Thursday, January 29, 2009

OMD - "(Forever) Live and Die" (1986)

There were only a few truly impressive synthpop bands who gave us more than one classic single, such as the still-running Depeche Mode, New Wave poster boys Naked Eyes ("Promises, Promises," "Always Something There To Remind Me"), the campy Erasure ("Ship of Fools," "Stop," "Chains of Love") and the hyper-romantic Orchestral Manoevres in the Dark, thankfully shortened eventually to OMD.

That band name had an interesting role in the band's evolution. When they first started out with that long moniker, they were quite artsy and obtuse. They pulled off one hit New Wave single in 1980, "Enola Gay," with its repetitive early drum machine pattern, and everything that followed after that was not very accessible.

It wasn't until a few years later that they probably realized they could either continue toiling as a cult artsy synth band in their native England or remember that they were a synthpop band or go for the big time. They decided on the latter, upgraded their production, sharpened their songwriting, hired synthpop producer wunderkind Stephen Hague and boy, did the tables turn around. It probably helped their image that they became better known as OMD at that time.

While OMD will go down in 80's rock history for their most successful single, "If You Leave" from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, they had other fantastic pop songs that charted such as "Secret" and "So In Love."

"(Forever) Live and Die," their "If You Leave" follow-up single had an unusual loping shuffle beat, which was unheard of for a song in this genre. The leisurely pace brought you along with simple chord arrangements, proving once again that you can write the best pop songs with just a few chords, as long as the melody works.

Andy McCluskey's vocals float all over the place, with layers and layers of harmonies over that chorus. They say pop music is all about repetition, and this was synthpop repetition at its most mesmerizing, so you could not get it out of your head.

People like
I never know, I never know, I never know why-y-y.
You make me wanna cry.
I never know, I never know, I never know why-y-y.
Forever live and die.

Watching the video reminds me of all the 80's English bands fronted by two guys, like Tears for Fears, Go West, and Naked Eyes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice song. I was always partial to "Dreaming," but by that time the group were on their way out. One of the more underrated bands of the 80s.