Saturday, 16 May 2009

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 'Walking on the Milky Way'

Chart Peak: 17


OMC followed by OMD? They must have been doing that on purpose, surely.

In 1996, we couldn't really understand why anybody was still interested in OMD - my brother probably even more so, as he wasn't even born when 'Enola Gay' was in the Top 10 (although this didn't stop either of us liking the Beatles). It had actually only been five years since their last Top Ten hits, but since those five years straddle the time when I came of age musically, they seemed to be the longest five years ever in this way.

Of course, whilst I've just referred to OMD in the plural, by the 1990s the name was just an alias for Andy McCluskey operating with session musicians: this track was co-written by Nigel Ipinson, who was by this time a member of the Stone Roses. Perhaps fittingly for what proved to be the last OMD hit (apart from a remix EP), 'Walking On The Milky Way' considers the subject of lost youth, the familiar observation that when you're young, you have lots of hopes and self-belief, and then when you get older "reality destroys your hope and dignity", and things look a lot more difficult, but you can't recreate your younger days. As it happens, I was a teenager myself when this record came out and am inevitably a bit older now, albeit still a few years younger than McCluskey was at the time. My experience to date hasn't entirely borne him out, but then again I obviously didn't have the self-confidence to form a pioneering synth-pop duo in my teens.

Anyway, this blog isn't really meant to be a place for me to psychoanalyse myself, so let's get back to the song itself: is it any good? Well, I was never fond of the style of their early material (I probably like it more now than I did in 1996) but this single doesn't really sound much like it anyway. The trouble is it doesn't sound much like anything else either; it seems curiously featureless somehow. The chorus is almost catchy but is sunk by the inept production: it should soar as the protagonist recalls the energy of his younger days, but in practice it barely stands out from the verses. And worse still, there's not enough energy or enthusiasm to distract you from the lyric "Man you should have seen us/On the way to Venus".

Also appearing on: Now 3, 4, 8, 20, 25
Available on: Messages: OMD Greatest Hits

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