K-Chuck Radio: Let me see some OMD

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – better known as OMD – was the synth-rock band that was part of the “Royal Flush” of British synth-pop groups – you know, the collective that included Human League, New Order, Heaven 17 and Depeche Mode.

What I enjoyed about OMD was their early marriage of surreal lyrics and percussive beats, with songs about historic figures mixed with swirling sonics.  I mean, what other band could start a career by having a worldwide hit based on the 1945 B-29 that dropped an atomic bomb on Japan?

One of my early favorite OMD tracks was this song, “Souvenir,” which exists in an extended 10-inch dance version… well, dancing in 6/8 time, for sure…

This 1981 track, “Joan of Arc,” took forever to start up… twenty seconds of ethereal intro, then the lyrics and dance beat… and two minutes later, it’s fading away.

But the cool thing is that OMD went back to the Joan of Arc motif for another hit, “Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans).”

Of course, if you want to write  song called “Tesla Girls,” you have to wonder if they’re talking about teenage club  girls, or Nikola Tesla groupies… but the dance beat sorta surpasses all that.

OMD finally received some American airplay with a change of record labels (from Epic/Virgin to A&M) and this track, “Locomotion,” was their first effort under the new partnership.  No, it is not a cover of the old Little Eva / Grand Funk track.

But let’s face it.  This may be the only Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark track you can recall.  Which is fine.  I remember it being played TO DEATH on Top 40 radio.  And all I could think was, “Damn, they finally broke through to America.”

“Dreaming” was their follow-up track to “If You Leave,” and it also pounded the Top 40 as well.  Great song.  And it didn’t need to have a movie tie-in to be successful.

“Forever Live and Die” was another major hit for OMD, and it continued their formula for percussive beats and ethereal lyrics.  And it had a helluva hooky chorus to it.

At this point, OMD’s songs were now about the mysteries of relationships, which would explain this hit “So In Love” rising so high on the pop charts.

OMD’s last charted hit, “Dream Of Me / Love’s Theme,” skillfully crafted their lyrics and musical style onto the old Love Unlimited Orchestra #1 melody.  Awesome stuff.

By all means, enjoy this blast from the past, a collection of the greatest hits of OMD – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.  Of course, I could have musically time-traveled back to the 1970’s and played some other OMD – but that would have been the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and I’d rather save them for another K-Chuck Radio blogcast.