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Mike Oldfield - Crises CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.48 | 466 ratings

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2 stars Crises is a great album... for the 1980s.

Many of the synth sounds are distincly 1980s, with washes of Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark and other "electro-pop" bands of that time. "Crises", the track is interesting, because it's a side-long composition from a time when side-long compositions were an almost guaranteed commercial suicide attempt.

It's interesting to see Anthony Phillips given guitar credits - but there's not much here that bears his hallmarks, so fans of A.P. can safely overlook this album until they've collected everything else by him ;0)

There appears to be 1980s tatooed all over "Crises", which is a bit of a crises in itself, as there was much about that time that simply should not have happened, ever - like that cracking "biscuit-tin-filled-with-dried-peas" snare sound, the "orchestra hit" keyboard sound, over-chorused rhythm guitars and bass "hooks". All a bit Duran Duran really.

There is much about the title track that plain doesn't work, such as straight juxtaposition of conflicting ideas, and tangential changes - no, doing it twice to prove you meant it doesn't make it work better the next time.

However, as a portrait of the state of music at that time, this is an entertaining document, and certainly an album to investigate and make your own mind up about. It's certainly no masterpiece, but there are moments that you have to hang on in there for that are wonderfully ambient in unexpected ways and well worth the torment that you may endure in the first 10 or so minutes.

Oldfield also turns in some very tasty licks on the guitar... even though some sound like they may have been borrowed from Van Halen (no, really...), he manages to blend them in with percussion that makes them sound more like Steve Hillage or the Ozric Tentacles... or would have, if the bass drum had somewhat less reverb.

I find the main theme, when it returns, somewhat twee - particularly because of those synth sounds - but your mileage may vary. It's good to see that someone was constructing long compositions in the 1980s, but don't expect a return to the primal power and form of, say "Ommadawn", as the over-reaching feeling that this album gives to me is of being stuck in a particularly nasty soundwarp - but courageously attempting, to Mike's credit, to escape from it.

So, on to the short tracks...

"Moonlight Shadow" is a a well-crafted and reasonable, if somewhat repetitive pop song... not much else to say about it, apart from the Knopfler-soundalike guitar solo, which is a high point. It was a hit, I seem to remember.

"In High Places" begins with the unmistakable and highly irritating tones of Jon Anderson over-ennunciating and missing pitches in a most precise manner... You can almost hear the sincere smile on his face. And the music behind it is atrocious too - an ostinato set over a couple of chords, with a reasonably funky drum beat that could have been performed by a drum machine.

"Foreign Affair" is a much more pleasing song - but interesting is probably the only word for it. It has a tinkly ambience, which could conjour up a kind of magical atmosphere at the right kind of parties, but it's not a song that will keep you coming back, or one that you will analyse for its complexities...

"Taurus" begins with some nice Spanish guitar - typical of Oldfield's style, this is in the form of ostinato (short passages that are repeated), but he does introduce many of these, and builds up an interesting Spanish-flavoured little number that has me reaching for the Sangria whilst grabbing my Maracas...

"Shadow on the Wall" features the Daltrey-like vocals of Roger Chapman in a kind of radio-friendly FM Rock style number. It's not nice.

It's pretty hard to consider any of "Crises" as a Prog Rock album, although it's true to say that it is somewhat varied - and really, this will appeal to fans of Mike Oldfield (and possibly 1980s music' generally) alone.

Hence 2 stars - Collectors or fans of M.O. only. Listen with high expectations and you WILL be disappointed.

Certif1ed | 2/5 |


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