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Mike Oldfield - Platinum CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.18 | 353 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars After the overly long, experimental, and near clinical "Incantations", Mike Oldfield, ever the student of his own work, made some adjustments and a few bold steps. Not all were successful, but we can see where he is heading with this interesting work.

Side 1 is taken up with the nearly 20 minute title suite, which is one of his most compelling. Unlike all its predecessors, this one does not malinger in one area too long, and it is absolutely NOT new age! While divided on disk into 4 parts, they run into each other such that there can be no doubt of their connection, and the strict need to listen to all together. "Airborne" is powerful indeed, although future live versions would harness this potency to a greater degree. It is a showcase for Oldfield's lead guitars while offering plenty of chances for the keyboards to shine, as well as the drumming of Morris Pert and GONG's Pierre Moerlen. "Platinum" itself is part 2 and is built on an infectious Oldfield riff, with bass playing a key role as well. String synthesizers are used to good effect, and the doo-wop vocals are placed just so. How does this all work? Perhaps its contrast to earlier ambient work is so striking that it succeeds merely by default, but I think Oldfield was wise to keep his own melodic instincts in place and equally judicious in creating a rock ensemble feel for the first time in his "solo" career. The transition to "Charleston" is so abrupt yet so effortless. The horns yield to a superb keyboard theme that sounds left over from "Incantations", yet much more imposing and economical, and some fluttery acoustic guitar. The female and scat vocalizations blend with the chunky bass, and the segue to the "North Star" finale is simply brilliant in its continuity. This last 5 minutes is classic Oldfield, an adaptation of Philip Glass' work, but with a persistent beat that was very much of the time.

As great as the Platinum suite is, the second half of the album is mediocre. It gets extra chutzpah points for being Oldfield's first attempt at "conventional" song structures, and I use that term loosely. It's all interesting, but really a prehistoric version of what we would hear on QE2 but especially "Five Miles Out" and "Crises". None of it is bad, and "Punkadiddle" is a rather entertaining take on 3-chord street rock of the time while preserving MO's trademark quirkiness. But there are no keepers here.

So how to categorize this chameleon of an album? 3.5 stars rounded up because the suite is essential. With one foot in the past and another in his future, Mike Oldfield produced this present worth its weight in some precious metal or other.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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