OMD-81 duo

McCluskey & Humphreys of OMD, 1981.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are a new wave group formed in Liverpool in 1978 by core-members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys.


Originally an experimental outfit featuring home-made keyboards, electronic sound effects recorded with the help of their reel-to-reel tape recorder Winston, some bass guitar and voice, the duo gradually moved towards more melodic compositions, releasing their first single 'Electricity' b/w 'Almost' on Manchester's Factory label. The pair were soon snapped up by Virgin subsidiary Dindisc and 1980 singles Messages and even more prominently Enola Gay made Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, by now OMD, a household name with two albums (their eponymous debut and Organisation) to their name within the year.

Greater success came almost 12 months later with top 10 singles Souvenir and two songs about the French saint Joan of Arc, all featured on the million-selling album Architecture & Morality, which took the electronic experimental zeitgeist of 1981, mixing strong melodies and unusual subject matter, to the upper ranges of the album charts. By now the group had also become a consolidated four-piece with Humphreys and McCluskey joined on stage and in the studio by Malcolm Holmes on drums and Martin Cooper on keyboards and other instruments.

OMD 1986

An expanded OMD in 1986

Their success was however quick to diminish with the follow up Dazzle Ships in 1983 when pop music was already less in favour of experimentalism, albeit still in symbiosis with catchy melodies. Songs about genetic engineering and the demise of the telegraphic system were no longer chart fodder. Some ground was regained in 1984 with Junk Culture and a series of strong singles, followed by Crush in 1985 and The Pacific Age in 1986, although the latter two suffered too much from an over zealous effort to break the US market. A first Greatest Hits collection followed in 1988 although the duo of Humphreys and McCluskey had already called it a day.

In 1991 Andy McCluskey exhumed the cumbersome group name and despite grunge and the return of rock, managed to break the charts again with the album Sugar Tax and the electro-heavy yet catchy singles Sailing on the Seven Seas and Pandora's Box. McCluskey, aided mainly by Stuart Kershaw, tried again with Liberator (1993) and Universal (1995) but things were brought to a grinding halt in the Brit-pop years.

OMD 2013

OMD in 2014

Nostalgia eventually won through in 2006 when McCluskey and Humphreys got back together again to perform some live dates as a duo, later touring the Architecture & Morality album in its entirety with former band mates Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes. A brand new album History of Modern emerged in 2010 followed by more touring, and another new album English Electric was released to critical acclaim in 2013. A third album of the new OMD-era, The Punishment of Luxury, was released on 01 September 2017.

Original drummer and percussionist Malcolm Holmes retired from the group for health reasons in 2013 and has since been replaced by long-time group collaborator Stuart Kershaw.

40th anniversary celebrations are planned for 2019.


Year Single Album
1979 Electricity [1] -
1980 Red Frame/White Light Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Electricity [2]
Enola Gay Organisation
1981 Souvenir Architecture and Morality
Joan of Arc
1982 Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc) [3]
1983 Genetic Engineering Dazzle Ships
1984 Locomotion Junk Culture [4]
Talking Loud & Clear
Tesla Girls
Never Turn Away
1985 So In Love Crush
La Femme Accident
1986 If You Leave [5] -
(Forever) Live & Die The Pacific Age
We Love You
1987 Shame [6]
1988 Dreaming The Best of OMD
Brides of Frankenstein [7]
1991 Sailing on the Seven Seas Sugar Tax
Pandora's Box [8]
Then You Turn Away
Call My Name [8]
1993 Stand Above Me Liberator
Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme)
1996 Walking on the Milky Way Universal
Universal [8]
1998 The OMD Remixes [9]
The OMD Singles
2000 Peel Sessions 1979–1983
2001 Navigation: The OMD B-sides
2008 Messages - Greatest Hits [10]
OMD Live: Architecture & Morality & More
2010 If You Want It History of Modern
Sister Marie Says
History of Modern Pt.1
2011 OMD: The History of Modern Tour – Live in Berlin
2013 Metroland English Electric
Night Café
2015 Dazzle Ships Live at the Museum of Liverpool
Access All Areas [11]
2016 Architecture & Morality/Dazzle Ships Live at the Royal Albert Hall
2017 Isotype The Punishment of Luxury
The Punishment of Luxury
What Have We Done
The Punishment of Luxury: B-Sides & Bonus Material


  1. released initially on Factory records FAC6 then on Dindisc (see page).
  2. second Dindisc release
  3. name changed from original Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans) to avoid confusion with previous single
  4. initial copies of album also contained free one-sided 7" single the Angels Keep Turning (The Wheels of the Universe).
  5. from Pretty In Pink soundtrack.
  6. re-recording of The Pacific Age album track
  7. DJ promo import 12"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 remix of album track
  9. EP with remixes of Enola Gay, Souvenir & Electricity
  10. also features DVD with promo videos
  11. 1980 live recording

Significant dates

External links

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