OMITD LP original

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark is the title of the debut album by the British new wave and electronic group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, released on Dindisc on 22 February 1980. The album was produced by the group and Chester Valentino, a pseudonym for Paul Collister, who was also the engineer.

As well as being a groundbreaking album in the electronic music and new wave genres, it is also famous for its original die-cut sleeve designed by Peter Savile. The album features ten tracks including the singles Electricity and Red Frame / White Light and an earlier version of the group's first hit single Messages.


Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were still basically at the time the core-due of Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey with guest musicians such as Malcolm Holmes (percussion on Julia's Song), Martin Cooper (saxophone on Mystereality) and Dave Fairbairn (guitar on Messages, Julia's Song). All the songs were written by Humphreys and McCluskey, except for the lyrics to Julia's Song which were written by McCluskey's former girlfriend Julia Kneale.


The album was recorded entirely at the group's own studios The Gramophone Suite in Liverpool, which had been built with the advance from the record company Dindisc, a subsidiary of Virgin. Many of the songs had already been played live, including during their time as support to Gary Numan in the autumn of 1979, and for their first John Peel session recorded in August.[1] Only Electricity and Almost had been released previously as a single on Factory records, the latter produced by Martin Hannett.[2] Two tracks entitled Motion and Heart and Enola Gay were not finished in time for the album, but were performed for a John Peel session recorded and broadcast in April 1980.[3] Both tracks would later re-surface on the follow-up album Organisation. The track Red Frame/White Light was also issued as single around the same time as the album.[4]


OMITD LP 80 re-issue front

The original sleeve featuring cut out 'slots' to form a symmetrical 'grill' with a coloured inner sleeve was used for a limited initial pressing of the LP only and was later replaced by a more conventional design still bearing the characteristic 'grill' printed on an orange square on a plain white background (as per the cassette version). Group name and LP title were also more evident on the later design whereas the die-cut sleeve bore a sticker in order to identify the title/group name. The original die-cut was issued in blue/orange and black/pink colour schemes with a 12x12 grill, as well as in a third and fourth version with a 10x10 grill in grey/orange and blue/orange colour schemes. Other variants of this initial pressing also exist.

Chart performance

The album reached its peak position of no. 27 in March 1980, shortly after its release, and again in May and June, on the back of the success of the Messages single.


OMD OMITD album release and tour dates

Original release

LP DID 2, 1980

Side One

  1. Bunker Soldiers
  2. Almost
  3. Mystereality
  4. Electricity
  5. The Messerschmitt Twins

Side Two

  1. Messages
  2. Julia's Song
  3. Red Frame / White Light
  4. Dancing
  5. Pretending to See the Future


LP DID 2, 1981

  • same tracklisting but with grey sleeve, orange grill and back cover in 'Organisation' style with photo.

LP OVED 96, 1984

  • second reissue, in a plain sleeve with white/orange/black artwork (as per 1980 repress)

CD Virgin CDVIP 216, 1988

  • first CD release. Tracklisting as original. Large grey 'slots' on orange background.

CD DIDCDR2 Remastered edition with bonus tracks, 2003.

  • Bonus tracks
  1. Messages (single version)
  2. I Betray My Friends
  3. Taking Sides Again
  4. Waiting For the Man
  5. Electricity (Hannett/Cargo Studios Version)
  6. Almost (Hannett/Cargo Studios Version)

CD Micro Werks MW 060 (USA), 2010. Replicates the blue/orange die-cut sleeve.

  • Bonus tracks
  1. Messages (single version)
  2. I Betray My Friends
  3. Taking Sides Again
  4. Waiting For the Man

Album tour

The album was promoted through the group's first headlining tour of the UK, which began at Eric's in Liverpool and took in other club venues as well as some universities and polytechnics. Humphreys and McCluskey were joined on the tour by Malcolm Holmes and Dave Hughes. (The four-member line-up also appeared on the promo video for Messages).


  • Bought the original LP on 19 July 1980 "at great expense" and after a lot of searching (plain sleeve)
  • In my Top 50 albums
  • In my Top 10 albums of 1980
  • In my Top 10 album designs
  • Still not in possession of die-cut sleeve but do have the Micro Werks CD replica.
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