Reason #494 Why The ’80’s Didn’t Suck: Dazzle Ships

“Most American music fans don’t seem to know it, but Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were around long before Andie and Ducky worked up the self-esteem to show up stag to the prom.”

Slaughtered by the critics when it came out, Dazzle Ships is the textbook definition of career suicide. The album could have been called How To Lose 3 Million Fans Overnight, actually. OMD were always an experimental lot, but this album was Experimental with a capital E. The infamous children’s toy Speak and Spell was used in a song and one has to surmise that Radiohead was listening to this intently at the time (Fitter, Happier anyone?) as the whole album is like the Kid A of the early ’80’s. It did contain some great edgy pop tunes in Genetic Engineering, Telegraph and Radio Waves, but the remainder of the album is bizarre stuff indeed. The album as a whole works amazingly well and like their heroes Kraftwerk they were finally able to make mechanical noise that had heart. Lots and lots of heart. One listen to Of All The Things We’ve Made or Silent Running will prove that. This is the OMD album that I come back to time and time again. It’s that good.

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