The Dignity of Labour Pts. 1 - 4 is the title of an EP recorded The Human League and released on Fast Product in April 1979. The EP is made up of four independent electronic instrumental pieces on a 12" 45 rpm record. there are no production credits given on the release.
The EP also came with a one-sided flexi-disc which features firstly a conversation between group members and manager Bob Last about the release of the record and the inclusion of a flexi-disc, followed by a spoken statement by Philip Oakey explaining the subject of the EP.
Oakey states that "The Dignity of Labour" is "not simple..not even complex..it's multiplex". The photograph of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on the front cover is not meant to represent the Russian space effort but rather "about the individual as opposed to the group" and "human frailty" concluding that "no matter how big you are, you're gonna be dead pretty soon".
This was the group's final release on Fast Product as they were about to begin their contract with Virgin.
An early version of "The Dignity of Labour", like many early recordings, featured on some of the group's demonstration cassettes. These recordings also featured a spoken narrative.
"The Dignity Of Labour" takes its name from a mural seen in one of the group's favourite films, Stanley Kubrick's adaption of Anthony Burgess's novel, A Clockwork Orange. The dignity of labour, also known as the dignity of work, is the philosophy that all types of jobs are respected equally, and no occupation is considered superior. Social reformers such as Basava and his contemporary Sharanas, as well as Mahatma Gandhi, were prominent advocates of the dignity of labour.
An unknown writer in the NME gave the EP a positive review stating that it was "The Human League exploring and letting no-one down". He applauded the electronic instrumentals which are kept "tight, neat and active" adding that they are "best played dead loud in the dark" adding that the record "will only bore bores".
Fast Product 12" VF. 1 (timings stated on release)
A1 The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 1 (4:21)
A2 The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 2 (2:46)
B1 The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 3 (3:49)
B2 The Dignity Of Labour Pt. 4 (3:49)
Flexi disc (4:08)
Apart from the original release, the four tracks were included on a 1993 Fast product compilation CD entitled Fast Product - Rigour Discipline & Disgust. The release mentions the catalogue number of Fast 10. The four parts and the flexi-disc recording were also included on the remaster of the Reproduction album in 2003.
"The Dignity of Labour Pt. 3" was also included on the A Very British Synthesizer Group anthology (2016). This is the first time that any part of the EP had been included on a Human League compilation.
- The Dignity of Labour - narrative on demo cassette version only on BlindYouth.co.uk
- Various Artists – Fast Product - Rigour Discipline & Disgust on discogs.com
- The Human League – Reproduction (CD, Virgin – CDVR2133) - discogs.com