published: 12 /
Dave Goodwin reflects on Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's 1984 fifth album 'Junk Culture', which has just been reissued in a double CD expanded edition
There I was slowly settling into middle age and coming to terms with my nasal hair and wrinkling fingers and minding my own bleeding business! It is just over thirty years since ‘Junk Culture’ was released. Yep, you heard me. THIRTY YEARS ago I was bopping seriously to all things synth and the magical tones of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. And, to be honest, I have constantly gone back into my vinyl collection and picked out various OMD niceties ever since, mainly, as the good lady will tell you, on a Friday evening accompanied by a few cans of Holsten Pils and a boogie around the kitchen floor. Now that OMD have re-released this slab of Scouse pop brilliance I fear it is going to happen all over again. Damn you,OMD! My legs can't take anymore!
‘Junk Culture’, OMD’s fifth album, was released in 1984 and came off the back of ‘Dazzle Ships’ - a largely experimental album from the previous year that folk either liked or hated. Four singles were spawned from the album -‘Locomotion’, ‘Talking Loud and Clear’, ‘Never Turn Away’ and ‘Tesla Girls’, all of which charted in Britain’s Top 40. Largely due to the band's acquisition of the Fairlight CMI digital sampling/sequencing workstation, ‘Junk Culture’ was voted in several polls one of the best albums of 1984.
OMD consisted on this album of Paul Humphreys (vocals, Roland JP8, emulator, Korg Preset, acoustic piano, Fairlight CMI, celeste, Prophet 5), Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass guitar, guitar, Roland JP8, emulator, Fairlight CMI, Latin percussion), Martin Cooper (Prophet 5, emulator, tenor and soprano saxophones, Roland SH2, marimba) and Malcolm Holmes (acoustic and electronic drums, Latin percussion, drum computer programming). They were helped out with the addition of Gordon Troeller (piano on ‘Locomotion’, JP8 on ‘White Trash’), Maureen Humphreys (vocals on ‘Tesla Girls’) and Jan Faas, Jan Vennik and Bart van Lier (who provided the brass section on ‘Locomotion’ and ‘All Wrapped Up’). They employed the talents of Brian Tench who produced their 1981 third album ‘Architecture and Morality album, and also to try and add a new dimension they asked legendary David Bowie producer Tony Visconti for his assistance but he eventually had little input except for the brass arrangements.
If you are an OMD fan, thie new expanded version will be a must buy, not just for the fact that it has been digitalised but also because houses several surprises. The second CD has various remixes, as most of these reissued albums do, but it also has a string of previously little heard versions of original A and B sides.
The first CD and the original album has my favourite OMD track 'Love and Violence' but the inclusion of the B-sides makes this a compelling listen. You could only hear most of these tracks by getting the old vinyl out and spinning the singles over to play them, whereas now they are here on their CD in all their glory. There is a wonderful reworking of another of my favourites ‘Julia's Song’ from their 1980 debut album, and look out for the 'Highland Studios Demo’ of ‘Tesla Girls’ which transposes a whole new angle on to one of their biggest hits. ‘10 to 1’ and ‘All or Nothing’ are the previously unreleased tracks handpicked by the lads themselves from the OMD vaults, and you get an explanation why these particular songs have been included in an interview with Andy McCluskey which is also in this edition.
It all comes in a glossy four-sided foldout CD cover with Peter Saville's artwork from the original album. Inside that is a lush looking booklet full of photos of original single covers that came from the album and extensive notes on the making of ‘Junk Culture’ by Paul Browne along with all the lyrics to each song and credits too, and some original photography by Richard Haughton capturing the lads in all their 80’s glory.
If you bought the original album back in the day, this is a must because of all the unreleased material. If you didn’t buy the album back in the day this will be a must anyway, purely because it is a glimpse back into one of the most influential decades ever. That, and it is just a genius album. Absolutely Splendid!
1. 'Junk Culture' (Humphreys/McCluskey) – 4:06
2. 'Tesla Girls' (Humphreys/McCluskey) – 3:51
3. 'Locomotion' (Humphreys/McCluskey/Gordian Troeller) – 3:53
4. 'Apollo' (McCluskey) – 3:39
5. 'Never Turn Away' (Humphreys/McCluskey) – 3:57
6. 'Love and Violence' (Humphreys/McCluskey) – 4:40
7. 'Hard Day' (Humphreys/McCluskey) – 5:59
8. 'All Wrapped Up' (Humphreys/McCluskey) – 4:25
9. 'White Trash' (Humphreys/McCluskey/Cooper) – 4:35
10.'Talking Loud and Clear' (Humphreys/McCluskey/Cooper) – 4:20
1. 'Her Body in My Soul'
2. 'The Avenue'
3. 'Julia's Song' (re-recorded version)
4. 'Garden City'
5. 'Wrappup' (dub version of "All Wrapped Up")
6. 'Locomotion' (12" version)
7. 'Tesla Girls' (extended mix)
8. 'Talking Loud and Clear' (extended version)
9. 'Never Turn Away' (extended version)
10. '(The Angels Keep Turning) The Wheels of the Universe'
11. '10 to 1'
12. 'All or Nothing'
13. 'Heaven Is' (Highland Studios demo)
14. 'Tesla Girls' (Highland Studios demo)
15. 'White Trash' (Highland Studios demo)