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Reviewed by - Matt Rowe

Dazzle Ships

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, better known as the easier-spoken OMD, created a large aural painting of excellent LP releases and songs during their brief run as the late ‘70s – certainly the early ‘80s – champions of new-wave music.  Much of OMD’s work is memorable, of that there is little to argue.  McCluskey and Humphreys, along with other, lesser-known assembled components of OMD, created changing tunes, revealing the band’s penchant for progression and sounds.  But, no matter how much they progressed, the core sound of OMD was impossible to dispense with – it was just there.

OMD released Dazzle Ships in 1983 as a diversion to their already immense popularity, amid increasing demand and reliance on the OMD ability to craft a great song.  While some fans found it to be a welcome release, many rebelled at the album’s distinct drive off the main road, down a path that many just didn’t want to follow on.  Dazzle Ships is inherently a side trip that incorporates an egocentric blend of samplings, sound effects, and music, some with vocals.

But to write off Dazzle Ships as a throwaway would be a mistake.  There were classic moments in the album’s collection of strange creations.  “Telegraph” took the flow of the album’s music, and used it to produce a song that explodes the brilliance of the band in fireworks fashion.  In this Remastered/Expanded Edition, “Telegraph” is repeated as several bonus tracks.  The first is an “original” version as recorded in 1981 for the Architecture & Morality sessions.  It is here referred to as “Telegraph (the Manor Version 1981).”  It is a remarkable tune, certainly not fitting for A&M, but is a compelling song nevertheless.  Its re-recorded resurrection underscores the promise the song contained, and the Dazzle Ships version is perfect.  There is also a 12” A-side Extended version included as a bonus track.

There’s a hypnotic beauty running through “International” with its echoes and simple rhythms, and its soft feel of distance.  “Genetic Engineering” is also included as a bonus track A-side of an extended 12” of the original.  The song itself draws strong influence from “Burning Airlines” from Brian Eno’s wonderful Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) LP, with its uncanny musical resemblance.  The final bonus track on the CD is  a good, short (barely a minute) embryonic non-vocal Dazzle Ships outtake called “Swiss Radio International.”  There are other songs on Dazzle Ships that will draw interest to a casual OMD fan, however, it is the intent OMD collector and serious fan that will be most pleased with this reissue.  With excellent sound, essential bonus tracks inclusions, and an updated 12-page booklet with a 4-page essay, photos, and credits, this new reissue will slot well with the true OMD fan.  Well enough as this release of Dazzle Ships is directly aimed at the serious OMD fan, who hung on every note.

Release Date: April 15, 2008
Produced by: OMD
Format: CD

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