Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) tribute

Same Babies; Old Toys (and New Remixes)

Written by Imogen Bebb 11/2020

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another monthly Manoeuvres blog.

It’s undoubtedly a tough time for everyone at the moment, no matter what part of the world you’re in or what your country’s current restrictions are in relation to the dreaded ‘v-word’. I don’t know about other places, but here in the UK keeping up with it all in the last few months has felt positively exhausting, whether it’s seeing the constant news reports with their doomy, gloomy case numbers, or coming to terms with yet another national lockdown.

In fact, as you may have gathered from the previous paragraph, right now I’m refusing to use the ‘v-word’ – or indeed any words that mean something similar – at all if I can help it, simply because I’m bloody fed up to the back teeth with hearing them.

In keeping with this somewhat self-preservatory attitude of avoidance, for the next few months I will endeavour to keep these blogs as light-hearted and purely music-related as possible. In the last few posts I’ve tried to tackle topics that are pertinent to the current situation, which to some extent (even in my own unqualified, clumsy way) I think was an important thing to do; no matter how much I try to do things like avoid referring to the crisis by name, I know there isn’t any real escape from it right now, and it’s something that will likely take years, if not decades for us as a society to recover from.

However – again, even if it’s purely as a form of mental self-preservation and ‘burnout’ avoidance – my next few blog posts will be written with the overarching idea that the few minutes it might take someone to read or scan over one will be a few minutes in which they can forget about the real world and our current ‘situation’. 

Don’t worry, I understand that even to be able to take a stand in such a minor way as this is a huge privilege. I understand that there might be people reading this who have had their lives altered irreparably in 2020 with the unexpected loss of a family member or someone close to them, and I am hugely grateful that as yet that has not been a situation with which I have been presented.

All the same, I don’t think a little bit of escapism where you can get it (even from life in general, but especially at the moment) can be a bad thing. 

So onto the actual content of this month’s post (‘finally’, I hear you mutter) and as promised it’s a bit of music-related fun. 

If you’ve been keeping up with the band’s social media, you’ll know that since September OMD have been putting out some remixes of ‘Enola Gay’ to celebrate the track’s 40th anniversary, some with better responses from fans than others. For example, I advise you to not mention the Hot Chip remix in the same sentence as any words that might indicate you vaguely liked it, or indeed even found it listenable beyond the first thirty seconds. 

(NB. Admittedly there have been all sorts of extended versions and remixes of OMD tracks released over the years, ranging from the good (Tom Lord-Alge’s 12” mix of ‘We Love You’), to the bad (Moby’s ‘7am Version’ of ‘Souvenir’, to the extremely ugly (the Micronauts ‘Electricity’ remix), so if fans are occasionally a little caustic about this particular subject, it’s maybe not surprising!). 

And though to be reminded of the reaction to that Hot Chip track in particular wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, that train of thought did get me thinking about remixes of ‘80s songs that do actually work, and in some cases, in my opinion, actually improve on the original song.

I ended up with a list of eight, the only rule of inclusion being that the original track must have been released at some point from 1980-1989. These are well worth a listen if you haven’t heard them already!

  1. Relax (New York Mix) (mixed by Trevor Horn) – Frankie Goes To Hollywood 
  2. Running In the Family (Dave O’ Remix) – Level 42
  3. Burning the Ground (mixed by producer John Jones) – Duran Duran
  4. Just Can’t Get Enough (Schizo Remix) (mixed by Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller) – Depeche Mode
  5. Victim of Love (Vixen Vitesse Mix) (Mixed by Daniel Miller and Rico Conning) – Erasure
  6. Money’s Too Tight To Mention (The Cutback Mix) (mixed by Steve Thompson and Mike Barbiero) – Simply Red
  7. Fools Gold (Top Won Mix) (Mixed by A Guy Called Gerald) – The Stone Roses
  8. Love and Pride (USA Summer Mix) (Mixed by Richard James Burgess) – King

Something that should be noted here, however, is that one thing all the above have in common is that they were released at the same time as the original track (or ‘tracks’ in the case of the Duran Duran remix), or at least in the same decade. 

It could therefore be argued that for OMD to be remixing something as iconic as ‘Enola Gay’ (a status the track holds both within the band’s fan base and beyond) forty years after its original release is a pretty brave move on their part. Even if the releases were intended as a celebration of the song, up against a fanbase with notoriously ‘die-hard’ tendencies, as well as that forty year legacy, it’s not really surprising there were a lot of negative opinions to be found about the remixes amongst the positive ones. 

Perhaps something telling about the whole thing is that the remix which fans generally seemed to prefer was the ‘Extended Mix’ that OMD did themselves – essentially, the one that sounded most like the original.

—————

Thanks for reading, and as usual feel free to share any thoughts you have on these blogs and the topics discussed. See you next month!