Souvenir (song)

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OMD Souvenir 7inch.gif
"Souvenir" 7" sleeve
Single by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
from the album Architecture & Morality
  • "Motion & Heart" (Amazon Version)
  • "Sacred Heart"
Released4 August 1981 (1981-08-04)
GenreElectronic, synth-pop
  • 3:39
  • 4:16 (10" extended souvenir)
Songwriter(s)Paul Humphreys,
Martin Cooper
Producer(s)Mike Howlett
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark singles chronology
"Enola Gay"
"Joan of Arc"
Alternative cover
"Souvenir" 10" sleeve
"Souvenir" 10" sleeve

"Souvenir" is a song written by Paul Humphreys and Martin Cooper of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and released as the first single from their 1981 album Architecture & Morality. Sung by Humphreys, the track has minimal lyrical content and is characterised by slowed-down choir sounds offset by pulsing major key piano chords. Its "gentle, sparkling" synthesizer hook[1] substitutes for a vocal chorus, as with other OMD compositions.[2]

"Souvenir" became a major international hit for the band. Peaking at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart,[3] it remains the group's highest-charting single in their home country, along with 1991's "Sailing on the Seven Seas". The song also reached the Top 10 in several European territories, including topping the charts in France, Spain and Portugal.[4]


A tape consisting of slowed-down loops of a choir tuning up lent by ex-OMD member Dave Hughes had been the initial inspiration for the song.[5] The composition was difficult, and the group was initially tempted to abandon the track.

Keyboard player Paul Humphreys provided lead vocals and had co-written the song with Martin Cooper who had played live with OMD and was becoming part of the group. Frontman and co-founder Andy McCluskey was not a fan of the track. He has said: "I think you can always make a better case for a song you've written on your own...But everyone seems to think I hated 'Souvenir' just because it was Paul's song – not so. I genuinely thought it was a bit soppy, and since I hadn't written it, I found it hard to relate to."[6]

The single entered the UK Singles Chart on 25 August 1981 at no. 41, reaching no. 23 the week after. It was featured for the first time on Top of the Pops two days later helping the single to enter the Top 10 the following week and then reaching its peak no. 3 on 15 September.[7] The Top of the Pops line up of five group members was unique and unprecedented with musician Mike Douglas appearing with the band for the first and last time. The group also appeared on the Christmas Day edition of Top of the Pops to perform the song although by now back to the "classic" four members, Humphreys (vocals and keyboard), McCluskey (bass guitar), Holmes (drums) and Cooper (keyboards). Douglas had in the meantime left the group to play keyboards with The Human League on tour.

An extended version of Souvenir (with an additional verse) was released as a 10" single[8] and was later included as a bonus on the digitally remastered copies of Architecture & Morality. It was the second time the group had used this unusual release format, the first being the 10" single for "Messages" in May 1980.[9]

Unlike successive hit singles "Joan of Arc" and "Maid of Orleans" from the Architecture & Morality album, "Souvenir" has never been reissued as a standalone CD single release.

"Souvenir" was the band's only hit single to feature Humphreys on lead vocals until the release of "Secret" in 1985 and "(Forever) Live and Die" in 1986.

The title of the track was used for a documentary DVD about the reformed OMD, released in 2007 by Aspect Television.[10] It was originally titled "The Choir Song" and the working title remained up until the final week for Peter Saville's artwork delivery.[11]

Some copies of The Human League's single "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" were mispressed with "Souvenir" as the A-side.[4]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Dave Thompson of AllMusic felt "Souvenir" broke new artistic ground for the band. He wrote that the track possesses an "exquisite lightness" and captures "OMD at their most luminescent".[12] Colleague Ned Raggett praised Humphreys' "warm and beautiful lead role" and described the mid-song instrumental break as "especially inspired".[1] A Trouser Press critic called the track "magnificent" and "one of the most majestic singles of the post-punk era".[13]

Having gained little mainstream airplay in recent years, "Souvenir" was mentioned in the IPC Media special 501 Lost Songs as a "classic piece of early '80s melancholy".[11] It has nevertheless been featured on numerous 1980s compilation albums, as well as in the BBC drama Ashes to Ashes.[14]

The Charlatans vocalist Tim Burgess wrote of the song, "Absolute classic. Gorgeous. I had it on a 7'... So atmospheric."[15] Andy Bell of Erasure said that he is always moved to tears upon hearing "Souvenir".[16] The track has been remixed and covered by various artists.


There are two songs on the B-sides of the 7" and the 10" singles, "Motion & Heart" (Amazon Version) and "Sacred Heart". The original version of "Motion & Heart" can be found on the Organisation album. The Amazon Version was recorded at Amazon Studios in Kirkby as a possible single after "Enola Gay", but that plan was dropped.[5] Both songs are produced by OMD and can be found on the remastered re-issues of Architecture & Morality. "Sacred Heart" is also included on Navigation: The OMD B-Sides.

Music video[edit]

The Palladian Bridge at Stowe House

The song's promo video was filmed in the grounds of Stowe House, the home of Stowe School, in Buckinghamshire, England. It was an early MTV favourite and is among OMD's more well-known videos.[17]

Andy McCluskey is seen driving around in a classic red, convertible Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, while Paul Humphreys stands on, and leans against the pillars of, the Palladian Bridge while singing. The promo video is included on the video version of The Best of OMD, the bonus DVD of the 2007 reissue of Architecture & Morality and the DVD included in the 2008 Compilation album Messages: Greatest Hits.[citation needed]

Live performances[edit]

The song has been performed at live shows on a regular basis since the Architecture & Morality tour in 1981, except for when Paul Humphreys was no longer with the band during the 1990s and early 2000s.[18] A live performance from 1981 was filmed for the Live at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane concert in December 1981, initially released on VHS (1982) and laserdisc (1984) [19] and later on DVD [20]

The song was also performed with The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in June 2009 as documented by the Electricity DVD release.[21]

On 26 July 2015 Paul Humphreys was unable to perform at the 80s Rewind Festival in Scotland and so the vocal was sung for the first time by Andy McCluskey. On seeing a clip of the performance from his hospital bed Humphreys said he felt he had "entered some kind of alternative universe".[22]

Sleeve design[edit]

The sleeve was designed by Peter Saville and Brett Wickens. The 7" sleeve has a die-cut hole in the middle, revealing the label. On the label is a picture of a Düsseldorf street scene. For the 10" this picture is printed on the sleeve. It was the first single released with OMD as the band name. The European releases have different artwork, some almost identical to the UK releases. A Canadian release of the 10" has green transparent vinyl.

Remix versions[edit]

In May 1991 DMC released a 12" vinyl single with the "Postcards from the Edge Mix" by Brothers in Rhythm.

In 1998 four remixes of the song were made by Moby for the intended second disc of The OMD Singles. The second disc was dropped, but the remixes appeared on various The OMD Remixes EPs. In 2003 the double disc version was released in France only, which included all four remixes of "Souvenir".

The remixes are:

  • Moby remix – 4:41
  • Hard House version – 5:47
  • 7 AM version – 6:47
  • Me & Us remix – 11:32

Cover versions[edit]

Nino de Angelo recorded a German version of the song in 1982, titled "Und ein Engel fliegt in die Nacht".[23] Paul Humphreys' band Onetwo played the song regularly at live performances in the style of the Moby remix. Polish singer Ania recorded the song in 2004.[24] American singer-songwriter State Shirt recorded a cover of the song in 2010. In 2015, IDM pioneer Mike "μ-Ziq" Paradinas released a cover version that he had recorded as a child 30 years earlier.[25]

Track listings[edit]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Silver 250,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. Architecture & Morality review at AllMusic
  2. ^ "Interview: Andy McCluskey, OMD". PRS for Music Online Magazine. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013. Many of our songs use the synth melody as the chorus. There are verses but generally the melody is the chorus.
  3. ^ Official UK Chart for 19 September 1981.
  4. ^ a b OMD – Souvenir at Discogs.
  5. ^ a b "Official OMD Website discography entry for "Souvenir" 7". Retrieved 23 March 2008.
  6. ^ Waller, Johnny; Humphreys, Mike. Messages. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1987. ISBN 0-283-99234-4. p. 91.
  7. ^ "Official Charts - Singles - Souvenir". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Official OMD Website discography entry for "Souvenir" 10". Retrieved 23 March 2008.
  9. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages, vinyl 10". Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  10. ^ Aspect Television
  11. ^ a b "252-281: The '80s". 501 Lost Songs. IPC Media: 53. 2011. [T]his was originally known as 'The Choir Song', as the intro consisted of slowed-down loops of a choir tuning up. This classic piece of early '80s melancholy got its eventual title as Peter Saville was about to deliver the artwork for what would become the band's massive-selling Architecture & Morality album.
  12. ^ "Souvenir" review at AllMusic.
  13. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Trouser Press. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Souvenir": Appears On. AllMusic.
  15. ^ @Tim_Burgess (14 April 2020). "Absolute classic..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. ^ Walsh, Ben (6 May 2013). "Music review: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Roundhouse, London". The Independent. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Souvenir - YouTube".
  18. ^ "Souvenir by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Live at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Architecture & Morality (Collector's Edition CD & DVD)". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Souvenir song". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  22. ^ "OMD Official page - Message from Paul 27 July 2015". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  23. ^ "Biography". Nino de Angelo's official website. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  24. ^ "Souvenir". Samotność po zmierzchu. 2004. Sony BMG.
  25. ^ "µ-Ziq digs up cover of OMD's 'Souvenir' he recorded as a 13-year-old in 1985". Slicing Up Eyeballs. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  26. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 224. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  27. ^ " – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Souvenir" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  28. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Souvenir". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  29. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  30. ^ " – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Souvenir" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 94 no. 16. 24 April 1982. p. 63. ISSN 0006-2510 – via Google Books.
  32. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  33. ^ "OMD: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  34. ^ " – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Souvenir". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  35. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1982). "The Top 200 Singles: January–December 1981". BPI Year Book 1982 (5th ed.). London: The British Phonographic Industry Ltd. pp. 46–49. ISBN 0-906154-03-0.
  36. ^ "British single certifications – OMD – Souvenir". British Phonographic Industry. 1 September 1981. Retrieved 24 December 2020.

Video clips[edit]