1981 was the year when a new breed of Sheffield music truly arrived. Not nationally, but globally.
The eighties were our calling, our Ground Zero, our aural assault and then some. Steel City was about to become electro-pop-Mega-City-One and the Human League’s 1981 ‘Dare’ album was the genre defining long-player that took the city’s musical career stratospheric.
The Sheffield of the eighties wasn’t a place for the faint hearted.
The socialist Town Hall was a war with the Thatcher Government and Scargill was masterminding the Miners’ Strike 400 yards up the road.
A whole generation was left traumatised following the first public airing of ‘Threads’ – the 1984 docudrama of Sheffield in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.
A former hospital porter and two schoolgirls with zero vocal or dancing training did much to rescue the sanity of the city’s youth and provide a soundtrack for a generation in Cold War-charged trauma.
Phil Oakey’s Human League introduced the world to electro-pop in jaw dropping style as the ‘Dare’ album hit the shops in autumn of 1981 and ‘Don’t You Want Me’, their most successful single ever, followed in December.
The city had stranglehold on the UK charts like never before for much of the era. We might have had no money, no jobs and no future but we could shift vinyl like it was going out of fashion.
Whilst many venues were struggling in the early eighties as the redundancy pay-packets ran out for thousands of steelworkers thrown onto the dole, Josephine’s thrived with its own in house champagne league.
Mass market entertainment was provided at the sprawling Roxy, Cairo Jax and others whilst The Leadmill became a beacon for protest, utopian ideology and a cheap night out.
Rebels did it for the rockers; The Limit did it for anyone and everyone left of centre whilst Def Leppard took Sheffield metal to the States and the Bailey Brothers conquered Europe.
X Clothes and Rebina were fashion Ground Zero whilst the Hole In The Road, once a proud symbol of civic pride and post war regeneration, was left to fall into rack and ruin and became eerily symbolic of the mood in the city for much of the era.