ELECTRICITY (x3)

The sleeve pictured above is the version of Electricity that I first owned. It was on Dindiscs Records and came out in early 1980.

What I didn’t realise at the time, and indeed didn’t for many years, was that this was in fact the third attempt at turning the song into a hit single, albeit the first really serious attempt as previous releases had been either via a limited run or using a mix which the band were unsure about.

It’s a complex and twisting tale….please bear with me

First Release : Factory Records (FAC6) : May 1979

The band had originally recorded Electricity, together with the b-side Almost, with Martin Zero (aka Hannett) at the helm in Cargo Studios in Rochdale. They felt, however, that it was overproduced and so, at a studio in their home city of Liverpool, they re-recorded both songs with production being shared by the band and their manager Paul Collister. As a compromise, and not wishing to totally upset the volatile Hannett, it was agreed by Factory Records that the b-side from the Cargo sessions would be used…..all of this is info is provided on the reverse of the sleeve for FAC6, which was restricted to a run of 5,000 copies:-

mp3 : OMD – Electricity (FAC6 version)
mp3 : OMD – Almost (FAC6 version)

If you’re lucky enough to have a good quality copy of this artefact, you could ask for and get in excess of £100 if you put up for sale.

Second Release : DinDisc Records (DIN2) : September 1979

The band had left Factory, enticed by a multi-album offer and decent advance by DinDisc, and the label decided to try to make an early gain by re-releasing Electricity in September 1979, but for some strange reason went with the version recorded at Cargo despite the band having previously indicated they weren’t satisfied with it:-

mp3 : OMD – Electricity (Hannett Cargo Studios version)

The version of Almost was that from the Factory single. Again, all of this info is provided on the reverse of the sleeve.

Third Release : DinDisc Records (DIN2) : March 1980

The single Red Frame White Light (DIN6) had been a minor hit in early 1980 just in advance of the release of the self-titled debut album. In an effort to keep the momentum going, Dindisc decided to re-release Electricity. The ability for confusion can be seen from the fact that they didn’t give this re-release a different catalogue number, nor did they change the front of the sleeve, although the back was different as there was no information provided about the recording process.

The piece of plastic inside the sleeve was completely different from earlier 45s as they were the versions that had been included on the debut album:-

mp3 : OMD – Electricity (album version)
mp3 : OMD – Almost (album version)

This version, if you cross-checked with the album, was produced by the band and someone called Chester Valentino, who in reality was manager Paul Collister who had been credited under his real name on the Factory version.

Told you it was complex and twisting.

In any event, the third effort at creating a hit out of Electricity came to nothing. It has, however, endured as one of the bands best-known and best-loved songs.

It was a contender for inclusion in the great debut singles series that occasionally features here, but intsead I felt the full story needed to be told.

Oh and just to complete things for you, here’s the earliest known version of the song, recorded by Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphries before they came up with the name of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

mp3 : The ID – Electricity

And finally, the version of Almost that was recorded in Liverpool but which didn’t see light of day until its inclusion in a compilation album in 2001 (and which in my view is the best of them):-

mp3 : OMD – Almost (alternate version)

JC

14 thoughts on “ELECTRICITY (x3)

  1. A joyous single that hinted at what was go come. I’m going to listen to it right now. It’s been a while …

  2. One of my earliest memories of wanting to get hold of a copy of song – used to listen to the radio for ages to try and tape it and then hope DJ didnt talk over too much of it!

  3. I heard the album version [along with “The Messerschmitt Twins” played on a radio show called “The Import Hour” on my local FM Rock station in 1980 and it immediately made me a fan of the band. For the record, I love the “overproduced” Martin Hannett takes of these songs. The reverb makes the opening chords of “Electricity” so bold and powerful in comparison to the weedy takes the band preferred. And you may not have know about the third version [4th release] of the song as produced by “Enola Gay” producer Mike Howlett that figured on the “Dindisc 1980” compilation album featuring all Dindisc bands. It’s about 30 seconds longer and had a middle eight bolted onto the song since Howlett was a pro who probably demanded it!

  4. and if I am not mistaken, the version of Electicity on “Peel Sessions 1979-1983” sounds a bit different than the other 3 mentioned. However, maybe someone has some input…

  5. Echorich – I’d only point out that I consider 2010 onward to be the fourth act.
    1979-1984: essential.
    1985-1988: uneven.
    1991-1997: inessential with a pinch of essential [title song to “Universal”].
    2010-current: essential

  6. I have/had both DinDisc releases and this confirms my belief that they were different versions – thank you… although sadly my copy of the first version went awol many years ago and I now just have an empty sleeve (hence the replacement copy) 😦

  7. I love this level of detail!
    I have a copy of the Factory compilation “Palatine – The Factory Story / Vol. 1 / 1979-1982 / Tears In Their Eyes” on which Electricity is the second track… and it is noticeably different to the three versions you’ve discussed above.
    Any idea how this might fit into the chronology?

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