Sunday, December 14, 2008

The New Stone Age — Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (1981)

Last Friday afternoon, at around 4:30 p.m., I was happy ... and very, very cold. My work day complete, I was looking at a three-week vacation ahead of me, as well as a protracted, white-knuckle drive home through a nasty blizzard that had slammed into Calgary a couple hours earlier. Temperatures in my little part of the world quickly dropped to minus-40 Celsius at night which, for the metric-impaired, happens to be the same as minus-40 Fahrenheit. Which, for those who know neither metric nor imperial measurement, can be described in three words: off, balls and fall (not necessarily in that order.) 

A cold-day track is in order for today's post — and I don't know a better winter song than today's post, the leadoff track of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's third and best record, Architecture and Morality. First off, rest assured: If You Leave, it ain't. The New Stone Age begins with what sounds like gears grinding — you know, the sound a car makes when you try to start it in minus-40 weather when it hasn't been plugged in for a few hours. ("Plugged in?" you ask? May I suggest you click here and, oh, one final thing: right now, I despise you and your pleasant-all-year-round weather.) The track eventually whirrs into motion with the most un-rock and roll guitar strumming you'll ever hear and, more notably, gales of glacial synth that are the sonic embodiment of Arctic winds blowing across the featureless, white tundra. For years, I mistakenly thought this song was called The New Ice Age. Really, I think it's a more apt title.

An odd, personal note: Of my thousands of albums, Architecture and Morality is the only one for which I can pinpoint the exact date I bought it — Dec. 30, 1981 — only because I heard Wayne Gretzky score his record-smashing 50th goal in 39 games during a radio broadcast later that night. The only other thing I can remember about Dec. 30, 1981: it was a damn cold day. Go figure.

The New Stone Age (link expired)

OMD's original lineup recently reunited and performed Architecture and Morality in its entirety (albeit in a different running order). Rather than pull something from that tour, I opted to post this 1981 performance of A&M single Joan of Arc, if only to bask in the glory of McCluskey's onstage dancing. Please assure me he's not having a seizure.



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