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Human Nature

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Biography

In the style of the boy band vocal bands of the time, Human Nature became Australia's most successful pop group of the '90s and beyond, outselling their international contemporaries Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Boyzone. Andrew Tierney, Michael Tierney, Phillip Burton, and Toby Allen first joined up as the 4Trax in 1989 when they were all still attending a New South Wales agricultural high school. Andrew, Burton, and Allen were all in school performances of Godspell and Grease at high school, while Michael, Andrew's younger brother, sang in school choirs and performed in an opera. As the 4Trax, the group went from busking in the streets of Sydney to winning three awards for excellence in live performance in the adult club scene. Deciding there was not much more they could accomplish in that area of entertainment, they started to send their demo tapes off to various recording companies. Legend has it they were signed on the spot by Sony after a live performance of "People Get Ready" in the chief executive's office. It was at this point that they changed their name to Human Nature. Australia had seen entries in the R&B-vocal era via CDB, Kulcha, and Past to Present, but no serious contender in the '90s trend toward vocal pop groups (aka boy bands). Human Nature changed that. As well as their harmony style, which impressed Sony, they had some songs of their own that were added to those of professional songwriters. The first single, "Got It Goin' On," was their first experience in the studio. The group's first album, Telling Everybody, which went on to sell four-times platinum. It also saw Human Nature secure major support slots on international tours by Michael Jackson and Celine Dion. By the time their second album was released, the band had traveled the world several times over. Counting Down was the result of sessions in Sydney, Los Angeles, and London, and combined the team that had created the first album with international songwriters and producers. Back in Australia, combining Human Nature's harmonies with John Farnham's voice and popularity created one of the top Australian hits of 1997, "Every Time You Cry." That, an appearance in a stage version of Grease, and an all-star concert tour of Beatles songs conducted by George Martin threatened to take Human Nature away from their teen pop group beginnings and turn them into an adult-oriented act. Human Nature dispelled all thought of such a shift with their third album, self-titled Human Nature, as if to underline the fact that the band had returned to its original emphasis. With sessions in London, Stockholm, and New York, Human Nature worked in the studios and with the producers and songwriters who also name-checked Westlife, Billie Piper, Spice Girls, 5ive, Britney Spears, and Backstreet Boys among their clients. There was also a songwriting session with Gary Barlow, formerly of Take That. Human Nature was declaring they were ready to be thought of in the same league. Since the late '90s, the group has released a number of albums, including the Motown-themed Reach Out: The Motown Record in 2005 and its follow-up, Dancing in the Street: The Songs of Motown II, a year later. This cycle of Motown covers culminated with the release of Get Ready in late 2007. The ensemble returned the following year with A Symphony of Hits; a collection of reworkings of past tracks with arrangements from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. To celebrate the release, Human Nature performed a selection of tracks with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at Sydney Opera House that December. The group kept busy, putting out more releases in subsequent years; their tenth effort, Vegas: Songs from Sin City was released in 2010, which featured bass singer Toby Allen taking the lead on a number of tracks for the first time in their career. They went on to release The Christmas Album in 2013, and Jukebox in 2014. The latter was composed of covers of classics from the '50s and '60s with one original song, "End of Days." They returned in 2016 with its sequel, Gimme Some Lovin': Jukebox Vol. 2, which went on to be certified platinum. ~ Ed Nimmervoll

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