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Sally Oldfield

Crossover Prog

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Sally Oldfield Water Bearer album cover
3.89 | 38 ratings | 7 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Water Bearer (6:25)
2. Songs of the Quendi:
-a) Night Theme (2:52)
-b) Wampum Song (3:06)
-c) Nenya (4:59)
-d) Land of the Sun (1:52)
3. Mirrors (3:17)
4. Weaver (3:38)
5. Night of the Hunter's Moon (3:26)
6. Child of Allah (3:19)
7.Song of the Bow (3:37)
8.Fire and Honey (2:30)
9.Song of the Healer (3:19)

Total time 42:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Sally Oldfield / vocals, Spanish, acoustic & electric (1-3) guitars, tubaphone, mandolin, piano, pipe organ, harpsichord, synth, Moog bass, marimba (1), vibes (3,6), glockenspiel, percussion, composer, arranger & producer

- Brian Burrows / tenor vocals (1,2,8)
- Dave Lawson / synth & programming
- Mike Oldfield / mandolin (9) - not confirmed
- Jean Price / harp (1,7)
- Herbie Flowers / double bass (6) - not confirmed
- Frank Ricotti / cabassa (1), bongos (1,2,4), vibes (2), marimba & congas (5)
- Tim Wheater /cymbal (1,2,6,7)
- Trevor Spencer / Syn e-drums (2-4)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul Wakefield (photo)

LP Bronze ‎- BRON 511 (1978, UK)

CD Bronze ‎- 610 164-222 (1984, Europe)
CD Castle Music ‎- CMRCD989 (2004, Europe)

Thanks to NotAProghead for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SALLY OLDFIELD Water Bearer ratings distribution

(38 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SALLY OLDFIELD Water Bearer reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sally Oldfield had already had years of experience singing, adding numerous backing vocals to brother Mike Oldfield's works such as Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Tubular Bells. She had also done a one album wonder with her brother Mike, the SallyAngie folk duo. Her voice is befitting to progressive music, ethereal, folky and popular, take your pick. Waterbearer is her first solo release and is also an excellent debut too. There is something quite madrigal to her, she reminds me of the chraracter, The river maiden out of The Old Forest from Tolkien's world, Ethereal, almost elvish. It is no surprise then that the Waterbearer continues with Tolkienesque themes with the wonderfully progressive " Songs of The Quendi" The song having four parts providing rich tapestry of sounds. The title song is equally beautiful. " Mirrors" although now sounding a bit dated still evokes that madrigal touch and perhaps her most commercially succesful song ever released.

The album generally holds up well, ironically to this reviewer the highlight to the album is " Night Of The Hunter's Moon", which was the flip side to the single Mirrors. Great keyboards, shifting time signatures and booming vocals from Sally. " Child Of Allah" is also great laying the prescedent that SO is universally spiritual and respective of all religions. An excellent album and a perfect starting point ( debuts normally are ) for anyone wanting to invest in her discography. Four stars.

Review by kenethlevine
5 stars I remember where I was when I first heard this unfairly overlooked album, and when it was. Suffice to say it was 1984 and, amidst the excitement of such a significant discovery crept in feelings of disillusionment with a music scene that would allow such a project to go unnoticed, at least in North America. I felt cheated that, although I clearly knew of Sally through her sibling association and her work with STEVE HACKETT, I had been deprived of this classic for the first 6 years of its existence.

For fans of the pastoral, woodsy aspects of MIKE OLDFIELD's discography, as surely all his followers must be (!), SALLY OLDFIELD's debut is an easy sell. Sure, she actually pens spiritual lyrics and her voice is ubiquitous, but the Oldfield spirit conveyed succinctly in the main theme of "Hergest Ridge" and pervading whole cycles of "Ommadawn", on which she sang, is as intertwined with his elder sister's DNA as with his. Of course, he returns the favour by picking up the mandolin here, and other guests like Herbie Flowers and Frank Ricotti do more than add progressive credentials, but that they do too.

Even though Sally's pop sensibilities are barely apparent on this British Isles progressive folk rock album, it did yield her only hit, the UK #19 anthem "Mirrors". Unfortunately, as with the RENAISSANCE chart smash "Northern Lights" of the same year, the singles' success did not endow the artist with any staying power, so out of fashion was her style. Still, we are here to analyze this album virtually devoid of missteps or the sort of out of character forays that could make the difference between a 4 and 5 star disk.

Side 1 is a no brainer, with the bubbly chanting of "Water Bearer" exploiting the power of repetitive suggestion, giving way seamlessly to the monumental medley of the Quendi, a suite that suddenly springs to life on the wings of a Dave Lawson synth figure and slowly and resignedly consumes itself a dozen odd minutes later. If a more musically coherent Tolkien tribute exists I surely have not heard it. I feel myself in an enchanted forest attending stealthily to the sounds of the natives lest they discover my presence and dissolve self consciously into silence.

Side 2 is perhaps somewhat less flashy but also more of a personal statement along the lines of "Mirrors". It explores a variety of spirituality, mostly earth centered as in "Night of the Hunter's Moon" and the "Tubular Bells" like "Weaver", but also Islam in the jangly "Child of Allah". "Fire and Honey" holds the spirit of Gaia again, enhanced by piano that is reminiscent of John Hawken's work with ILLUSION. Everywhere is Oldfield's sultry, expressive voice that should rightly have taken its place along with KATE BUSH and other contemporaries, but one should be content that she helped shaped many of the more Celtic flavoured female artists now known as new age, from NIGHTNOISE to LOREENA MCKENNITT, to name a few of the more respectable proponents.

For the sister of a mega star like Mike Oldfield, the task of distinguishing herself must have been daunting for Sally, but she possessed a gift of authentic self expression at least the equal of his own. As a result, "Water Bearer" is one of the more uniquely rooted releases of the 1970s, and one of the most refreshing examples of nature oriented progressive music of any era. So drink up.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I was quite surprised to find Sally Oldfield here in PA. And much more when I had the chance to listen to her debut album Waterbearer. I used to think of Sally as the sister of her more famous brother Mike. Yes, like most people who were alive on earth in the late 70´s I had heard her biggest (and only) hit single Mirrors. As much as I liked this song, I never felt really moved enough to actually go and get the CD. Maybe I was afraid of another big, prog related, disappointment like so many I had at the time.

So I was glad to see what a big surprise this work turned out to be when I finally gave it a shot so many years after it was released. Her music was a (then) very original mixture of celtic folk, ambient and what became to be known as ethinic or world music. In other words, she was at least some ten years ahead of her time. Small wonder it was so hard to label her work (and market it). No one had come up with the new age label at that period yet. If Waterbearer was released in the late 80´s or early 90´s she would probably enjoy a much better midia exposure and maybe commercial success like Enya, Loreena McKennitt, Clannad, etc.

There is a lot of Mike Oldfield´s music influence here, but she already had proved she had a sound of her own. I loved the clever use of percussion, acoustic instruments and synthesizers. Her multi tracked vocals are another great feature: Sally Oldfield has a real beautiful voice and she knows how to use it to maximum effect. Add some fine songwriting skills, excellent production and tasteful arrangements and, voilá!, a remarkable album was born in a time when most things progressive were going downhill. Fast!

Conclusion: maybe today her music does not sound as groundbreaking as it might had been in 1978, due to so many imitators that came after it. But it did stand well the test of time after all these years, it still feels fresh and exciting. if you like bands like Renaissance or Fairport Convention, then this is a must have. Waterbearer, to my delight, proved to be much stronger than just a bunch Mirrors look alike tunes. Rating: 4,5 stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Middle Earth music

Sally Oldfield began her career with brother Mike in a duet call The Sallyangie back in the 60s. Her first solo work "Water Bearer" was recorded in the spring of 1978 at the Roundhouse and at Chipping Norton Studios. It was her most progressive work in a long career that veered much more into mainstream music, though I've heard "Celebration" has nice moments as well. Oldfield is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist just like her brother and this album was completely written, arranged, and produced by her.

This highly sophisticated vocal showcase is just so impressive. Impeccable arrangements and many layers of beautifully played instrumental accompaniments grace each track. There are lots of hand percussions and exotic sounding instruments. The sound quality is crisp and clear, one reviewer I read noted her album had better sound than brother Mike's work from this period. The songs features Oldfield's beautiful "Annie Haslam-like" voice as the material delves straight into the fantasy worlds inspired by Tolkien. Truly this music is the soundtrack for your next Elven get-together at Rivendell. It can get a bit repetitive and a bit cheesy to be frank, but mostly it should please fans of prog-folk or crossover.

I enjoy "Water Bearer" on occasion and while quite pleasant and technically top-notch, I don't feel it is the important progressive work that many others do. 3 stars.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars An album that isn't particularly complex musically, but is very rich.

Sort of proto new age. But some things that can fit under that umbrella aren't the same. I get the feeling that Sally was on a bit of progressive rush after her part in Voyage Of The Apocalypse. This is a drastic improvement over The Sallyangie. There is still a quaintness to the music and yet a sophistication to it. Very much a Sally project as she does many of the instruments as well as the vocals.

Mike may have been the proggier sibling, but Sally really shines on this. And Mike's influence is apparent even though he's not here. She does have a little Flowers.

Latest members reviews

5 stars A very solid album. Great vocals, great harmonies, great overall atmosphere, great musicianship, great production. It's insane to think that she did this album all by herself. The instruments, the vocals, the production. For a debut album this is insanely good. The music crosses different ... (read more)

Report this review (#1890571) | Posted by Kingsnake | Sunday, March 4, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Water Bearer is Sally Oldfield's first album. It's a very nice listen, and fits well into the woodsy style of the vocal work she was doing in the same era with her brother Mike and with Steve Hackett. The songs are very lyrical and not very complex. I'd actually put this in the "New Age" category ... (read more)

Report this review (#1401980) | Posted by dsbenson | Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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