This dark, menacing song with mentions of "slaying," "torture," and being "boiled alive" is a condemnation of the silkworm industry. The lyrics link the slaughter of silk worms with Buddhism.
Human League were heavily influenced by the German electronic group Kraftwerk, and came up with the concept of making music without conventional instruments. In 1978 they recorded in mono for £250 with a Roland System 100 synthesizer they had acquired, creating this song along with "Circus Of Death" on the independent Fast Product record label. It created something of a stir on the independent scene but didn't chart.
In 1982 after the success of "Don't You Want Me," EMI, who the band were now signed with, re-released "Being Boiled." It was the same version as the 1978 single, but but ran for an extra 35 seconds and faded out rather than cutting out abruptly as on the original release. This time it became a hit in the UK. By now the song was being acknowledged as a significant piece of music that had influenced many artists including Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. Vince Clarke of Depeche Mode and later Erasure has said that "Being Boiled" is his favorite record and that the early Human League was a large inspiration for him in forming Depeche Mode.
In 2003 the British group Liberty X had a #3 UK hit with their merging of the lyrics from Rufus' "Ain't Nobody" and the music from this song.
Suggestion credit: Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above