|Studio album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark|
|Released||April 30, 1984|
Pre-recorded at Air Studios, Montserrat, ICP Studios, Brussels and Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum.
Recorded at The Manor Studio, Shipton-on-Cherwell.
|Producer||Brian Tench and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark|
|Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark chronology|
Junk Culture is the fifth album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, released in 1984. The three most successful singles from the album were "Locomotion", which reached #5 in the UK, "Talking Loud and Clear" (#11), and "Tesla Girls" (#21).
Junk Culture makes use of the band's newly acquired Fairlight CMI digital sampling/sequencing workstation. The title track is an instrumental with heavy dub overtones and tape collages; "All Wrapped Up" is a calypso pop song. "Talking Loud and Clear" features a soprano saxophone melody.
The cover artwork was designed by Peter Saville.
Reception and legacy
Following the decline in record sales initiated by relentlessly experimental 1983 album Dazzle Ships, OMD opted for a more palatable pop sound on Junk Culture. The Scotsman remarked: "They [OMD] 'reeled in some of the radicalism' on Junk Culture, the title a wry comment on the failure of Dazzle Ships to connect with the populace." John Bergstrom in PopMatters commented: "[S]tarting with 1984's Junk Culture, OMD morphed from a risk-taking art-pop band to the still-inventive but commercially calculating act that found American success".
Initial critical reaction to Junk Culture was mixed. Robin Smith gave a glowing review in Record Mirror in which he described the record as "smooth, warm and powerful – a living, breathing musical menagerie filled with a hard core of ideas culled from virtually the four corners of the world." In The Guardian, Robin Denselow referred to a "fifth album that's bursting with life and enthusiasm – a cheerful dose of pop, dance styles and even R&B and Latin influences to produce an unusual and catchy set of songs." Ottawa Citizen journalist Evelyn Erskine remarked: "Of the countless bands that make up the synth-pop invasion, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark has shown a greater ability to progress creatively than most." She noted that OMD had maintained much of the daring spirit of their earlier records, adding: "The mood is enhanced by the band's deft use of experimental techniques which include tape manipulation, 'scratching' and found sound."
Conversely, it was observed in What Hi-Fi? that Junk Culture "seems to lack some of the substance of previous albums"; a review published in the New Musical Express argued that it is "never fresh or dynamic" and "all too predictable". Lynden Barber, in a scathing review for Melody Maker, asked: "Is there anyone who will care about OMD now having been let down again?" He targeted his most acerbic criticism at the lyrically aggressive "White Trash", calling it "offensive, irresponsible garbage".
Retrospective reviews have been favourable. Ned Raggett in AllMusic awarded the record four out of five. He wrote: "Junk Culture was no sacrifice of ideals in pursuit of cash...[it] exhibits all the best qualities of OMD at their most accessible -- instantly memorable melodies and McCluskey's distinct singing voice, clever but emotional lyrics, and fine playing all around." Raggett noted that, at times "the more adventurous side of the band steps up." Robert Christgau gave the record a "B" rating. In his review he said: "Now that they've come down a little I can take their sad tales of hard days seriously. Even on Junk Culture proper, which stirs up memories of their direct atmospherics, they do their best to cheese things up, and elsewhere hurdy-gurdy synths and android girlies emitting no-no-nos do right by the title, a title anybody who once dubbed an album Architecture and Morality had damn well better earn."
Junk Culture is ranked as one of the top 20 albums of 1984 at Sputnikmusic. It is positioned as one of the top 35 albums of the year per AllMusic ratings; Slicing Up Eyeballs readers allocated it a similar ranking, drawn from more than 35,000 votes.
- "Junk Culture" (Instrumental) – 4:06
- "Tesla Girls" – 3:51
- "Locomotion" – 3:53
- "Apollo" – 3:39
- "Never Turn Away" – 3:57
- "Love and Violence" – 4:40
- "Hard Day" – 5:59
- "All Wrapped Up" – 4:25
- "White Trash" – 4:35
- "Talking Loud and Clear" – 4:20
- "The Angels Keep Turning (The Wheels of the Universe)" [free one-sided 7" single included with initial pressing of the album]
- Paul Humphreys: vocals, Roland JP8, emulator, Korg Preset, acoustic piano, Fairlight CMI, celeste, Prophet 5
- Andy McCluskey: vocals, bass guitar, guitar, Roland JP8, emulator, Fairlight CMI, Latin percussion
- Martin Cooper: Prophet 5, emulator, tenor and soprano saxophones, Roland SH2, marimba
- Malcolm Holmes: acoustic and electronic drums, Latin percussion, drum computer programming
- Gordan Troeller: piano on "Locomotion", JP8 on "White Trash"
- Maureen Humphreys: vocals on "Tesla Girls"
- Jan Faas, Jan Vennik, Bart van Lier: brass section on "Locomotion" and "All Wrapped Up"
- Tony Visconti: brass arrangements on "Locomotion" and "All Wrapped Up"
- Bob Ludwig: Mastering
- Raggett, Ned. Junk Culture review. AllMusic. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- Waller, Johnny; Humphreys, Mike. Messages. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1987. ISBN 0-283-99234-4. p. 132.
- Erskine, Evelyn (25 May 1984). "Junk Culture review". Ottawa Citizen. Google News. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
- "Orchestral leap in the dark". The Scotsman. The Scotsman Publications. 3 February 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- Bergstrom, John (17 April 2008"Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Dazzle Ships Review". PopMatters. Retrieved 3 October 2009.).
- Waller, Johnny; Humphreys, Mike. Messages. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1987. ISBN 0-283-99234-4. p. 129.
- "Best Pop Albums of 1984". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- "AllMusic's Highest Rated Albums of 1984". AllMusic. Collated by Album of The Year. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- "Top 100 Albums of 1984: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s — Part 5". Slicing Up Eyeballs. 1 July 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.