Red Frame White Light 7 single front

Red Frame / White Light is the title of a song by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark released as a single on 28 January 1980,[1] a few weeks ahead of their debut album from which it was taken. Songwriting is credited to band members McCluskey/Humphreys.

The title of the song and the lyrics refer to a public telephone box, namely the one used by the band when booking early gigs etc. The song also quotes the phone's number '632-3003' as well as containing "a grey book on a metal shelf" and "a yellow book with adverts" , the phone directories which were often kept in public boxes at the time. The song ends with the fade-out recreated sound of a phone ringing down a phone line.

Although the song was a live favourite in the group's early days and was chosen as their first single on the new Dindisc label, the group were quick to drop the song from live sets after their first headline tour and have expressed some embarrassment about the song since (the song was only revived on the 1983 'Showcase' tour as a crowd-pleaser). The track was excluded from group single compilation releases The Best of OMD (1988), The OMD Singles (1998) and Messages (2008).

Red Frame/White Light was chosen as one of the tracks for their debut Peel session recorded in August 1979 and is included on their Peel Sessions release.[2] It was the first track to be played by Peel on the session's debut broadcast on 03 September 1979.

Single release

Smash Hits Feb 80 debut album announcement

For the first time, a 12" issue of the single as well as a 7" was released. Both contain identical versions of both the A and B sides. The group typically used the B side to issue a more experimental track 'I Betray My Friends', not included on the original album release.

The sleeve was again designed by Peter Saville Associates and features a simplified 'grill' design, as featured on the debut album, in a grey/red and white colour scheme to reflect the single's subject matter. 7" and 12" designs differ slightly.

The single failed to chart in the UK, reaching no.67.


7" DIN 6, 1980

A. Red Frame/White Light (3:15)

B. I Betray My Friends (3:50)

12" DIN

A. Red Frame/White Light (3:15)

B. I Betray My Friends (3:50)

Promo video

A promo video featuring a performance of the song was made although was kept under wraps for many years (unlike the video for other early singles Electricity and Messages) before being released on the DVD included with the Messages compilation album (2008), and posted officially on youtube in 2010, thirty years after it was made.

White Light03:10

White Light

The video features the group's live line-up and stage gear of the time. The CompuRhythm CR-78 drum machine used on the track recording opens the video.


  • own copy of the 7" and still rate it as an OMD favourite, especially the Peel session version.

External links


  1. John Peel played it on his show on this date stating it was their new single. He also announced them as "Orchestral Manoeuvres, no longer in the Dark".[1]

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