Bands we miss – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

When I first thought of doing this series a while back I was going to write about Soviet and Nitzer Ebb, the two bands that inspired our own little version of “where are they now”, but now the former has a new album out and the latter have been touring, put a new song on the NCIS soundtrack and are working on their first album since the mid-90s. There are other bands that were never electronic bands that we sure as hell “miss” like the aforementioned Cocteau Twins but obviously don’t quite fit into the theme of this particular series. So if the rules are that hard and fast why bend the concept so much in this case.

Well, because, that’s why. Shut up, you. 

O.M.D. have always held a great place in my heart, even as the law of diminishing returns wrecked havoc on the group’s output. They were among the first to blend the experimental industrial themes of the 70s with the pop sensibilities of the 80s and their early work was among the best in the history of the genre. Paul Humphries and Andy McClusky started as a very minimalist purely electronic band (with McClusky’s bass adding a little touch of organic flavour) featuring Winston the drum machine on Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. As the 80s wore on they got bolder and more experimental, releasing their second album, the slightly-poppier-than-their-self-titled debut, Organisation, which featured the peerless “Enola Gay”, onto the murkier and more experimental, Architecture and Morality, and then the downright freaky Dazzle Ships, (which is more dated than anything else in their canon but still a hoot to listen to and features three rock-solid songs, “Radio Waves”, “Genetic Engineering” and “Telegraph”, all of which sound fresh as a morning breeze even now), then they evened out on the more mainstream, but still unmistakenly OMD, Junk Culture. After that they became increasing ordinary and mainstream, peaking with genuine top 10 Billboard hits “If You Leave” and “Forever Live and Die”. After the top notch pop anthem, “Dreaming” Humphries left and McClusky carried on for three more albums but each felt duller and less alive than the previous until the whole thing finally petered out.

And yet! Why all the humming and hawing about fitting the theme’s rule? Well, wouldn’t you know it, they came back together a couple of years ago to tour the Architecture and Morality album’s anniversary and even talked of recording a new album (on the latter point I’m not holding my breath and there has been little in the way of news of this new product). So, are they “together again” or just reliving better times? Doesn’t matter really. We still miss them for their inventiveness, their boldness, their way with a hook and their ability to create their own custom, distinctive synth sounds that you can hear and instantly say, “hey! OMD!” They made a huge mark on the genre and as an active presence they continually gave us fresh, wonderful content and accordingly thet are a band we miss very much.

Watch: Maid of Orleans (Joan of Arc)

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