Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 72]

[continued from last post]

So after eight months and lots of travel interruptions, live concerts [including a fantastic OMD gig – my favorite ever, in April], and the occasional off-OMD post to break up the logjam, we stand atop the summit of Mount OMD and behold the vista before us! What, prithee, is the Rock G.P.A. that 22 albums [some OMD off-branded] and 39 years bring to us? In spite of four 4.0 ranked albums, the end result here was a solid B- average, at 2.8. Slightly better than Simple Minds had achieved on the previous Rock G.P.A®, which also lasted into over 70 posts. I promise that this won’t happen again, unless I tackle acts like Bowie, Roxy and Foxx. In all honesty, after his death, I spent three months on Bowie without even discussing his albums in detail at all!

It looks like a pretty typical graph for a band of OMD’s heritage who have been around for that long. Most of my favorite bands have a severe dip in quality in the middle of their careers followed by slow, steady progress, one handhold at a time, onward and upward. If they are lucky. Then there’s Duran Duran who just seem psychotic. Fortunately, OMD were smart when they reformed. They admit to having enough income [at least the main two writers] from their hits to not absolutely need to be recording albums and touring. They got back together at first for the novelty of it [German TV was putting them up first class to have them lipsync to a song or two] and then reminding themselves what it was like to be a band again. They wisely avoided most of the pitfalls that befell them the first time. Having a degree of financial independence instead of debt to Virgin Records, surely aided their decision not to let their career run riot over them as it did in the mid-80s, when they were lashed to the album/tour/album annual treadmill.

That forced activity sapped their youthful passions and interests in about 3-4 years, leaving them bereft of inspiration yet needing to produce product and grind it out like sausages. In the ten years that OMD have been reactivated, they have wisely released only three studio albums. They have also released four live albums; something they never troubled themselves with in their first or second phase. That’s about two more, really, than they should have supported, but at least three of them served to document special one off gigs and tours, so I understand the thinking. For two of them, I was certainly glad they made the effort.

Next: …Career Overview

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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12 Responses to Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 72]

  1. zoo says:

    Bravo, Monk! I didn’t comment on any of these (many, many) GPA posts, but I enjoyed reading them. You mentioned Bowie, Roxy, and Foxx. The former and latter would be monumental tasks, but I think Roxy would be a reasonable challenge. The only thing harder than Foxx would be Bill Nelson!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – Hah! I thought of Bill Nelson when I was hastily typing that sentence, but I have my limits. And I reached them in 1992! I have just ONE of his hundreds of albums released since then. So I can guarantee that no Nelsonic Rock G.P.A. could ever happen. Well, Roxy with Ferry is still a big’un – 28 albums, not counting compilations. I will roll some comps into a Rock G.P.A. but reserve the right to ignore them just the same.

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  2. Tim says:

    I would be totally down for a Roxy//Ferry twofer.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Give me a few years. Those first four albums are so significant that I would probably spend a full month just examining them. And of those four, the first two are of seismic significance! I still need to review the “Roxy Music” megabox. It’s definitely fabbo but I will have to do such a seminal album [only “The Velvet Underground With Nico” I would rank higher – sorry, Bowie] justice.

      Like

  3. Echorich says:

    That was just a fantastic travel up and down and up again through the career of such a significant band. The fact that ANY band can return to the studio on the ascent is remarkable. The fact that OMD did it is an affirmation to fans of 40 years.

    Like

  4. Jordan says:

    I greatly enjoyed reading the OMD GPA so many thanks, Monk. I certainly enjoyed OMD from 1980-1985. Saw them live 6-8 times during that period. After that, I lost interest and never came back. I did listen to the last 3 albums and even saw the POL tour. Left me cold. Except for Ghost Star. I think part of it is nostalgia and part of it was the use of soft synths. It all had a metallic edge which I could not get around.

    Next GPA.All the choices and so much effort. Surprise us!

    Like

  5. KeithC says:

    Fantastic read; looked forward to every post. Nice concise graphic overview as well (s/b based on your day job, eh?). Your ratings mirror my own save for Universal which I ranked much higher perhaps because Liberator was soo bad.

    As for Bill Nelson, I stopped collecting years ago as his stuff got harder and more expensive to find notwithstanding the fact that his recent stuff is download only. Great 80s stuff though.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      KeithC – When I first got “Universal,” I ranked it more highly, for the same reason. Also, if it was the last OMD album, at least Andy tried on it! The title track is still most impressive. So Nelson is finally downloads empowered? Thank goodness he’s no longer restrained by the limitations of physical CD pressings! That probably held him back for a good 30 years!

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      • KeithC says:

        Agreed; he’s been very prolific on Bandcamp in the last few years. Between him and Steve Kilbey, there is so much released on d/l that I very close to breaking my CD-only habits as I am missing so much stuff.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          KeithC – I still barely buy music on DL format. I’d better get over that otherwise I will never hear much going forward. Except that even DL’s days are numbered. We seem to be entering a hellish future of streaming and vinyl as the dominant formats!

          Like

  6. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk, figured this would be a good
    spot to mention the singles boxset coming out.
    ——————-
    Souvenir – The Singles 1979-2019” will be released on October 4th on 2CD and 3LP formats. It is a comprehensive collection of all 39 singles from Electricity to What Have We Done, plus a brand new 40th single, Don’t Go (released today on all digital stores).

    A limited edition 5CD+2DVD career spanning boxset will also be released. Discs 1 and 2 are the same as the 2CD format – the 40 singles in chronological order.

    Disc 3 is a collection of 22 unheard and unreleased tracks from the OMD archive, newly mixed by Paul Humphreys. Some of these are unfinished ideas, others are full unreleased songs.

    Disc 4 is a full live recording from the Mermaid Theatre in London, February 2011. The show was for BBC Radio 2 in support of the History of Modern album.

    Disc 5 is a newly discovered full live recording from the Hammersmith Odeon in May 1983 in support of the Dazzle Ships album.

    Disc 6 is a DVD featuring 23 OMD performances on the BBC spanning from The Old Grey Whistle Test in April 1980 to Later With Jools Holland in May 2013

    Disc 7 is a DVD featuring a live recording from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in December 1981 in support of the Architecture & Morality album. It also includes a live recording from Sheffield City Hall, June 1985 in support of the Crush album and the long-awaited DVD debut of Crush – The Movie.

    The boxset also contains a book and artwork prints. The book contains unseen photos, single sleeve artwork, an introduction by Paul Morley and sleeve notes to accompany the archive material by Andy McCluskey.

    The products are all available for pre-order now.
    Disc 1 – The Singles 1979 – 1987
    Electricity
    Red Frame/White Light
    Messages
    Enola Gay
    Souvenir
    Joan of Arc
    Maid of Orleans
    Genetic Engineering
    Telegraph
    Locomotion
    Talking Loud and Clear
    Tesla Girls
    Never Turn Away
    So in Love
    Secret
    La Femme Accident
    If You Leave
    (Forever) Live and Die
    We Love You
    Shame

    Disc 2 – The Singles 1988 – 2019

    Dreaming
    Sailing on the Seven Seas
    Pandora’s Box (It’s a Long, Long Way)
    Then You Turn Away
    Call My Name
    Stand Above Me
    Dream of Me
    Everyday
    Walking on the Milky Way
    Universal
    If You Want It
    Sister Marie Says
    History of Modern (part 1)
    Metroland
    Dresden
    Night Café
    Isotype
    The Punishment Of Luxury
    What Have We Done
    Don’t Go
    Disc 3 – Unreleased Archive Vol I.

    Brand New Science (06.1981)
    Dumbomb (01.1986)
    Violin Piece (09.1982)
    Untitled 2 (06.1981)
    Cut Me Down (03.1986)
    Radio Swiss International (09.1982)
    Untitled 3 (09.1982)
    Weekend (04.1985)
    Organ Ditty (05.1980)
    Unreleased Idea (06.1981)
    Cajun Moon (05.1986)
    Guitar Thrash (09.1982)
    SMPTE (12.1982)
    American Venus (04.1990)
    Liberator (02.1985)
    Ambient 1 (04.1980)
    Unused 1 (12.1980)
    Flamenco (04.1990)
    Andy’s Song (04.1985)
    Dynamo Children (01.1985)
    Flutey (03.1984)
    Nice Ending (06.1981)
    Disc 4 – Live at the Mermaid Theatre, London (03/02/2011)

    Messages
    Tesla Girls
    New Babies New Toys
    History of Modern (Part 1)
    (Forever) Live and Die
    Souvenir
    Joan of Arc
    Maid of Orleans
    New Holy Ground
    Green
    Walking on the Milky Way
    Sister Marie Says
    Locomotion
    Sailing on the Seven Seas
    Enola Gay
    Electricity
    Disc 5 – Live at the Hammersmith Odeon (10/05/1983)

    Dazzle Ships – Parts II,III & VII
    ABC Auto Industry
    Messages
    She’s Leaving
    Georgia
    Almost
    Julia’s Song
    Joan of Arc
    Maid of Orleans
    Statues
    The Romance of the Telescope
    Souvenir
    Telegraph
    Radio Waves
    Bunker Soldiers
    Enola Gay
    Silent Running
    Electricity
    Pretending to See the Future
    Stanlow
    DVD1 – BBC TV Performances

    Messages (The Old Grey Whistle Test 15/04/1980)
    Messages (Top Of The Pops 08/05/1980)
    Messages (Top Of The Pops 29/05/1980)
    Enola Gay (Top Of The Pops 09/10/1980)
    Souvenir (Top Of The Pops 03/09/1981)
    Joan of Arc (Top Of The Pops 29/10/1981)
    Maid Of Orleans (Top Of The Pops 14/01/1982)
    Genetic Engineering (Top Of The Pops 03/03/1983)
    Locomotion (Top Of The Pops 19/04/1984)
    Locomotion (Top Of The Pops 03/05/1984)
    Talking Loud and Clear (Top Of The Pops 05/07/1984)
    Tesla Girls (Top Of The Pops 13/09/1984)
    So in Love (Top Of The Pops 30/05/1985)
    La Femme Accident (The Old Grey Whistle Test 22/10/1985)
    (Forever) Live and Die (Top Of The Pops 18/09/1986)
    Dreaming (Wogan 27/06/1988)
    Sailing on the Seven Seas (Top Of The Pops 02/05/1991)
    Pandora’s Box (It’s a Long, Long Way) (Top Of The Pops 11/07/1991)
    Pandora’s Box (It’s a Long, Long Way) (Top Of The Pops 25/07/1991)
    Call My Name (Pebble Mill 11/12/1991)
    Stand Above Me (Top Of The Pops 13/05/1993)
    Walking on the Milky Way (Top Of The Pops 16/08/1996)
    Enola Gay (Later With Jools Holland 31/05/2013)
    DVD2 – Live at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (04/12/1981), Live at Sheffield City Hall (14/06/1985) and Crush – The Movie

    Live at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (04/12/1981)

    Almost
    Mystereality
    Joan Of Arc
    Motion and Heart
    Maid Of Orleans
    Statues
    Souvenir
    New Stone Age
    Enola Gay
    Bunker Soldiers
    Electricity
    She’s Leaving
    Julia’s Song
    Stanlow
    Live at Sheffield City Hall (14/06/1985)

    The Romance Of The Telescope (intro)
    Crush
    Messages
    Secret
    Tesla Girls
    White Trash
    Talking Loud and Clear
    Maid Of Orleans
    Telegraph
    Enola Gay
    Electricity
    The Romance Of The Telescope
    Crush – The Movie

    Bloc Bloc Bloc
    The Native Daughters Of The Golden West
    So In Love
    88 Seconds In Greensboro
    Hold You
    Women III
    Crush
    La Femme Accident
    Secret
    The Lights Are Going Out

    later
    -1

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