Julia's Song (Limited Edition 10")- Released 18th April 2015

Track listing:

1. Julia's Song
2. 10 to 1

With only 1000 copies released, this special dub version of live-favourite 'Julia's Song' (so called because the lyrics were written by Julia Kneale (Andy McCluskey's ex-girlfriend) who, whilst performing with OMD parent-band the Id, wanted a song to sing herself that she had at least partly written) was highly sought after by die-hard OMD fans.

Featuring brass contributions from brothers Graham and Neil Weir (who had toured with OMD since 1985), the track also sounds a great deal more subtle than the earlier original; the added instruments allows the listener to focus more on the musicality of the track, as well as giving the song the reggae-influenced sound that the group further pursued on 1984's 'Junk Culture' (an album that also happened to be re-issued- with bonus tracks- in 2015).

To compliment this similarity, not only does 'Julia's Song' also features a similar design to that of the Junk Culture album, but it's B-side- '10 to 1', an intimate, yet almost-spiteful lover's confession- was also a track shelved from the 'Junk Culture' sessions.

Overall, 'Julia's Song' is an interesting re-working of a classic track- and also served to remind listeners that, even in 2015 (nearly forty years after the group released their first single), OMD's songs still had the power to enthral.

The Future Will Be Silent (EP) - Released 20th April 2013 (For Record Store Day)

Track Listing:

1. Please Remain Seated
2. Time Burns
3. Decimal
4. The Future Will Be Silent
5. Atomic Ranch

In addition to latest album 'English Electric', April 2013 saw the release of an exclusive OMD 10" E.P. picture disc to celebrate Record Store Day. As well as three other tracks from the album, the record also included exclusive track 'Time Burns'- a short but hypnotic wake-up call to the modern world that could have been plucked straight from 1983 LP 'Dazzle Ships'.

The title track, on the other hand, would sound as appropriate played at a nightclub as it would on someone's car stereo, and refers to the reduction of industrial 'waste noise' over time (a concept which Andy McCluskey summarised in an interview upon the record's release). '...As the world has modernised, the accidental audio by-products, waste products, of the things that have become concrete music are going to be less and less because the designers have designed out the waste, so that the machinery of the modern world has actually become more silent', he explained.

Complimenting the hypnotic appeal of the tracks are the eye-catching record sleeve and picture disc, designed by Tom Skipp (who also designed the artwork for the 'English Electric' album itself). Combining 'brutally simple, dynamic energy' (a quote from Peter Saville, OMD's original sleeve designer) with the luminous colours and geometry of the various shapes, the design perfectly compliments OMDs typical style of music.

If the group continue to release material in this vein- rich and satisfying, yet often robotic and mechanical- and of this standard, however, I am sure that this reviewer is not the only one hoping that the future will most definitely not be silent.

[N.B. Comments from Andy McCluskey and Peter Saville found on the 'OMD Messages' web page]

Electricity: OMD with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (DVD)

(Released 14th December 2009)
Running Order
(Disc 1):
Radio Prague
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)
All That Glitters
La Femme Accident
Talking Loud and Clear
Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme)
Walking On the Milky Way
The Native Daughters of the Golden West
Sailing On the Seven Seas
Enola Gay
The Romance of the Telescope

Running Order (Disc 2)
(The Energy Suite):
The Making Of the Energy Suite (Documentary)

You'd think that a band with a name like 'Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark' would automatically try to incorporate the various instruments of an orchestra into as much of their music as possible. As usual though, OMD defy expectations, as this isn't necessarily always the case; although the occasional song of theirs will have instruments like cellos ('La Femme Accident') or violins ('If You're Still In Love With Me') as the main focus of the music, they are primarily, of course, a synth band, and known primarily for their more choral-orientated sound.

This DVD of the group's concert with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, however, showcases not only their versatility as performers, but also the true beauty and musicianship behind some of their most well-known songs. The set itself mainly comprises of OMD's greatest hits, with classics like 'Enola Gay', 'Souvenir' and 'Joan of Arc' being given the orchestral treatment, much to delight of the audience present. It is, however, some of the lesser-known tracks that shine through the most. The subtlety of 'Talking Loud and Clear', for example, and even more so the majesty of 'The Native Daughters Of the Golden West' (an album track from 1985 LP 'Crush'), with its soaring verses perfectly complimenting the grandiose orchestration.
 Also, as if disc 1 wasn't enough, the added bonus with this DVD is the Andy McCluskey/artist Peter Saville/filmmaker Hambi Haralambous-devised 'The Energy Suite'- a visual/audio project depicting power stations in England and Wales through some unique uses of sight and sound. The display of film footage was also previously shown as an exhibition at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) in Liverpool, from December 2008 to February 2009. Overall, although it is the first disc that is probably the more entertaining for OMD fans, the additional features on the second disc also help to make this package something more than just a live concert DVD- proving that OMD, once again, are able to defy expectations. Furthermore, having initially heard about this performance but never listened to it, I was rather dubious- how could any other versions of the songs compare to the original recordings? In actual fact, however, I was pleasantly surprised- and think the majority of OMD fans will be as well.

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