29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Returning to Architecture and Morality after a 26 year gap is quite an enlightening experience.
By the time this album was released in 1981 OMD were on the way to becoming a regular chart act and this album was in effect the bands great leap forward.With an impressive three U.K. hit singles,it could be argued that Architecture And Morality was merely the latest in a long line of very impressive electronic albums released around the same time,but that would be doing the band and their music a disservice.
A product of its time, Architecture And Morality has a slightly urban feel that connects well with the dark days of the early Eighties,and whilst arguably it has a cold heart the songwriting and vision has a certain charm that still resonates to this day.Classic singles like "Joan Of Arc",and the irrepressible"Souvineer" still sound great,whilst supporting tracks like"The New Stone Age" and the albums title track show that OMD would comfortably overcome any notions that they were merely a disposable chart act.
An obvious reference throughout this set is Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity" album,but fortunately OMD were shrewed enough to avoid being completely overcome by the German's influence,and this album sounds more like a northern British relation rather than a carbon copy.Consequently the real strength of Architecture And Morality lies in its willingness to acknowledge its influences,not replicate them.
Now expanded to include lost 'b'sides [although i am finding it difficult to tell the difference between the two versions of "Souvineer" on this set!] and a very impressive dvd[including tv appearances and a live concert from 1981],this is a brilliant package that offers a full insight into OMD at the most crucial time in their career.
Ultimately this is a great example to other artists on how to reissue their most important albums, breathing new life into established work,whilst offering the punter enough value and reasons to buy the album again.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
I've been an OMD fan since buying the "Messages" single in 1980 and a quarter of a century later, I still stick an OMD CD on every now and then. I usually choose this CD, Architecture & Morality as, for me, it's the most complete album of t heir career.
Album releases really were a whirlwind in those days and A&M was the third full length album in under two years for the dynamic Liverpool duo. That kind of release schedule would be unheard of nowadays, but back in the late 70's/early 80's that was par for the course.
I'll get the singles out of the way first; there's the shimmering beauty of Paul Humphrey's Souvenir, one of the classic OMD singles in every sense complete with the obligatory choral voices which became their trademark around this period. Then there are the two Joan Of Arc singles. One was a great slice of up-tempo - popiness (Joan Of Arc) while the other (Maid Of Orleans took the lead from Paul's Souvenir with its wall of choral voices.
Almost without fail, every track could have been a potential single from the excellent Georgia with its added radio samples or the breathtaking She's Leaving. Why Virgin never released that as a single, I'll never know.
This is also the first OMD album where Andy McCluskey let's rip with his guitar and this adds yet another element to the OMD sound. The opener New Stone Age is virtually new wave!
If you're going to buy one OMD album, then make sure this is the one, with the added bonus tracks, it's even better value, particularly as the best EVER OMD track, The Romance Of The Telescope is included.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2008
Calling OMITD's music "synth pop" doesn't do their music and this album justice; A&M is not Depeche Mode or the Human League! Okay, so the band used synthesisers but these were not the only instruments of their trade; as far as I'm concerned, it wasn't about what instruments they used but how they used them that gave their music that unique appeal.
A&M is a beautiful combination of synths, guitars, drums, sampled sounds and effects, bringing together OMITD's experimental and commercial sides. The album is an event, brimming with ideas. There's the frantic guitar on the opening track 'New Stone Age'. There's the gorgeous melody of 'Souvenir', and it's choral tapes. There's Andy McCluskey singing falsetto on 'Joan of Arc', providing that memorable haunting feeling. There's Malcolm Holme's distinctive drumming - one minute very minimal and dramatic as in 'Sealand', the next very rythmic as in 'Maid of Orleans'. There's the radio samples used brilliantly in 'Georgia'. There's the musical collage of the title track, consisting of the beautiful Mellotron Choir sound that builds to a dramatic climax. And what about the final song 'The Beginning and the End' that makes me want to start the album all over again.
The extended version contains additional tracks, mainly from their B-Sides. Sadly, and I don't know why, but the fantastic track 'Navigation' has been chopped at the end - which idiot made that decision? You'll have to buy Navigation (the B-Sides album) for the full version of this track. The DVD from the 1981 A&M tour is also a must. The production values are far better than the awful DVD from the A&M tour 2007.
A&M was release at a time when British music was thriving, which is sadly why Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and this album tend to get overlooked in favour of bands like The Human League, Ultravox, Duran Duran, etc. It's a shame because as far as I'm concerned this album is far superior to the majority of material release around this time. OMITD wrote creative and inventive music that happened to be popular. They were putting their music before commercial interests, which is why I think A&M and their three other albums from this period [OMITD, Organisation and Dazzle Ship] have stood the test of time.
If you're interested in inventive, original music, then give this album a try. Don't let Andy McCluskey's developed love affair with cheap pop music put you off.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2005
This was the album that saw OMD break through to the wider commercial world.
The first two albums - OMD and Organisation - set up the shop for business with some superb songwriting. Songs like Messages, Electricity, Julia's Song, Enola Gay, Promise and Stanlow. Go and see for yourself! If the first two albums set the shop up, A & M well and truly opened it for business.
The musical climate of 1981 was changing. The spring had seen a crop of new British synth-based bands start to crossover to the mass appeal market. Synthdom was breaking out of the radiophonic workshop and laboratory and into the charts big-style. OMD had already started to pick up a formidable reputation, a support slot on Gary Numan's debut headlining tour in the autumn of 1979 providing the Birkenhead duo with a valuable shop window. Bassist/vocalist Andy McCluskey and synthesist/vocalist Paul Humphreys were already hitting their stride and the years 1979-85 saw them at the top of their game.
Recruiting help in the form of Martin Cooper (synths, sax, bass) and Malcolm Holmes (drums, electronic percussion), they duly took their material out live, with this line-up proving durable enough to last for several more albums.
'The New Stone Age' kicks the album off with Andy McCluskey's thrashed guitar and emotional vocal before they usher in the sublime pop of 'She's Leaving'. 'Architecture & Morality' spawned three stunning singles: the gentle but quirky 'Souvenir' (sung by Paul), the sheer craft of 'Joan of Arc' and then the almost atonal meeting between classic electronic pop and musique concrete in 'Maid Of Orleans'. As the two songs concerned Andy's obsession with the French maid who was burned at the stake, the latter was given the subtitle 'The Waltz Joan of Arc'.
Indeed, it's one of very few pop songs to be in 6/8 time!
Apart from the superb singles, other highlights include 'Georgia' with its weird cassette machine voice tape and
'The Beginning and the End' which, aptly, closes the album.
Overall, Andy's voice is the central focus: subtle, expressive, powerful and clear, he articulates his lyrics with a great degree of confidence. The songwriting is totally spot-on and the tracks worked a treat live. Pure magic so buy it!
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Despite the tragic association with the second series of Alan Partridge, which has helped assist a snobbish response to O.M.D. by default, I feel the need to defend the band mostly known as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. 'A&M' took its title from a book entitled 'Morality & Architecture', the title suggested by Martha Ladly once of Martha & the Muffins and later associated with the Associates. The title fits perfectly the brilliant cover from Peter Saville Associates, who designed the majority of their sleeves (many of these are in an excellent book on Saville, well worth tracking down).
This version of 'A&M' is an extension of the extended/remaster from a few years ago, the major addition being the second disc which has DVD elements (video/live), mostly culled from a performance at Drury Lane. This is the deluxe version of the best-selling OMD album, one the fan's will have to get - if you're less certain, plump for the single disc remastered version which has all the b-sides/bonus tracks. I am one of the few who are hoping their masterpiece, 1983's 'Dazzle Ships' gets the same treatment.
The original nine-track LP is pretty perfect, advancing on the promise of the previous two albums and proving that the perfect pop of 'Enola Gay' was no one-off (which some might think when hearing the bleak electronic soundscapes of 'Organisation'). There is subversive pop, akin to 'Enola Gay', the subject this time being Joan of Arc, a figure who has been read in many ways (perhaps they had just overdosed on 'The Passion of Joan of Arc'?). 'Joan of Arc' is a gorgeous pop single, though it is the relative 'Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)' that seems more powerful, taking the ambient synths that are also found on 'Souvenir' and 'Sealand', prior to a huge classical synth motif and military drums whacked out by robots. The other single was the huge hit 'Souvenir', sung not by Andy McCluskey, but by Paul Humphreys who wrote it with Martin Cooper - more sublime pop perfection, the 'Extended Souvenir' is pretty similar, just a few extra words you might not require...
Things start more oddly with 'The New Stone Age', which has a minimal guitar sound (like Joy Division with banjos!), a metronomic drum machine and whoozy ambient drones as McCluskey sounds possessed, barking out the words: "Oh my god, what have we done this time?" The song goes into overload at the end, feeling like an advance on the Joy Division inflections of 'Organisation.' Following the dark opener, we get some more gorgeous electronic pop in the form of 'She's Leaving', which probably should have been a single - amusingly enough it would be ripped-off for 'Number One' by Goldfrapp, a band who are hip where OMD definitely aren't...
The centrepiece of the LP remains 'Sealand', which may or may not be a nod towards 'Seeland' by Neu! (OMD paid tribute to the Krautrock gods with b-side '4 Neu' a few years later), but advances on the 'Organisation'-epic 'Stanlow.' Just under eight-minutes in duration, it's a fan favourite and OMD at their most ambient, this direction would conclude with Dazzle-joys like 'International', 'The Romance of the Telescope', & 'Silent Running.' The title track predicts large aspects of the follow-up album, leading the way to the concluding tracks 'Georgia' (industrial electronic pop about a state of the Soviet Union, which like 'Enola Gay' sounds perky!) and 'The Beginning and the End' which blends Philip Glass-style minimal elements with guitar and percussion. Still great stuff, a definite perky LP and the choice OMD album (though I remain a 'Dazzle Ships' fellow myself).
The bonus tracks are another reason to buy this reissue, including a re-recorded 'Motion and Heart', tracks that would appear on 'Dazzle Ships' ('Romance of the Telescope', 'Of All the Things We Made'), and the fantastic 'Navigation', which would later give its title to a b-side collection of OMD works - one cd well worth tracking down.
Despite the later descent into stock 80s pop, session musicians and John Hughes soundtracks, OMD were once a great band, like Simple Minds, I tend to plump for the early stuff, picking only a handful of tracks after 1983. A key LP of the era, 'Architecture & Morality' feels as significant as 'Big Science', 'Dare!', 'Music for Parties', 'Non Stop Erotic Cabaret', & 'Penthouse & Pavement.' A key electronic album, even if Alan Partridge digs it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2010
This album must be a contender for the ultimate 80's electronic album.. as a group omd never reached the heights of some of their contemporaries, but still managed to leave a legacy of genius. Architecture and Morality was the pinnacle of omd's early work; a combination of elements that uniquily identifies omd as the artist. Brooding and majestic, creative and beautiful. 2011 will be the albums 30th anniversary, one that still sounds as fresh and inspiring as it did back in 1981.. omd we salute you
There is that certain something here that captures the essence of the time; a reflection of a shift in culture and politics; technology and hope; this was the future. Like their hero's Kraftwerk constructed a future classic in a modern style, an astonishing feat. On this album OMD give us the pop and majesty in one, a concept album, but not quite, familiar threads that weave the listener into the texture and message of the music...
This is what 80's music was really about... not the over the top fashion and image. Some of us could have fun, and be serious at the same time ha ha...
The tour for this album was the first time I saw OMD live, and my first gig.. so a really special time.. the gig was at Sophia Gardens Pavillion in Cardiff, 29/11/1981.. I remember queuing out side as snow stared to fall, hearing the sound check of Romance of the Telescope.. pure joy...
This was the penultimate gig at this venue.. shortly after an Ozzy show the roof collapsed under the weight of snow.. no one there at the time..
Architecture and Morality.. memories are made of this
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
On this excellent album the melody is more important than the beat as OMD takes their synth-pop into serious territory on classics like the majestic Joan Of Arc, the wistful Maid Of Orleans, the somber Sheâ€™s Leaving and the powerful New Stone Age. Itâ€™s all held together by evocative ethereal pieces, creating a very cohesive sound sculpture. The use of a live drummer enhances the overall sound, adding a welcome human touch to the albumâ€™s sometimes bleak and desolate textures. This is definitely their best album and a masterpiece of intelligent and moving synth-pop.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2004
This is arguably OMDs best album in that it is listenable and easy on the ear to the pop fan but still has that quirkyness that was apparent throughout their career.
Born out of the late 70s Liverpool scene , but sounding quite different from their peers like Echo & The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and Mighty Wah! The big hit Enola Gay (after a few minor hits including one about a telephone box in Meols on the Wirral !!! - I said they were quirky) first brought them to national attention.
This album is very much in that vain and includes the wonderfully pretty "Souvenir",and excellent hits "Joan Of Arc" And "Maid of Orleans". "She's Leaving" is an album track that probably would have been a single had it been on any other record. "The Beginning and the End" is also a good example of experimenting but not betraying pop sensibility....Sealand (possibly about an area not far from their Wirral homeland near Chester) is one of OMDs weird tracks but still listenable.
But that was always the problem with OMD. They could never decide whether they wanted to be like Abba and craft those perfect melodies or experiment with soundscapes and noise.
This is OMD at their most commercial and accessible...other than the Greatest Hits which should be your introduction to the band ,this is their Sgt Pepper. An almost perfect 'electropop' album in line with 'Dare' by the Human League and very reminiscent of the last 'Golden Age' of pop before sampling and rap left us without much originality.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This was OMD's third album and, for me, their finest moment. This remastered issue is exactly the same musically as the 2003 remastered release. What makes this version so special is the inclusion of the bonus DVD.
The DVD contains the video for "Souvenir" and a couple of TOTP performances, but more importantly the "Live At The Drury Lane" concert from December 1981. I used to have this concert on VHS and I remember it being one of those "big box" jobs, videos were like that in them days.
Anyway, it's the music that counts and the music CD is as close to perfection as you're likely to get. This was OMD going through their choral voice stage and a lot of the songs are layered with the eerie sounds of chopped up human voice. Singles abound: "Joan Of Arc", "Maid of Orleans" and the top-tenner "Souvenir". To be honest, I've never been a big fan of that track as I always thought Paul's voice was a little weak, says me who can't even talk in tune!
Me and my mate went to see the band on this tour in Birmingham (it seemed only five minutes since we'd seen them on the "Organisation" tour at the same venue) and it remains one of the best concerts I've been too, even 26 years later. The band had a vibrant energy that they never captured again.
The finest moment for me on here is the sublime "She's Leaving". Why this was never released as a single still puzzles me all these years later, but I guess they didn't want to release too many from the same album. Still, that's a testament to the quality on offer.
There are a raft of extra tracks, some essential, some not so, but all in this is a wonderful package. And all for under a tenner too.
I got into OMD through their 'Electricity' single, which I played for weeks before pouncing on their debut album, perforated sleeve and all. Though I didn't carry on buying their records, I was always interested in hearing their singles, as they never seemed to repeat themselves. The same is true of their album tracks, as much here as on their debut. The difference is that the debut has the lo-fi charm of a band recording on a budget, whereas, by the time of 'A. and M.', their third effort, they had more resources at their disposal. Even so, they don't play safe.
And how many artists could score three hits with such an uncommercial approach? OMD were unpredictable yet accessible. Among a welter of synth- dominated outfits, they thrived despite not wanting to be seen. There were no attention-seeking haircuts and they didn't write about themselves. No tales of teenage angst, instead an oblique, misty love song ('Souvenir') and two songs about a long dead historical heroine, all containing odd, long intros.
As for the other tracks, not for OMD the opening track with the irresistible hook, instead some intriguing percussion and guitar that sounds like a demented George Formby ('New Stone Age'). The title track, meanwhile, sounds like the ultimate in blank music, yet makes compelling listening. The bonus tracks add a great deal to this release and fit in with the overall sound. 'Motion And Heart' reveals that the band can swing a bit too. The sleevenotes confirm the band's penchant for a choral quality at the time, giving the album a more ethereal feel. 'Architecture And Morality' is one of the best albums of the 1980s.