Thursday, September 10, 2009

12 Inches of Love: OMD Edition

In my world, circa 1984 and 1985, I thought Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were one of the biggest bands on the planet. In some parts of the world, that was almost true. Here in America, however, OMD did not make an appearance on Billboard's Top 40 until the end of '85... at least five years into their discography. In fact, OMD had only four Top 40 hits, and I contend at least two of them were well after the band had peaked. Certainly, earlier songs like "Locomotion" and "Tesla Girls" deserved to be hits before, say, "Dreaming". Let's take a listen to OMD's four American hits and judge accordingly: "So in Love", taken from the 1985 album "Crush", illustrated OMD's move from new wave to beautiful synth pop (that began on the 1984 album 'Junk Culture') was permanent. The single peaked at No. 26 and spent seven weeks in the Top 40. "So in Love" was not my favorite single from the album -- I liked "Secret" better -- but the airplay was well deserved. OMD - So in Love (Special American Dance Remix) (mp3) "If You Leave" was recorded for the John Hughes film 'Pretty in Pink'. Duh. The song was used in a scene that has always made me squirm. Andrew McCarthy's proclamation of love is one of the most forced and uncomfortable lines in film, but I digress. What I like most about "So in Love" hitting the charts six months earlier than this smash hit was that the hits that followed "If You Leave" always felt like songs that "made it" on the coattails of this one. It was as if OMD finally made the club, and now they could rest on their laurels. Having said that, the extended mix of "If You Leave" is one of my favorite 12-inch singles of all time. It's simple and not full of gimmicks that can weigh down a remix. The song hit the Top 40 on April 5, 1986, and stayed there for 13 weeks. It peaked at No. 4. OMD - If You Leave (Extended Version) (mp3) OMD didn't waste any time following up their biggest hit. 'The Pacific Age' was released later in 1986 and spawned one Top 40 hit. "(Forever) Live and Die" was pure pop in an adult alternative sort of way. Like on 'Crush', it was not my favorite single from the album. That goes to "We Love You". I rarely pull this one out, but I did like it back in the day. The song broke into the Top 40 on Nov. 1, 1986, stayed for seven weeks and peaked at a respectable No. 19. OMD - (Forever) Live and Die (Extended Mix) (mp3) OMD's last moments on the Billboard singles chart came in 1988 when it released a new song on its "Best Of" record. I hate when a band releases a new song on a compilation, but that is an argument for another time. Let me just say that as far as best of records go, this one actually was one of the best. The new song, "Dreaming", never did much for me, and I'm not even that big of a fan of the 12-inch single. I'm a completist, however. So, here it is. OMD carried on throughout the rest of the '80s and even into the '90s, but it was with revolving personnel and a different sound. I had long given up on them by then. OMD - Dreaming (Club Mix) (mp3)

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