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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > July 2019 > Orchestral Manoeuvres

Orchestral Manoeuvres

ANDY WRIGHT S TARTED HIS CAREER AS A SYNTH AND DRUM MACHINE PROGRAMMER IN THE 80s, AND IS NOW BOTH SIMPLY RED AND SIMPLE MINDS’ REGULAR PRODUCER. T HERE WAS SIMPLY ONLY ONE PERSON, T HEN, TO HEL M THE RECENT 80s SYMPHONI C PROJECT, WHERE 15 ICONI C TRACKS FROM THE DECADE WERE REARRANGED WITH AN ORCHESTRAL BACKING. ANDY JONES MEETS THE MAN WITH A CLASSICAL TOUCH…

As luck would have it, Andy Wright found himself with quite a collection of studio technology back in the 80s, and so knowledgeable did he get with it, he ended up programming the synths and drum machines of the era, so the stars he worked for didn’t have to. Now, though, he’s become something of an über record producer, so in demand that he’s working with a wealth of artists, both old and new.

However, many of his current projects still echo with the sounds of that classic decade – particularly as he has long-term working relationships with both Simply Red and Simple Minds – so when a project was mooted to take some of the best songs from the 80s and rework them into new orchestral pieces, Wright was the only man for the top job. 80s Symphonic is the result, a collection of tracks by everyone from A-ha to Ultravox, Bowie to Bronski Beat, and a spectacular album of orchestral rearrangements, all recorded at Abbey Road.

The project was no small task; Wright had to revisit every song’s original masters and, in doing so, sieve through all the original multitracks in isolation. It was likely the first time they had been played in years and many included material that most of us can only dream of hearing – that three-octave vocal from Take On Me, for a start. Andy would then have to decide which parts to leave in, and which would be reworked into glorious classical tones by a full orchestra.

THE WRIGHT EQUIPMENT

Before we get too far into this symphonic adventure, let’s step back to the decade that spawned the project in the first place. Andy was right in the thick of it during the 80s, working with many a diverse artist and helping to program their sounds and synths – but all of this was after his own attempts at fame and fortune.

Andy Wright used a 50-piece orchestra to help breathe new sonic life into 15 80s classics
Of the 80s Symphonic project, Andy says: “Opening up the tape boxes of the biggest Warner’s hits from the 80s was like all my Christmases rolled into one”
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About Classic Pop

This month, we have the definitive interview with the returning Shakespears Sister – back after a split that lasted more than 25 years. We also meet Lloyd Cole to talk about his stunning electronic-flavoured new album Guesswork and catch up with the iconic Betty Boo who looks back on her career as a UK hip-hop trailblazer. Our Classic Album this issue is Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ambitious debut Welcome To The Pleasuredome and we take a deep dive into the studio work of Belinda Carlisle for our Album by Album feature. We talk to Steve Barron, the director who shaped the 80s pop video landscape, and also hear from China Crisis’ Gary Daly as he unveils his first-ever solo album. Read our verdict on Madonna’s Madame X alongside new live LPs from Soft Cell and New Order plus much more in our new albums pages. Our packed reissues and compilation section features Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, Joy Division, Shakespears Sister and more. On the live reviews front, we check out shows including Take That, Howard Jones, Marc Almond and the Manic Street Preachers. Enjoy the issue!