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Mike Oldfield - Platinum CD (album) cover

PLATINUM

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.13 | 285 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

thief
3 stars One could argue that each and every album in Mike Oldfield's discography was a milestone of sorts. If we narrowed it down though, just to separate 4 or 5 major periods in his career, I'd say Platinum is one of these turning points, the beginning of Phase 2.

Obviously the formula has changed. We're treated with a side-long, titular epic, and a bunch of shorter tracks, more appropriate as potential singles than excerpts from greater pieces. Who knows if success of "Portsmouth" and "In Dulci Jubilo" didn't play a part here. Anyhow, two of those songs feature proper vocals with easily digested, straightforward lyrics, provided by Wendy Roberts. These are decent, but nothing to write home about honestly. I find her voice a tad too dramatic and unoriginal, but she's skillful enough to get a pass.

The title track, "Platinum", definitely stands out. Reviewing this album I listened to it three times in a row, and each time I appreciated new bits and elements. It serves as another proof of Mike's compositional skills, just check out the synth melody from 3:15 onwards! Ear pleasing and very engaging, all instruments have their place and reinforce each other beautifully. Second movement is dominated by typical hammer-on/pull-off guitar licks played over an upbeat, almost funky bass lines and some scat singing. Nice, but the best bit is the concluding Mike solo with a trademark, spacious, uplifting sound. I just adore those wails and squeals, always trying to reach the skies.

The third part, so called "Charleston", evokes music of 1920s, mixed with acoustic passages and occasional ghastly, female choirs, reminscent of Greek tragedies perhaps. I'd say he could've done a tad better here, but I appreciate his boldness. Still, it's decent enough to keep your attention and prepare ears for a standout part four, also known as "North Star". This one is the most "oldfieldesque" and rewards us with another emotional, lofty coda. Quite progressive and definitely worth a listen. Honestly, "Platinum" would do great as Incantations Part V, with often changing, but always relevant - sometimes superb - themes.

The rest of the album, a.k.a. The Shorties, is a mixed bag really. "Woodhenge" is rather dull, maybe because I don't enjoy African influenced music as much, and congas put me to sleep. "Into Wonderland" might be pleasant, but to me it's just a herald of upcoming sugary ballads and 1980s in general. The latter half picks up a little, it's not a gamechanger though.

"Punkadiddle" deserves more attention. We've got trademark reverby guitars alternating with high pitched, almost ear-piercing main theme which I find extremely pleasing and tasteful. I really like how Mike's in the front this time, at times echoing the grandiose of Ommadawn. Bonus points for going instrumental again. A winner!

"I Got Rhythm" just wanders aimlessly in slow tempo, hard to find any redeeming quality here. Rather an anticlimax for an album so promising on Side A.

Given the circumstances - Virgin Records hiring punk/new-wave bands and disco dominating the charts - Oldfield did an okay job with reinventing himself. Shorter tracks, with exception of "Punkadiddle", don't impress at all... but the "Platinum" suite gives much hope for the future, showing that Mike Oldfield is capable of compromising ambitious musical efforts with contractual obligations. Fortunately, the formula only got stronger with following albums. As it is, Platinum did just enough to climb a 3-star rating. I'd say "Decent, but non-essential".

thief | 3/5 |

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