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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | EMI Marketing

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If OMD's debut album showed the band could succeed just as well on full-length efforts as singles, Organisation upped the ante even further, situating the band in the enviable position of at once being creative innovators and radio-friendly pop giants. That was shown as much by the astounding lead track and sole single from the album, "Enola Gay." Not merely a great showcase for new member Holmes, whose live-wire drumming took the core electronic beat as a launching point and easily outdid it, "Enola Gay" is a flat-out pop classic -- clever, heartfelt, thrilling, and confident, not to mention catchy and arranged brilliantly. The outrageous use of the atomic bomb scenario -- especially striking given the era's nuclear war fears -- informs the seemingly giddy song with a cut-to-the-quick fear and melancholy, and the result is captivating. Far from being a one-hit wonder, though, Organisation is packed with a number of gems, showing the band's reach and ability continuing to increase. Holmes slots into the band's efforts perfectly, steering away from straightforward time structures while never losing the core dance drive, able to play both powerfully and subtly. McCluskey's singing, his own brand of sweetly wounded soul for a different age and approach, is simply wonderful -- the clattering industrial paranoia of "The Misunderstanding" results in wrenching wails, a moody cover of "The More I See You" results in a deeper-voiced passion. Everything from the winsome claustrophobia of "VCL XI" and the gentle, cool flow on "Statues" to the quirky boulevardier swing of "Motion and Heart" has a part to play. Meanwhile, album closer "Stanlow," inspired by the power plant where McCluskey's father worked, concluded things on a haunting note, murky mechanical beats and a slow, mournful melody leading the beautiful way. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1988 | Virgin Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | Virgin Catalogue

Looking back on 20 years of creative growth since the electro-pop band's inception, The OMD Singles is logically and chronologically arranged. The earliest recordings, 1980's "Electricity" and "Messages," prove electric messages were being channeled from such German pioneers as Kraftwerk and Neu! These English boys were enamored of melody, though, and it was not long before such dulcet, song-like structure became self-evident, as in 1984's "Tesla Girls." From then on, it is a steady climb in coherence, with synth rhythms downplayed in order to bring the melodic theme to the front. The pinnacle of this progression is OMD's memorable "So in Love" (1985) and "If You Leave" (from 1986's Pretty in Pink). The album closes with their last hit, 1996's glam-influenced autobiography "Walking on the Milky Way." The last original member, Andy McCluskey, has blessed this greatest-hits package as the final swan song for the long-lived group. Originating in post-punk synth experimentation and closing in dated, but still strong, pop productions, The OMD Singles is an excellent time line of the band whose sound covered in a single career that same territory explored by the Human League, Erasure, Yaz, New Order, and beyond. © Tom Schulte /TiVo
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Electronic - Released October 4, 2019 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Souvenir is an extensive anthology that inevitably appeals more to collectors than to casual listeners. Discs one and two of the physical box set gather the singles dating back to the Dindisc version of "Electricity," one of the most bracing post-punk-era debuts -- much more so than the amateur Kraftwerk thievery OMD have claimed it to be -- through the fresh "Don't Go," perhaps the sharpest A-side of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys' admirable second run. (The singles portion was also spun off separately as triple-vinyl and double-CD editions under the same title.) The third disc is a set of previously unreleased material consisting primarily of experiments and incomplete songs. McCluskey says they were wise to abandon and shelve it all, with only the circa 1990 "Flamenco" retroactively judged worthy of B-side placement. "Violin Piece" would at least be appropriate for a neo-noir film set in the early '80s, if potentially mistaken for the work of Ultravox. Over half of these excavated tracks were made from 1981-1983, making the component of special interest to those who value the more experimental aspects of Organisation, Architecture & Mortality, and Dazzle Ships. Discs four and five are live. First is a high-spirited 2011 date broadcast by BBC Radio 2 from London's Mermaid Theatre. The set list emphasizes the previous year's The History of Modern and covers a fairly broad spectrum of hits carrying into the Humphreys-less '90s. Disc five is filled to capacity with a Hammersmith Odeon gig from 1983, two months after the commercial suicide-turned-cult classic Dazzle Ships arrived to a mix of delight, bafflement, and repulsion. After six minutes of that LP's clanks, whirs, and partly spoken audio collage, they kick into the oldie "Messages" (their first of 12 Top 20 U.K. hits) with McCluskey announcing that "This is the last gig on this tour, so we don't care anymore, you know? It's just gonna be a good time." The next number is "She's Leaving," but hold on; the mood lifts and tends to remain up as they hurtle through other past favorites and most of the new stuff (minus "Genetic Engineering"), closing in terrific form with the oil-refinery ballad "Stanlow," the oddly moving conclusion of their second album. A pair of DVDs offer almost two dozen U.K. television appearances (well over half from Top of the Pops), concerts from 1981 (London) and 1985 (Sheffield), and the long-form video for the latter year's Crush. The object itself is a sturdy, neatly designed 10" case with gatefold sleeves and a hardcover book containing recording info, pictures of the duo, images of all the sleeves for the singles, and notes from McCluskey and fellow Northerner Paul Morley. There's also a stack of displayable memorabilia that you can slide out and scatter across the nearest surface. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | EMI Marketing

If there was a clear high point for OMD in terms of balancing relentless experimentation and seemingly unstoppable mainstream success in the U.K., Architecture & Morality is it. Again combining everything from design and presentation to even the title into an overall artistic effort, this album showed that OMD was arguably the first Liverpool band since the later Beatles to make such a sweeping, all-bases-covered achievement -- more so because OMD owed nothing to the Fab Four. All it takes is a consideration of the three smash singles from the album to see the group in full flower. "Souvenir," featuring Paul Humphreys in a quiet but still warm and beautiful lead role, eases in on haunting semi-vocal sighs before settling into its gentle, sparkling melody. The mid-song instrumental break, with its shifted tempos and further wordless calls, is especially inspired. "Joan of Arc," meanwhile, takes the drama of "Enola Gay" to new heights; again, wordless vocals provide the intro and backing, while an initially quiet melody develops into a towering heartbreaker, with Andy McCluskey and band in full flight. If that wasn't enough, the scenario was continued and made even more epic with "Maid of Orleans," starting with a quick-cut series of melancholic drones and shades before a punchy, then rolling martial beat kicks in, with Malcolm Holmes and technology in perfect combination. With another bravura McCluskey lead and a mock-bagpipe lead that's easily more entrancing than the real thing, it's a wrenching ballad like no other before it and little since. Any number of other high points can be named, such as the opening, "The New Stone Age," with McCluskey's emotional fear palpable over a rough combination of nervous electronic pulses, piercing keyboard parts, and slightly distorted guitar. "She's Leaving" achieves its own polished pop perfection -- it would have made an inspired choice for a fourth single if one had been forthcoming -- while the heartbreaking "Sealand" and "Georgia" hint at where OMD would go next, with Dazzle Ships. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | EMI Marketing

OMD's first full album won as much attention for its brilliant die-cut cover -- another example of Peter Saville's cutting-edge way around design -- as for its music, and its music is wonderful. For all that, this is a young band, working for just about the last time with original percussionist Winston; there's both a variety and ambition present that never overreaches itself. The influences are perfectly clear throughout, but McCluskey and Humphreys would have been the last people to deny how Kraftwerk, Sparks, and other avatars of post-guitar pop touched them. What's undeniably thrilling, though, is how quickly the two synthesized their own style. Consider "Almost," with its dramatic keyboard opening suddenly shifting into a collage of wheezing sound beats and McCluskey's precise bass and heartfelt, lovelorn singing and lyrics. The chilly keyboard base of "The Messerschmitt Twins" gets offset by McCluskey's steadily stronger vocal, while the swooping, slightly hollow singing on "Mystereality" slips around a quietly quirky arrangement, helped just enough by Cooper's at-the-time guest sax. Even the fairly goofy "Dancing" has a weird atmosphere at play in the metallic vocals and groaning tones. In terms of sheer immediacy, there's little doubt what the two highlights are -- the re-recorded and arguably better version of "Electricity" is pure zeitgeist, a celebration of synth pop's incipient reign with fast beats and even faster singing. "Messages," though it would later benefit from a far more stunning reworking, still wears the emotion of its lyrics on its sleeve, with a killer opening line -- "It worries me, this kind of thing, how you hope to live alone and occupy your waking hours" -- and a melody both propulsive and fragile. The mysterious chimes and spy-movie dramatics of "Red Frame/White Light" (inspired by a phone box) are almost as striking. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark is just like the band that made it -- perfectly of its time and easily transcending it. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Electronic - Released February 2, 2015 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 1985 | Virgin Catalogue

The lightweight synthesizer pop of Crush represents a nearly complete reinvention of the band's original ideals, trading in the influence of Ultravox and Kraftwerk for the more contemporary fare offered up by The The, Howard Jones, et al. From a commercial standpoint, the move paid off, breaking the band into the U.S. Top 40 on the strength of singles like "So in Love" and "Secret." Anyone looking for signs of OMD's original identity, however, will have to settle for "Joan of Arc" rewritten as a pop song ("La Femme Accident," arguably the album's most pleasant moment), some interesting patterns on "Crush" and "The Lights Are Going Out" that recall Dazzle Ships, the relatively edgy "88 Seconds in Greensboro," and shades of Brian Eno's "Third Uncle" on "The Native Daughters of the Golden West." Switching horses in midstream does allow OMD to cultivate a new audience without losing their U.K. listeners, but it also invites the suggestion that Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys were stylemongers rather than electronic visionaries. Producer Stephen Hague keeps the arrangements clean and simple, so much so that it's difficult to hear what (if anything) Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes contribute to the final product. Unfortunately, given the lyrics on this album, OMD picked the wrong time to be intelligible (and including a lyric sheet is just begging for trouble). The words to "Crush," "Bloc Bloc Bloc," "Hold On," and "Secret" reveal that melodies really are their strong suit. Crush offers very little of substance; maybe that's always been the case with OMD, and earlier albums simply masked it better by taking the road less traveled. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Electronic - Released September 1, 2017 | White Noise

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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Virgin Catalogue

OMD's glistening run of top-flight singles and chart domination came to a temporary but dramatic halt with Dazzle Ships, the point where the band's pushing of boundaries reached their furthest limit. McCluskey, Humphreys, and company couldn't take many listeners with them, though, and it's little surprise why -- a couple of moments aside, Dazzle Ships is pop of the most fragmented kind, a concept album released in an era that had nothing to do with such conceits. On its own merits, though, it is dazzling indeed, a Kid A of its time that never received a comparative level of contemporary attention and appreciation. Indeed, Radiohead's own plunge into abstract electronics and meditations on biological and technological advances seems to be echoing the themes and construction of Dazzle Ships. What else can be said when hearing the album's lead single, the soaring "Genetic Engineering," with its Speak & Spell toy vocals and an opening sequence that also sounds like the inspiration for "Fitter, Happier," for instance? Why it wasn't a hit remains a mystery, but it and the equally enjoyable, energetic "Telegraph" and "Radio Waves" are definitely the poppiest moments on the album. Conceived around visions of cryptic Cold War tension, the rise of computers in everyday life, and European and global reference points -- time zone recordings and snippets of shortwave broadcasts -- Dazzle Ships beats Kraftwerk at their own game, science and the future turned into surprisingly warm, evocative songs or sudden stop-start instrumental fragments. "Dazzle Ships (Parts II, III, and VII)" itself captures the alien feeling of the album best, with its distanced, echoing noises and curious rhythms, sliding into the lovely "The Romance of the Telescope." "This Is Helena" works in everything from what sounds like heavily treated and flanged string arrangements to radio announcer samples, while "Silent Running" becomes another in the line of emotional, breathtaking OMD ballads, McCluskey's voice the gripping centerpiece. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Virgin Catalogue

OMD have rarely been as dance-oriented as they are on Liberator, a collection of retro-disco and contemporary '90s club cuts. While it is far from the experimental and edgy synth-pop that earned the group rave reviews in the early '80s, it is an enjoyable, lightweight collection of appealing dance-pop. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1983 | Virgin Catalogue

OMD's glistening run of top-flight singles and chart domination came to a temporary but dramatic halt with Dazzle Ships, the point where the band's pushing of boundaries reached their furthest limit. McCluskey, Humphreys, and company couldn't take many listeners with them, though, and it's little surprise why -- a couple of moments aside, Dazzle Ships is pop of the most fragmented kind, a concept album released in an era that had nothing to do with such conceits. On its own merits, though, it is dazzling indeed, a Kid A of its time that never received a comparative level of contemporary attention and appreciation. Indeed, Radiohead's own plunge into abstract electronics and meditations on biological and technological advances seems to be echoing the themes and construction of Dazzle Ships. What else can be said when hearing the album's lead single, the soaring "Genetic Engineering," with its Speak & Spell toy vocals and an opening sequence that also sounds like the inspiration for "Fitter, Happier," for instance? Why it wasn't a hit remains a mystery, but it and the equally enjoyable, energetic "Telegraph" and "Radio Waves" are definitely the poppiest moments on the album. Conceived around visions of cryptic Cold War tension, the rise of computers in everyday life, and European and global reference points -- time zone recordings and snippets of shortwave broadcasts -- Dazzle Ships beats Kraftwerk at their own game, science and the future turned into surprisingly warm, evocative songs or sudden stop-start instrumental fragments. "Dazzle Ships (Parts II, III, and VII)" itself captures the alien feeling of the album best, with its distanced, echoing noises and curious rhythms, sliding into the lovely "The Romance of the Telescope." "This Is Helena" works in everything from what sounds like heavily treated and flanged string arrangements to radio announcer samples, while "Silent Running" becomes another in the line of emotional, breathtaking OMD ballads, McCluskey's voice the gripping centerpiece. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1991 | Virgin Records

With the split between McCluskey and the rest of the band resolved by the former's decision to carry on with the band's name on his own, the question before Sugar Tax's appearance was whether the change would spark a new era of success for someone who clearly could balance artistic and commercial impulses in a winning fashion. The answer, based on the album -- not entirely. The era of Architecture and Morality wouldn't be revisited anyway, for better or for worse, but instead of delightful confections with subtle heft like "Enola Gay" and "Tesla Girls," on Sugar Tax McCluskey is comfortably settled into a less-spectacular range of songs that only occasionally connect. Like fellow refugees from the early '80s such as Billy Mackenzie and Marc Almond, McCluskey found himself bedeviled in the early '90s with an artistic block that resulted in his fine singing style surrounded by pedestrian arrangements and indifferent songs. There was one definite redeeming number at the start: "Sailing on the Seven Seas," with glam-styled beats underpinning a giddy, playful romp that showed McCluskey still hadn't lost his touch entirely, and which became OMD's biggest single at home since "Souvenir." Beyond that, though, the album can best be described as pleasant instead of memorable, an exploration by McCluskey into calmer waters recorded entirely by himself outside of some guitar from Stuart Boyle. Without his longtime bandmates to help him, the results lack an essential spark (Holmes' drumming creativity being especially missed). In a tip of the hat to a clear source of inspiration, Sugar Tax includes a pleasant cover of Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights," with guest vocals by Christine Mellor, while "Apollo XI" uses Dazzle Ships-styled sample collages made up of moon-landing broadcasts, though the song itself isn't much. Even at its most active -- "Call My Name" and "Pandora's Box" -- Sugar Tax is for the most part just there. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1986 | Virgin Records

The Pacific Age is the last OMD album to feature founding member Paul Humphreys (although The Best of OMD does collect a pair of subsequent singles). With producer Stephen Hague returning and guests Graham and Neil Weir elevated to full-time members, OMD aggressively targets the American pop market cultivated with Crush and the Top Ten single "If You Leave." With the Weirs' horns and a trio of female backing vocalists, the music on The Pacific Age sounds larger than life (the opening "Stay" in particular), a trait common to popular music in the mid-'80s. The added production value and better material represent an improvement over Crush, despite the opinion of some that The Pacific Age is a bland sellout. It's true that tracks like "(Forever) Live and Die," "Shame," and "Goddess of Love" are more style than substance, but it's a style that plays to OMD's mastery of melody and mood. The album follows the familiar trend of alternating tracks sung by Andy McCluskey and Humphreys, which effectively shifts the mood from energetic to understated often enough that the material feels fresher than it might otherwise. On the quieter tracks ("Dead Girls" and "The Pacific Age") the ghost of their earlier work reappears. The band also continues to string snippets of sound together to create interesting patterns; nothing on here is as jarring as the experimental Dazzle Ships, and tapping into Martin Luther King's legacy on "Southern" might be overreaching the limited range of pop, but the band does bring their technical skill to bear on a few cuts. If their last album was a halfhearted attempt to court commercial tastes, The Pacific Age benefits from its wholehearted pursuit of the same. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Electronic - Released April 8, 2013 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

On their second album since their 2005 reunion, synth pop pioneers Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark rekindle the spirit of two new wave classics, the first being their own "slept on" masterpiece from 1983, Dazzle Ships, an album that pushed the boundaries sonically. From the blippy, robotic, and almost musique concrète opener "Please Remain Seated" to the geometric sleeve that credits DZ designer Peter Saville with Executive Art Design, English Electric carries on the pop-meets-avant-garde spirit of that fan favorite album. It gives up a love song like "Night Café" that's so glossed and polished that it could be used in a John Hughes film, and then it offers an edgy swerve like "Decimal," where answering machine messages, countdowns, and other disembodied voices provided some kind of silicon chorus that's equally majestic and precise. Propaganda singer Claudia Brücken contributes some seductive computer voice narration on the highlight "Kissing the Machine," which, being co-written and previously performed by Karl Bartos, brings to light the album's other obvious influence, Kraftwerk. Key cut "Metroland" is dangerously close to Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights," and with its booming drum beat and sampled choir, "Our System" sounds like Andy McCluskey crooning at the Electric Café, but what a croon it is. Here, his voice is comfortable for the most part, full-bodied the whole way through, and powerful when need be, while background tracks are constructed with care, combining angular and certain beats with melodies that are either majestic and big or pillowy clouds of future fluff. Put it all together and it is the kind of OMD longtime fans crave, and if it comes closest to pandering with "Helen of Troy" (their "Joan of Arc" revisited) the duo's performances are as inspired as they are familiar, and you can say the same for most of the songwriting. Still, OMD's Kraftwerk fixation at this late date is a retro-within-retro move that puzzles, so prepare to be jarred a bit before declaring this a welcome addition to the catalog. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | Virgin Records

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) were a clever, unique synth band from the 1980s and early '90s. They produced some of the catchiest and most melodic dance songs of that decade. However, they always had an experimental side to them (as evidenced on the Peel Sessions, 1979-1983) of which only true fans are aware. They used the B-sides of their singles to stretch their imagination and that of the listeners, and finally most of these non-album tracks have finally been collected on one CD. Many of these songs were never released outside of England and Europe, so North American fans can now delight in such brilliant songs as "Almost" (available here in a previously unissued version), "Annex," and their wonderful cover of Lou Reed's "Waiting for the Man" to name three. The CD is nicely packaged and well annotated. A lot of the music is instrumental and not what casual fans are used to hearing from OMD, but it is no less enjoyable than their biggest hits. Actually, this makes a necessary companion for their hits compilation, The OMD Singles (1998). A must for fans. This is yet another great compilation from OMD and Virgin in that it provides fans and collectors with important music in one collection. The only criticism is the editing of the brilliant "66 & Fading" from its original six minutes to just over two. © Aaron Badgley /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1984 | Virgin Catalogue

Smarting from Dazzle Ships' commercial failure, the band had a bit of a rethink when it came to their fifth album -- happily, the end result showed that the group was still firing on all fours. While very much a pop-oriented album and a clear retreat from the exploratory reaches of previous work, Junk Culture was no sacrifice of ideals in pursuit of cash. In comparison to the group's late-'80s work, when it seemed commercial success was all that mattered, Junk Culture exhibits all the best qualities of OMD at their most accessible -- instantly memorable melodies and McCluskey's distinct singing voice, clever but emotional lyrics, and fine playing all around. A string of winning singles didn't hurt, to be sure; indeed, opening number "Tesla Girls" is easily the group's high point when it comes to sheer sprightly pop, as perfect a tribute to obvious OMD inspirational source Sparks as any -- witty lines about science and romance wedded to a great melody (prefaced by a brilliant, hyperactive intro). "Locomotion" takes a slightly slower but equally entertaining turn, sneaking in a bit of steel drum to the appropriately chugging rhythm and letting the guest horn section take a prominent role, its sunny blasts offsetting the deceptively downcast lines McCluskey sings. Meanwhile, "Talking Loud and Clear" ends the record on a reflective note -- Cooper's intra-verse sax lines and mock harp snaking through the quiet groove of the song. As for the remainder of the album, if there are hints here and there of the less-successful late-'80s period, at other points the more adventurous side of the band steps up. The instrumental title track smoothly blends reggae rhythms with the haunting mock choirs familiar from earlier efforts, while the elegiac, Humphreys-sung "Never Turn Away" and McCluskey's "Hard Day" both make for lower-key highlights. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | Virgin Records

Universal is a rote collection of synth-pop and dance-pop from OMD, demonstrating only a fraction of the sophisticated craft that made its predecessor Liberator enjoyable, and none of the adventurous spirit of their '80s records. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo