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Mike Oldfield - Return To Ommadawn CD (album) cover

RETURN TO OMMADAWN

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

4.06 | 320 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Well, this album is an unexpected and wholly welcome treat.

MIKE OLDFIELD has been prog rock's premier melody maker for getting on towards half a century, ever since 1973's Tubular Bells. His combination of long-form, folk and new-age inspired work captured the hearts of a generation. With the advent of disco and punk, however, he put the long- form works aside and made poppier albums for the next twenty years (with a few glorious exceptions). Then, after the millennium, he began to fade away.

Until this. Like the title says, it's a return to his 1975 masterpeice, Ommadawn, IMO the best of his catalogue and, quote simply, the best single prog rock piece ever written. So I might have had a few expectations when I (belatedly) found out this had been released.

The album is good. Remarkable, even. It is certainly structurally similar to Ommadawn, with Part One beginning with an extended acoustic introduction based on a simple celtic tune, followed by a rhythm-based crescendo into a typical Oldfieldian guitar-laden climax. Part Two is a little more pastoral, but no less beautiful, if in places almost cloying in its sweetness. I'm fairly certain the vocals from the original Ommadawn have been sampled and re-used, and certainly the children's vocals from 'On Horseback' make a brief appearance. As with Ommadawn, OLDFIELD plays virtually all the instruments with breathtaking virtuosity.

At this point my personal joy at this wonderful gift has to take second place to the pragmatics of a review. This is a wonderful thing, but it isn't essential, not to progressive rock music and not even to Oldfield's canon. It's a return, after all; a going-back, a regression. So, as beautiful as it is, I'd counsel those new to OLDFIELD to sample something from his first four albums, or perhaps Amarok. This can be an additional purchase if you like what you hear. But, for me, this is up with THE ORB's latest as the record of 2017.

russellk | 4/5 |

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