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Sally Oldfield - Strange Day In Berlin CD (album) cover


Sally Oldfield

Crossover Prog

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars My vinyl copy of this 1983 release, and Oldfield's last for Bronze records, has a totally different track order and a slightly different list, with "There's a Miracle Going on" replacing "This Could be a Lover". Here Sally has eschewed her folktastic past for a more electronic very mid 80s approach. Mystical lyrics are still the order of the day but they speak more of alienation and lost innocence. It's an odd comparison but I remember hearing a McGarrigle sisters album that sounded similar, a jarring reminder how even folk artists can be swept off their feet by technology.

Dispensing with the initial sick feeling, adding in a decade and a half or so of healing, and acknowledging the irreversible nature of changes set in motion on "Celebration" and confirmed by "Playing in the Flame", I have to admit that this is a pretty credible transformation. Particularly the visceral "Path with a Heart" and the so spacey "Million Light Years..." show that Oldfield could still muster a convincing composition and arrangement. It's true that "Meet me in Verona", the title track, and "She Talks Like a Lady" are nadirs of sorts, bland atonal exercises in bad girl persona that never worked for Sally, but both "Never New Love Could Get so Strong" and "There's a Miracle Going On" are partially redemptive, the former's electric piano and other synths complementing her deliberate vocal phrasings. It should appeal to Kate Bush fans or those who wish Ms Bush was a little less weird and a little more wholesome.

This is where my look at Sally Oldfield ends for the foreseeable future. I know little of her subsequent career but look forward to catching up at some point. It would have been nice if she had at least attained more critical favour for her adventurousness and influence on the likes of ENYA and LORRENA MCKENNITT in the decades to follow. But such recognition is hardly germane to an appreciation of this talented artist.

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Posted Friday, August 27, 2010 | Review Permalink

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