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The Listening Pool

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The Listening Pool
OriginThe Wirral, England
Years active1989–1996
Past membersPaul Humphreys
Malcolm Holmes
Martin Cooper

The Listening Pool was an English band, founded by three former members of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), after the original-lineup split in 1989. It was composed of Paul Humphreys, Malcolm Holmes and Martin Cooper.

The group released one album, Still Life (1994).



Martin Cooper on how they came up with the band's name from an interview in the Telegraph fanzine:

Well it's hard to say exactly who thought of it. We were in LA and had been kicking about names for ages. We had this piece of paper with all sorts of words written on it and the name just came about. It may have been me who put the two names together.[1]

Paul Humphreys:

We had sheets and sheets of words and we just put some together.[1]

Contractual difficulties[edit]

The Listening Pool had to overcome a few obstacles before they could release their CD. The Listening Pool could not release any music since Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey signed an agreement releasing Paul from his contract with Virgin Records while allowing Andy to continue using the name OMD. Until new OMD material was issued, nothing could be done on Paul's end.

Martin states in the Telegraph interview:

Andy could get on with his record because Virgin were financing him during that period. We were writing, but we couldn't do anything. Once Andy had released his record (Sugar Tax), we were free of all contracts and things, but we didn't have a label, so we had to look around.[1]

The Listening Pool originally signed with a record label called Inevitable, which later folded. The Listening Pool then formed their own independent label, Telegraph Records. OMD used the fictitious "Telegraph" label for Dazzle Ships (1983), to maintain the image of being signed to an "indie" label.

Debut album[edit]

The Listening Pool released its debut album titled Still Life in 1994. The style of Still Life is quite a change from the electronic sound of the OMD of old using the individual talents of the members with more acoustic drums, saxophone and keyboards.[2][3]


In 1996, after recording some songs intended for a follow-up album, one of which was titled "Satellite" the band split. Paul Humphreys went on to form the band Onetwo with Claudia Brucken,[4] Martin Cooper resumed his painting career and Mal Holmes continued to work in the music industry.

In 2006 the classic OMD line-up of McCluskey, Humphreys, Cooper, and Holmes reunited, and continued to tour and record.



Still Life (1994)

  1. "Meant to Be" – 4:15
  2. "Oil for the Lamps of China" – 3:34
  3. "Follow Where You Go" – 3:54
  4. "Breathless" – 4:17
  5. "Somebody Somewhere" (with Paul Roberts) – 4:03
  6. "Photograph of You" (with Simon Dutton) – 4:17
  7. "Promised the World" – 4:28
  8. "Blue Africa" – 4:33
  9. "Still Life" – 4:34
  10. "Where Do We Go from Here" – 3:33
  11. "Wild Strawberries" (with Thomas Lang) – 3:55
  12. "Hand Me That Universe" – 2:11


Professional ratings
Review scores

Michael Sutton of AllMusic wrote, "The Listening Pool's jazzy, laid-back grooves on Still Life have more in common with the lush, romantic pop of China Crisis, the Blue Nile, and Roxy Music... The songs are magnificent, refreshingly moving beyond OMD's limited canvas."[2] Trouser Press stated, "The Listening Pool crafts a pleasant, organic sound as akin to later Talk Talk or China Crisis as OMD. Highlighted by the fine single 'Oil for the Lamps of China', Still Life is worthwhile for hardcore OMD-ers."[3] P.F. Wilson of City Pages wrote that the band "made a great album, but it's kind of hard to find".[5]


"Oil for the Lamps of China" (1993)

  • CD single
  1. "Oil for the Lamps of China" – 3:34
  2. "Where Do We Go from Here" – 3:34
  3. "Oil for the Lamps of China (Extended Version)" – 6:02
  4. "Oil for the Lamps of China (Instrumental)" – 3:30
  • 12" single
  1. "Oil for the Lamps of China (Extended Version)" – 6:00
  2. "Oil for the Lamps of China (Single Mix)" – 3:30
  3. "Where Do We Go from Here" – 3:34
  • Cassette single
  1. "Oil for the Lamps of China" – 3:34
  2. "Where Do We Go from Here" – 3:34
  3. "Oil for the Lamps of China (Extended Version)" – 6:02
  4. "Oil for the Lamps of China (Instrumental)" – 3:30

"Meant to Be" (1995)

  • CD single
  1. "Meant to Be" – 4:15
  2. "Meant to Be (Extended Version)" – 6:42
  3. "Meant to Be (Instrumental)" – 4:18

Telegraph Records[edit]

The Listening Pool formed their own independent label, Telegraph Records. Besides releasing their own work, they also signed artists like Peter Coyle (both as a solo artist and as part of Pure Journey) and China Crisis. The label was short lived resulting in a brief catalogue.


Release date Catalogue Format Artist Title Producer Notes
22 April 1993 (1993-04-22) TLGCD006 5" CD single China Crisis "Black Man Ray" Mark Phythian Live at the Neptune Theatre in Liverpool
24 May 1993 (1993-05-24) TLGCD005 CD China Crisis Acoustically Yours Mark Phythian Live at the Neptune Theatre in Liverpool
TLGMC005 Cassette
24 May 1993 (1993-05-24) TLGCD007 CD Thomas Lang Versions Andrew Redhead, David A Hughes, John Murphy, Paul Humphreys, The Listening Pool
12 July 1993 (1993-07-12) TLGT001 12" single The Listening Pool "Oil for the Lamps of China" The Listening Pool, Ronnie Stone
TLGMC001 Cassette single
TLGCD001 5" CD single
October 1994 TLGCD002 CD The Listening Pool Still Life The Listening Pool, Ronnie Stone
1995 (1995) TLGCD003 5" CD single The Listening Pool "Meant to Be" The Listening Pool
1995 (1995) TLGCD004 CD Nicola and Alexandra Bibby Debussy & Fauré Martin Cooper Classical music, songs composed by Claude Debussy and Gabriel Fauré


  1. ^ a b c Marsh, Phil (1994). "Talking with the Listening Pool". Telegraph. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Sutton, Michael. Still Life review. AllMusic. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Trouser Press. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Onetwo (Paul Humphreys & Claudia Brucken) Interview [2004]". 18 March 2011.
  5. ^ Wilson, P.F. (31 March 2020). "OMD co-founder Paul Humphreys reflects on the band's resurgence". City Pages. Archived from the original on 31 March 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.