Dazzle Ships is the title of the fourth studio album by British group OMD. It was released on 04 March 1983, shortly after the lead single Genetic Engineering. The album title is a reference to a painting by Vorticist artist Edward Wadsworth entitled Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool, based on dazzle camouflage used on warships during World War I. The album's artwork, designed by Peter Saville, reflecting the title, is also based on the dazzle camouflage technique.

The album was the follow-up to the group's highly successful 1981 album Architecture & Morality although failed to match the success as its radical, experimental compositions, many of which were based on sound samples and short-wave radio recordings, alienated many fans and failed to impress the critics.

The album has since been re-evaluated as an essential part of the OMD canon, and of electronic and experimental music, with many artists citing it as a source of inspiration.

Facts and figures

Dazzle Ships

Chart entry placing: 5
Chart entry date: 08 March 1983
Peak position: 5
Date peak: as above
Weeks in Top 40: 8


Original LP and cassette, later also CD

Side One

  1. Radio Prague
  2. Genetic Engineering
  3. ABC Auto-Industry
  4. Telegraph
  5. This Is Helena
  6. International

Side Two

  1. Dazzle Ships (Part II, III & VII)
  2. The Romance of the Telescope
  3. Silent Running
  4. Radio Waves
  5. Time Zones
  6. Of All the Things We've Made

2008 remastered CD

as above plus bonus tracks:

  • Telegraph (The Manor version 1981) - previously unreleased
  • 4-Neu - B-side to Genetic Engineering single
  • Genetic Engineering (312mm version) - 12" release
  • 66 and Fading - B-side to Telegraph single
  • Telegraph (extended version) - 12" release
  • Swiss Radio International - previously unreleased


  • All original compositions are attributed to Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, except Radio Waves to OMD/Floyd.
  • The Romance of the Telescope and Of All the Things We've Made had both previously been released as B-sides, respectively to the Joan of Arc (1981) and Maid of Orleans (1982) singles.
  • Dazzle Ships' initial chart entry position was higher than True by Spandau Ballet (9), just below Thunder & Lightning by Thin Lizzy (4) while U2's War was straight in at no.1. The following week Dazzle Ships dropped one place to no.6, whereas Thin Lizzy dropped to no.8 and Spandau Ballet to no.7.[1]

Live performances

  • OMD recorded their fourth and final session for John Peel in January 1983 ahead of the release of the new material. The session, first broadcast on 21 February, featured Genetic Engineering / Of All The Things We've Made / ABC Auto-Industry and a new version of Bunker Soldiers. Andy McCluskey is said to have been happier with this recording of Genetic Engineering than the version released on the album and as a single. The session was repeated by Peel in December as one of the best of the year.[2] The Peel Sessions 1979-1983 CD release (2000) features the three Dazzle Ships tracks, omitting Bunker Soldiers.[3]
  • The album was promoted by an extensive UK tour starting in Bristol on 14 April. The concerts featured featured an elaborate stage set based on the album's artwork. The set opened with Radio Prague / Dazzle Ships / ABC Auto Industry with band members waving semaphore flags during the latter.
  • The tour continued afterwards in Spain, France and Germany.
  • A live recording of Telegraph, performed at Hammersmith Odeon, was featured on the 12" release of 1984 single Tesla Girls.[4]
    Dazzle Ships (Parts I, IV, V, & VI)

    Dazzle Ships (Parts I, IV, V, & VI)

  • Special live performances of Dazzle Ships were held at The Museum of Liverpool on Saturday 01 and Sunday 02 November 2014 as part of a special weekend of 'dazzle ships' related events in the city. [5]The songs International and 4-Neu were performed live for the first time. The set-list was augmented with various songs from the band's career. New music, Dazzle Ships (Parts I, IV, V, & VI) and visuals were also commissioned for the event.[6] A special box set featuring a CD, DVD of the live performances plus a hardback book was issued on 25 September 2015.
  • A further live performance of the album, together with its predecessor Architecture & Morality, took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 09 May 2016.[7] Official recordings were made available on CD immediately after the show and later also on vinyl.[8]
  • The full audio recording of the concert held at the Hammersmith Odeon on 10 May 1983 was finally released in 2019 as part of the Souvenir career retrospective boxset. The recording featres the full setlist except for Genetic Engineering which was performed out of time and with several imperfections and not deemed fit to be included. A video recording of the concert has apprently since been 'lost'.


External links

On-line press articles

  • How to lose 3 million fans in one easy step, Bob Stanley,, 2008-03-07
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - DAZZLE SHIPS (REISSUE), Luke Turner, the, 2008-03-28
  • OMD’s Cold War Album Comes In From The Cold: Dazzle Ships Live, Stuart Huggett, the, 2016-05-17
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