by a Palestinian splinter group, Israel invaded Lebanon. Following the assassination of pro-Israeli president-elect Bachir Gemayel in September, peacekeeping forces from the US, France and Italy arrived in, while Israel occupied the west of, Beirut. The situation in Lebanon was particularly newsworthy in the year before The Lebanon’s release, owing to a suicide attack on the US Embassy which killed 63 people in April, and another in October on the headquarters of the peacekeeping presence which resulted in 241 American and 58 French deaths. Fighting continued throughout the rest of the 1980s until the overthrow of an interim military government in 1990; this brought an end to 15 years of civil war in which around 150,000 had died.

As for The Human League’s effort: the song was criticized for naivety and for its unsophisticated lyrics. Taxing Lyrical , a listener poll conducted by BBC Radio 6 in 2007, suggested it was the ninth worst lyric of all time in pop song. They are a bit sixth-form, but they’re not so bad. 80s songs from ABC, Duran Duran and (rather unfairly) Toto and also made it on to the Top 10 of the same list; the former’s contribution (a couplet or two from That Was Then But This Is Now) was, admittedly, awful.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Apr. 24
The TEARDROP EXPLODES (Julian Cope) Treason (New version) (Mercury TEAR3)
The HUMAN LEAGUE The Lebanon (Virgin VS672)
KAJAGOOGOO Turn Your Back To Me (EMI EMI5465)
FAT BOYS Are You Ready For Freddy? (Urban URB35)
Kylie MINOGUE Hand On Your Heart (PWL PWL35)
Nik KERSHAW Elizabeth’s Eyes (MCA NIK13)
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED (John Lydon) Disappointed (Virgin VS1181)
SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK Albinoni vs Star Wars (Parlophone SSS6)


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