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Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.30 | 1530 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Definition of Masterpiece.

This is a very special album, a true musical masterpiece. I have listened to so many of the albums here on PA, and many classical and jazz albums, and this one stands out as in the top 3 albums of all time. It is so good. Continuing with the composition style he began on Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge (ie one long composition stretched over two sides of a 45-min vinyl album), Oldfield perfects his ability to weave together multiple themes and develop them. Like side of Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge, side 1 acts like one 20-minute long piece in which the themes come together in a climax, while side 2 is made up of 3 different fragments of music put together. And the album ends, like TB and HR, with another complete change in direction, this time a folk song sung by Oldfield (and a school choir) On Horseback, where Oldfield sings about equestrian wonders. The version of this album that got released was actually Oldfield's third attempt to write/record it, the first two having to stop due to problems with the multi-track recording tape. It is a good thing too. You can hear the first recording of side 1 on the special edition CD release of Ommadawn, and not only does it not weave together the themes like on the final release, it is beset by a terrible quasi-comic John Cleese-like voice-over. Oldfield says in the liner notes to that the when he started those first recordings he was exhausted. For the final (third) recording attempt, he changed scenery and built his own studio, and then brought in African drummers and local folk musicians, and it was only then that things clicked. The result is magical, wonderful. Side 1 (part 1) is, in my opinion, up there as one of the two best-ever compositions (the other is 'Heart of the Sunrise' by Yes). It begins with a theme that shifts between light (the beautiful classic guitar lines make up the first theme) and dark (when the synth strings and repeated bass come in). This sets the structure of the piece. Over a number of twists and turns (including the addition of the afformentioned African drumming setting a constant pulsing beat roughly two thirds of the way through) the song builds. Oldfield's electric playing here is amazing - both very difficult to play but also very musical, and his solo is a key part of the climax as he plays up the neck. While side 2 has themes that are less connected, the middle of the side contains one of the most beautiful melodies ever committed to record, played on northumbrian bagpipes. Some reviewers don't like the 'On Horseback' finale, but I think it is very musical, and its whimsy imparts a positive glow. While some albums produce positive reactions for the first few years and then start to fade, this album just gets better with each listen. It is one of the few albums where, if anyone puts it on, I can hardly help but not listen to it. Every time I seem to hear something new. It is so well composed and executed. I give side 1 my very top ranking - 10 out of 10. It is the composition that everything else gets compared to. while side 2 is not quite as good, it is still excellent - I give side 2 a 9.6 out of 10. Together, this averages out to 9.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is exceptionally rare. Again, in my top 3 albums of all time, and I have listened to thousands.

Walkscore | 5/5 |


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