From humble beginnings in a telephone box near Liverpool, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, or OMD, quickly rose to become one of the most important acts in the world of electronic pop music. A brief period of intense creativity followed, culminating with the Kraftwerk-inspired Dazzle Ships (1983), followed by an extended downtime.
Most of their eponymous debut album (1980), then Enola Gay, the enormous hit single, the 1991 comeback Sailing on the Seven Seas, and actually not a huge amount else (but that shouldn’t diminish the importance of those key moments!)
Where to start
Start with their 2008 compilation Messages – Greatest Hits, which contains most of the songs you’ll remember from your childhood. It misses their newer material, but has pretty much everything you could ever want from the early years.
What to buy
Start with their exceptional debut Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark to hear how it all began, and then try their most consistent album Architecture and Morality (1981). Next, roll forward to 1996’s regularly overlooked Universal, after which you should be ready to make up your own mind.
Don’t bother with
Anything released between 1984 and 1989, as beginners won’t find much worth listening to there. The comeback albums History of Modern (2010) and English Electric (2013) are variable, and should probably be saved until you’ve heard everything else.
In an era of largely awful albums, So in Love from Crush (1985) is great, as is the 1991 b-side Sugar Tax, which confusingly doesn’t appear on the album of the same name. From the newer releases, The Future, The Past, and Forever After from History of Modern is probably the best.
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – History of Modern (October 2012)
- Preview – OMD for English Electric (April 2013)
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Liberator (June 2013)
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Talking Loud and Clear (October 2013)