Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Debut
Release date: 22 February 1980
Catalogue No: DID 2
“THE FUTURE IS HERE!”
This was the proud (and often, common) proclamation in the British music press back in 1980 when they review albums with a synth/electronic background.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) came from a place with a name weirder and funnier than their group’s name. You try and google Wirral, near Liverpool, and you’d find a suburb of some kind. Its places like these that all great music sprang from…
Meanwhile, back in my hometown of Temerloh in the middle of Pahang state, I was listening to an OMD song called ‘Enola Gay’. In 1980, my younger brother brought back from Singapore a cassette tape recorded from a radio program hosted by deejay Chris Ho (later, he would be also known as X-Ho).
On the tape was British electronic groups that I would later learn would sort of form the great British Synth Movement. There was Ultravox!, The Human League, Tubeway Army (with Gary Numan) and bands from Liverpool and Manchester that were absolutely pulsating with energy.
The catalyst for this movement came much earlier with Kraftwerk’s much heralded releases from the 70s (Autobahn, The Man-Machine). It seems that young, impressionable people from Sheffield to London have been thinking and tinkering with electronic thoughts too.
Joy Division from Manchester would become New Order in 1980 while Human League would score a global hit in 1981 with ‘Don’t You Want Me’. There would be a slew of new acts like Howard Jones, Eurythmics, Visage and Depeche Mode who would make up the second British invasion of the American market.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Organisation
Release date: 24 October 1980
Catalogue No: DID 6
As for OMD, I listened to their first singles, ‘Messages’ and ‘Electricity’, and got extremely excited with this new sound made entirely from keyboards, industrial machines and computers that go beep-beep-boop! And incredibly, the songs were danceable!
Fast forward to 1981 and the Where Else Discotheque in Hotel Malaya was also pulsating with danceable electronic music. On any given Saturday afternoon (tea dance, no alcohol), masses of young men and women, with trendy outfits tailored by Aglat One in Sungai Wang, would congregate there to dance to Designer Music, Funkytown, Pop Musik, Rock Lobster etc etc.
OMD made many more excellent albums and managed to capture parts of the US market, thanks to the song ‘If You Leave’ being included on the soundtrack of the teenage film Pretty In Pink. They broke up, regrouped and went on a world tour. Recently they released an all-new album called The Punishment of Luxury. You should check out their other albums, notably Architecture & Morality (1981) and Junk Culture (1984).
Recently, I was confronted by my 10-year old son after he checked out my playlist.
“Dad! Why do you have a gay song called Enola Gay?”