Album Review- OMD, “Architecture and Morality (The Singles-40th Anniversary)”

PF WilsonAlbum Review, Miscellaneous, MusicLeave a Comment

There’s a fine line between satisfying your fan base and engaging in an outright money grab. OMD seems to be teetering on the edge with this release. Architecture & Morality, their third album, was originally released in 1981 and is arguably their best.

 The album was remastered and re-released in the early 2000s. It was released again in 2009 with extra tracks. A DVD and CD of the tour celebrating the 30th anniversary came out in 2011. Now comes a collection featuring the album’s three singles (“Souvenir,” “Joan of Arc,” and “Maid of Orleans”) along with the original B-sides, as well as some unreleased tracks and live cuts.

 The band’s first five albums have all been remastered and re-issued, and there have been a few greatest hits packages along the way. However, it feels like the band has gone to the Architecture & Morality well once too often. At least on paper.

 Many fans are frustrated that Architecture & Morality is getting another release (essentially) while there are no plans to remaster and re-issue the band’s sixth and seventh albums, Crush and The Pacific Age. The band has confirmed this via its Twitter page.

 Crush and The Pacific Age came out just before and just after the band’s only U.S. top ten hit “If You Leave,” respectively, from the soundtrack for Pretty in Pink. For that reason, many in the fandom view those albums with derision. They are too American, lack the band’s trademark experimentation, and so on. However, they’re good songs. A good chunk of the fandom loves them, so sort it out!

 Back to Architecture & Morality. When this release was announced, and I saw the tracklisting, I asked, “do I need a demo version of ‘Souvenir?’” Sure, it’s only like 10 bucks for the whole thing, but it’s essentially buying this album for the fifth time. So, when my review copy arrived, I was pleased. And it turns out I DO need a demo version of “Souvenir.” It’s fantastic! You get two, though one is called a “rough mix” and uses the track’s original working title, “Choir Song.” Both have sparser arrangements that give the listener a fresh perspective on this amazing track. It reached #3 in the UK, while the other two singles also made it into the top five.

 “She’s Leaving,” which was almost the fourth single, appears here in a demo version. The main difference between this rough cut and the final version is the vocal phrasing. “Sealand” and “Georgia,” similarly, are presented in demo form.

 The only problem is, the collection does not contain the extended 10-inch mix of “Souvenir,” which is baffling. That can be found on the 2009 re-issue, but it’s weird you only get the seven-inch mix here. Other previously available B-sides appear, including the very fine “Sacred Heart,” the Amazon mix of “Motion and Heart,” “The Romance of the Telescope (Unfinished),” and “Navigation.” The previously unreleased instrumental “Submarines” also appears.

 A few live tracks (“Joan of Arc,” “Maid of Orleans,” and “Motion and Heart”) are thrown in too, all taken from the band’s Live at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane,  recorded on the original Architecture and Morality tour in 1981. Those tracks were previously only available on the VHS concert release. They are some solid live recordings and benefit from remastering, particularly when heard on CD.

 Depending on your level of fandom, this is an essential collection if just slightly disappointing in the tracklisting department.

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PF WilsonAlbum Review- OMD, “Architecture and Morality (The Singles-40th Anniversary)”