Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) – The Pacific Age (Epic 2017 #195)

The Epic 2017 Project #195: 170714

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) – The Pacific Age (1986)

The Pacific Age was the seventh album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, released in 1986. “(Forever) Live and Die” became the group’s third hit single in the US and returned the group to the top 20 in the UK, peaking at number 11.

For the first time, brothers Graham and Neil Weir were formally credited as full members of OMD for this album. They had been involved with the group as session musicians since the re-recording of “Julia’s Song” in 1984 as a “Talking Loud and Clear” single B-side, and were credited as “also playing” musicians on the 1985 album Crush. The single “(Forever) Live and Die” was written by the Weir brothers with Paul Humphreys.

Owing to label-enforced time constraints, the first nine songs written for The Pacific Age appeared on the album. Two new songs, “Cajun Moon” and “Cut Me Down” were almost featured, but according to Andy McCluskey, “democracy won out”. 1983 holdover “Heaven Is” was nudged off in favour of “Flame of Hope” (“Heaven Is” was eventually included on 1993’s Liberator).

The Pacific Age met with negative reviews from the British music press.Melody Maker described the record as “Wheezing, crumpled and limp… a bitter, bitter disappointment”. In Sounds, it was portrayed as “Slick and slobbery, just a bunch of bored (sounding) professionals really”.

In a retrospective review, Trouser Press said: “Except for the smoothly contrived hit “(Forever) Live and Die” and the catchy “We Love You,” this dilettantish mess is less a set of songs than a meaningless collection of sounds.” A more favourable Dave Connolly of AllMusic noted “OMD’s mastery of melody and mood” and wrote that the group “continues to string snippets of sound together to create interesting patterns”, as well as “bring their technical skill to bear on a few cuts”. In a 2013 online poll, The Pacific Age was voted the 46th best album of 1986 based on the opinions of almost 53,000 respondents.

Andy McCluskey said that on The Pacific Age, the band had “lost the plot” due to being afforded “no real time to take stock and write some decent material”; he also feels that the album’s production “just doesn’t sound like [OMD]”. McCluskey noted that the record features tracks he wishes the band had never released, but considers “(Forever) Live and Die” to be “a good song”

So here it is…

Katrina & the Waves (Epic 2017 #139)

The Epic 2017 Project #139: 170519

Katrina & The Waves (1985)

Infamous now for taking the UK to the winning slot in the 1997 Eurovision song contest with ‘Love shine a light’, Katrina & the Waves formed back in 1981.

Their biggest commercial success came with this, their third studio album, released in 1985. The majority of tracks were re-mixed and overdubbed versions of songs that had appeared on their first two albums, but “Walking on Sunshine” and “Going Down to Liverpool” were entirely re-recorded versions of songs from their first independently released album.

‘Walking on Sunshine’ became an overnight international success on it’s re-release, but it was originally written by Kimberley Rew for Katrina and the Waves’ 1983 eponymous debut album. The re-recorded version was the second single from the self-titled third album, reaching No.4 in Australia, No.9 in the United States, and No.8 in the United Kingdom. It was the Waves’ first US top 40 hit, and their biggest success in the United Kingdom until “Love Shine a Light” in 1997.

Royalties from airplay and advertisements of “Walking on Sunshine” have been extremely high. Katrina and the Waves kept the publishing rights and the royalties that typically go to the songwriter have been divided among the band members. Estimates are that the song has earned at least $1 million per year for the ten years ending in 2010. According to a former employee of EMI, “Walking on Sunshine was the crown jewel in EMI’s catalog,” and that it was one of EMI’s biggest earners from advertisers.

In August 2015, the song was acquired by BMG Rights Management for £10 million, along with all the other songs written by Kimberley Rew and Katrina and the Waves.

INXS – Kick (Epic 2017 #119)

The Epic 2017 Project #119: 140429

INXS – Kick (1987)

Kick is the sixth studio album by the Australian rock band INXS, released in 1987 by WEA in Australia, Atlantic Records in the United States and Phonogram Records in the United Kingdom on Audio CD, Compact Cassette and Gramophone record. As the band’s most successful studio album, it is certified six times platinum by the RIAA, and spawned four US top 10 singles, “New Sensation”, “Never Tear Us Apart”, “Devil Inside” and “Need You Tonight”, the last of which reached the top of the Billboard singles charts. At the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards, the band took home five Moonmen for the “Need You Tonight”/”Mediate” video.

The album was produced by Chris Thomas and recorded by David Nicholas in Sydney, Australia, and in Paris, France. The album was mixed by Bob Clearmountain at Air Studios in London.

Peter Gabriel – So (Epic 2017 #091)

The Epic 2017 Project #091: 170401

Peter Gabriel – So (1986)

I have a claim to fame with Peter Gabriel. He was on the 1978 Knebworth festival line-up and, part-way through his set, decided to leap off the stage and walk up the fenced-off security channel which led from the mid-field sound desk to the stage.

The band continued playing, he continued singing and a significant part of the 300,000 strong crowd surged. And, as our pitch was around 50 yards back from the stage against the security fence. Well…you can put two and two together as to what happened next!

Cut a long story short – when the man got to where we were he made matters worse by climbing on top of the fence to finish the number. Whilst up there, his balance was provided by my rucksack which was propped against the fence. One foot crushing all inside, one foot on fence, crowd mayhem. End of.

Almost. Because later on we discovered that the bit of my rucksack Mr Gabriel had crushed had contained a tub of margarine. Which was by then of course, spread over everything else. Clothes, camera, food etc. Thanks Peter!

Anyway…that’s got nothing to do with ‘So’ which came out some 7 years later and is rather good. Particularly Sledgehammer…

Eurythmics – Be yourself tonight (Epic 2017 #070)

The Epic 2017 Project #070: 170311

Eurythmics – Be yourself tonight (1985)

Largely recorded in Paris, with additional recording in Detroit and Los Angeles, the Eurythmics’ fifth album saw a move away from their previous more experimental, synthesizer-based songs, to a more commercial pop/rock sound. Combining elements of Motown and rock music, the album incorporates a more traditional band line-up/instrumentation. Nonetheless, the recordings still possessed an atmospheric and cutting edge sound, winning Stewart awards for his production work on the album. The release of the album also coincided with a new look for singer Annie Lennox, who ditched the androgynous look of the previous albums and became, in biographer Lucy O’Brien’s words, “a bleach-blonde rock ‘n’ roller.” Be Yourself Tonight included guest appearances by notable artists such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Elvis Costello.

‘Love you like a ball and chain’ is one of my top ten tracks of the eighties. The ‘oomph’ factor here is second to none.

Introducing the hardline according to Terence Trent D’Arby (Epic 2017 #043)

The Epic 2017 Project #043: 170212

Introducing the hardline according to Terence Trent D’Arby (1987)


Released in July 1987 on Columbia Records, Mr D’Arby’s debut  became an instant number one smash in the UK, spending a total of nine weeks (non-consecutively) at the top of the UK Albums Chart. It was eventually certified 5 x Platinum (for sales of 1.5 million copies). Worldwide, the album sold a million copies within the first three days of going on sale. Success was slower in the U.S though. Released there in October 1987, it eventually peaked at number four on May 7, 1988 – the same week that the single “Wishing Well” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Other singles from the album included “If You Let Me Stay”, which was a top ten hit in the UK, and “Sign Your Name”, which reached #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #2 in the UK. A fourth single, “Dance, Little Sister”, reached the UK Top 20 as well.

I bought the album on vinyl when it first came out in the UK, primarily because it’s release was just 5 months after my eldest daughter’s birth – her first summer – and ‘If you all get to heaven’ was a song I just couldn’t get out of my head. Still can’t.