Liberator (album)

Liberator is the ninth studio album by English electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), released on 14 June 1993 by Virgin Records. Recorded by OMD frontman Andy McCluskey along with musicians enlisted for Sugar Tax (1991), the record ventures further into the dance-pop style explored by its predecessor.

Liberator
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Liberator album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released14 June 1993 (1993-06-14)
StudioThe Pink Museum and The Ministry (Liverpool, England)
Genre
Length49:02
LabelVirgin
Producer
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark chronology
Sugar Tax
(1991)
Liberator
(1993)
Universal
(1996)
Singles from Liberator
  1. "Stand Above Me"
    Released: 4 May 1993
  2. "Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme)"
    Released: 5 July 1993
  3. "Everyday"
    Released: 6 September 1993

Liberator met with mixed reviews and peaked at number 14 on the UK Albums Chart. It spawned three singles; lead single "Stand Above Me" and follow-up "Dream of Me" were Top 25 entries on the UK Singles Chart.

Liberator has been dismissed by McCluskey, who called the record "busy and messy".

BackgroundEdit

Liberator treads further into the dance-pop style explored by predecessor Sugar Tax (1991), and embraces techno and house influences.[1][2]

Second single "Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme)" uses a sample from the instrumental piece "Love's Theme", originally released in 1973 by Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. OMD co-founder Paul Humphreys, who had left the group in 1989, is credited as co-writer of third single "Everyday", which dates to 1987. "Sunday Morning" is a cover of a Velvet Underground song, originally featured on The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967).[3]

"Heaven Is" was first performed live by OMD in September 1983, prior to the release of the following year's Junk Culture.[3] The track did not make that album, nor follow-up The Pacific Age (1986), for which it was heavily considered.[4] The final Liberator version contains some lyrical variations, such as the name of the pornographic actress Christy Canyon as opposed to newsreader Selina Scott in the 1983 version.[3]

Liberator's title track was not completed in time for the album release. It was eventually included in the Souvenir 40th anniversary retrospective boxset in 2019, featuring on a CD of previously unreleased material. The track was first released in September on digital and streaming platforms ahead of the boxset. It was a song that McCluskey had been trying to write for several years from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. The title inspiration comes from his love of WWII aircraft. There were several demo versions recorded, with the one released in 2019 being as close as the song got to the intended sound.[5]

The cover art originally featured a variation of the "bomber girl" nose cone art used on many B-24 Liberator planes.[6] The final artwork was designed by Area, with photography by Stephane Sednaoui and Joseph Hunwick.[3]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [7]
Chicago Tribune    [8]
Classic Pop     [9]
Encyclopedia of Eighties Music     [10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [2]

Liberator met with mixed reviews.[11] Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian wrote, "McCluskey can still turn out a catchy tune without so much as rumpling his cardigan. If the 12 here sound familiar, maybe it's because much of today's dance-pop is descended from OMD's early sound. Still, the LP does wander down a few new by-ways."[12] The Courier-Journal's Jeffrey Lee Puckett said, "At least on much of Liberator, [OMD] manages to tickle some latent fancy, coming off as breezy fun rather than canned button-pushing... OMD makes electronics bend to the will of the lovesick heart, drawing melancholy from machinery."[13]

Len Righi of The Morning Call wrote, "If you long for the days when silly synth pop ruled... Liberator will set your spirit free." Lighi felt, however, that the bulk of the album "surrenders any claim to attention".[14] The Observer's Neil Spencer said, "Liberator repeats the [Sugar Tax] formula of swirling synths, crashing drum machines and trite, mournful songs; most of it sounds like the Brookside theme with added words, but of such banalities are massive hits made."[15] Scott Hipper of the Santa Cruz Sentinel observed a "second-rate effort" bereft of "fresh ideas".[16]

In a retrospective review, Trouser Press wrote, "All those years spent in the company of keyboards evidently left [McCluskey] fully able to make convincing percolating rhythms and layers of faux violins, and both get good use on what is a pretty stupid but diverting exercise."[17] AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine remarked, "While it is far from the experimental and edgy synth-pop that earned the group rave reviews in the early '80s, [Liberator] is an enjoyable, lightweight collection of appealing dance-pop."[7]

Band responseEdit

McCluskey has dismissed Liberator, believing that he "messed up" the album.[18] He has also criticised the single "Everyday".[19] In a 2019 interview McCluskey said:

"I screwed up. Stupidly, I unlearned all the lessons I had learned writing Sugar Tax. I rushed into Liberator, I let Phil Coxon co-produce. I was precious about my production, so we ended up with two layers of production. It all got busy and messy... I was aware that Britpop was approaching and I didn't know what I should do. I tried to incorporate techno and house, I got more dancey, I did it with the best will, but it didn't work."[1]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Andy McCluskey, except where noted.

Liberator track listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Stand Above Me"
  • McCluskey
  • Stuart Kershaw
  • Lloyd Massett
3:33
2."Everyday"
3:57
3."King of Stone" 4:17
4."Dollar Girl" 4:19
5."Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme)"
4:13
6."Sunday Morning" (the Velvet Underground cover)3:23
7."Agnus Dei"
3:39
8."Love and Hate You" 3:18
9."Heaven Is" 4:30
10."Best Years of Our Lives"
  • McCluskey
  • Kershaw
4:35
11."Christine"
  • McCluskey
  • Kershaw
5:04
12."Only Tears"
  • McCluskey
  • Kershaw
4:14

PersonnelEdit

  • Andy McCluskey – programming, production on tracks 1–4, and 6–12
  • Phil Coxon – programming, production on tracks 1–4, and 6–12
  • Beverly Reppion – backing vocals on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 12
  • Nathalie James – backing vocals on tracks 4, and 8
  • Doreen Edwards – backing vocals on track 9
  • backing vocals on track 5
  • Stuart Boyle – guitar on tracks 1, and 6
  • Nigel Ipinson – piano and arrangement on track 6
  • Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares – a sample from "Bezrodna Nevesta" is used in track 7
  • Barry White – production on track 5
  • Mark Phythian – engineer
  • Paul Butcher – assistant engineer
  • Ian Collins – assistant engineer
  • Pat O'Shaughnessy – assistant engineer
  • Mike Hunter – assistant engineer
  • Andrea Wright – assistant engineer
  • Tony Cousins – mastering at Town House, London
  • Gregg Jackman – mix for tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 12
  • Niall Flynn – assistant mix for tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 12

Mixed at Amazon Studios, Liverpool Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 12 mixed at Sarm West, London

ChartsEdit

Chart performance for Liberator
Chart (1993) Peak
position
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[20] 59
European Albums (Music & Media)[21] 30
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[22] 17
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[23] 20
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 32
UK Albums (OCC)[25] 14
US Billboard 200[26] 169

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Wilson, Lois (30 September 2019). "OMD". Record Collector. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b Evans, Paul (2004). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 607. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  3. ^ a b c d "OMD Discography: Liberator". Messages. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  4. ^ Waller, Johnny; Humphreys, Mike (1987). Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Messages. Sidgwick & Jackson. p. 169. ISBN 0-283-99234-4.
  5. ^ Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark [@OfficialOMD] (10 September 2019). "The title inspiration comes from Andy's love of WWII aeroplanes. There were several demo versions recorded – the one released today is the nearest the song got to the intended sound" (Tweet). Retrieved 11 September 2019 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Browne, Paul. "The Launch of Liberator". Messages. 12 March 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  7. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Liberator – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  8. ^ Webber, Brad (19 August 1993). "Recordings". Chicago Tribune. p. 71 (Tempo, p. 7).
  9. ^ Wallace, Wyndham (September–October 2021). "OMD: Liberator". Classic Pop. No. 71. p. 91.
  10. ^ Larkin, Colin (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music. Virgin Books. p. 350. ISBN 0753501597.
  11. ^ Page, Barry (29 March 2017). "OMD – Liberator Revisited". The Electricity Club. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  12. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (18 June 1993). "Dark's Dancing Melodies". The Guardian. p. 31 (Music, 6/7).
  13. ^ Puckett, Jeffrey Lee (17 July 1993). "Liberator – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". The Courier-Journal. p. 24 (Scene, p. 11).
  14. ^ Righi, Len (14 August 1993). "Records". The Morning Call. p. A65.
  15. ^ Spencer, Neil (20 June 1993). "More Music". The Observer. p. 59.
  16. ^ Hipper, Scott (16 July 1993). "New Romantics Sound Old". Santa Cruz Sentinel. p. 49 (Spotlight, p. 13).
  17. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Liberator". Trouser Press. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  18. ^ Tarchala, Lori (24 October 2011). "Interview: Andy McCluskey". Messages – The OMD Magazine. Archived from the original on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  19. ^ Ryan, Gary (14 October 2019). "Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?! – Andy McCluskey". NME. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  20. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Liberator" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  21. ^ "European Top 100 Albums" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10 no. 28. 10 July 1993. p. 18. OCLC 29800226 – via World Radio History.
  22. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Liberator" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Liberator". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Swisscharts.com – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Liberator". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Archived from the original on 18 April 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2021.

External linksEdit