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Mike Oldfield - Five Miles Out CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.68 | 354 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Five miles away from the 70s.

Far and away from the style of Tubular Bells comes this Mike Oldfield effort. While it still has everything one would expect from a Mike Oldfield album - incredibly well composed songs, a side long epic, wonderful guitar work along with other instruments - this one also as a very commercial feel to it at times. For those unfamiliar to the world of later Oldfield, this one also features vocals from both Mike and a fantastic female singer by the name of Maggie Reilly. This disc still has a lot of the charm that his older works possessed, but it'd very clear that Mike was reaching out for commercial success.

Starting off the album is the side long TAURUS II, a continuation of ''Taurus I'' off of his QE2 album. This is what everyone would expect from Mike Oldfield - a long, winding instrumental composed of excellent musicianship and catchy riffs from every instrument. The song doesn't over stay it's welcome at all, and the track moves effortlessly without falling victim to tedium. A bit of vocal work by Reilly seems to fit very well with the composition right in the middle after the heavy riffs of the opening fall into the background a little bit more and they manage to carry the song along nicely. The only minor flaw that this album has is it's coda part. While the funky bass riff is what here propels the song it sounds too much like someone simply mashed the 'play demo' button on a keyboard and walked away for about 4 minutes while telling Reilly to start improvising some nonsensical vocals. Still a part with good rhythm and timing, this is the only part which may make ears twitch. However, thanks to the 20+ minutes of remarkable music on this particular track the ending is very forgivable.

After the excellent side one things start to get a bit more commercial... with decent results!

The opener to the second half of the album is the single FAMILY MAN. This is a fairly catchy yet at the same time slightly annoying pop song which is saved only by some cool guitar noodling by Oldfield and some very remarkable delivery in the vocal department by Reilly. Still a major letdown after the first track so boldly put things on the way, FAMILY MAN is a track that wont appeal to many prog fans. ORABIDOO is the next track on the album, and also the second longest. A pseudo-instrumental clocking in at just over 13 minutes, the calm and easy ORABIDOO starts out with some very slow music and works its way through about 5 minutes of more subdued vocoder bits until it finally arrives at the climax. Mike's guitars finally take hold and the synths push this one to the end. Excellent track all around just so long as you're one for the slow bits.

Coming to the end there's a guest apperance! Yes, Carl Palmer steps on board and helps out with the percussion on MOUNT TEIDI, the only true instrumental on the album. Reminding all of why he's considered a prog hero, this track is one of the standouts with its very smooth delivery.

The final track on the album, and second single, is the title track, FIVE MILES OUT. If you're expecting this pop-rock song to get a bashing from this reviewer you'd better think again. This song is fantastic! A tale about a airborne journey gone wrong, FIVE MILES OUT was written from Oldfield's own experiences as a pilot... and it shows in his fierce delivery. Some very heavy riffs after some more vocoder and some very heavy vocals show that Oldfield isn't just a square who can only play long instrumental tunes. The vocals parts in the middle actually start to sound like Nightwish must have listened to a lot of Oldfield. Mike and Reilly's voices combine in a sweet harmony, even when Mike is screaming at the top of his lungs. Then at the end it all winds down into the excellent coda with Mike and Reilly both singing the chorus in queue and unison ''Five miles out...''. Superb track! Superb! Throw some of Oldfield's wonderful playing in there and you have yourself a killer song. Unfortunately though... its still a pop-rock song.

Not the most progressive Oldfield album and it's not perfect either. However, Five Miles Out is well worth the purchase simply for the opening track - and then tracks 3, 4, and (if you like short songs) 5. Lots of good material on the album brought down a bit by some mediocre parts. 3.5 stars for a very good album, just don't expect another Tubular Bells.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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