Making it stateside was such a high priority for Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark that the arty synth-pop group from England was willing to play just about anywhere, and just about any time of day or night, to build an audience in the U.S.
"In the 80s, in the mid-'80s, we seemed to do nothing but tour America," remembers Paul Humphreys. "We'd do our own tours, and then, we'd tour with Depeche Mode, we toured with the Thompson Twins, [and] we toured with The Power Station. In the space of about two or three years, we did about seven or eight tours, just going backwards and forwards, all the way through the country from New York to L.A., and then back again and back again. We seemed to be camped out in America for a while, basically trying to break America."
At that time, OMD had been huge in Europe. It wasn't until "If You Leave" broke out of the "Pretty In Pink" movie soundtrack and shot up to #4 in 1986 that OMD established a beach head in the U.S.
"So, we were kind of doing huge tours in huge arenas throughout Europe, and then in America, we were doing the tiny club in Long Island, N.Y., going onstage at two o'clock in the morning with people vomiting on your shoes, because they're so drunk," says Humphreys, laughing at the recollection.
The image of inebriated concertgoers spewing all over the stage of an OMD show doesn't exactly fit with the stylish image of the group, but when you start out playing little holes-in-the-wall, it's hard to stay out of vomiting range. Eventually though, after years of paying their dues, OMD did hit the big time with its majestic sound sculptures, experimental brilliance and romantic pop sensibilities.
With people nostalgic for anything '80s these days, OMD, which scored three Top 5 U.K. singles in 1981 from its album Architecture & Morality, reunited in 2006 with the original lineup — including Andy McCluskey, Malcolm Holmes and Martin Cooper — for a series of European shows.
One gala show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London was recorded, and a live CD of that show called Architecture & Morality & More is being released today (April 8) by Eagle Rock. Divided into halves that featured OMD playing the entire Architecture & Morality album on one hand and a handful of other OMD favorites on the other — including, of course, "If You Leave" — the CD documents an amazing evening of music. The sound is lush and full, and Humphreys' vocals are as warm and expressive as ever.
To catch up on what's happening with OMD, visit www.omd.uk.com/
Go to www.eaglerockent.com to find out how to purchase the CD, and the subsequent concert DVD of the same title, which is being released June 3.
CD track listing:
1. Architecture & Morality
3. The New Stone Age
5. She's Leaving
7. Joan Of Arc
8. Joan Of Arc (Maid Of New Orleans)
9. The Beginning And The End
10. If You Leave
11. (Forever) Live And Die
12. Pandora's Box
14. Sailing on the Seven Seas
15. Enola Gay
17. Romance of the Telescope