Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Author: Colin | Published: 2/5/09

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Artist Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Title Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Label Dindisc
Year 1980
Designer Ben Kelly and Peter Saville
Music Electronic popular music
Notes We’re not generally focused upon archival releases, as we believe that there’s still a huge amount of brilliant recent work to feature. Having said that, there are some designs that demand to be featured and refuse to take no for an answer…Peter Saville is justly celebrated for his designs for Joy Division. However, his work for three of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s first four albums is just as remarkable and we’ll be featuring it here in the next three posts. This is the cover for the first pressing of the group’s debut and it’s an absolutely thrilling design. The die-cut latticework is striking, both reducing and emphasising the sleeve’s physicality, while the vivacity of the blue and orange continues to promote a real sense of modernity 30 years later.

As with the Joy Division sleeves, Saville is clearly interested in reducing textual noise to a minimum, to which end all copy is hidden on one side of the inner sleeve border. The first image shows the front side with the sticker (surely imposed by the record company), but it’s the rear image that shows the design to best effect. Ben Kelly is co-credited with Saville, the specific nature of each designer’s contribution isn’t known.

According to discogs, further pressings consisted of the following variations:
Second: 10,000 copies comes in 12×12 die-cut grid with black outer and pink inner sleeve.
Third: 10,000 copies comes in 10×10 die-cut grid with gray outer and orange inner sleeve.
Fourth: 10,000 copies comes in 10×10 die-cut grid with blue outer and orange inner sleeve.
After: 40,000 copies comes in 12×12 non die-cut sleeve.

Next: Architecture & Morality, then Dazzle Ships…


  1. Hi,
    I can vouch for what Discogs has to say about the second pressing of the OMD album. I’ve had this 2nd pressing in my collection ever since i picked up a copy of it 30 years ago!
    Black outer and pink inner.

    You can see a pic at the link below:


    japanese forms

    Comment by japanese forms — September 18, 2010 @ 12:01 pm
  2. The perforated LP cover idea was proposed to Peter Saville by interior designer Ben Kelly, after showing him the metal grille he had used on the door of the “Howie” clothes store in Covent Garden, London.

    The album cover, and the single cover for Red Frame / White Light, were apparently artworked during a frantic, two-day session over the weekend just prior to Christmas 1979.

    In an interview from 2007 Peter mentioned that he was confronted by his boss at Dindisc, requesting the finished artwork, and when told that he hadn’t done it yet she locked him in the office until he’d completed it.

    He said that he phoned a friend to come over and help him out with the rush job. This might have been Ben, considering that he was co-author of the sleeve concept, but he didn’t name his assistant.

    Amusingly, Peter briefly mentioned the ‘locked in my office’ episode during his D&AD presidents lecture in 2008, but he failed to note which work it involved… work which gained him a D&AD silver award in 1981.

    Comment by gnp — May 25, 2013 @ 8:02 pm
  3. Interesting details thanks gnp. The lock-in method could be added to Eno’s Oblique Strategies…

    Comment by Colin — May 27, 2013 @ 9:28 pm
  4. Indeed. It’s amazing what one can do when one no longer has any choice in the matter. It’s a method which has always worked for me too.

    Comment by gnp — May 28, 2013 @ 9:05 am


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