[continued from last post]
Commenter Jordan in the previous post made a supremely cogent comment about OMD’s creative conundrum by 1985:
“What was the missing link? It could not have been just trying to write bland music for the market. I think OMD ran out of ideas. It’s as simple as that.” – Jordan
In recent years Andy McCluskey has been very frank about the vicious treadmill of commerce keeping the band in a tight pattern of write/record/tour to the point where there was insufficient time for pausing and reflecting on exactly what you might want to write about. After five years they had worked through the themes that they had nursed growing up. Let’s not forget that it was writer’s block desperation for new material in the aftermath of the massive “Architecture + Morality” campaign that inadvertently led to the “Dazzle Ships” album that had increased the pressure the band was working under. That their audience shrank dramatically in its wake, coupled with the desire to “crack America” would be a double edged sword slicing away at the band.
The first signs of the pressures the band was under surfaced publicly as early as the 1985 UK Crush tour program. Andy McCluskey was very frank [as is his nature] about the difficulty that the wheel of commerce caused the group specifically in the writing part of the equation. Notice that he hoped that the touring itself would serve to spark the kindling of song ideas. But the opening up of the American market [to the extent that it did] served to cause its own issues, which further impacted the band’s writing.
Crush North American Tour Begins
OMD’s plan for their world tour in support of the “Crush” album was printed in the UK tour program, as seen above. Because of the ignition of “So In Love” on the US charts in the Summer of 1985, the band found themselves touring heavily in The States in July-August of that year, with a run of 22 dates opening up for The Power Station.
Maybe some of you remember The Power Station? The Duran Duran/Robert Palmer/Chic supergroup who netted exactly two hit singles in 1985? They got “Some Like It Hot” and a turgid cover of “Get It On [Bang A Gong]” into the US top ten probably on the value of John Taylor’s cheekbones and DD’s less discriminating fan following. Singer Robert Palmer bowed out of the tour, citing priority for his own album he was recording during that time. This left the band scrambling for a replacement since this tour was
cocaine to be inhaled money to be printed. They eventually settled for glam-come-lately singer Michael [“Silverhead”] DesBarres to sing for the tour. They were playing mostly medium to large arenas seating 2-20,000 screaming fans. They picked OMD for the July-August two month leg of it. OMD were also headlining some peripheral dates of their own, with venues at about a tenth of the capacity of those that The Power Station were pulling. Thanks to the magic power of The Taylors and two top ten singles. That must have hurt.
So when the second legs of their UK/European tour [during the all-important Christmas concert season] were supposed to have happened, OMD found themselves trucking all across America again, this time opening up for the Thompson Twins. The latter band were milking their 15 minutes in the commercial sun for all it was worth; which wasn’t much to me by then. I had been an early convert to The Thompson Twins with their “In The Name Of Love” album [a.k.a. “Set”] being a 1982 favorite but subsequently got off of their bus after the tepid MOR of “Into The Gap” showed me how it was going to be for them after the divisive MOR of “Hold Me Now” made them huge American stars. And this time the Thompson Twins were coming within striking distance of where I lived. No matter how lax the “Crush ” album had been, I could hardly believe that I might finally get the chance to see one of my favorite groups for the last five years. I had to make it happen.
Next: …Atlanta Bound