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

Q.E.2

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.48 | 207 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
3 stars A decent effort by a man who is capable of the sublime.

The album is built around two long, progressive tracks, 'Taurus' and 'QE2'. In a departure from his usual pattern, these two tracks do not comprise one progressive side, with the shorter, simpler tracks on the reverse: here they are mixed together, with the result that the album does not have the cohesiveness displayed by many of his other works. 'Taurus' is well constructed, and features PHIL COLLINS on drums, MAGGIE REILLY on vocals and DAVE HENTSCHEL on keyboards, but does not rise to the heights one would expect after a promising beginning. Instead, OLDFIELD'S playful nature brings the song down precisely when it needed to go up. A series of shorter tracks follow, mere vignettes (including the most absurd of choices for a single, 'Sheba'), followed by two covers (of ABBA and THE SHADOWS). Some would argue that this betrays where MIKE OLDFIELD was going for his inspiration, but it's hard to imagine a guitarist not revering THE SHADOWS' work. Sadly, neither track approaches the original, nor do they allow OLDFIELD any scope to demonstrate his melodic talent or virtuosity. 'Mirage' begins like a refugee from 'Incantations' and builds nicely, with splendid guitar work.

'QE2' begins like a side-long epic: by this stage the OLDFIELD fan is willing to grasp any hope offered. And it actually sounds brilliant, all cascading guitars, brass and complex rhythms, the best thing since 'Ommadawn'. Even the simpler second half, 'OE2 Finale', doesn't bring the intensity down much. Pity he didn't bring it to a climax, choosing instead to fade it out. 'Celt' (another refugee from 'Incantations', or precursor to 'Amarok') and 'Molly' bring the album to a gentle close.

This album sees OLDFIELD firmly between two stools. On the one hand he has abandoned his deeply textured melodic work, but on the other he has yet to master this new format. I find this album transitional in sound and, the title track apart, bereft of the grandeur that characterises MIKE OLDFIELD at his best. There's enough here to satisfy fans of progressive music for a few listens, but it is by no means an essential part of the MIKE OLDFIELD canon.

russellk | 3/5 |

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