“Crush The Movie”: Liverpool, England synth-poppers Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark

By on November 27, 2018

In 1992, during Night Flight’s syndication era, we went back to the vaults for another look at two video profiles about two popular synth-pop bands from the ’80s, the Thompson Twins and Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark, the latter of which features excerpts from the promotional preview of their “making of” video documentary, Crush The Movie, complete with interviews with band members and supplemented by several more of OMD’s earlier videos.

Watch the video profiles now on Night Flight Plus.

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Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark — if you don’t mind, we’re going to just go ahead and use their abbreviated “OMD” name from this point onward — were a pioneering synth-pop group from Liverpool, England, formed forty years ago, in 1978, by founding members Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass, synths) and Paul Humphreys (keyboards, vocals).

McCluskey and Humphreys’ musical partnership goes back even further, to the days when they were both classmates in school, when they were bandmates in several go-nowhere bands: VCL XI, Hitlerz Underpantz, and the Id.

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After the Id split in ’78, McCluskey was with the curiously-named Dalek I Love You brieflly before re-joining his friends Humphreys and Paul Collister to form OMD.

McCluskey and Humphreys had been sixteen when they wrote the track that would become their first OMD hit, an homage to Kraftwerk called “Electricity,” which was released on Factory Records.

That single led to them signing a recording deal with Virgin’s DinDisc subsidiary, and with their advance check they built themselves a recording studio.

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By now the lineup had expanded to included drummer Malcolm Holmes (ex-Id) and Dave Hughes (ex-Dalek I Love You), and it was with this lineup that they recorded their self-titled debut album, which was released in 1980.

A second album, Organisation, arrived the same year, propelled into the charts by an iconic ’80s single, “Enola Gay,” which landed them in the UK Top Ten.

Hughes was replaced by Martin Cooper after the album’s release.

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Read more about OMD below.

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McLuskey and company seemed to be consciously avoiding worldwide pop stardom during much of the decade, experimenting with their sound on subsequent OMD albums — Architecture & Morality (1981), Dazzle Ships (1983), and Junk Culture (1984) — which were often released to overly-critical reviews and found their fans growing more and more confounded with their direction.

Even though OMD managed to produce a handful of Top Forty UK singles during this time — including “Souvenir,” “Joan of Arc,” and “Locomotion” — they still weren’t that popular outside their own home country.

Their lineup remained fluid too, with two new members, Graham Weir and Neil Weir, soon expanding the group to a sextet.

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By the time OMD were recording their sixth album, 1985’s Crush, their first of two OMD albums produced by Stephen Hague, they’d finally found success in America with their single “So In Love,” which landed at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

To promote the album, OMD released a long-form video, Crush The Movie, showing the group members talking about their career and performing songs from the album.

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Their biggest success would come with the hit single “If You Leave,” which they’d written to order for the soundtrack to the John Hughes pre-teen comedy film Pretty In Pink.

“If You Leave,” released in early ’86, climbed all the way to #4 on the charts in the U.S., and its chart position created new and better opportunities for them, opportunities that had been evading OMD for much of their career by that point.

Soon, they found themselves opening for acts like Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, and Suzanne Vega.

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The same year they’d finally released a Top Ten U.S. hit the band released their long-awaited new album, The Pacific Age, which once again found favor with American audiences despite the fact that they’d continued to vary their sound, confusing nearly everyone who had expected them to attempt to churn out more percolating synth-pop hits like “If You Leave.”

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They did manage another U.S. hit during this time — The Pacific Age‘s lead-off single “(Forever) Live and Die” peaked at #19 on the Billboard charts — but their lineup continued to remain in flux, with the Weir brothers departing after the tour supporting the album.

OMD recorded one more track, “Dreaming,” which was appended to 1988’s The Best of OMD, before Humphreys finally threw in the towel, departing with two other members of the group to form the Listening Pool.

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Humphreys would again re-join McCluskey’s OMD (now filled out with mostly session musicians), contributing to the songwriting for 1993’s Liberator and 1996’s Universal, and the duo ultimately re-formed their band again after a long hiatus, but by this point the bloom was pretty much off the rose.

On December 13, 2018, a brand-new oral history biography of OMD — Pretending To See The Future — is to be published by This Day In Music Books.

The biography — which promises to tell their story “as it’s never been told before” — will feature contributions from OMD founders Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, as well as celebrity contributions from Gary Numan, The Human League‘s Phil Oakey, New Order’s Stephen Morris, Erasure’s Vince Clarke and numerous other contemporaries of theirs.

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Night Flight’s video profile of the Thompson Twins — which precedes our OMD video profile — includes interviews with the band members and the following videos: “We Are Detectives,” “Love On Your Side,” “Doctor, Doctor,” “Hold Me Now” and “You Take Me Up.”

Watch our vintage Thompson Twins and Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark video profiles on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.