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Mike Oldfield - Discovery CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.83 | 313 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Worth discovering

Ironically, "Discovery" is probably Mike Oldfield's most vocal album. I say ironically, as he plays absolutely everything on the album except for the drums. The vocals are shared by Triumvirat singer Barry Palmer and the wonderfully talented Maggie Reilly. Palmer was at the time reportedly suffering from an infection which affected his voice, although it is not that apparent on the final recordings. The tracks tend to more or less alternate the vocalists, making for a pleasant series of contrasts.

According to the sleeve notes, the album was recorded "2000 metres up in the Swiss Alps", Oldfield being a tax exile in Switzerland at the time.

The opening "To France", inspired by the plight of Mary Queen of Scots (who was executed at Fotheringay Castle), is one of the best but most commercial pieces Oldfield has come up with. Reilly is at the top of her form vocally, while Mike adds some excellent lead guitar soloing. "Poison arrows" and "Crystal gazing" are rather more anonymous, the latter sounding like something Oldfield's sister Sally might have included on one of her albums.

"Trick of the light" is similar to "Guilty" from five years previously, very pop orientated, but undistinguished. Palmer's throat problems may have been at their worst for the title track, but it results in him doing a fine impersonation of Graham Bonnett (Rainbow), with some fine warbling.

Reilly returns with another stunning performance in "Talk about your life". For anyone who finds her singing as compulsive as I do, I highly recommend her album "Echoes". Strangely, Mike uses the same guitar theme here as he did on "To France". Palmer makes a credible effort not to be totally upstaged by Reilly on the following "Saved by a bell", a song which sounds like an outtake from Rick Wakeman's excellent "No earthly connection" album.

The only instrumental track on the album is the closing 12 minute piece "The lake". Oldfield's guitar work is the main feature here, the music being mostly relaxed with plenty of repetition. It may not match the lofty (Alpine?) heights of "Tubular Bells" etc., but it is a fine track.

In all, this is a decent album from Mike. It has a particularly strong second side, the first being slightly marred by a couple of only adequate numbers. Despite his instrumental dominance, Oldfield stays largely in the background with the vocalists occupying front and centre stage on all but the final track.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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