In the first of what may be an occasional series, I’m posting a YouTube video drawn from the glory days of late ’70s/early ’80s synth pop. Why? Simply because it is one of my favourite genres of music from any era, and I don’t think it quite gets the critical recognition it deserves. (And if you can’t indulge a predilection for icy, Ballardian pop from your childhood on your own blog, then where can you?)
Synth music in general has always suffered from a credibility deficit, particularly among fans of “real” music — ie, guitar rock. I recently had an animated exchange with my girlfriend on this very topic, sparked by my saying that I Feel Love by Donna Summer was at least as important a song as Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds. As it was, she was kind of horrified by my opinion. But had I been arguing for, say, Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas, which to my ear is a fairly straight-up dance music song but with “proper” instruments, she may have agreed to disagree with me.
Anyway, my first choice is this belter by OMD, or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark as the were when they first started. Despite the presence of a big, clunking bass guitar, OMD were on a mission, like so many of their peers, to rid pop music of rock guitars and drums. As they acknowledged during an interview in the sublime Synth Brittania documentary, they singularly failed to do this. But this song is a neat encapsulation of what they were, in their early days, looking to achieve.