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Mike Oldfield - Elements: 1973-1991 CD (album) cover

ELEMENTS: 1973-1991

Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog


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Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A luxury item

An excellent, lavishly presented four CD set, containing a shade under 5 hours of Oldfield's work recorded for on the Virgin label. This of course means that his earliest albums, which led to fame and fortune for him and instant success for the fledgling Virgin label, are all featured.

Since those early albums consisted of side long tracks, most appear in edited format. The exception is the original "Tubular bells", which understandably appears in full. All the Virgin albums are represented, but the bias is towards the early albums, with "Amarok" and "Heavens open" for example appearing almost to be after thoughts. The music is presented chronologically, including the rarer pieces and non-album singles. Personally, I do not feel Oldfield's longer pieces such as "Hergest ridge" and "Incantations" lend themselves well to appearing in edited format, but at least space is found for the whole of side one of the excellent "Ommadawn".

The collection is not cheap by any means, and as such is not really appropriate for those who are new to Oldfield's work. In fact, it is difficult to think who this sprawling collection is aimed at. Fans of the man will already have much of what is included here, and will no doubt find it hard to justify the outlay to obtain the rarer tracks. Indeed, a number of these, especially the singles, have appeared on other single disk compilations. Thus, while this is undoubtedly a find body of work, it is hard to recommend it to anyone other than Oldfield completionists. The star rating is thus based on the music alone.

Report this review (#28638)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Easy Livin asks the right question about this thing: Just who the heck is this set intended for? I believe I got a pretty good deal on mine, but otherwise this is a ridiculous box for most people. Oldfield fans are going to have most of the albums anyway. And for those who don't, why would you want to buy "excerpts" of some of Mike's classic tracks. This really is yet another box set that makes little sense. I'm convinced these box sets are purchased mostly as Christmas gifts and that the reasons for their existence are entirely monetary (as opposed to artistic and monetary.) You'll get a sprawling taste of Mike's Virgin Records output over the years, but you'd be far better off buying the original albums.

The one bone they throw to Oldfield collectors is the 59 page booklet which features a respectable bio, some nice photographs, and a discography. Nice for sure, but hardly worth the cost of admission. This is very much "for fans only." Hard core fans with lots of disposable income.

Report this review (#145127)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 4 CD's in a ridiculously big box - gosh, I have always hated big boxes wasting space... and the way the CD leaflets tend to be as plain and boring as possible in these boxes. If the track listings would be included in the booklet also, that wouldn't matter much, but honestly: I would never ever give a thought of buying a large box set of any artist.

Anyway, I just borrowed this in order to make my own 2-CD Oldfield compilation. I thought this 4-CD thing would be enough for it, but no. Had to get also The Complete Mike Oldfield to finish my task. I'm rather choosy, you see. First, as I expected, the late 80's material presented on the fourth disc was mostly awful. I have never listened to Earth Moving album (I guess), but it seems to be an absolute low mark in Oldfield's career. VERY commercial and unpersonal 80's pop! Nor has 'Islands' with Bonnie Tyler's pretentiously raspy vocals stood the test of time.

I think the period from Platinum (1979) to Discovery (1984) is also quite poorly represented here. For example, who would enjoy an instrumental version of Tricks of the Light!?? A pity that 'The Lake' (the only great track on Discovery) isn't included. 'Crises' epic is represented by a 5-minute edit which just happens to include its worst moments. As I say on my Complete M. O. review, its Live Side is absolutely superior to the studio versions of 'Platinum', 'Sheba' and 'Mount Teidi'.

On the positive side, I really enjoy Ommadawn part One in its entire, Incantations Part Two and even some tracks I had never heard before, such as 'Firts Excursion' and 'Argiers'. But on the whole, The Complete Mike Oldfield with its 2 CD's made much better impression on me 20 years ago, and still does.

Report this review (#160310)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permalink

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