Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark
About Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark
One of the earliest and most successful UK synth-pop acts, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have scored seven Top 10 singles in their home country. They’re best known in the US for their 1986 song “If You Leave”, recorded for the Pretty in Pink soundtrack.
• Formed as a duo in 1978 by school friends Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, OMD was the latest in a string of groups the two had played in around Merseyside, England. They released their first single, “Electricity”, in 1979.
• The band’s self-titled 1980 debut album went Top 30 in the UK and included contributions from keyboardist Martin Cooper and drummer Malcolm Holmes, both former bandmates from a previous group. They soon became full-time members of OMD.
• OMD’s second album, 1980’s Organisation, included the single “Enola Gay”, which reached No. 8 in the UK.
• The group’s third album, 1981’s Architecture & Morality, is considered a synth-pop landmark. The LP reached No. 3 in the UK and yielded three Top 5 singles: “Souvenir”, “Joan of Arc” and “Maid of Orleans (The Waltz of Joan of Arc)”.
• OMD continued to release albums at a steady clip, with LPs coming every year from 1983 to 1886 as the band’s sound moved closer to mainstream pop. Dazzle Ships, from 1983, was the most commercially successful, reaching No. 5 in the UK.
• In 1985, director John Hughes asked OMD to contribute a song to the soundtrack of his forthcoming movie Pretty in Pink. They wrote “If You Leave” in less than 24 hours and landed the biggest hit of their career when the song went Top 5 in the US, Canada and New Zealand.
• Humphreys left OMD in 1989, and Cooper and Holmes soon joined him in a new group, The Listening Pool. McCluskey carried on as OMD into the ’90s and ’00s with moderate success: the 1991 LP Sugar Tax reached No. 3 in the UK.
• When a German TV show wanted to book OMD in 2005, McCluskey and Humphreys found themselves reunited. Their renewed creative collaboration has led to concert tours and three new albums, 2010’s History of Modern, 2013’s English Electric and 2017’s The Punishment of Luxury, which reached No. 4 in the UK.