For many years I was a fan of the more popular songs by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and I even owned (and cherished) their "Pacific Age" album. When I bought their "best of" as part of my 80s-DJ fodder I certainly enjoyed it all, but I still thought of them as just another '80s band.
What finally pushed them into "I'd Buy Anything" territory was when I bought "Dazzle Ships" on a whim, and I understood that their early albums contained thematically-linked hit songs AND experimental weirdness. This was enough to pique my curiosity, and I have continued to enjoy (and puzzle over) every subsequent album I've found.
But all this only adds depth to their parade of hits. Lush and odd, a combination of Moody Blues melodies and Depeche Mode staccato, with two lead singers whose voices melt the heart, OMD has a distinct sound that has never been replicated.
The song which sums this up perfectly is "Tesla Girls." It never fails to make me happy, but in the video you have the added bonus of "how preppy women were supposed to present themselves (and dance) in 1984," with parachute pants and inappropriate high heels. It's all so Bryan Ferry. I absolutely, positively love this song.
And here's one of the most beautiful songs ever written -- "Forever Live and Die" -- recorded during their 2007 tour and proving that they've still got it.
I won't do the usual "albums to buy and avoid" conclusion because I've never BOUGHT all their albums. I pick them up whenever I find them used. So until the day when I HAVE bought everything, perhaps YOU can make some recommendations?
It's funny you posted this, because I recently rediscovered a love of early Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark. I really love the early, Kraftwerk-inspired stuff, especially the first self-titled record and the second, Architectures & Morality. (With "Joan Of Arc", a perfect combination of metronome and swoon.)
Later on they get too smooth for me, which is pretty much my problem with new wave as a whole.
There definitely was a Kraftwerk inspiration on those early albums. I haven't heard the self-titled one yet, but "Architecture & Morality" is pretty keen!
And I have to admit that I like the smooth.
Oh, man, hunt down the first album. "Electricity" is the best song Kraftwerk never wrote.
Muffy, I can always count on you for unexpected moments of nostalgia. I used to adore "Forever Live and Die" and now I remember why. Thanks!
PS: the Tesla girls dancing around in their heels reminded me of your Muffy videos...
I have probably always wanted to be a Tesla girl...and I bet you do too!
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