Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Experimental and commercial coming together
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.