Reason #3 Why The 80’s Didn’t Suck As Bad As We All Thought It Did

What about #2, you ask? See Holly’s post on The Police HERE.

SUBJECT: Dazzle Ships by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

The time was 1981 and OMD had just released their career/ critical high point in Architecture + Morality, an inspired blend of electronic experimentation (not unlike their musical heroes Kraftwerk) and sublime humanity. It was an unqualified success, and what does any successful band do after releasing such an album? Well, if you’re OMD you release an obtuse, abstract concept album on 80’s cold war tension as a follow up. Musical “Death by Design” back then.

Dazzle Ships was critically derided upon it’s release and spawned only a minor hit in Genetic Engineering. The group rebounded by releasing a string of second-rate cotton candy, selling it’s artistic soul to filmmaker John Hughes. They released the slight but massively popular If You Leave (find it on the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack) and became one of the biggest bands on the planet.

But only for a short while.

In the 25 or so years since it’s initial release Dazzle Ships has become a highly influential and, perhaps more importantly, a very well regarded genre classic.

Allmusic states,

“On its own merits it is dazzling indeed, a Kid A of its time that never received a comparative level of contemporary attention and appreciation. Indeed, Radiohead’s own plunge into abstract electronics and meditations on biological and technological advances seems to be echoing the themes and construction of Dazzle Ships.”

I recently re-purchased the re-mastered “Special Editions” of Dazzle Ships, Architecture + Morality and Organisation (this misspelled title itself an homage to Kraftwerk; it’s their original name), and I was astounded by the sheer inventiveness and “freshness” these releases have maintained. Especially the wonderfully weird Dazzle Ships. It’s a brilliant record. The out of date electronics (they even use a “Speak and Spell” machine!), the early 80’s cold war references and even the sound effects on This Is Helena (“Music for your tape recorder!”) sound eerie and otherworldly, and at times quite chilling. Dazzle Ships is the reason I don’t trade in my CD’s. Times change, tastes change. Something I may have shelved long ago may sound different down the road.

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