Music is cyclical and the electronic pop variety is no different. As a result, OMD have managed to influence other artists in a variety of ways. Rather like with SPARKS, OMD's influence is often heard but rarely admitted in public. But here are twelve acts from the last 30 years who owe a small debt to the pioneering spirit of OMD

ERASURE

Vince Clarke admitted in an interview with BBC TV show The O Zone that the song that influenced him the most musically was Electricity. An accomplished folk guitarist with the fledgling COMPOSITION OF SOUND, after hearing Electricity in a club he decided to buy a synthesiser. This band became DEPECHE MODE and Clarke started to develop his own style of programmed monophonic synth pop which eventually took electronic music to the masses. After leaving DEPECHE MODE, Clarke hit the Top 10 with two other acts YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY before forming ERASURE with singer Andy Bell in 1985.

A huge singles act throughout the late 80's and early 90s, although the hits dried up ERASURE released their best album Nightlife in 2005 and their 2007 Light at The End Of The World tour was supported by Claudia Bråcken and Paul Humphreys' ONETWO. In 2008, Clarke rejoined Alison Moyet to tour as YAZOO.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: Vince Clarke recycles the melody of Electricity for the Erasure B-side Over The Rainbow, complete with Time Zones speaking clocks!

BEST TRACKS: Oh L'Amour, A Little Respect, Breath Of Life, Because You're So Sweet, Here I Go Impossible Again.

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

The Circus (1986)
The Innocents (1988)
I Say, I Say, I Say (1994)
Nightbird (2005)
Total Pop!: The First 40 Hits (2009)

HOWARD JONES

HOWARD JONES came along when sequencing equipment was becoming affordable and portable so that a one-man synth act wouldn't need a tape machine. His big live break came supporting CHINA CRISIS in 1983 where he blew away the headlining act off the stage and charmed audiences with his regular guy persona.

He was invited by OMD to support them on their late 1983 tour just as New Song was becoming a massive debut hit. Soon, HOWARD JONES became very popular internationally, even scoring a No1 in America with No-One Is To Blame in 1986

During their 1986 US tour, OMD were asked if they'd been influenced by HOWARD JONES! Although not directly musical, Jones did introduce the band to the Roland Jupiter 8 synthesiser which was to form a significant part of the sound on the Junk Culture album. BEST TRACKS: Equality, Pearl In The Shell, Hide & Seek, Tao Te Ching, Revolution Of The Heart.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: In his early concerts, HOWARD JONES covered Enola Gay.

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

Human's Lib (1984)
The Very Best Of Howard Jones (2003)

CHINA CRISIS

OMD's success showed that a duo from Merseyside could do it so Eddie Lundon and Gary Daly from Kirkby followed suit. More conventional in instrumentation than OMD, CHINA CRISIS' early albums like OMD's did however possess a distinct ENO influence. In fact, the subtitle of their second album was based on the BRIAN ENO / JON HASSELL collaboration Fourth World Vol1: Possible Musics.

As Virgin labelmates, the two bands became friends. If anything, CHINA CRISIS later heavily influenced THE LISTENING POOL's subtle sound and became the first band to be signed to THE LISTENING POOL's Telegraph label, releasing the Acoustically Yours live album in 1995. They were reunited again professionally when CHINA CRISIS were invited to support OMD on their 2008 30th Anniversary tour.

BEST TRACKS: African And White, Christian, Wishful Thinking, Dockland,Arizona Sky.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: The band's second album, perhaps not coincidentally, was like OMD's produced by Mike Howlett.

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

Difficult Shapes and Passive Rhythms (1982)
Working With Fire and Steel: Possible Pop Songs Volume 2 (1983)
Flaunt the Imperfection (1985)
China Crisis Collection (1990)

DEPECHE MODE

The influence on Vince Clarke has already been mentioned. Fellow songwriter Martin Gore also loved Electricity, but one direct influence on DEPECHE MODE's sound came when OMD started to include a real drummer in Malcolm Holmes. Singer Dave Gahan was quoted as saying when questioned about their use of a drum machine: "The tapes we've got now sound like real drums anyway. I know OMD were put down for using a drum machine on stage, but the worse thing they ever did was get a drummer! It was really bad after that! Anyway, we don't need one!” This lasted until 1993!

OMD supported DEPECHE MODE in 1998 on the US tour that featured their iconic 101 show at the Pasadena Rose Bowl­if you listen carefully enough to the accompanying documentary, you can hear OMD live on stage in the background!

DEPECHE MODE are still one of the highest grossing live acts in the world Not bad for what was originally a synthesizer band from Basildon. This is despite the continued disinterest in their legacy back home in the UK.

BEST TRACKS: Dreaming Of Me, New Life, A Question Of Lust (Single Version), Enjoy The Silence, Halo.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: First album Speak and Spell develops nice synthpop melodies as found on OMD's debut for the New Romantic audience.

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

Speak and Spell (1981)
A Broken Frame (1982)
Black Celebration (1986)
Violator (1990)
The Singles 1981-1998 (1998)

MOBY

Although more famous now for his gospel sampling chill-out tracks on his massive selling album Play , the symphonic strings and choirs that coloured Moby's earlier work came from the young Richard Hall's love of Architecture & Morality. Moby repaid the debt over by remixing Souvenir with respect for the 1998 OMD Remixes singles.

BEST TRACKS: Hymn, First Cool Hive, Memory Gospel, Homeward Angel, A Seated Night.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: The track Hymn from debut Mute album Everything Is Wrong features beautiful choral sounds in the same vein as The Beginning And The End. Meanwhile, A Seated Night is effectively an instrumental version of All That Glitters sans rhythms!

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

Play - the B-Sides (1999)
Songs1993-1998 (2000)
Hotel (2005)
Go - The Very Best of Moby (2006)
Wait For Me (2009)

LEFTFIELD

Have OMD influenced dance music? This big beat duo of Paul Daley and Neil Barnes were said to have been one of the loudest live acts ever. At Brixton Academy in 1996, the sound system caused dust and plaster to fall from the roof.

They were famous for the track Phat Planet which accompanied the Guinness TV advertisement featuring surfers and swimming horses. As well as that, they brought John Lydon back in the public eye with Open Up. Their debut album Leftism is often regarded as one of the best electronic albums of the 90s.

BEST TRACKS: Open Up, Release The Pressure, Storm 3000, Phat Planet, Snakeblood.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: For The Beach soundtrack, Leftfield contributed a thumping instrumental track for the beginning of the film. However, on closer scrutiny, the basis of Snakeblood appeared to be the melody line from Almost!

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

Leftism (1995)
A Final Hit: Greatest Hits (2005)

UNDERWORLD

Those "lager, lager, lager" boys had a slightly more conventional vocal style on their first album Dubnobasswithmyheadman compared to the 'drunken megaphone' sound that made them famous on Born Slippy. Members of UNDERWORLD were also part of obscure 80's synth band FREUR who had a minor hit with Doot Doot who famously had a tape-worm like symbol for their name, ages before Prince came up with the idea!

BEST TRACKS: mmm skyscraper...i love you, Dirty, Pearl's Girl, Born Slippy, Jumbo.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: During the middle of Hmmm Skyscraper I Love You, the spirited vocal starts to sound not unlike a certain George Andrew McCluskey!

RECOMMENDED RELEASE: Anthology 1992 - 2002 (2002)


WHITE TOWN

Although little heard of since his freak No. 1 Your Woman in 1997 which combined low-fi electro with a sampled funeral march, Jyoti Mishra aka WHITE TOWN is one of the lone spirits in OMD's original manifesto of dark lyrics to synthesizer pop with little regard for public image. His later material like Whenever I Say Hello from the most recent album Don't Mention The War is impressive with hints of OMD and DEPECHE MODE.

BEST TRACKS:Your Woman, Messages, Whenever I Say Hello, Panopticon.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: Mishra's love of OMD has been well documented with his excellent version of Messages on the same-titled OMD tribute album released on Ninth Wave Records.

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

Women in Technology (1997)
Don't Mention The War (2006)

LADYTRON

In a Liverpool rife with psychedelic guitar bands, LADYTRON went against the grain by using synths just as OMD had done during the Eric's scene in the late 70's. By recording their debut album 604 partly at The Motor Museum and not aligning themselves to any fashion or musical movement, LADYTRON owe a small debt to OMD. They are without doubt, the best band from Merseyside since... you know who! In fact, Andy McCluskey even believes their best know song Seventeen was written about him masterminding the rise of Atomic Kitten!

BEST TRACKS: Playgirl, Seventeen, Evil, Destroy Everything You Touch, Runaway.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: The track Turn It On from their second album Light and Magic features a melodic pastiche of Electricity alongside some very Krafty electro beats.

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:

604 (2001)
Light and Magic (2002)
Witching Hour (2005)

KLEERUP

Andreas Kleerup is a renowned Swedish music producer whose debut 'solo' album featured a number of high profile female pop vocalists such as ROBYN, LYKKE LI and NENEH CHERRY. For a collection with so many guest singers, this album is surprisingly very coherent probably because the songs are so strong. The electronic backing tracks are beautifully sad while being tremendously tuneful, rather like the OMD blueprint. There are even some NEU!

influences thrown that further link this album with the work of McCluskey and Humphreys.

BEST TRACKS: 3AM, With Every Heartbeat, Looking For Lullabies, Until We Bleed, Hero.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: The instrumentals that bookend the album, Hero and I Just Want To Make The Sad Boy Smile are simply two of the best OMD musical tributes in the 21st Century.

RECOMMENDED RELEASE: Kleerup (2009)


VILLA NAH

Hailing from Helsinki, VILLA NAH have all the hallmarks of classic synthesizer pop. The soundtrack they construct has a melancholic edge with uplifting pop melodies. The sadness of Juho Paalosmaa's vocals is often offset by Tomi Hyypp«'s gorgeous vintage sound textures and crisp electronic experimentation.

Tuneful, lively, emotive and occasionally detached like the best of OMD, VILLA NAH take the heritage of the Synth Britannia generation to create their own brand of 'Suomen S«hk¦'! BEST TRACKS: Some Kind Of Dream, Remains Of Love, Ways To Be, Autumn Leaves, Bennys Burning.

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: Some Kind Of Dream possesses a wonderful four chord progression a la Enola Gay and features those crystalline melodics and dramatic sweeps that would do OMD proud.

RECOMMENDED RELEASE: Origin (2010)


MIRRORS

MIRRORS are electronic pop-noir with roots in that North by North West new wave gloom despite hailing from sunny Brighton. This quartet features an instrumental line-up of synths and electronic percussion reminiscent of OMD's early pioneering work. They look the part too, possessing a stylish sense of European modernism.

While brilliant songs such as Fear Of Drowning and Somewhere Strange may echo the musical template of Wirral's finest, vocally MIRRORS recall the young manhood and revolutionary spirit of lost Merseyside acts such as THE WILD SWANS and BOX OF TOYS.

Singer James New said of OMD: "They're a band that we look up to. They're one of those bands who did something... great pop songs!"

BEST TRACKS: Into the Heart, Fear Of Drowning, Somewhere Strange, Look At Me, Searching The Wilderness, Ways To An End, Broken By Silence

MOST OMD INFLUENCED MOMENT: The pulsing sequences and the sweeping synths of Fear Of Drowning recall the drama of Messages.

RECOMMENDED RELEASE: Lights and Offerings (2011).


This is a revised and updated version of an article that originally appeared in issue 3 of Messages.

by Chi Ming Lai