Aside from Simple Minds, which was largely on the basis of them being local, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark were the first electronic band that I really became a fan of, thanks to the early singles Electricity and Messages. They were certainly the first electronic band I ever saw play live at the Glasgow Apollo in November 1980, a gig which left me rather disappointed and underwhelmed, but then again I didn’t have a great seat stuck at the back of the circle (but not quite the upper circle which really was a dreadful spot in the building being so high up and far from the stage).
However, it was only some 20 years after its release that I really became a fan of the band’s debut LP. This was a record which had versions of the two hit singles I loved along with eight other bits of music, many of which were far darker, moodier and difficult for a 17-year-old weaned on guitar music to really get his head around. It wasn’t too long in the collection as I soon swapped it with a friend for a copy of Diamond Dogs (which I’m sure he had pinched from his big brother’s collection) as I was just really getting into Bowie on the back of Scary Monsters.
It was many years later that I picked up a copy of the OMD debut on CD for £5. I was of course approaching it with a whole new outlook on music with my tastes have broadened substantially from those long-ago teenage years. And I very much liked what I was hearing – and in particular what I had previously thought difficult and almost unlistenable bits of music.
A few weeks ago I picked up a second-hand vinyl copy of the album. It’s not the now rare first edition that I had bought away back in 1980 but one of what was a number of re-issues by Dindisc Records. It’s a near mint copy vinyl wise, but the sleeve is a bit tattered and torn which makes me think the original owner, a bit like myself, didn’t take a shine to the music and the sleeve ended up not being looked after as it was boxed up and moved house on a few occasions.
The closing tracks on the second side of the record in particular are quite stunning – the very experimental and inappropriately named Dancing and then the beauty and majesty of Pretending To See The Future which can now be seen as a huge influence on so many bands who were to follow:-
mp3 : Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Dancing
mp3 : Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Pretending To See The Future
It’s also worth having a listen to the original version and the single version of what would become their first Top 40 hits:-
mp3 : Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages (LP version)
mp3 : Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages (10″ single version)
It’s a very fine example of tweaking a song to make it far more daytime radio-friendly without losing the sense of magic that made it sound so special in the first place.