CD-3 Files: OMD – Locomotion

Virgin | UK | CD-3 | 1988 | CDT 12

OMD: Locomotion UK CD-3 [1988]

  1. Locomotion [12″ ext. ver.]
  2. Her Body In My Soul
  3. The Avenue

When I inaugurated this series on the winsome CD-3 format, I mentioned that I saw the format as one ripe for reissuing 12″ single back catalogue product, but really, only one label saw it the same way that I did. Virgin gave the format a gentle nudge out of the nest by pressing up selected units of their artists’s 12″ singles in the tiny configuration. I lapped up as many of these as filtered down to the tiny hamlet of Orlando, Florida in 1988 that were of interest to me. This one was most appreciated since OMD is a core collection band and this was the first appearance of any of these tracks on CD. It’s a straight run of the original Virgin 12″ VS 660-12 from 1984’s “Junk Culture” album.

When the single originally appeared, it was the first new OMD single following their left field “Dazzle Ships” album that saw them venturing out into willfully experimental territory to a degree only hinted at earlier. It also saw them losing 90% of the fan base of their experimental; just not as radically experimental “Architecture + Morality” album. Personally, I don’t see “Dazzle Ships” as being a leap off of a cliff as much as a logical progression. Instead, I maintain that it was the marketplace that shifted [radically] underneath the band as the 80s began in earnest [in 1983] and anything that wasn’t crass and banal became bad for business and rejected by the new avaricious elite. To salvage their career they made the deliberate decision to “get in line” with the new breed and hunker down and create pop music. This single was the first fruit of that endeavor.

“Locomotion” is a single that has  somewhat divisive reputation in the OMD fan community. I never had problems with it. At the time, the somewhat buttoned down conservatism of the “Junk Culture” album didn’t strike me as jarring since all of the OMD albums in sequence up to that point evidenced stylistic shifts. The songs on the 1984 album were all quite good to my ears. What was new was that they referenced emotional states instead of the usually obtuse and abstract lyrical themes they preferred in their early phase. These were songs about feelings, which was new territory for OMD. A song like “White Trash” would have been unthinkable in 1980 by the group, but that’s what made it so good. It evidenced change, and did so in an intriguing way.

The 12″ mix of locomotion was the typical extended remix as composed by the original producer of the day. The song was extended about 90 seconds from the 7″ mix using a little looping and dub technique. The song itself had a festive Caribbean feel with the synth steel drums and the addition of the mid-80s OMD horn section of the Weir Brothers. Everyone added sax and horns by ’83-’85; OMD were no exception. Personally, I liked the net result since it was yet more change. The song was perhaps the poppiest that OMD had sounded since the days of their hit “Enola Gay” in 1980. Not bad since they has spent ’81 and ’83 moving away from the mainstream [even as they collided with it].

But the B-sides on this gem were another thing entirely. “Her Body In My Soul” was herky-jerky track with an Emulator hook since the band were sampling heavily by this time. The programmed rhythms  gave the track a deliberate, robotic quality that was undercut by Andy McCluskey’s emotive vocals which were doubled in some cases at different octaves for a great effect. The overall sound when it hit the chorus would have placed it on “Junk Culture” with no problem, but the verse structure was perhaps too left field for the band’s comfort zone, so thus it was banished to B-side status.

“The Avenue” was, hands down, a stunning track. One of the band’s best B-sides, and they’ve got more than a few winners! The stately pace of the drumless track was abetted by the industrial samples which were distorted with reverb. These might have been leftover construction sounds from the title track to “Architecture + Morality” for all that I know. McCluskey’s mournful vocals were complemented by his wistful whistling solo at the coda over the rhythmic loop that serves as the cut’s timekeeping impetus, barring the appearance of any real drums or even programmed rhythms here. It conjured up a fantastic atmosphere, so it was no shock when in 2010 the band deliberately created a track that went for a similar feel, and succeeded admirably [“New Holy Ground”].

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to CD-3 Files: OMD – Locomotion

  1. Echorich says:

    I welcomed OMD’s pop sound initially. Locomotion is a fun song – something I handn’t considered from OMD up until that point. I agree the Bsides are pretty classic OMD. But Junk Culture did feel as if the band was given a template or an outline by the record company that they needed to follow. Things went all sideways to me once John Hughes and Stephen Hague got ahold of them.
    Oh and as for Dazzle Ships I LOVE THIS ALBUM! Can’t really explain why exactly or what it is, but some of it is certainly the individualism that it shows.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I still hold “Junk Culture” in high regard. On some days, it’s my favorite OMD album just for its novelty and variety. At the time it was a great OMD album that really expanded the group’s reach [while still eschewing the word “love”]. It’s only with hindsight that it can be seen as the line in the sand that it was. Still, it is three times the album “Crush” was and six times the album “Pacific Age” was!

      Like

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