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Mike Oldfield - Elements - The Best Of (DVD) CD (album) cover

ELEMENTS - THE BEST OF (DVD)

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.15 | 28 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars When I rate an album I judge it as a whole. Compilations (video or otherwise) cannot be judged in the same way. An album is usually a complete work presented in the way the artist intended it, this is obviously not the case with a career spanning retrospective like Elements. This video collection is very diverse giving us glimpses into all the different aspects (or should I say elements) of Mike Oldfield. Therefore, I will go through all the videos one by one.

1. Tubular Bells (part 1) (24:59)

The first cut is a live-in-the-studio performance of Tubular Bells (part one), made for TV. Musically this version is very good and in several ways better than the original studio version. However, the performance is very low key with all the band members sitting down through the whole performance. This makes it visually quite boring. The excellent live versions of Tubular Bells on Exposed and especially on the Live At Montreux 1981 DVD are much preferable over this one, in my opinion.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 3 stars

2. Don Alfonso (4:30)

The relevance of this video is very hard to understand. The song (which is traditional and not written by Oldfield) and especially the video is all out comedy. Comedy should be funny though, and this is not. Mike does not even appear in the video and - apart from some quiet electric guitar in the background - this song has absolutely none of the musical trademarks of Oldfield. This should have been left out.

Visual: 1 star Music: 1 star

3. In Dulci Jubilo (3:04)

This is a classical piece by Bach, re-arranged and performed by Oldfield alone. The video shows him playing a variety of different instruments; flutes, guitars, drums, keyboards and more. Very nice!

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

4. Porthsmouth (2:03)

Another piece in classical style, but this time written by Oldfield himself. As far as I know this song is not available on any album. The video is a bit less interesting compared to the last one showing four ladies dancing a traditional dance with Mike in the background playing different instruments.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 3 stars

5. William Tell Overture (3:54)

Yet another classical piece re-arranged and performed by Oldfield. The video is a great look into Oldfield, showing Mike in a room with many other Mikes performing the music on many different instruments. This gives the viewer a very good overview of what is going on instrumentally. One of the very best moments on this DVD.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

6. Guilty (4:10)

The production values for the visual are suddenly raised a lot with Guilty - an all animated video. Nicely made! And the music is good too.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

7. Blue Peter (2:18)

It's time for another comedy clip now. This time a lot more successful compared to the awful Don Alfonso with Mike acting himself and that alone makes it funny. The music, however, is not very interesting. Again this is a song not present on any album (as far as I know).

Visual: 3 stars Music: 2 stars

8. Wonderful Land (2:52)

One of my favourites, Wonderful Land is taken from the excellent Q.E.2. album and was written, not by Oldfield himself, but by someone named Jerry Lardon. I have never heard the original.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 4 stars

9. Five Miles Out (4:17)

Now we enter the 80's full time with all what that involves in terms of production and sound. The worst is yet to come and we are still a long way from it, but Five Miles Out is not a favourite of mine.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 2 stars

10. Moonlight Shadow (3:42)

Everyone knows this song, I kind of like it. I love the guitar solo! The video is not bad for 1983.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

11. Shadow On The Wall (3:12)

Most people know this song as well. Again, I kind of like it - good guitar work once again. Is it Chapman appearing in the video?

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

12. Crime Of Passion (3:42)

This song is new to me. I don't think it is available on any album. It is a great Pop song! Certainly nothing progressive about it, but nice nonetheless. Decent video too.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

13. Tricks Of The Light (3:55)

A decent performance type video. Now we are deeper into the 80's and this is not really my cup of tea. Good guitar work though.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 2 stars

14. To France (4:28)

Another performance type video. A bit less good compared to the last one. Again, the music is not really my cup of tea. But also, once again, great guitar work - both acoustic and electric.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 2 stars

15. Etude (3:25)

This is taken from the film The Killing Fields and the video shows clips from that film. Nothing offensive but also not too interesting.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 2 stars

16. Pictures In The Dark (4:10)

Now it starts to get really awful. This video and song encapsulate all the excesses of the 80's. Dated computer graphics and effects. Very commercial music. Though, there is a decent guitar solo.

Visual: 1 star Music: 1 star

17. Shine (3:22)

Yes fans beware. This song was co-written by Jon Anderson who also does lead vocals and appears in this video. It is certainly not Ommadawn meets Close To The Edge, it is rather Pictures In The Dark meets Owner Of A Lonely Heart or something from Anderson's very worst solo albums.

Visual: 1 star Music: 1 star

18. Innocent (3:32)

Come on! It doesn't get any worse than this! This is pure 80's Disco Pop. We have come a long, long way from Mike's progressive albums here. The absolute low point of this DVD, even worse that Pictures In The Dark and Shine!

Visual: 1 star Music: 1 star

19. Earth Moving (4:04)

Earth Moving taken from the album of the same name is slightly, but only just slightly, better than the previous video. A Gospel flavour to this one!

Visual: 1 star Music: 1 star

20. Heavens Open (4:18)

I don't yet have the Heavens Open album, so this song was new to me. I was surprised how good this song is! After four awful videos this is a great surprise. It will not blow the Prog fan away, but it has good guitar and Mike sings it himself. He should really have done that before, he can sing very well! For some strange reason, this song reminds me of Seasons End-era Marillion! Think Uninvited Guest.

The video mixes footage with animation in a clever way.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

Now over to the bonus materials:

- The Space Movie (Incantations 3 & 4) (17:16)

The music is very good; the visuals are not offensive but not very interesting either. It is basically clips from space travel history. But this is good letting the music speak for itself rather than being overshadowed by the visuals.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 3 stars

- The Wind Chimes (21:52)

The Wind Chimes is a great piece. Sounds very much like a lost Incantations part. Visually this is not very interesting, but again, this lets the music speak for itself and the visual does not interfere with the music in any way. However, it also adds nothing to it and the really outdated computer graphics makes it look rather silly today. The music has aged very well, but the video has not.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 3 stars

The rest of the songs from the Islands album are not that good and the idea to making visuals to all of these tracks was not a very good one. This in not something I'm going to watch many times, maybe never.

- Northpoint (3:27)

Visual: 2 stars Music: 2 stars

- Islands (4:19)

Bonnie Tyler!? No thanks.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 1 star

- The Time Has Come (3:52)

Egyptian influenced video with female vocals. It is alright.

Visual: 2 stars Music: 2 stars

- Flying Start (3:34)

I don't know the singer here but he is clearly wrong for Oldfield's music both musically and visually. The computer graphics are horrible here.

Visual: 1 star Music: 1 star

- Magic Touch (4:07)

A surprisingly good video after the previous three quite bad ones. No computer graphics in this one. This song is sung by Max Bacon and is a decent song - you might know him from GTR. I enjoy this one to a degree.

Visual: 3 stars Music: 2 stars

- Interview (13:23)

Nice but too short interview with outtakes from the videos. The actual interview itself is probably not over three minutes. But Mike shares some interesting views of his art.

Time to sum it all up. I can recommend this DVD to fans and collectors only. But there are some nice moments.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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