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Mike Oldfield - Q.E.2 CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.49 | 300 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars QE2 was Mike Oldfield's most Celtic sounding album up to that point, with many of the tunes clearly sporting a green jacket, and he produces some convincing world beats along the way. While the drawn out side long pieces are truncated, Oldfield here surrounds himself with accomplished musicians and the result is more of a feel of the ensemble than anything that came before.

The album opens with the longest piece, and the first of the "Taurus" trilogy which would contain an installment on each of the subsequent two albums. This one almost sounds like a holdover from Platinum until about the 5 minute mark when the whistles enter and it becomes a folkier proposition, introducing one of the key themes of the album. "Sheba" features effective vocoder and Maggie Reilly's wonderful voice which would remain a fixture with Oldfield for several years. I was living in Ottawa at the time of release and this became quite a popular FM hit - he seemed to have quite a following in Ontario. But "Conflict" is even better. Oldfield shows a knack for progression in the true sense by taking a techno beginning featuring period synthesizers and seguing into a timeless Irish melody led by his own lead guitar. I suppose David Hentschel had something to do with the way this was achieved, but to me it was one of Oldfield's great triumphs.

"Arrival" is an excellent Abba cover, with massed choral voices instead of lyrics, while "Wonderful Land" is again a masterful exercise in musical development within a relatively short track. The highlights are the delightful Spanish guitar parts played by Oldfield. "Mirage" has a fascinating beginning and buildup to Oldfield's wildest guitar of the album, but ultimately overstays its welcome.

The title cut is the second epic of the disc and leans more consistently to the Celtic side than did Taurus 1 - it's happier sounding and very spirited, eventually recapping the earlier theme. "Celt" features Reilly again with almost tribal percussive backing and could be called "Afrocelt" - remember Mike Oldfield did it first.

QE2 is a transitional album for Oldfield between the controlled minimalism of Incantations and Platinum, and the more entertaining, but still prog oriented, "Five Miles Out" and "Crises". Wisely collaborating with a producer who gave Genesis and Renaissance some successes, and with seasoned backing artists, Oldfield produced an entertaining album that was also one of the pioneering pairings of rock and world music.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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