Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 67]

OMD – Architecture + Morality – Dazzle Ships | 2016 – 3.5

[continued from last post]

Disc two opened with the title track to “Architecture + Morality” but that sounded like a playback. The next song, “Sealand” was far from sounding like that with the two noticeable keyboard fluffs in the long, mournful intro. This was one of those “instant bootleg” albums where the performance was captured as is and issued immediately after the show. I really appreciate when bands I like leave in the mistakes in their performances [see: Billy Currie’s solo in the live “Astradyne” from this album], though in this case, the band had no chance of a ex-post-facto fixup. The notion of a bloodless, flawless performance isn’t what music is about, I think. Beyond the synth errors, the drums under the sticks of Stuart Kershaw, sound decidedly different from those of Malcolm Holmes. It seems like the difference to me from Mike Ogletree and Mel Gaynor on Simple Minds “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84].” Holmes had a lighter, jazzier touch where Kershaw sounded more forceful and loud.

I am still appreciating the revised arrangement of “New Stone Age.” When OMD regrouped in the last decade, it seemed that Paul Humphreys was driven to buy old synths so that he could exactly replicate the patches and voices he had used decades earlier in making the albums. Maybe some wish for that sort of rigidity, but I enjoy live music for its differences from the tried and true that I have listened to for 30+ years. I think that’s why I enjoy live recordings of my favorite bands so much. I thrive of the changes that happen live. When OMD have a sampled Korg micropreset issuing from their Roland Fantoms, I find that a bit lifeless. That they can change the arrangement, as they did here, does a long way towards giving me something back from the live arena.

The instant live album aspects also lent “Souvenir” a distinction as Paul Humphreys vocals weren’t getting a very prominent place in the mix. Since there are only two verses and no chorus, there’s not too much of him to miss! I did love the rototom solo from Kershaw on the middle eight, though. That to me was the crux of the song. The hook that can never let me go. I did find myself missing Malcolm’s drumming on the iconic “Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans].” Kershaw hit straight tattoos of drumstrikes that seemed to have very little air in between them as compared to the more daring percussion that Holmes offered on this song. Here, Kershaw, in spite of having a heavier sounding hand elsewhere, didn’t manage to convey the massive drum sound that was Holmes metier on this track in particular.

On the other hand, Kershaw stepped out from the drum kit to play lead guitar on “The Beginning + The End,” and his delicate  touch added considerably to the sweet, emotional impact of the song. After that closer, they played a couple of OMD classics in “Electricity,” and “Enola Gay.” The former was particularly robust and I was excited to hear Kershaw add an actual electronic drum fill [complete with white noise pad fillips] in the last instrumental “chorus” to give this stone cold classic a little new swing.

“We haven’t played anything from after 1983. How weird is that?” – Andy McCluskey

Then they ended the set with a still powerful “Enola Gay” before leaving the stage briefly before the encore; the rhythm box still chugging away for several minutes as the band said their piece before leaving the stage. Since this was an “instant bootleg” the entire set break with applause [about 80 seconds] was left intact. Then the band returned and informed the audience that the post-1983 embargo was about to end since they had spent the last five years writing new material before ripping into the modern classic “History Of Modern [part I].”

Then came the logical coda for the evening. “The Romance Of The Telescope” was the one song that was missing from the “Dazzle Ships” set on disc one, but the band placed it with the “Architecture + Morality” set instead since it was a B-side to that album. Here, Kershaw played with the verve that had been missing earlier as he attacked the tattoos of military drumming on this track that marked this song as a percussive relative to “Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans].”

As fine as the last OMD live album from just a year prior had been, this was the one to have if your were only having one. While having “Metroland” was a pleasure from the earlier album, getting all of “Dazzle Ships” has to be worth a lot as you hear songs like “Silent Running” and “International” that just don’t get the airing that perhaps they deserve. And since “Sailing On the Seven Seas” is missing form this set list, it stands as the purer OMD experience with all of the wheat and none of the chaff that could plague this band. With the absolutely live nature of this disc added to the plate, it comes out as the quintessential OMD live album in my view. Here we were served the absolute cream of OMD with none of the material that served to diminish their legacy. That the one new ringer here was more than adequate company for their first four albums of material that formed the bulk of these sets, was icing on the cake.

Some interesting statistics crop up in all four of OMD’s live albums, issued in just an eight year period. There are some songs that appeared on all four and a few that were only on one.

















  1. ABC Auto Industry 
  2. Almost 
  3. Architecture + Morality 
  4. The Beginning + The End 
  5. Bunker Soldiers 
  6. Dazzle Ships [parts II, III, VII] 
  7. Electricity 
  8. Enola Gay 
  9. [Forever] Live + Die 
  10. Georgia 
  11. Genetic Engineering 
  12. Green 
  13. History Of Modern [part I] 
  14. History Of Modern [Parts III, IV] 
  15. If You Leave 
  16. If You Want It 
  17. International 
  18. Joan Of Arc 
  19. Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans] 
  20. Julia’s Song 
  21. Locomotion 
  22. Messages 
  23. Metroland 
  24. New Babies, New Toys 
  25. New Holy Ground 
  26. 4-Neu 
  27. The New Stone Age 
  28. Of All the Things We’ve Made 
  29. Pandora’s Box 
  30. Radio Prague 
  31. Radio Waves 
  32. The Romance Of The Telescope 
  33. Sailing On The Seven Seas 
  34. Sealand 
  35. Silent Running 
  36. She’s Leaving 
  37. Sister Marie Says 
  38. Souvenir 
  39. Telegraph 
  40. Tesla Girls 
  41. This Is Helena 
  42. Time Zones 

Next: …The Final Phase Begins


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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3 Responses to Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 67]

  1. Echorich says:

    The deep dive on this live release was worth it if for nothing else, your fantastic graphic at the end! Dazzle Ships will always be my favorite OMD album. It was from the moment I first heard it and that was reinforced when everyone from critics, fans and the band themselves seemed to want to shun it. It is the kindling that has most informed their last two albums as well and THAT is just proof I picked right.


  2. Gavin says:

    Great post.
    To my shame and amazement I have never heard any of the live albums,not even the “Access All Areas” CD/DVD set which is pretty cheap to buy.
    I have seen the “new”/reformed OMD live twice over the years and enjoyed the shows,but although I have bought the last three albums,I have rarely played them and prefer to spin “Dazzle Ships” or “Navigation” if I’m in an OMD mood.
    For me,the only “recent” track of theirs which equals or exceeds the dizzy heights of their classic period is a b-side,”Kill Me”,which I find astonishing.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – You’ll notice that I did not include “Access All Areas.” I don’t even have a copy [though I should get one]. That’s a TV appearance from 1980 on DVD with a mono CD of the performance bundled with it. Barely legit, and it certainly stuck in McCluskey’s craw; though he could do naught about it. “Kill Me” is great but I am just crazy for “Lampe Licht!”


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