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Mike Oldfield - Islands CD (album) cover

ISLANDS

Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog


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greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Wind chimes parts 1 & 2" is probably one of the best Oldfield's tracks, with Amarok: despite some variations on the same theme, it is very hard to find more rhythm & melodies changes than on this track. The delicate percussions are OUTSTANDING: Benoit and Pierre Moerlen (Gong) provide some of them here. This epic track is absolutely lively, VERY polyrhythmic, loaded, dynamic, delicate and progressive. There are Jethro Tull-like flutes, African tribes chant, small bells and vibraphone. The very modern keyboards produce pleasant, melodic, rhythmic and colorful textures. Mike's expressive electric guitar is very well synchronized with the complex patterns. Some bits are even grandiosely symphonic, especially during the second half of the track. 5 stars are well deserved for this side 1!

The other side, not progressive, contains very good and catchy short and simple tracks: the sublime Anita Hegerland sings on a couples of tracks; her voice is VERY similar to Maggie Reilly's one: she is almost as good! There are 2 other male singers, having very good voices. Bonnie Tyler's granular voice can be heard on the less good last track. I give 4 stars for this side 2.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#28409)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It was the whimsy of fate that I should first wash up on the shores of "Islands" within the archipelago of MIKE OLDFIELD's musical estates. With no point of reference save for snippets of "Tubular Bells" on my mental map, I recognized my good fortune at happening upon such a warm and inviting place. Haste being the enemy in the world of musical criticism, I won't extend my understanding of "Islands" to cover MIKE OLDFIELD the artist. But, having canvassed this island from side to side, I can at least recount the tale of this isolated expedition in full measure. "Islands" is separated into two halves, the first featuring the "The Wind Chimes" in two parts. It's tantamount to musical seafaring, rising and falling as a ship on a tempestuous sea. OLDFIELD takes his place alongside England's rich history of musical composers, invoking the imagery of exotic places while prone to England's affection for pomp, a worldview unique to the English lens. It's a trait that appears in many English writers, half-moored to the hearth even in their wild discoveries, to which The Wind in the Willows and The Hobbit come to mind. Side two re-casts some of the themes from "The Wind Chimes" as pop songs featuring an array of guest vocalists. When ANITA HEGERLAND is singing, KATE BUSH becomes the reference point. BONNIE TYLER shifts that point to CYNDI LAUPER. JIM PRICE suggests ASIA/GTR (no wonder since GEOFFREY DOWNES co-produces his cameo, "Magic Touch"). KEVIN AYERS is his own inimitable self. It's an interesting concept, employing the themes as an epic instrumental on the one hand, as parcelled pop songs on the other. The latter connects OLDFIELD to artists like TONY BANKS, who seemed to be pursuing the same goals on Bankstatement.

On "Islands", however, the sails are always full of wind, his songcraft propelled by the participation of a skilled crew that outclasses the hands available to Banks. I'm sure I'll revisit "Islands" some day after I've explored other works by OLDFIELD ("Tubular Bells" and "Hergest Ridge" beckon from the undiscovered country on my shelves) and place it in relation to other points of interest. In the meantime, no harm done to set sail straight for "Islands" and drop anchor here for a spell.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#28402)
Posted Sunday, May 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
data@unsim.im
4 stars Anita Hegerland's singing is moving, precise and in one word beautiful on this one. Northpoint remains one of my favorites even after all these years (I first ran into Islands in 1988). And the rest is good too. Side-long "Wind chimes" is complex and, if you close your eyes, it'll take you places... Pay attention to woodwind instruments somewhere in the middle.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#28405)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Still in the dodgy era for inconsistent releases the instruemntal ' Wind chimes parts 1 and 2' and ' Northpoint' being the highlights. Bonnie Tyler on ' Islands' though was as a horrendous mistake as the diabolical ' Earth Moving' album which followed.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#28406)
Posted Monday, August 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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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.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#28407)
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
mariarey@ipri
4 stars Commercially, a relative Worldwide success. This album garnered several popular hit singles, most notably Islands and Magic Touch. Magic Touch was very successful in the USA reaching the top ten on the Billboard Album rock charts. Similarly, Islands was the most popular single in the UK. Downunder, Magic Touch received heavy rotation on FM rock stations. In Germany, the single also received airplay on local radio stations.

If commercial success was in mind when Mike wrote the tracks for this CD then he acheived this objective easily. Many fans will disagree but Islands was almost as successful, with regard to radio airplay and sales, as Crisis back in 83'.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#36033)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is one of the most forgotten Oldfield´s works today... And I don´t know why, because I think it´s one of his best in the 80´s, along with "Five Mile Out" and "Crises"!

The Wind Chimes it´s another fantastic instrumental that makes the album worth itself. I think that Mike Oldfield anticipated a little the Amarok style with this piece of music, and it can be listened in some voices samplers, the use of the percussions and in the variety of the song, with a lot of changes and different short sections. Also some etnic sounds that he learned while making "The Killing Fields" soundtrack were used here, and this is also very related with some parts of Amarok...

But I think that the vocal songs in this album are good too! While in "Discovery" he failed in trying to make a most vocal album, because some songs were not very good, on "Islands" he reached a great level in the short songs, thing that made the album very ejoyable from beginning to the end. The best for me are Islands (great Bonnie Tyler´s interpretation), Flying Start (a great nostalgic song with a kind of Mediterranean feeling, singed very properly by Kevin Ayers...) and Magic Touch (wonderful song, the best vocal song of the album!). But the others aren´t bad too, with some things very original like the egipcian feeling of The Time Has Come...

Maybe the fail of the album is the amount of vocals tracks... Like in "Discovery", I miss more instrumental sections, the best of this man... The Wind Chimes is great, but although the short vocal tracks are good, I miss more instrumental songs.

Conclusion: another underrated Oldfield´s album with some really unforgettable moments and a must for Oldfield´s fans, and for 80´s pop lovers too! Maybe is not essential, but it worths a good listening...

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#56910)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I think Oldfield did some great music i the eighties. I'm thinking of tracks like "Crises" and, from this album, "The Wind Chimes..", in other words the instrumental creations that has been his trademark. However, the pop songs and the soft rock ballads from this period have been slaughtered by time. I try to see the qualities in these but I fail. I bought the album "Islands" when it came out in 1987 and during the years I almost only played side 1 ("The Wind Chimes pt.1&2). The second side (pop-side) collects dust. The guest appearence from Bonnie Tyler will probably not get any prog-fans excited. This has to be a "fans-only" cd.

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Send comments to 1971 (BETA) | Report this review (#59359)
Posted Tuesday, December 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars No matter how wild the music exploration of Mike Oldfield, one would easily identify his music. I cannot say it precisely but I can only sense it how the music of Mike Oldfield is all about. Take example of the opening epic "The Wind Chimes Parts One and Two" (21:49), I am sure that you would easily identify his work throughunique combination of electric guitar and keyboard work. But this epic has something else to offer. First, the sounds of oboes that strengthen the composition. Second, the use of female chanting through the voice of Anita Hugerland. It's not something that really differentiate from other work by Mike Oldfield but those two characterize the music of this album. You might compare this with other song by Mike like "Taurus", for example. It's totally different stream of sounds. This epic has good composition with many styles combined nicely through the natural flow of the music. Sometimes the music breaks and gives some transition pieces through guitar solo or keyboard solo or sometimes xylophone solo.

Mike always combines his album with a touch of popular music like it is well presented here with album title track "Islands" through the lead vocal of Bonnie Tyler. It's quite an enjoyable adventure. Anita Hugerland also sings with lyrical part in "The Time Has Come". With this combination, Mike has delivered a balanced combination of instrumental piece (with chanting) and those songs with full vocal version. Jim Price contributes his part to sing "Magic Touch".

Overall, it's a good album from Mike Oldfield. Keep on proggin' ..!

"God gives you your face, but you have to provide the expression."

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#100341)
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Quite astounding for the year (I consider 1985-1990 to be the worst period that music has ever been through. The quality of releases in those years where unbelievably terrible.)

During the 80's, Oldfield released many albums in the format of this one, a side that had his true musical desires exhibited, and the other side being top 20 hits so he could still sell records. This is the best compromise I would have expected him to make, a true showing of adaptability. I think this was a good choice, and since the commercialism of the shorter songs, maybe some Progheads were converted when they listened to the "real" part of the record. Be thankful he didn't take the route of Yes or Genesis.

Side one is a decent epic, The Wind Chimes. Though not on par with the earlier works, a very good effort. It has many World influences, some techno, and I get a "90's film soundtrack" atmosphere when listening to it. There are some excellent parts, which would have fit well with "Amarok" and alot of dull parts, mostly the weak melodies present in some passages.

Side two I will not discuss, and if you happen to acquire this album, I suggest you stay far away from that portion.

Not one of his best, though a good selection from his 80's period. Reccomended for "The Wind Chimes" after you have listened up to Crises. A tenative "Fans only" work.

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Send comments to OGTL (BETA) | Report this review (#107786)
Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars I just don’t get this album. I don’t really get Mike Oldfield to be honest, but I was suitably impressed by the complexity and beauty of ‘Tubular Bells’ as much as anyone else back in the day. Really though, the guy didn’t have to make a career of that one album though – how many versions of that thing exist anyway? I don’t think Waters made as many different variations of ‘The Wall’ as Oldfield did of Bells.

Anyway, that’s not the point. But this is – in my very humble opinion Mike Oldfield stopped making interesting music around 1976. There, I said it.

Only my opinion I know, but since I made the mistake of buying this album I’m entitled to an opinion. The “Wind Chimes” tracks are typical Oldfield stuff, so props for that. But once the first side of the record is over, things get weird. And not in a good way.

Whoever came up with the idea to cast Anita Hegerland on an Oldfield album really missed the boat. “Magic Touch” is pure pop tripe, and even Oldfield’s ambitious guitar work can’t save this adult contemporary disaster. She’s crooning on the title track too, but this one sounds more like an Abba ballad. Oh wait, she’s his wife, right? Good God, this is an even worse idea than putting you girlfriend on your album. That hasn’t worked out since Donnie and Marie Osmond.

Oops, they weren’t married.

Or were they?

“Flying Start” isn’t much better except that Bonnie Tyler has a little more tolerable voice.

Anyway, I’m not going to spend much more time on this one. Not a good album, and from a guy who was shockingly inconsistent after establishing himself on his first few albums. Profoundly disappointing, and really only of interest to collectors, and possibly to old geezers with comb-overs who still listen to Enya and other New Age stuff. Not recommended. Two stars.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#126356)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This is one of a few below-average albums MIKE OLDFIELD made at the end of the second phase of his career. Much of his musical malaise can be attributed to his deteriorating relationship with Virgin, his record label, who offered him no support. But I tend to think OLDFIELD was a victim of his own success twice over: first 'Tubular Bells' and then 'Crises' overly influenced his direction and musical 'voice' - and probably led to his label putting undue pressure on him for encores. It wasn't until Virgin's shackles were removed that OLDFIELD showed us what he could do: a succession of albums in the 1990s demonstrated the breadth and virtuosity of his talent. Unfortunately, not much of that talent is visible here.

Yet the majestic 'Wind Chimes Part 1', a two and a half minute overture, would have you believe otherwise. Sadly it heralds a competent-at-best, banal-at- worst twenty minute instrumental composition, 'Wihd Chimes Part 2', which for the first time sounds like OLDFIELD-by-numbers. Part of it vaguely presages the experimentation of 'Amarok,' but I hear more of the excrable 'Music From The Balcony' here. Noodling rather than melody or rhythm, his strong suits, dominates the piece. A well-known guitar line appears with four minutes to go (filched from 'Ommadawn'), far too late. The last three minutes are quite nice, and earn a star.

Yet once this is over, you have heard the best this record has to offer. The second side is - you guessed it - a sequence of shorter, pop-structured songs. No problem, if any of them were of the quality of 'Five Miles Out', 'Moonshine Shadow' or 'Discovery' from earlier albums. Sadly, none are. Each takes its melody from 'Wind Chimes', the most obvious borrowing audible in 'Flying Start'. The title track was supposed to be the 'hit' single, but failed despite BONNIE TYLER'S vocals, her of JIM STEINMAN/'Total Eclipse of the Heart' fame. Simply put, it's a poor pop song. 'Magic Touch' is a little better, but still doesn't measure up to the excellent pop music coming from around the world at the time. 'When The Night's On Fire' reuses the tune and song structure of the title track, and manages to suck away what little life it had. The second side of this record is simply pedestrian.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't bother unless you are an OLDFIELD fan. Even then there are thousands of records, made with passion, commitment and love, that should be listened to before this.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#138731)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars If you consider the date of this release (1987) it is still quite remarkable that Mike is releasing such an epic song as "The Wind Chimes".

Not on par with his legendary songs (the intro being really weak), this long piece (almost twenty two minutes) is always a pleasure to listen to, even if at times it fails to transport you to heaven (or even to a closer destination actually). It probably lacks in inspiration and great melodies as the greatest ones of his albums.

Still, one recognizes the Oldfield label during this epic but I can hardly say that this one is on par with his greatest work. But taking into consideration the date of release, I would say that it was very daring to record such a piece in those days.

What comes next can hardly be considered as one of his greatest work. Shortly formatted (but there is nothing wrong with this provided that the songs are good), there is no unforgettable music to be remembered. "North Point" as well as "Flying Start" being the nadir from this work.

And even if the choice might sound suspect, Bonnie Tyler does a good work on the title track. But frankly, an AOR song as "Magic Touch" (?) is completely out of purpose on an Oldfield work. And there won't be any great moment to be expected further on.

Two stars thanks to "The Wind Chimes".

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#160675)
Posted Sunday, February 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Islands is an album divided into two different parts. The first part is an epic song, a classic MO song. The wind chimes is one of that songs remembering me Mike's old period (Tubular Bells I specially).The first 2 minutes are majestic, then the multitude of instruments and female shows the universal music Mike created for his audience and not only. Female choirs and strange voices fills in the musical spectrum. We have to thank Mike for this classic song, because the 2nd part is much different and unspecific.

I don't know why Mike had to resort to pop music and deal with commercialism. From the beginning, I have to say that the other tracks from the album are not bad, they are quite good, but everything doesn't fit to his complex music sphere. Islands is a nice song (Bonnie Tyler is singing in her unique style...). The others are simple and only chorus is just a little brilliant for my ears (I remark here North Point and Magic Touch). Too bad for an audition on headphones, but ideal for MTV and driving. This is the music Mike continued to write on the next album-Earth Moving-being on a descending trail. I don't understand why such a complex musician had to do this, honestly....

2,5 stars!

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Send comments to Sachis (BETA) | Report this review (#168307)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Even more so than "Crises", "Islands" shows the degree to which quirky pop songs invaded Oldfield's psyche in the 80s, at the expense of his trademark instrumental excursions. However here both elements are like marked down merchandise.

"The Wind Chimes" is but a banal rehash of a reworking of a rendition of his classic material, as it were. Very few interesting themes are explored and what we are left with is more like the interminable last 7 minutes of "Crises", persisting for 21 minutes.

The 5 vocal tracks are all interesting and appealing to one degree or another. Max Bacon's "Magic Touch" is straight out of the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT playbook. Anita Hegerland, Oldfield's significant other at the time, turns in two more fine vocal performances with "North Point" and "The Time Has Come", the latter reminding me of MANDALABAND's self titled work in the mid 70s. Kevin Ayers contributes admirably to the whimsical "Flying Start", one of Oldfield's trademark child like numbers with a catchy melody and contrasts in the verses and chorus. Unfortunately, while the verses of the title cut spell classic rock hit, the chorus effectively squelches the momentum, with only Bonnie Tyler's rasping tones to save it.

Averaging out the inferior "epic" and the respectable pop tunes, I am left with an island in the Oldfield discography, at least up to that point: a 2 star effort.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#209083)
Posted Saturday, March 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#210754)
Posted Wednesday, April 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
1 stars Discovery had failed to deliver another batch of the Crisis-styled hits so Oldfield reached back to the half album of new-age and half album of pop approach.

No matter how poor Discovery was, this is the one where it gets really dreadful for me. The Wind of Chimes sounds like tasteless new-age ear candy that instantly makes my feet cringe. After the empty pathos of the Vangelis intro, it continues with a weak succession of poor folk and other fluffy clichés. It's performed on an early midi toy-keyboard and it even sounds amateurish as a result. And that from the man who used to be so adequate at the keyboards in the beginning of his career. And it gets worse when it is joined by the stale processed drum beats. No, there's not a hint of prog in sight during the entire tedious 22 minutes of it. Simply uninspired, clumsily written, uncommitted, heartless and poorly executed plastic elevator music.

Now, the pop on the second half is possibly worse. I won't comment on the individual tracks as I must admit I've never been able to sit through any of them for their entire short duration. This always goes skip skip skip skip stop before each track is one minute in.

Both in its pseudo-prog long track and AOR-style pop exercises; this is one of the worst albums I've ever heard. Skip.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#279112)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2010 | Review Permalink

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