Everyone is influenced by the environment around them, be it people, locations or music. Even innovative artists must get inspired somewhere, even if it's just to pick up a synthesiser and make interesting noises with one finger.

So here are twelve albums important to the development of OMD and their sound. Some albums are obvious, others not so. But the intention is to highlight where musical influences have taken place and to enlighten those who may be interested in expanding their musical horizons further by referencing the inspirational music enjoyed by their favourite band.


Probably the most influential album of all time, inspiring artists as diverse as REM, DAVID BOWIE, ROXY MUSIC, BRIAN ENO, ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, JAMES, JESUS & MARY CHAIN, GARY NUMAN, DURAN DURAN and of course, OMD.

Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Mo Tucker and Nico came together in 1966 to record what was, to all intents and purposes, the live soundtrack to Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable art events. The band's debut was also given extra impetus and credibility by being 'produced' by Warhol although the actual work was carried by engineer Tom Wilson.

Virtually every track on this album has been covered and virtually every person who heard this album when it first came out formed a band! It encouraged being a non-musician and just "getting up there and doing it". What this album has in common with OMD is Lou Reed's dark lyrical themes set to, at times, very melodic music.

Examples of this being Sunday Morning with its tale of coming-down after a night on drugs and the Nico voiced Femme Fatale which is a story about a naive boy falling in love with a promiscuous woman! Another Nico vocal, I'll Be Your Mirror has to be one of the greatest pop songs ever. The rest of the album though is dirty and ragged with tales about sado-masochism and drug takingźsounds like a normal Saturday night in!


Sunday Morning, Waiting For The Man, Femme Fatale, Venus In Furs, I'll Be Your Mirror, All Tomorrow's Parties.


The opening two tracks are covered by OMD at various stages of their career.


White Light / White Heat (1967)
The Velvet Underground (1968)
Loaded (1970)


Art student Andy McCluskey adored early ROXY MUSIC. Although For Your Pleasure is probably better, the eponymous first album stood out on release due to it trashing all concepts of melodic conservatism. Its front cover featuring the model Kari-Ann is also an iconic design classic.

Denying the need for any great technical musicianship, Bryan Ferry with his mannered half-crying, half-crooning vocals assembled the squawky sax and oboe of Andy McKay, the guitar histrionics of Phil Manzanera, the thumping percussion of ex-builder Paul Thompson and the mad electronic sound treatments of Brian Eno.

The songs themselves are a mix of avant garde, rock'n'roll, fashion and style with tempos suddenly changing and unconnected bridges appearing out of nowhere. But artistic and personal tensions between Ferry and Eno, whose respective fans took over opposite sides of the gigs and chanted their heroes' surnames between songs, lead to the inevitable parting of ways.

Although not a direct musical influence on the early days of OMD, Andy McCluskey backtracked to the more instrumentally conventional music of his youth for inspiration when looking to ditch OMD's trademark synth sound for Universal.


Re-Make/Re-Model, If There Is Something, Ladytron, 2HB, Virginia Plain.


During the final coda of If There Is Something, Ferry belts out some thoughts on lost youth to minimal drums, piano and strings backing. This section was echoed and looped 24 years later almost identically on That Was Then, This Is Now!.


For Your Pleasure (1973)
Stranded (1973)
Country Life (1974)
The Early Years (2000)


In the mid-70's, what was there for the discerning art student who hated The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin? From Cologne's eclectic music scene came CAN who developed the concept of electronic collage with jazz and avant garde influences to construct their unique sound.

Like CAN's other material, Soon Over Babaluma is dominated by the guitar of Michael Karoli and the chattering percussion of Jaki Liebezeit with bass flourishes from 'sound painter' Holger Czukay. Probably the most experimental band of their time, CAN no doubt inspired some of the more bizarre moments in OMD's history which are mostly confined to the abstract playground of VCL XI's unreleased output.

Czukay, who later released solo albums Movies and On the Way to the Peak of Normal, also liked to bring short wave radios and ethnic influences into the mix. His 1981 collaboration with PiL bassist Jah Wobble and Jaki Liebezeit entitled How Much Are They? was a big influence on the title track of Junk Culture with its sub-reggae rhythms, speech samples and muted brass lines. Incidentally, How Much Are They? was also dedicated to Ian Curtis.

BEST TRACK: Quantum Physics


The low synth drones of Quantum Physics provided by Irmin Schmidt are repeated in the more dirge-like elements of Organisation and Architecture & Morality.


Anthology 1968 -1977 (2007)

See also:



A favourite album of Paul Humphreys, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) is almost a concept album with references to the Chinese Communist revolution, a subject which David Sylvian of JAPAN later revisited for Tin Drum. The lively sound with dark lyrical themes was engineered by Rhett Davies who later worked on Dazzle Ships. It featured a variety of noisy guitar-led experiments and strange electronic effects next to the drifting near instrumental chill of the title track.

But the attitude of the album was as much of an influence to OMD as music itself. It was BRIAN ENO who stated that the individual characteristics of a band were governed by the limitations of one's equipment and technique. And as a self-confessed 'non-musician', he said this was not to be frowned upon as this created a unique sound.

ENO was injured in a car accident shortly afterwards and was confined to a bed. During this time, he was inspired to produce ambient music. Some of the resultant work like Another Green World and Music for Airports are among his best. These albums are also worth checking out if you enjoy the choral elements of Souvenir and Dazzle Ships or the haunting piano track Hand Me That Universe on THE LISTENING POOL's album Still Life.


Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Third Uncle , Back In Judy's Jungle, Put A Straw Under Baby, China My China


The choppy rhythm guitar and typewriter on China My China is recreated on Genetic Engineering. In their limited use of guitar during the early days of OMD, the frantic, percussive style was always reminiscent of ENO who often tuned all six strings to the same note! Meanwhile on the waltzy Back In Judy's Jungle which was based on a Korean folk song, elements of International can also be traced.


Here Come the Warm Jets (1973)
Another Green World (1975)
Before and After Science (1977)
Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978)

NEU! - 75 (1975)

OMD paid tribute to NEU! in 1983 with a beautiful B-side entitled 4-Neu. The duo consisted of Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger. Never easy bedfellows even at the height of their acclaim in the early 70s, the confrontational Dinger was originally the drummer who invented the 'motorik' beat while Rother was more laid back and thoughtful, texturing his guitars and keyboards to produce mini-cacophonies of sound.

75 was the swansong album from the one time Kraftwerk members' volatile working relationship. Unable to agree a direction, Rother took charge of the first half's ambient melodic side while the more manic Dinger contributed his aggressive proto-punk on the other. The bizarre concept's results offer confusing, if intriguing listening that proved influential to a variety of acts including DAVID BOWIE, JULIAN COPE and ULTRAVOX!

Dinger went on to form LA D≥SSELDORF while Rother produced a series of albums featuring lovely guitar symphonies mixed with electronics which were a natural development of his contribution to the 75 album.


Isi, Seeland, Leb Wohl, Hero


The haunting piano and metronomic percussion of Leb Wohl are evidence of 4-Neu's surrogate parentage while Seeland's title is noted for future reference. Meanwhile the 'motorik' beat is recreated in drum machine form on tracks like She's Leaving, Georgia and Radio Waves.


Neu! (1972)
Neu! 2 (1974)
Neu! '86 (2010)

See also:

Flammende Herzen (1977)
Sterntaler (1978)
Katzenmusik (1979)


Radioactivity was KRAFTWERK's first totally electronic album as Autobahn featured guitar, violin and flute! This was also the recorded debut of the classic line-up of Ralf Hutter, Florian Schneider, Wolfgang Fl–r and Karl Bartos. The romantic retro-futurism and the fascination with all things technological combined to produce a melodic, if at times difficult, concept album.

This was the seed from which OMD sprung. All the classic hallmarks find their origins on this album like symphonic strings, synthetic choirs and white noise percussion. The album also features the experiments with radio broadcasts and sound effects which were to feature heavily on Dazzle Ships.

A young Andy McCluskey saw KRAFTWERK on the 1975 Radioactivity tour at the Liverpool Empire. It turned out to be the most important day of his life. He decided he wanted to make electronic music too. And years later, he would actually co-write four songs with Karl Bartos!


Radioactivity, Airwaves, Ohm Sweet Ohm, Radioland


When the melody of Radioactivity kicks in, history is made as Electricity is born!


Autobahn (1974)
Trans-Europe Express (1977)
The Man Machine (1978)
Computer World (1981)


Low was the first of BOWIE's Berlin trilogy although ironically, most of this album was recorded in France. His move towards icy European decadence with nods towards early KRAFTWERK, CAN, EDGAR FROESE and NEU! coincided with his escape from a well documented drug fuelled adjourn in America.

One half of the album consists of fragmented songs, the other half of atmospheric, downbeat instrumentals like Warszawa which were largely the muse of collaborator BRIAN ENO. However ENO is often wrongly credited as producer, that role actually fell to Tony Visconti who later worked briefly with OMD on Junk Culture.

Where this album is influential on OMD is its use of Germanic electronics which have their style more rooted in classical traditions, combined with a more conventional pop/rock rhythm section i.e. bass guitar and drums. It meant electronic music could be created by almost anybody, not just Germans!

The half songs/half instrumental concept was continued on the follow-up Heroes which featured guitarist Robert Fripp and a tribute to KRAFTWERK's Florian Schneider called V-2 Schneider.


Sound And Vision , Warszawa, Always Crashing In The Same Car, A New Career In A New Town, Art Decade


It has been said that OMD have based their entire sound on A New Career In A New Town. While this is not entirely true, the aspects of the influence on OMD's instrumentation can be found here.


Hunky Dory (1971)
Station to Station (1976)
Heroes (1977)
Scary Monsters & Super Creeps (1980)
The Platinum Collection (2005)


Following the demise of NEU! Klaus Dinger teamed up with his brother Thomas and Hans Lumpe who had already both played on his half of the 75 album to develop its more direct manifesto with additional keyboards and synthesizers. The result was a sound that not only influenced OMD and The Blitz scene but also DAVID BOWIE who called LA D≥SSELDORF "the soundtrack of the eighties".

Dinger's mad vocals were often close to gibberish while the layers of guitars, electronics and Teutonic percussion were ambitious in their experimentation while still retaining a distinct melodic structure. Rheinita is an obvious tuneful highlight but the outstanding Cha Cha 2000 is one of the best 20 minute tracks ever, possibly even surpassing KRAFTWERK's Autobahn!


Rheinita, Cha Cha 2000, Viva


"Rheinita" is basically the template of the Architecture & Morality album with its simple but dynamic percussion, big choral sounds and synthetic textures.


La Düsseldorf (1976)
Individuellos (1981)


DALEK I were the most influential of all the Liverpool bands on the Eric's scene. Andy McCluskey was briefly a member for about two months, but it proved very important. The band used tapes and a drum machine on stage making him realise there was no need for a drummer or, in fact any other musicians, thus liberating any musical ideas he had in from the limitations of a rock band.

Meanwhile, DALEK I, featuring the nucleus of Alan Gill and Dave Hughes (later to join OMD on their first tour) recorded their debut album featuring 14 pieces of eccentric pop including a cover of The Kinks' You Really Got Me. The inventive arrangements, although not as electronic, have a quirkiness that will appeal to those who like OMD's more experimental side, but with a sense of humour. The only letdown would be Gill's vocals and a little bit too much self-indulgence!

Dave Hughes left DALEK I to from GODOT which also featured Martin Cooper on saxophone and bizarrely future DALEK I vocalist Kevin Hartley. Hughes later worked with Thomas Lang who sang on The LISTENING POOL's Wild Strawberries


The World, Destiny (Dalek I Love You), Missing 15 Minutes, Two Chameleons


OMD adapt DALEK I's minimal instrumental set-up while also covering Two Chameleons during their concerts in 1980.


Dalek I Love You (1983)

See also:

Extended Player EP (1981)


As Factory Records label mates and having toured with them, OMD became great admirers of JOY DIVISION. When asked about their all time favourite singles in late 1980 by Flexipop magazine, both Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys put the non-album single Atmosphere as their No1.

Following JOY DIVISION singer Ian Curtis' suicide in May 1980, Closer was critically acclaimed on its release a month later. While JOY DIVISION were largely guitar-dominated, half of Closer is awash with synthesisers and Teutonic percussion in the KRAFTWERK and CAN tradition. Its beautiful but bleak sound within a setting of utter despair totally coloured Organisation which was being recorded at around this time.

Closer was effectively a musical suicide note and emotionally draining. Most owners, after playing the thing repeatedly for six months, couldn't play it again for many many years. The band continued as NEW ORDER to phenomenal success. After initially splitting in 1993, the reformed group included two songs from Closer, Isolation and Heart And Soul in their 1998 live set. They regularly played JOY DIVISION songs live until they split again in 2008.


Heart And Soul, Isolation, Decades, Twenty Four Hours [2007 Re-mastered Album Version].


The charisma of Ian Curtis as a performer and the shock of his death inspired Andy McCluskey to write the first couple of lines in Statues about him. The beautiful melancholy of Heart And Soul and Decades can be found on the Organisation album, while Andy McCluskey does his best (or worst) Ian Curtis impression on The More I See You.


Unknown Pleasures (1979)
Substance (1988)

See also:

Power Corruption and Lies (1983)
Technique: Collector's Edition/Remastered & Expanded (1989)
The Singles (2005)


Love him or loathe him, the late MALCOLM McLAREN was always thinking ahead of his time whether it was punk rock with the Sex Pistols, tribal drumming with Adam Ant, mobile music listening with Bow Wow Wow or scratching/DJ culture with The World's Famous Supreme Team. Acting as strategist and narrator on Fans, he put opera into a contemporary pop context alongside a palette of dance beats and electronics. Based on famous opera pieces, the music was constructed by New York based producers Robbie Kilgore, Walter Turbitt and Stephen Hague. While not entirely successful as a complete body of work, this concept also caught the attention of the PET SHOP BOYS and may have inadvertently help create the opera friendly environment which put Pavarotti to the top of the charts in the early 90s. BEST TRACK: Madam Butterfly


The beautiful popera/hip-hop hybrid of hit single Madam Butterfly was co-produced and engineered by Stephen Hague. This prompted OMD to recruit him as producer for Crush in their forthcoming Stateside assault. Incidentally, one of the other engineers on Fans was Tom Lord-Alge who later worked as production engineer on The Pacific Age and produced If You Leave.


Duck Rock (1982)
Waltz Darling (1989)


By 1995, in an effort to update the OMD sound, Andy McCluskey turned to the retro-Brit Pop scene for inspiration. There was the Oasis/Beatles pastiche of Walking On The Milky Way - itself based on DAVID BOWIE's All The Young Dudes and ripped off several times by Noel Gallagher. And there was PULP.

Recruiting their programmer Matthew Vaughan as studio collaborator and producer for Universal, he set about recording the most contemporary OMD album ever with an organic rather than electronic sound.

A Different Class is a perfect pop album from the ROXY/BOWIE school rather than the Kinks/Small Faces/Beatles axis favoured by many of PULP's peers. Jarvis Cocker's dark, but comical lyrics are the main source of entertainment, although the lush sound, courtesy of former ROXY MUSIC producer Chris Thomas, is an aural delight.


Something Changed, Sorted For E's & Wizz, I Spy, Common People, Disco 2000


Common People's instrumentation and the chorus for Disco 2000 are borrowed for The Boy From The Chemist Is Here To See You.


His 'N' Hers (1994)
Hits (2002)

This is a revised and updated version of an article that originally appeared in issue 1 of Messages.

by Chi Ming Lai