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Mike Oldfield - Islands CD (album) cover

ISLANDS

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

2.57 | 143 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Not a bell in sight

A really schizophrenic album this one. One the one side we have a fairly typical Oldfield offering, on the other, we have Oldfield plays pop!

Taking the "typical" side first, "The wind chimes parts 1 & 2" occupy the whole of the first side of the LP and cassette versions. The music is pretty light and upbeat by Mike's standards, with female vocal chants on top of a sometimes oriental style. The piece is pleasant if unremarkable, but will please Oldfield's loyal following.

Side two consists of five vocal tracks, which see Oldfield taking a back seat for the entire side. The title track finds gravel voiced (a female Rod Stewart!) Welsh songstress Bonnie Tyler taking on what can best be described as a power ballad. The track would equally have suited Celine Dion(!), but taken at face value, it has a strong melody, and is pleasing on the ear.

"Flying start" has a Mediterranean holiday feel, not quite "Una paloma blanca", but close enough to start worrying. "North Point" restore the faith slightly. Oldfield's long term girlfriend Anita Hegerland handles the lead vocals sounding not unlike Oldfield's sister Sally. "Magic touch" is unremarkable, with leanings towards Styx or Survivor. Of more interest is the fact that while Jim Price sang lead vocals on the UK release, he was replaced by Max Bacon on some international versions. The reason is something of a mystery, but appears to have been due to the ubiquitous "contractual problems".

The album closes with "The time has come" which sees Hegerland back on vocal duty. Oldfield finally lets his guitar come to the fore a bit here but the track, like the entire side, is very simple and pop based.

"Islands" was Oldfield's first album not to chart in the UK, Oldfield's days a superstar were clearly over. This in some ways may have been a relief to him, as it allowed him to venture into different musical territories. "Islands" was just one of a number of such ventures, and on the whole, represents a pretty successful deviation. The lack of a chart position was probably attributable more to the timing of the release, and half hearted promotion. This is not his worst album by any means.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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