“Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - album review

TJR says

Coming off the back of a strong debut single (“Electricity”), a session for John Peel and a major tour support slot with Gary Numan, the stage was nicely set for their debut full-length in February, 1980. The core duo, inspired by Brian Eno, Neu! and Kraftwerk, were: Andy McCluskey (20, vocals, bass, keyboards, electronic drums) and Paul Humphreys (19, keyboards, vocals, percussion, electronic drums). Giving your stereo system a good workout from the off, “Bunker Soldiers” regimentally chants out a load of seemingly random letters on your right speaker whilst simultaneously doing likewise with chanted numbers on your left speaker. I'm led to believe that Bunker Soldiers can be unscrambled from the anagram and that this links to the numbers in a coded fashion, but fuck checking that for a fact. They got us sitting up straight and leaning in for a listen though, the crafty devils. Side one houses the aforementioned “Electricity”, two versions of which had been out as a single in '79. They went for a third-time-lucky single version (same as the album mix) in March '80 but, surprisingly, it still failed to chart. Great tune though.

Equally excellent is “The Messerschmitt Twins” which closes side one, a moody number inspired by the brand name of the German bombers. Such was their fascination with war imagery in the early days, Andy and Paul themselves were nicknamed “The Messerschmitt Twins!” Said McCluskey: “A lot of the war references are because I was interested in the lengths to which people would go in a situation beyond the norm and, of course, the machinery of warfare tied the whole thing together – hence, ‘Bunker Soldiers’, ‘Messerschmitt Twins’, and my continuing fascination with aeroplanes”. Two other singles were lifted from the album, both of which appear on side two. The melancholic and melodic “Messages” mourned for a love lost and gave them their pop breakthrough, ascending to #13 in the UK Top 40. This seemed to point to a new soulful direction for the duo. By contrast, the earlier single “Red Frame / White Light” is in the already old-fashioned Kraftwerk machine-man style. They do show a good sense of humour though - listen out for the simulated telephone ring; it was inspired by a telephone box used by the band outside The Railway Inn public house on the Wirral! An endearing debut.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jun-2007

A1 [02:53] 7.5.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Bunker Soldiers (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) Electronica
A2 [03:44] 6.2.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Almost (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) New Wave
A3 [02:45] 5.9.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Mystereality (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) New Wave
A4 [03:39] 8.8.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Electricity (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) New Wave
A5 [05:41] 8.7.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - The Messerschmitt Twins (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) New Wave
B1 [04:12] 6.7.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Messages (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) New Wave
B2 [04:41] 6.4.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Julia’s Song (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Julia Kneale) Pop
B3 [03:11] 6.2.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Red Frame / White Light (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) Electronica
B4 [02:58] 5.1.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Dancing (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) Electronica
B5 [03:47] 5.5.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Pretending To See The Future (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) New Wave




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