I never thought too much to Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, mainly because I found Andy McCluskey's voice and face so annoying. In 1983, however, I saw them perform on 'The Tube' to promote their new album 'Dazzle Ships' and was amazed at what they were doing, particularly with regard to their performance of 'ABC Auto Industry'.
Things to note about this seminal performance:
1. The band aren't playing anything, just messing about with flags, cranks and a plastic grabbing hand.
2. The audience wait patiently for some real music to kick in, then applaud at the designated moment although they feel a bit ripped off and ready for some Big Country.
3. Drummer Malcolm Holmes looks slightly ill at ease as, after having hand cranked his final message, he has to face the audience and just count 1-2-3 over and over again, rather like a timewarped Ted Rogers in reverse.
4. Nobody in OMD can spell 'Frankenstein'.
I went out and bought the LP the next day, complicated cut-out cover and all. The musique concrete half of it was fantastic, the other half standard OMD with all the usual Andy McCluskey related annoyances. It did, however, spark my imagination and I still contend that it is an important record, albeit highly flawed, in the way it combined elements of the avant garde, cutting edge technology and ultra poppy pop music, perhaps best illustrated by the Top 20 hit single from the record, 'Genetic Engineering'.
At the time, I remember OMD were known for their expensive, enigmatic, cerebral film like promos. 30 years on, they resemble low budget corporate videos directed by someone with a debilitating hangover.
Both clips, of course, are full of lots of retro-futuristic electronic music and computer equipment, most of which would have been landfill about three years later.