Saturday, 19 September 2009

Life of Live part 2

After Ultravox the next concert stayed on the synth theme. It was another coach trip , this time to Sheffield to see OMD. It was to promote the lp Junk Culture which was a return to pop after the experimentation that was Dazzleships had almost sunk them.

I remember the sound being fantastic and the band having a complete lack of personality except the lead singer whose manic dancing I have only ever seen the like of which once since (Tim Booth in James comes closest). It really was octopus on an electric plate in style

I think OMD often don't get the recognition they deserve (i blame Enola Gay being on every 80s compilation cd going).

They were often experimental as well as having a knack of creating amazingly catchy melodies.

The first 3 albums OMD, Organisation and Architecture and Morality are very strong. Even when they went overly pop and a tad too mid atlantic with Junk Culture, Crush and Pacific Age they still had great moments.

One of my first posts was about Joan of Arc and how it just wouldn't get released as a single now due to the fact it starts with 30 secs of a tone and the vocals don't kick in for another 60 secs and when they do there is no chorus. In fact if you listen to the whole of the Architecture there isn't a chorus on the whole thing. It is as if they purely relied on the melody of the synths to provide the hooks.

Why they were never quite the same after Architecture I blame 2 things

1) The recently departed John Hughes - he used them on the soundtrack of St Elmos Fire or something, got them the big hit in the USA , which put the pressure on to repeat, which meant no more songs about power stations!

2) Dazzleships - this was the release after Architecture and they went sample crazy. It almost feels like it was a kick back against the success they had enjoyed. The cover was even more ludicrous in terms of cost than Blue monday. Some tracks push the definition of song to a limit eg one built around a sample of the speak and spell toy, one around speaking clocks. I think would have done better if they had gone for the more immediate telegraph as the first single rather than Genetic Engineering. Re listening to it now it has some great tracks on. The old cliche "ahead of it time" may apply - alternatively it might just have been too far ups its own backside.

I've posted the extended version of Telegraph which i remember being great live and an instrumental where they got the experimental and the melody mix just right.

They have recently reformed and toured, I hope they follow this up with a release that reflects how they started rather than how they finished

There is a great OMD website here

You can buy their stuff here


  1. OMD were a tremendous act who pioneered an awful lot of what was great about synth-pop in the early 80s.

    There's a brilliant piece about them with Paul Morley's book on Joy Division (honest.....its an interview with them on tour in which they say they appreciate the breaks they were getting but why is the word ignoring Joy Division??).

    Oh and I love Enola Gay. Perfect pop with a subliminal political message...

  2. not sure if you saw the synth pop programme on bbc4 a couple of weeks ago. Paul Humphries played enola gay on the first synth they owned


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