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Mike Oldfield - Islands CD (album) cover

ISLANDS

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

2.58 | 147 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars An island of Prog surrounded by an ocean of pop

The Wind Chimes was, at the time of its release, Mike Oldfield's best side-long piece since Crisis. However, it sounds much more like an Incantations number than anything else Mike had done since Incantations, which was released almost ten years earlier. Indeed, it sounds so much like an Incantations number that it easily could have been called Incantations part 5! Like on Incantations part 3, there is here some tasteful Ian Anderson type flute playing. The guitar sound is also quite similar to the guitar sound on Incantations, which in my opinion constituted a major improvement in the guitar sound department over Mike's earliest albums. The Wind Chimes also has echoes of, or references to, some classic Oldfield works like Ommadawn and Tubular Bells.

With the only exception of the excellent, all instrumental, Q.E.2. album - my personal Oldfield favourite - every one of Mike's albums since 1979's Platinum had included at least some more conventional and commercial songs, often with ill-chosen guest vocalists. Islands is unfortunately no exception to this rule, after The Wind Chimes we find a handful of shorter, very conventional and poppy songs with very ill-chosen guest vocalists including Bonnie Tyler among several others. Having different vocalists on different tracks on the same album almost never works and is almost guaranteed to make the album feel disjointed and inconsistent. This is indeed the case here. Most of these songs have close to nothing reminding us that it is a Mike Oldfield album we are listening to.

North Point is a modern Folk pop song with female vocals. It is one of the better songs here, but not too interesting. Some people from the band GTR are involved here including the singer Max Bacon. I think he is a great singer but he is not allowed enough space here. He takes lead vocals on Magic Touch, but it does not work very well despite a good guitar solo. The lyrics of this song is very similar to the Genesis song Invisible Touch and almost as bad as that one! I much prefer the underrated GTR album!

Finding such a good piece of music as The Wind Chimes on this album was quite a surprise, though. As I have implied, both the immediately preceding and the immediately succeeding Mike Oldfield albums - Discovery and Earth Moving - were among his weakest ever, often strongly dominated by commercial pop songs rather than the sonic adventures he used to do in the 70's and early 80's. You could say that The Wind Chimes is an island of Prog surrounded by an ocean of pop.

The embarrassing moments on the second half of the album makes it appropriate to give this album two stars.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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