As OMD moved from 1980 into 1981, they found themselves synchronizing immaculately with the zeitgeist of the year which saw Post-Punk and the emergent New Pop aesthetic reaching for its acme in the public consciousness. 1981 was a watershed year for me as a listener of pop music. I can’t say when as many left-field, intensely creative productions managed to find such a wide audience as what happened [at least in the UK] that year. At the time, I was eagerly soaking up as much of it as I could from my home in Orlando, Florida; not the most progressive of locales. Needless to say, a huge proportion of my favorite albums of all time date from this calendar year. It was a year in which the sort of music that I care the most passionately about was at its commercial peak. And it was the year that OMD rode the gravy train to enormous fame and sales in many parts of the world.
OMD as a touring entity by the end of 1980 encompassed the core duo with drummer Malcolm Holmes. Dave [Dalek I Love You] Hughes was their second keyboardist that year but left, and he was replaced by Martin Cooper, who knew the band and had earlier played sax on “Mysterality.” By the time that the third album, “Architecture + Morality,” was released in November of 1981, Cooper was firmly ensconced as the fourth wheel on the OMD bus.
The album proper got its name in a roundabout way from their friend/designer Peter Saville, who had a long and storied history with the band. His girlfriend at the time was Martha Ladly. At the time she was one of Martha + The Muffins [by the next year she would join The Associates] and she was a graphic designer like Saville. She had been reading the David Watkin’s book “Morality + Architecture” and the thought occurred that it would make a great title for the OMD album currently in the oven. This would not be the last time that Ms. Ladly had something to offer OMD.
It was in September of ’81 that I had heard the pre-release single from this album. “Souvenir” had gotten airplay on WUSF-FM’s excellent Friday night New Wave programming. I could barely receive the signal in Orlando; 90 miles away from Tampa, Florida but I listened that year since it was filled with the kind of music that I really wanted to hear. One night that summer the 10″ extended version of “Souvenir” had been played as an import single. I had no idea that the single was released at the time so it came as a pleasant surprise, to put it mildly! The song did not sound remotely like any previous OMD track and now I knew that OMD were stirring. A new album would be forthcoming soon.
It was two months later when I got the news that Record Mart Warehouse [my favorite store at the time] had the new OMD album on import and I wasted no time in getting down there and buying a copy. 1981 was an interesting year for me. I was graduating high school, starting college, and my music listening was insanely active and the role payed my import vinyl in my life was exploding. I was honing in on import albums as being in my best interests and my attention to import singles was just around the corner. I bought the album and took it home; admiring the die-cut cream sleeve from Peter Saville Associates. The inner sleeve could show one of two photos in the front of sleeve window, but to me, the cover must always look as shown on he sleeve above. Inside was an insert for the OMD fan club in green ink on matching cream paper [see left]. It tantalized me with offers that were pretty much out of my reach with the impossibility of paying for anything in a foreign currency at that point in time. Life before PayPal was no walk in the park in this regard.
Next… We played the album