Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

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Celebrating the Haunting, Melancholic Electronic Music of OMD as they release new Album and Book and Celebrate their 40th Anniversary.

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I always thought the songs from the English, Electronic Pop band, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) had an Eerie, Melancholic, Supernatural, Otherworldly feel to them, that kind of set them apart. Really atmospheric. And none of their songs embody this quality more than “Souvenir”, which is one of my most favourite songs ever, it’s just absolutely beautiful and hauntingly melancholy. It has a real sad sound to it, an Enchanting softness, yet at the same time it’s kind of uplifting and hopeful. The lyrics. the melody, the energy, the vibration, just totally resonate with me. What can I say, it’s on my Frequency! Perhaps like no other song in the Universe. 🙂

It was the first single released from their massively successful album, “Architecture and Morality” and their highest peaking single in the UK Singles Chart, reaching No.3 in 1981. It was a major International Hit and received great critical acclaim. Dave Thompson of AllMusic wrote that the song possesses “an exquisite lightness” capturing “OMD at their most luminescent”.

It was referenced in the IPC Media special, “501 Lost Songs” as a “classic piece of early ’80s melancholy” and was described as “one of the most majestic singles of the post-punk era” by a critic from NY Music magazine, Trouser Press. It is Majestic and an 80’s Music Classic without a doubt.

The video featured fantastic scenery, with the classic red convertible on the tree lined open road, passing open fields, the grounds of a stately home, a beautiful lake and a palladian bridge. The video was very popular on MTV and was filmed on the grounds of Stowe House in Buckinghamshire.

OMD are an English Electronic Band from Merseyside, that were big in the 1980’s New Wave scene. The most well known band members are Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys. They fit into several music genres including Synth Pop and Experimental. One of their biggest influences was German Electro-Pop band, Kraftwerk, as well as David Bowie and Roxy Music.

They got together in 1978, releasing their debut single, “Electricity” in 1979. They became popular throughout Europe with their Anti-War song, “Enola Gay”. Named after the USA air craft that carried the first atomic bomb to be used in an act of war, killing over 100,000 people, it raised questions on the dropping of this bomb in Hiroshima, Japan in 1945, during the end of Word War II and was their first Top 10 Hit in the UK.

“Maid of Orleans” and “Joan of Arc” were two of their songs that people seem to confuse quite a lot. Probably because they were both about the French Saint, Joan of Arc. And also because Maid of Orleans was also called Waltz Joan of Arc.

Both atmospheric tracks featured on their 3rd studio album, “Architecture and Morality”.  Both reached No.5 on the Singles Chart in the UK and Ireland, with Maid of Orleans being more popular internationally, also becoming the biggest selling single in Germany in 1982. It was written in 1981 on the 30th of May on the 550th anniversary of the French Heroine’s death. I like both songs but Maid of Orleans is my favourite as it’s got a real unusual, intense, haunting energy about it and the video sets it apart too, with the medieval imagery, snow and chess game. There’s a real power in that song.

“Electricity” was OMD’s debut single and highlighted society’s wastefulness of energy sources. Due to it being a major hit with DJ John Peel, it got a lot of air play and subsequently, New Music Express (NME) cited it as “the best example of Factory Records to date – excellent, melodic, synthesiser pop.” Factory Records was the Manchester label that signed them. Tony Wilson, the founder bought the track and released it as a single. It’s success led to them securing a 7 Album Record Deal.

“Sailing on the Seven Seas” was released in 1991 from their album “Sugar Tax” on the Virgin Records Label. It was the single that reached the highest in the singles chart, (As well as Souvenir), peaking at No.3. The song references the work of 2 Rock Groups, “The Velvet Underground”and “The Who”. It was their first single without original band member, Paul Humphreys who had left to form his own band, “The Listening Pool”.

Those are some of my favourite songs from OMD. I thought they were a great group of their Era. They broke up and got back together on several occasions, faded in the 90’s and had a revival in 2007 with an extensive UK and European Tour. Their 13th Studio album, “The Punishment of Luxury” was released in 2017.

They have now released a new album, called “Live with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra” and still go on tour. Check out their Website and Facebook page for events. They are performing with Tiffany, Bananarama and The Bangles in Los Angeles on the 26th January 2019. Put that in your diary! They have also released a book called “Pretending to See the Future” celebrating their 40th Anniversary and are doing a book signing at The Cavern Live Lounge in Liverpool on Tuesday 18th December.

Their music was different. It had an intriguing, haunting, ethereal quality and that’s why the band have stood the test of time with a Cult Following. I still don’t know how they got their name though… But that only adds to their intrigue…

(“Forever Live and Die”, 1986, “The Pacific Age” Album.)

If you liked this post, you may also like my post on Julia Dream by Pink Floyd and my post on Space Music


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