OMD – Electricity

OMD – Electricity

They were called Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark back then and I recall being startled by them on first hearing. It turns out that John Peel was frequently playing them on his late night BBC Radio show, the same show that gave a break to so many fledgling outfits including Simple Minds no less. It is fair to say that I was more than instantly charmed by this duo from Liverpool who had released their first single ‘Electricity’ on Factory Records, then newly stated as the hippest independent record label in the world thanks to recent its release of Joy Division’s debut, Unknown Pleasures. I also believe that apart from the spellbinding Suicide who hailed from NYC, that the Liverpuddlians were in fact the only other electro duo known to me.

Although busy at the time with recording our second album at Rockfield studio, I would regularly break off on Saturday afternoons to visit the nearby town of Monmouth. In particular I would make sure that I dropped in at the town’s small record shop as it had a fantastic collection of picture disc singles which were somewhat of a novelty back then. It was there that I bought a number of singles from artist’s such as Tubeway Army, Bauhaus, XTC, and er’ Kim Carnes! It was there that I also bought the debut single from what would eventually be known as OMD.

I instantly loved the drum machines and synthesized pulse’s to be found within the grooves of that 45rpm. But I also loved the dreamy vocals that somehow made me think of a futuristic Buddy Holly lost somewhere out in the heavens, looking down on a world so out of control that it no longer made sense. Above all I was jealous of the melodies of both sides of the disc. That happened a lot to me in those days and even now I still jealously play the B side of that single – a song titled ‘Almost’. It is a beautiful tune that is just begging to be covered by someone. (I wonder who?)

Eventually we became label mates with OMD through our connections to Virgin Records. But by that time they had already had a ton of chart success with various catchy singles, whereas we were still to enter the top thirty. I guess we were a work in progress for many years while they had somehow arrived almost fully formed and with a talent for spitfire hooks that permeated right through their songs. With that as ammunition what could go wrong? Nothing in their case!

That OMD went on to inspire many other electro outfits is without doubt, and the names of Depeche, Tears for Fears, Pet Shop Boys, Blancmange and Soft Cell so easily come to mind. That they have never received the right amount of due recognition from critics also occurs. Although that said the recent Synth Brittania documentary that can be seen on does go someway in highlighting their rightful position in the electronic scheme of things.  That for me is a nice thing to see.

Better than that, the best way to currently check out the splendid work of both Andy and Paul from OMD, is to get along as early as possible on the night  – to our end of November/December UK/Europe concerts, as we are very pleased to have them with us as special guests. With a barrow load of hits and some great atmospheres to match, I think we are all set for some memorable evenings and I will be making sure that I get to take in at least some of their set each nights. Beyond that we also plan to have them join us on stage for a version of Kraftwerk’s  electronic hymn -Neon Lights.

Jim Kerr