Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 43]

The cover is the most interesting thing here

[continued from this post]

In 1998, after OMD [mk II] had crashed and burned and concurrent with McCluskey’s ventures into manufactured music; Virgin records still required more blood. Another greatest hits album was quickly mooted. Andy McCluskey liked the idea of including an album of remixes with it to add interest. The resulting “The OMD Singles” does not reside in my Record Cell as I found it an inferior re-make of the 1988 “Best Of OMD” album, which at least had some rare versions on its behalf. Ten years later and the track listing was almost the same basic run of singles through 1988, minus a few highlights, plus one single from each of the three Andy/OMD albums made this a very missable proposition.

Fortunately, the remix album fell through, because judging on the mind-shredding horror of the EP of remixes that crept out of the studio. These were late 90s remixes… with all of the gravity that implies. I did not buy the EP at the time of release. A few years later and when I was cleaning up loose OMD ends [CD singles with live tracks]  for a planned BSOG, I figured I might as well hear these things. Sigh. It’s the curator in me that sometimes makes me sometimes do ill-conceived things.

There were three tracks: “Enola Gay [OMD vs Sash!],” “Souvenir [Moby remix],” and “Electricity [The Micronauts remix].” The first was a raved up version of “Enola Gay.” Missable. The second was Moby’s blanded down version of an absolute OMD classic to its detriment. Moby has never heard an incredible rhythm track that he wouldn’t prefer to replace with the week old dead fish he calls a rhythm track! <spits on ground in disgust> On the positive side, Paul’s singing was vastly improved here, since it was basically Moby’s weak cover of “Souvenir” with new vocals by Paul. Points [a few] for Paul’s singing.

Then there was “Electricity [The Micronauts remix].” Words cannot convey the blunt-axe-in-face effect of this so-called remix of their debut single. The dope must have been copiously flowing in the Micronauts’ studio that week, because the resulting mix bears virtually no relation, not only to the song was all know and love, but to the very concept of music itself! Hearing it can quickly make me feel ill. It is a sonic attack on any living creature. Kate Bush to the white courtesy phone, because here’s your “Experiment 4!” They might have sampled a Selmer Pianotron note in the song but they filled the pot with arrhythmic sonic vomit and left it outside to fester for a few weeks before pressing its corrosive waveforms into wax and unleashing it on the waiting world.

Thank goodness I bought the promo CD of this, so I got the four minute edit of this atrocity.  Not so luckily, because of the collector’s sickness within me, I also bought the UK promo 2×12″ of this life-threatening release. There was an Apollo 440 mix of “Apollo XI” as well which appeared nowhere else. I also had the extended version of “Enola Gay [OMD vs Sash! remix],” three further, different [inferior] Moby remixes of “Souvenir,” and the blunt-axe-in-face horror of the 8:44 version of The Micronauts remix, which can probably be said to violate The Geneva Convention if used on the battlefield.

When I heard these in the year 2000, they made being an OMD fan feel like some kind of punishment.

By 1999, Claudia Brücken and Paul Humphreys were a team

Fortunately, there was something more hopeful on the horizon. I somehow caught wind of the notion that Paul Humphreys was touring America that summer along with… Claudia Brücken?! People from my favorite bands playing OMD and Propaganda tunes on a US tour? How did this happen? Ironically, it was US promoters hot to make a dollar who contacted Andy McCluskey and asked him to tour America and play OMD songs for paying customers. Presumably, they felt that this would be a thing. McCluskey declined [he had his hands full with Atomic Kitten by then] but he told the promoters that they might ask Paul instead. Paul was initially resistant to the notion, but came to see it as maybe something he should try.

He had been re-introduced to Claudia Brücken in the mid 90s when a label that wanted to sign Claudia suggested Humphreys as a co-writer. Presumably, they were a couple from at least somewhere by the late 90s, though I was not aware of this for many years. Humphreys thought that alone, he would be able to perform some, but not all of OMD’s catalog for this proposed tour. If he could bring Claudia along for some of her songs, it would make for a good package. I know I would have gone! As it was, of course the tour came nowhere within earshot of Central Florida. I told a friend in Chicago about it as they were coming there, but I’m not sure if he went. I had to admit that two people from two of my favorite bands collaborating together in any aspect was intriguing to me. I wondered what the fruits of their musical efforts might sound like but I had several long years to wait for that, which we’ll discuss in due time. In the interim, Virgin was demanding more blood, but this time the path taken could not have been better.

Next: …Saved by The Archives

About postpunkmonk

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28 Responses to Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 43]

  1. Tim says:

    You’ve given them an awful lot of goodwill and money over the course of literally decades basically because the first two albums are really good.
    My suggestion for your OMD BSOG is to act like the only things that happened by them are albums one and two and ignore the rest.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I’m a little ambivalent on the first one, actually. It was the “Organisation” material that really grabbed me. Then albums three and four really went places. And I certainly loved album five as well.

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      • Tim says:

        I’m glad that my comment appears to be taken in the spirit it was meant, I know it could come across as harsh/trollish/choose one’s negative adjective. What I was driving at more was the collector’s bug that probably infiltrates the heart and wallet of everyone who regularly leaves comments here, at what point do you say, ‘’that was once a core band but no more money from me?”

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – I’ve got it bad. But it does happen. “Brilliant,” by Ultravox did the trick. ABC’s foray into house music is something I pretend didn’t happen, but I rejoined the saga with “Skyscraping.” I sold off H17’s “Pleasure One.” I should cut loose a LOT of Simple Minds releases. I did not buy most of that in realtime. I waited years on the horrid albums and avoided the singles for years.

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  2. Echorich says:

    Until the final three albums of OMD Mk1, the “band” deserved the benefit of listening. But as fans, we also deserved the ability to offer our criticism of their work. For me, OMD is not OMD without both Andy and Paul as a basic unit. This is regardless of what the writing and music credit of songs says, it’s about the two guys who created the band and were it’s driving force. Throughout their career, whenever they have let others infiltrate their writing, their music, the songs have suffered.
    But I will admit, after Universal, I figured it was all over, but for the record company compilation moves – moves which came hard and strong.

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  3. Andy B says:

    Hi Monk. This is my first post on here, although I’ve been visiting for some years. I’m based in Liverpool, UK and known as Your Shadow on the Metamatic forum. Love the site.

    I was surprised at the time of this compilation and EP to see Paul Humphreys back on board the HMS OMD, even if it seemed short term. As well as recording new vocals for the EP version of Souvenir he was also involved in promotion. He and Andy appeared on daytime tv here in the UK at the time performing, if my memory serves me, the remix of Enola Gay and being interviewed together.

    I never thought I would see the day. It’s been great to see them reforming in more recent times and releasing some excellent music. I will look forward to your take on this period.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – Welcome to the comments! Ah, so you bring the all important UK perspective to the case. I would not have known about the degree of promotion involved in such detail. I’m sure seeing them together was somewhat bittersweet, considering they had been ten years apart prior with another eight or so before they properly reformed the band.

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  4. Richard Anvil says:

    I so totally agree about the goddamnawful remixes, in particular the Electricity remix, if you could possibly call it a remix. Around this time so called remixes meant completely ignoring the original music, making something yourself and maybe, if you’re lucky which usually you weren’t, adding some (eg one constantly repeated line) or very rarely all the original vocals (which usually had a different tempo to the music forced underneath, so they didn’t fit together). Midge Ure said it brilliantly at a gig I went to when he said it was like giving someone your dog to take for a walk and when they bring it back it’s turned into a frog.

    As for the Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken live show I was very lucky to see it. I actually went to see the Human Leagues Dare tour and they hadn’t shared who the support band was. So I was stood waiting for some local hippie with an acoustic guitar (usual support fare back then) when suddenly who should come on stage but Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken. As both an OMD and Propaganda fan I was absolutely blown away. They were obviously very nervous and kept apologising between songs at the start but the sound was so amazing that they soon realised they had the whole audience in the palm of their hands and were visibly taken aback by the huge round of applause and ended up doing an unrehearsed encore of a repeat performance of Messages. It was just Paul on keyboards and computer/drum machine and Claudia on mic. After OMD mk II and The Listening Pool fayness it was fantastic to hear not only the early OMD but also Propaganda songs on a pulsing, throbbing, synthesiser again, something I never dreamed would ever happen. The first track was Messages which if Paul had just done an instrumental version would have been awesome but with Claudia on vocals was a thing of absolute beauty. The other tracks I remember them doing were all Paul’s OMD vocal hit singles (Souvenir, Secret, Forever Live and Die), the afore mentioned Messages and the soon to be released OneTwo single Sister, then there was Dual, Dr Mabuse and P Machinery from Propaganda, Absolutely Immune (duetted) and I can’t Escape From You from Act and Kiss Like Ether from Claudia’s solo album plus Cloud 9, Home and Kein Anschluss from the not yet released OneTwo album. After that The Human League was an anticlimax.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Richard Anvil – Wow! So you got to see this tour in the UK! It seemed at the time that this was only a US thing due to the US promoters driving that bus, but I seem to recall the Human League opening act set for, I guess, t would have been the “Secrets” tour? 14 songs including “Kein Anschluß??!!” You were a very lucky chap indeed! What I wouldn’t give to one day hear Ms. Brücken sing but it hardly seems likely. Yeah, the Human League afterward might have seen me pulling a Thompson Twins move and leaving the venue, so sated that the headliner, whom I ostensibly liked, would have simply evaporated. Thanks for sharing this up close and personal perspective. I know that the interminable wait for the actual OneTwo album seemed to take forever… but we’ll get to that in due time.

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      • Richard Anvil says:

        Even though the OneTwo album wasn’t released until I think a year later I remembered an awesome track which Claudia sang in German, obviously Kein Anschlub, one that was introduced as written by Martin Gore for the unfinished Propaganda album, obviously Cloud 9, while some of the lines from Home just stuck in my mind so I recognised it straight away when I heard the album. I could easily have just gone home happy after that but as I’d bought the ticket to see the Human League so I hung around.

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  5. Gavin says:

    Some of your classic quips in this post made me laugh out loud,so thank you for that-it’s been a very stressful day so I was glad to log on and read this.I hope poor Moby never reads it,though of course you are absolutely spot on as always.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – If Moby reads it he needs to toughen up. It’s only one person’s opinion! Moby – not the worst remixer [that honor goes to Micronauts!] … but FAR from the finest!

      Like

  6. Andy B says:

    Indeed Monk, it was somewhat bittersweet seeing them together again after so long, promoting such a poor version of a classic OMD track. It makes you wonder though what sort of material they would have produced in the 90’s if they had stayed together. It mightn’t have been much better than what we got. We’ll never know.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – Many of my favorite acts should have sat out ’85-’95 like John Foxx did. He was showing his genius even when he released nothing. As for OMD, I;m glad they tabled it for a long while. It probably helped a lot when they started it back up.

      Like

  7. Fred says:

    Saw Humphreys and Brucken as well live on the Dare 35 Human League tour and i remember them also playing a Associates song. While Googling for the title (poor memory,sorry) i came across this:

    Oh, and a review (in Dutch) that menions them covering The Associates ” Club Country”! Must’ve been the one i heard that night….

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Fred – Ah yes, that was from the superb Brücken-Poppy cover album “Another Language.” But you say Brücken-Humphreys also performed “Club Country?!” Why, momma, why… have we not heard this over the years? It’s more than a personal tragedy that Brücken and Humphreys split up abruptly in 2013, it was a musical loss for all of us. But with the reformed OMD hogging Paul’s bandwidth, that second OneTwo album was probably relegated to the back burner for longer than Ms. B preferred. I suspect that those songs will work their way out. Maybe some already have. I still need her last album.

      Like

      • Richard Anvil says:

        What Fred mentioned below about an Associates cover has jogged my memory. Yes, they did also perform Club Country as a tribute to Billy Mackenzie. I hadn’t really thought about how many songs they did but, yes it would have been 15, but it shot by so quickly it only felt like it was half an hour but must have been well over an hour.
        Unfortunately I think that a second OneTwo album is very unlikely and I don’t think was ever started. The breakdown of Claudia and Paul’s relationship put paid to that.

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  8. SimonH says:

    Some great turns of phrase in this piece…!
    Am looking forward to seeing (the named by legal necessity) xPropaganda in a few weeks’ time, have daydreamed that Derek Forbes will be on board but suspect I’m being over optimistic there.

    Like

    • Richard Anvil says:

      Thanks for the heads up. This totally went under my radar. Just looked it up and they are also performing as d:ual (ex Propaganda) in Belgium in August. I think it’s unlikely Derek Forbes will be in the line up (same goes for Brian McGee). Most people seem to write off Propaganda mark II and the album 1234 but I love it, mainly because of Derek Forbes amazing bass lines, and as percussion and bass were the driving forces of the original Propaganda sound I think that’s a bit short sighted. I’ve just checked on their Facebook site and Claudia and Suzanna are performing with Steve Lipson. But we digress from OMD.

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      • SimonH says:

        Didn’t really give 1234 a chance, must try it again!

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Simon H – I have given it way too many chances over the years. Maybe a 12″ single worthy of the name but the rest? Sub-Ho-Jo chaff of a low order! The producer’s girlfriend was completely inappropriate as a singer for a band named “Propaganda.”

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  9. Andy B says:

    Monk, talking of John Foxx during the period 85-95, have you heard the tracks he recorded as the dance project Nation 12?

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    • Richard Anvil says:

      I had his first single as Nation 12, ‘Remember’ on a Rhythm King compilation for years and didn’t realise it was John Foxx until the album tapes were finally released as Electrofear in 2005.

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      • Richard Anvil says:

        Should have mentioned he gave his demo of Remember to Tim Simenon (Bomb The Bass) who added his own touches to it and got it released by Rhythm King in 1988.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – I have both 12″ singles and the full CD. I remember reading about “Remember” but I never saw a copy for sale in my city at the time. It seemed incredibly scarce. When “Electrofear” was released, by that time there was a DJ oriented shop in Orlando, “The Drop Shop,” that I imagined would be the sort of place that would carry it. I went there and I was right. Picked it up for a pricey $9.75; almost four dollars more than I had ever paid for a new import 12″ ever. I had pretty much stopped buying new 12″ singles by ’87. I have to say that this was the one John Foxx release that I did not enjoy.

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  10. Andy B says:

    I have to say that I was a massive John Foxx fan during the 80’s. After In Mysterious Ways he dropped off the radar for me until Shifting City and Cathedral Oceans were released in ’97. I was shocked that I had somehow missed the two Nation 12 singles. I have the album too. It’s full of interesting ideas but somehow feels half finished in places. Anyway, enough of John Foxx on an OMD post.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – My big problem with Foxx’s “retirement” was that it was coincidental with my period of highest earnings/lowest expenses. In other words, I could have afforded to pop over to the UK for a tour by Foxx precisely during the period he was inactive. I got married, bought a home, and he re-emerged the next year. Sigh.

      Did you ever hear Anne Clark’s “Pressure Points” album that Foxx co-wrote/produced in 1985? Pretty good stuff and a bonus in the same year as “In Mysterious Ways;” a divisive Foxx album to some [but not me].

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