Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark

Virgin Records, 1996


REVIEW BY: Alicia St. Rose


I heard that Andy McCluskey has finally called it quits with Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark. Apparently, this was recently. Heck, I thought that group had dissolved into the mist a decade ago. So imagine my surprise when an import copy of Universal landed in my hands. I went racing to my well paged through copy of the Rock Hound only to find this 1996 album conspicuously missing. After further online research I discovered that the record was never released in the U.S. For shame!my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

OMD fans and fans of joyously melodic music, listen up! This album is a gem!

Imbued with the warmth and emotion, it's a bit of a departure from earlier OMD works but definitely not in the wrong direction. Conspicuously downplayed is the synthesizer as the pivotal instrument. This album is bursting with fresh organic sounds: guitars, classical string arrangements and a gospel chorus, to name a few.

McCluskey, who alone carries the banner for the former two-man outfit, has aged and has wisely brought his music along in the process. These are songs of introspection and retrospection and vulnerability. But before McCluskey offers up his feelings, first, he goes out on a limb and suggest that there is no God. (I hope that demonstration of freedom of speech didn't thwart his chances for album release in the U.S.) Whether you agree with his opinion or not, it's a lush and powerful song.

The album is packed with beautiful melodies and arrangements. This includes gems like "Walking On The Milky Way" (with hints of Mott The Hoople), the melancholy "The Moon & Sun", the hypnotic "New Head" and the danceable "The Boy From The Chemist Is Here To See You". For those die hard fans of mid 80's OMD, "Too Late" is a gift for you.

And to add an enigmatic twist to the album opener, McCluskey delivers "The Gospel Of St. Jude", an utterly beautiful song. It's an acapella number with McCluskey singing solo to the backing of an early acapella gospel recording, "Early My God Without Delay" by the Richard Allen Singers. It's simply breathtaking.

It's a pity Universal didn't get released in the states and it didn't get the exposure it so rightly deserves. Hopefully, I've enticed you to seek it out. It will be worth the treasure hunt.

Rating: A-

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© 2001 Alicia St. Rose and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.