Artist: Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark
Album: OMD: British Live Performance Series
Label: Rainman Records
Release Date: 08/26/2016
Just months removed from the release of their 1980 eponymous debut, electro-pop trailblazers Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark were already on to the next thing. An appearance on the TV showcase “Rockstage” at the Nottingham Theatre Royal in July of that year – the subject of this installment of the British Live Performance Series – preceded the October U.K. issuance of their sophomore effort Organisation, which yielded the timeless classic “Enola Gay.” In whirlwind fashion, OMD had not only positioned itself as an influential force in a burgeoning synth-driven new wave scene, but also as a potentially viable commercial entity.
The concise seven-song live set here showcases both the edgy experimentalism and nervy, off-kilter pop sensibilities of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, so evident in these versions of a dark, seductive “Messages” – the band’s then-current single – and “Bunker Soldiers,” with its heady, insistent grooves and shouted chorus. Pristine sonic clarity highlights the cold, statuesque pop artistry of the aforementioned “Enola Gay” and the tight, infectious bounce of OMD’s first-ever single “Electricity,” while the dry, alien soundscape and odd, dreamy saxophone of “Mystereality” assumes an even more peculiar personality… So does a delightfully skewed and arty “Motion and Heart,” its futuristic Vaudeville vibe a refreshingly fun distraction.
With author Michael Heatley’s rich, contextualized liner notes setting the scene, this package is nice little piece of OMD history. If only it wasn’t so short.
– Peter Lindblad