The release of Sugar Tax in 1991 saw the revival of fortunes for OMD. Following the release of the Best Of OMD album in 1988, the band had split under acrimonious circumstances. An agreement that Andy continue under the OMD banner was struck, whilst Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Mal Holmes formed their own band The Listening Pool.
The fact was that Andy and Paul were pulling in different directions musically and reconciling these differences under the OMD name proved impossible. Andy was increasingly becoming more drawn to contemporary influences, such as House Music and the Pop/R&B tunes that were regularly in the UK charts at the time. Andy had also begun collaborating with Stuart Kershaw and Lloyd Massett, members of local band Raw Untld. This proved to be the foundations for what would later become the Sugar Tax album.
For Andy, the pressure to deliver was keenly felt in a period when synthpop was falling out of favour and the perception of OMD was a band that had exceeded its sell by date. The success of Sugar Tax blew away any misconceptions of the band and it also delivered two Top 10 UK hits in the shape of ‘Sailing On The Seven Seas’ and ‘Pandora’s Box’.
Many of the initial photos produced to promote the album were deliberately shot to lend a sense of ambiguity to them. This reflected Andy’s crisis of confidence at the time – and was also in all likelihood part of a desire to not draw attention to the departure of Paul Humphreys from the band.
Despite the turbulent times that surrounded it, Sugar Tax managed to revitalise OMD’s name and demonstrated that Andy was capable of continuing to write successful pop songs.
Text : Paul Browne
Originally published 28th March 2011