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Mike Oldfield - Platinum CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.18 | 353 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Phase two of MIKE OLDFIELD'S career begins with a decent enough album - one that I loathed at the time, but one that has grown a little on me.

The twin enemies of prog rock, punk and disco, had arisen between 'Ommadawn' (#4 on the British charts) and 'Incantations' (#14). Like many late '70s progressive acts, OLDFIELD'S position in the industry was threatened by these musical trends, so much so that Virgin, his record company, favoured their new punk signings over him and other established acts.

Gone is the sober, weighty music of previous albums, painfully constructed using layers of sound from instruments OLDFIELD plays himself. The new approach, evidenced on this album, is to assemble talented musicians such as PIERRE MOERLEN and MORRIS PERT, and play a much less sophisticated, more accessible brand of music. It's still progressive, but does not soar like his first four albums. And no doubt that was the intention.

I'm certain that as well as reprising the instruments used on 'Incantations the year before, Part 1 of 'Platinum' actually makes fairly free use of one of 'Incantations' main themes. Those who would label MIKE OLDFIELD as a producer of New Age pap would, I imagine, have a hard time with the title track! Driving percussion guides us through Part 1 and 2, solid if unremarkable, to the surprising (and aptly named) 'Charleston', all EARTH, WIND AND FIRE horn honking in a parody of the true 1920s style. And here we encounter OLDFIELD'S bizarre humour: he's not above making aural fun, as we see at the end of part 2 and all through this piece. Sometimes he's successful, other times not; I'm not convinced by his whispered scat here. However, he brings the suite to a satisfying conclusion with a remake of PHILIP GLASS'S 'North Star'.

'Woodhenge' is a gentle ambient track, the sort of thing that begins side two of 'Tubular Bells' and 'Ommadawn'. While 'Into Wonderland' is forgettable, 'Punkadiddle' certainly isn't. Supposedly a send-up of punk, one has to wonder quite what OLDFIELD meant by it. An enjoyable enough romp, but since when did his fans buy his music for such average fare? His slaughter of GERSHWIN'S 'I Got Rhythm' makes me cringe every time I hear it. Was he being ironic, showing us that he most definitely does not 'got rhythm'?

By the way, it was a good decision to remove 'Sally' from the album and replace it with 'Into Wonderland'. Fun's fun and all that, but there needs to be a modicum of musical merit accompanying it, and 'Sally' doesn't have it.

Pleasant enough, then, but 'Platinum' is not a patch on what he's capable of. This is music he wrote on his day off. We'll have to wait a couple more albums before he's again able successfully to marry his guitar prowess, his search for his 'voice', his gift for melody and his hit and miss songwriting.

russellk | 2/5 |


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