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

features in: Album Chart of 1980Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

Just 8 months after their debut, the second OMD long-player arrived in October, 1980, with Malcolm Holmes (drums, percussion) joining Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass, keyboards, piano, electronic percussion) and Paul Humphreys (keyboards, piano, vocals, electronic percussion). The new boy makes his presence felt immediately on the album's sole single, “Enola Gay”, which opens up proceedings confrontationally, especially since Thatcher's ruling party had recently paved the way for US cruise missiles to be stationed on British soil. Enola Gay was the name of the American bomber which, just 35 years earlier, had dropped the world's first atomic bomb in a wartime scenario, killing 100,000 Japanese citizens in Hiroshima. “It's 8:15, that's the time that it's always been”. Ooft. Talk about a haunting melody - who could fail to be moved by that? Side one closes as hauntingly as it began, with “Statues”, where the spirit of the recently deceased Ian Curtis of Joy Division (with whom they were often billed in concerts) flickers.

Side two opens with “The Misunderstanding” which recalls “Electricity”, followed by a bizarre cover of an old American songbook number from the 40s, “The More I See You”, which, I suppose, evokes second world wartime. I guess it could have been worse - imagine they'd done Vera Lynn? They bounce back strongly though, beginning with “The Promise” a very fine pop number, very Human-League-like, which sees Paul Humphreys step up to the lead mic for the first time. This leads into the magnificent showstopper which closes the set, “Stanlow”, named after the oil refinery at Ellesmere Port on the Wirral where Andy's father worked. Taking field-recording inspiration from their Kraftwerk idols, Andy got himself out to the plant and recorded the mechanical actions of the diesel pumps, which serve as the basis for the song's rhythmic intro. As an extremely poetic YouTube commentator noted: “As a kid I could see the distant Stanlow oil refinery situated on broad flat banks of the River Mersey, from the top class of the school building. When my parents drove past it to go to nearby Chester, I would gaze out of the window at this huge installation of machinery with its complex network of pipes emanating steam at certain points. At night it was illuminated by a multitude of lights which could be seen miles away across the estuary and appeared to me as being some kind of futuristic space station when viewed against a golden sunset of an Autumnal sky.” Understandably, this nightime view of the refinery was a welcoming sight to the homeward-bound group after tours. If this isn't the most beautiful song about an oil refinery ever, then I’d very much like to know what is! “Organisation” gave OMD their first Top 10 album (#6), as well as housing their first Top 10 single “Enola Gay”. They were very much on the ascendancy.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:33] 9.7.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Enola Gay (Andy McCluskey) New Wave
A2 [04:15] 6.4.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - 2nd Thought (Andy McCluskey) New Wave
A3 [03:50] 5.2.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - VCL XI (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) Electronica
A4 [03:16] 6.4.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Motion And Heart (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) New Wave
A5 [04:30] 5.9.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Statues (Andy McCluskey) Electronica
B1 [04:55] 6.7.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - The Misunderstanding (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) Electronica
B2 [04:11] 4.6.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - The More I See You (Mack Gordon, Harry Warren) New Wave
B3 [04:51] 7.4.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Promise (Paul Humphreys ) Electronica
B4 [06:30] 8.8.png Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Stanlow (Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys) Electronica

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