Peel Sessions – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, 14 April 1980

Just six months after their first session, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark returned to the John Peel show for another session, this time with another selection of songs from their debut eponymous album, released a couple of months before the session was recorded, plus a couple of hints of the second album, which wasn’t due to arrive for a while yet.

It opens with Pretending to See the Future, the closing track on their first album, and having done most of the best songs on the previous session they were mainly left with second rate ones this time. So, while this is pretty good, it’s far from amazing.

Having said that, Enola Gay must have come as a bit of a surprise given that it wouldn’t be released for another six months or so. There was even a release of Messages in between, so some listeners must have wondered where on earth this fantastic song was hiding. It is good though – much more raw sounding than the final release, with a live bass line and many fewer synth parts, but you definitely get more than just a vague idea of how good this will sound when it’s finished.

Having got that out of the way, OMD present us with one of the ropiest tracks on the first album, the distinctly questionable Dancing, presented here with some extra avant garde warblings. There’s always an experimental side to the Peel Sessions, and I suspect that’s what they’re trying to explore here. But it still isn’t really any good.

Finally for this session, we get Motion and Heart, another unreleased track, which would later appear on the second album Organisation, and was considered as that album’s second single (before they decided not to bother at all). Here, it sounds raw and a bit empty, but you definitely get the idea that there’s a good song there. But unlike Enola Gay, you probably wouldn’t fight your way into the record shop to find out what you had heard and why on earth it wasn’t available yet.

We previously covered the first session, and we’ll cover the remaining two sessions in future articles. You can read more about OMD‘s relationship with John Peel‘s radio show here. This session is available on the CD Peel Sessions 1979-83, available here.

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