100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #75 Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark – Electricity

Released : 1979

It’s nice to know that, even in 1979 when the earth wasn’t baking itself to a crisp as it would do fourty odd years later, the dissenting we know best voices still traded in broadly the same rhetoric. Written by sixteen year olds Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys when they were in a previous band called The Id, Electricity was supposedly a reflection on the need to preserve our natural resources, a message which if true has been falling on deaf ears ever since.

There are fewer deaf ears than those of former tabloid columnist Garry Bushell, who writing in Sounds at the time dismissed the ecological synth pop with “Who wants to listen to a bunch of Scousers whining about electricity anyway?”

The answer to that question was the freshly minted label impresario in waiting Tony Wilson. After OMD opened for Joy Division at the legendary Liverpool venue Eric’s, McCluskey plucked up the courage to send a demo up the M62 and as a result Wilson chose the song to be a one off release on Factory, with enfant terrible Martin Hannett on production duties.

It’s roots were simply explained; Humphreys and McCluskey on hearing Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity for the first time promptly went away to write a speeded up version of it. McCluskey would reveal to Mojo that the Germans had their number straight away, as on meeting them years later “I said, ‘Oh Radioactivity, my favorite Kraftwerk song. You do know that our Electricity was our version of Radioactivity sped up.?’ And Wolfgang and Karl said, ‘Oh yes, we knew that.’

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