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Mike Oldfield

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Mike Oldfield Ommadawn album cover
4.29 | 1515 ratings | 76 reviews | 50% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ommadawn Part 1 (19:14)
2. Ommadawn Part 2 (incl. "On Horseback") (17:07)

Total Time 36:21

Bonus track on 1976 Virgin LP:
3. In Dulce Jubilo (2:51)

Bonus tracks on 2010 Mercury CD:
3. In Dulce Jubilo (2:51)
4. First Excursion (5:56)
5. Argiers (3:57)
6. Portsmouth (2:04)

Bonus CD from 2010 Mercury boxset:
1. - 2. Original 1975 Stereo mix
- Bonus Track -
3. Ommadawn (Lost 1975 demo, previously unreleased) (17:10)

Total Time 53:31

Bonus DVD from 2010 Mercury boxset:
1. - 2. Ommadawn 2010 Surround mix, 448 Kbps lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 (36:27)
- Original Promotional Videos -
3. In Dulce Jubilo (3:04)
4. Portsmouth (2:03)

Total Time 41:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Oldfield / acoustic, classical, 12-string & electric guitars, acoustic & electric basses, mandolin, harp, bouzouki, banjo, grand piano, spinet, Farfisa organ, ARP 2600 & Solina synths, bodhrán, glockenspiel, accordion (6), assorted percussion (marimba, gong, tubular bells), producer

- Paddy Moloney / uilleann pipes
- Terry Oldfield / panpipes
- Don Blakeson / trumpet
- The Hereford City Band / brass ensemble
- Leslie Penning / recorders, conductor (brass ensemble)
- David Strange / cello
- Pierre Moerlen / timpani
- William Murray / percussion
- Jabula ensemble (Julian Bahula, Ernest Mothle, Lucky Ranku, Eddie Tatane) / African drums
- Sally Oldfield / vocals
- Bridget St. John / vocals
- Clodagh Simonds / vocals
- Penrhos kids (Jason, Abigail, Ivan and Briony Griffiths) / vocals (1 - On Horseback section)

Releases information

Artwork: David Bailey (photo)

LP Virgin - V2043 (1975, UK)
LP Virgin - 27 493 XOT (1976, Netherlands) w/ 1 bonus track
LP Virgin SVLP 322 (2001)

CD Virgin ‎- CDV 2043 (1984, UK)
CD Disky - VI 873762 (1996, UK)
HDCD Virgin - MIKECD4 (2000, Europe) Remastered by Simon Heyworth
HDCD Caroline - CAR 1855 (2000, US) Remastered by Simon Heyworth
CD Mercury - 532 676-2 (2010, Europe) Remastered by Paschal Byrne, mixed by MO, w/ 4 bonus tracks
2CD+DVDv Mercury - 532 676-1 (2010, Europe) Reissue of 2010 remaster w/ 2 bonus discs: CD of original Stereo mixes plus 1 bonus track; DVD w/ 5.1 Surround mixes plus 2 original promo videos

Numerous other reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MIKE OLDFIELD Ommadawn ratings distribution

(1515 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

MIKE OLDFIELD Ommadawn reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars I like this one better than Tubular Bells but less than Herdgest Ridge. I can't help but thinking that Oldfield was a precurssor to new age music but also made attempt at supermarket or elevator music ( no insult or joke intended - but it is true that one hears that music in those places). In itself , the music is fine even if lacking a bit of depth, but with such a lack of substance, I cannot stand losing 40 mins of my life anymore to get so few and over-extended musical ideas.

A classic electronic rock album, but also really more of an ambiant or new-age masterpiece. But since I am not a fan of those.............

Review by loserboy
4 stars In many ways this is in my opinion the pinnacle album from Mike OLFIED. "Ommadawn" marks the third major release from OLDFIELD and in my opinion conveys his deepest musical abilities ever. "Ommadawn" is really a combination of the best elements from both "Tubular Bells" and "Hergest Ridge". OLDFIELD brings a very relaxed subtle atmosphere to "Ommadawn" but delves deep into the human psyche here. Once again Mike plays most of the instruments, but unlike "Tubular Bells" has assistance. "Ommadawn" has some of the greatest vocal parts ever to come from OLDFIELD. "Ommadawm" covers lots of ground and moves from the dark depths to the light and flowery chants of children.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album has many floating relaxing keyboards and full of floating mellow female background vocals. There are many instruments involved and everything is made in a subtle and gentle manner. Even the electric guitar is relaxing. Quite linear, but loaded and not monotonous. You have to listen it many times entirely to really appreciate the good work. The songs are very long, so just sit back, relax and enjoy the music.
Review by richardh
5 stars I really can't find fault with this album and furthermore I don't want to! This is so beautifull a work that is full of stunning musical landscapes and divine melodies.There is a lovely flow to the music.Nothing here sounds 'forced' or 'artificia'l to me.Everything in it's place as God intended.5 stars well merited!
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Jackpot!! Mike Oldfield sure hit it when he released Ommadawn. This along with Inacantations and Amarok has to be his finest work. If ever I were on a desert island and I only had a handful of album to choose from, Ommadawn would be in the top three! The moods and melodies, more complex than Hergest Ridge yet accessible in only the way Oldfield knows best in conveying. The African rythms and chanting closing side one are probably the best incantations Oldfield has put together on record. Side 2 is more laid back until it's slow build but the pipes are beautiful. ' Horse song' which ends the album fittingly takes you back to childhood and the simplicity of riding on horseback. 1975, what a vintage year and Ommadawn will be revered by future generations for years and years.
Review by frenchie
4 stars I just got this on vinyl for 50 pence at a closing down sale and i think its brilliant. Part two, i thought, was much better than part one because it was a lot more consistant and showed clear improvement from the very begining. I liked the vast use of instruments as on tubular bells, as this seems to be Oldfields incredible talent and i think its amazing how he gets all these ideas to have multi-layered side-length pieces like this. Absolutely spectacular.

Part one does well to set the scene and i enjoyed listening to it. It is a little more inconsistant and long winding but it sets the scene well and kept me listening. But it is a majestic travel from part one to part two where all of his skill and vision pays off superbly. The voices in the background of part one became annoying after a while and sort of made it a little samey. Part two contained some very powerful and moving pieces as well as showing energy, sorrow and great musicianship throughout. Excellent. I'm not sure if i prefered it to tubular bells because that album for me is much more epic and listenable. Ommadawn is a real wonder though.

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars Virgin Records contracted Mike Oldfield, they gave him artistic freedom and he paid them back with the million-selling debut LP "Tubular bells". But what to do after such a brilliant and successfull first effort? Well, in my opinion this third album is his best and Mike Oldfield looks like Jesus on the front cover picture, does he let his large following to a musical heaven?

1 - Ommadawn part 1

First a soaring female choir and then the blend of warm classical guitar play, beautiful and so pure! Mike Oldfield enters with his distinctive electric guitar sound: melodic, flowing and very intense, almost howling. The climates changes from folky with flute and mandolin or Gaelic vocals, mellow with soaring keyboards and classical guitar to bombastic with fiery electric guitar runs. The electric guitar sound from Mike Oldfield dominates this composition, it's so distinctive!

2 - Ommadawn part 2 (including The horse song)

The atmosphere is dramatic featuring a wide range of instruments, from guitars and bells to a choir. The the climate turns into wonderful folky: first the powerful Northumbrian bag pipes (this north-UK region is close the Scottisch border) and then the sound of pan pipes from Terry Oldfield. Next a cheerful mid-tempo rhythm including the Greek bouzouki, a pumping bass and Mike Oldfield his fiery electric guitar runs. Halfway this composition contains the part entitled "The horse song", the folky vocals (from Mike Oldfield and William Murray) evokes the song "Part of the union" from THE STRAWBS.

3 - In dulci jubilo

The short final track "In dulci jubilo" (latin for, let's say "In the mood") was the single from the album, it has a cheerful and catchy rhythm featuring a great melodic with a clear presence from the flute, drums (tympani?) and Mike Oldfield his howling guitar runs, it makes you feel very happy!


Review by The Crow
5 stars Wonderful!!! It's difficult to find music of such beauty, and this is without a doubt my favourite Mike Oldfield's album, along with it sequel Amarok. From the first minute to the last this album is absolutely perfect in my opinion, and it hasn't an only weak second.

The first part has a lot of variety inside, with a great example of "world music". The guitar solos are lovely, like the marvellous delicate parts that make you almost cry... The african final is strong and has a lot of guitar feeling, with greats percussion by Jabula.

The second part it's still better in my opinon. At the beginnig you can hear an explosion of guitars wich it's followed by one of the most peaceful and beautiful moments i've heard in my life, with a marvellous bagpipe by Paddy Moloney. The final guitar solo is epic and close this masterpiece brillantly.

The hidden track, On Horseback (In Dulcy Jubilo doesn't belong to this work, that's a mistake...) it's a funny track with a close letter, the firt Mike Oldfield's sung song.

One of the best albums I've heard.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This music is what dreams are made of!!! The gentle and almost timid touch of Oldfield on his acoustic and electric guitars reconcile my soul after a "hard-working-day"! The most significant parts on this OPERA are: part 1, that splendid and quasi-Collodian fluted part (Collodi is the Pinocchio's author-note that the 19th century's book is as far as possible from the Disney cartoon version. For that reason I recommend it!);

part 2, that marvellous bagpipes part after the 7th min: superb!

Ok, for you is one of the first example of world music: I don't know if it is, for me it is "ONLY" a MASTERPIECE!!

Note: I've had the same feeling of E. Neuteboom: Mike looks like Jesus Christ!

Review by Prognut
5 stars I have a really soft spot for this one!! This one was the first I had the oportunity to listen from MO!! His first MASTERPIECE, IMHO much better than TB, comercially not that good! I always come back to this, regularly..... Highly recommended!! and a good starting point for anybody that just want to check out Mike Oldfield music. What else to say!!! Two long suites that travel in time, and still sound fresh in my ears!!! Impressive work that shows Mike at his best!!
Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very ambient but dynamic offering from Mik Oldfield that generally stays in the realms of a well-constructed, organically developing and, above all, an original and very influential piece of work. The Rock aspect is borderline, verging on the non- existent, but the production, arrangements, composition and execution are excellent - truly progressive in the literal sense.

It's a trip that exists over the two roughly twenty-minute sections that go to make up a vinyl LP, so program your CD player to play Part I, listen, then program your CD player to play Part I, and you'll have the right gap. As other reviewers have commented, the overall feel is more of "New Age" music - but roughly 15-20 years before the boom in that genre, and not entirely dissimilar to the more ambient moments of Gong/Hillage of around the same time. That said, this is an entirely different composition to anything by either.

A floaty wash of keyboards and simple guitar ostinato over a pedal provides a soothing backdrop, with engaging melodies, but there is a pleasing dark edge to Band I that provides a decent amount of tension that maintains the interest.

Band II is altogether lighter in tone, and, perhaps, Venetian in feel. The entrance of Timpani and keyboard wind and brass sounds gives a great swell in sound - and Oldfield resists the obvious at every turn.

The sugue into band 3 is well constructed, but this part threatens to descend into cheese with every passing moment. "Bright and chirpy" would be good adjectives here, until it drops into a tinkly interlude with a rather mysterious recorder backing that's certainly unique - and exceptionally mellow.

Other sounds fade in, including vocal "Aahs", and Mike's distinctive guitar leads, and the piece suddenly drops in to Band 4, a more edgy number with little guitar cascades and an unsettling percussive and rhythmic keyboard backing.

This reminds me of Karl Jenkin's Enigma projects, nearly 20 years later - particularly in the choir vocalisations - but the ambience here seems more tangible.

To round off side 1 of the vinyl, the atmosphere intensifies, thanks to denser percussion from Pierre Moerlin's Timps and the African drums. Close shifts in harmony and a rolling Hawkwind-style bass line make for a track that is to all intents and purposes, heavy, despite it's overall ambient feel.

Part II begins with keyboard washes of a different nature to Part I, and acoustic guitar - which provide the feeling that Mike is about to launch into a Genesis number... this never happens, of course! He experiments more with the pedal approach, sliding from one to the other in a manner that reminds me a little of bagpipe music... then accordians emerge from the background textures.

You could spend all day listening out for the little snippets of texture that emerge, re-merge and spin around inside this captivating piece - and that goes for the whole album too, of course. The range of moods and atmospheres that the lister is taken through is quite stunning, and the album rarely goes down a dead-end passage, or ends up simply counting down the bars until the next change - all changes appear to happen at the right kind of time. No precision is applied here - it's all very loose, and, if you're simply going with the flow, the flow is imaginative and paints clear and detailled images without being particularly challenging.

But then challenging is something we don't always want from music - sometimes it's nice to let the music do all the work, and just drift away to it; and with "Ommadawn", Oldfield has produced a work of exactly such a quality, yet with a distinctly primeval, some might say earthy feel to it, with the exotic range of instruments and attention to detail in their use to conjure just the right atmosphere... although I find some, like the Northumberland bagpipes, a little hard to digest.

These soon pass, however, and the build-ups and pull-downs of tension and ambience in the music in Part II, while not as consistent or compelling as Part I, certainly don't completely lose the interest - indeed, it maintains a stronger pulse throughout, and some of the highs are higher - while some of the lows...

A really Good addition to any collection of Prog Rock - it's unique, so I guess I would go as far as to say Excellent - but only just. It would need to be more consistent for that.

So buy, and chill!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another legendary album from Mike Oldfield which I came to realize later. To be exact, I could only start enjoying most of Oldfield albums after the digital age came to an era sometime in the middle of 80s. I started collecting the album in 95, indeed. My reason is simple. By the time this album was released I could only afford to buy a cassette version. This kind of music by Mike Oldfield is not decent enough to enjoy with cassette as a format because it contains high noise level. So when this album was released I was not interested to buy the cassette. But when the CD was available, I purchased it and now I can enjoy this album.

Typical with Mike Oldfield music, this album also contains repetitive segments that move from one part to another with relatively similar music patterns. Guitars and other instruments play the melody role and bring the music moves from one segment to another. It's good to have different kinds of instruments used in each segment. As usual, the multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield plays many instruments from acoustic, classical & electric guitars, acoustic & electric basses, mandoline, harp, bouzouki, banjo, grand piano, spinet, electric organs, synths, bodhran, glockenspiel, and assorted percussions. Musically, there are great segments with wonderful music that became my favorite, for example it happens at approx. minute 10 of Part One. The combination of acoustic guitar, electric guitar and traditional music has enriched this song. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Omma-Dawn is a feeling

For his third album, Mike Oldfield chooses a middle path between the naïve excitement and anger of "Tubular Bells", and the more continuous, generally softer "Hergest Ridge". The result is a very satisfying, highly melodic work with many highlights, and a continuity which demands that it be heard as a complete piece.

Oldfield's guitar work is particularly impressive here, and generally receives top billing among the many instruments on which he is accomplished. For the first time (other than the "On horseback" ditty which closes "Hergest Ridge" and the "Piltdown man" growls), he adds vocals to the album. These are however vocalised in the form of an additional "instrument", rather than as a lyrical intrusion. Indeed the lyrics are deliberately nonsensical, being a mixture of English an Irish Gaelic words.

Oldfield uses repetition to a much greater extent, particularly of a handful of strong themes, which may be the reason so many people find this album immediately appealing. The main theme of part (side) one for example is introduced almost immediately, and developed through drifting keyboards, incisive guitars, and the vocalised ending to the side.

The strength of the album however lies in the melodies which are pleasant but infectious. This was perhaps Oldfield's first real drift towards new age, but it's still light years from the musak which that genre often implies. That said, there appears to be more emotion in the performance here than on any other Oldfield album. If you are familiar with Oldfield's masterwork "The songs of distant earth", but have yet to discover "Ommadawn", you are in for a pleasant experience.

"Ommadawn" was far from a solo album by Oldfield. While the composition credit is of course entirely his, he called upon the talents of many fine musicians to enhance the sound. Notable among these are Paddy Moloney on Uillean pipes and Bridget St John and Oldfield's sister Sally on vocals.

A superb album, among the best of Oldfield's illustrious career.

Review by Thulëatan
5 stars An extremely special album, where Mike Oldfield gathers all he had learned from his previous two works and somehow surpasses them both in this elaborate, dramatic, moving, and - quite frankly - perfectly executed masterpiece. As a child I was introduced to the final section of 'Ommadawn (Part Two)', the edit usually referred to as 'On Horseback', and while oblivious to the rest of the music that precedes it I found the song simply magical... a delicate madrigal straight out of another world of joy and freedom, imagination so natural to the young and so captivating to adults who can still remember it. From here, my love of Oldfield's music was born.

It all begins with a mysterious temple of pendulum-time bass, guitars and koto, with the grievous sounds of the organ and a subdued choir. It seems like an atmosphere of primordial meditation, and then emergence, signalled by the massive sound of the gong, as 'Part One' builds on its enigmatic melody and comes to life. The piece moves on into a festival-like section clearly influenced by his interest in friendly, traditional melodies ('In Dulci Jubilo', 'Vivaldi Concerto In C') and led by a guest player on recorders. Indeed, the whole album is enhanced by some superb playing from a much larger number of additional musicians than on his first two recordings, including his brother Terry and sister Sally. Halfway through the side, the music seems to 'restart' with a gentle new current that evokes a real feeling of peace through fluttering movements and a new twist on the main theme. And then, at 9.46 a key change marks the beginning of some of the finest music on earth... a miraculous electric guitar run brims with energy, confidence, overcoming, and leads the way towards the purgatorial conclusion of side one. Here, a hypnotic ensemble of African drumming drives forward a period of uncertainty and growth, ultimately to a terrifying main theme reprise that erupts in a fury of pounding bass, desperate choirs, screaming guitar stabs, and the chilling clang of tubular bells. The piece was described by Oldfield as a way of forcing his emotional 'rebirth', and with focused listening these moments of primal, vital urgency can certainly be heard, before at long last the struggle is won and the drums find themselves alone, petering out into time.

The terrain of 'Part Two' is no less intriguing, starting boldly with a veritable sea of overdubbed electric guitars, all strumming and trilling in unison to create an impenetrable sense of weight, travail, pushing onward. The clear tones of pipes eventually cut through and allow the piece to fade slowly into restful contemplation, as light acoustic guitars wander sparsely and freely. This calm is fortified when Northumbrian bagpipes enter and cast off a song of long, lazy notes, which reaches a satisfying, measured conclusion before the piece veers off into a more sorrowful passage. Oldfield's searching acoustic guitar accompanies a beautiful lead pipe here, setting up a bridge of longing and transformation in a spacious, ethereal style similar to that which opened the album. Then, to mirror the powerful rhythm found at the end of the previous side, the African drums quickly return with a beat equally as energetic, this time providing solid backing for an exuberant guitar solo. The climax of side two, this section stands not as a wild purge, but as a celebration. There is then a few moments of complete silence to reflect, before the enchanting acoustic guitar melody of the horse song comes in. Mike himself speaks the verses in his frail voice, recounting simple perceptions of both the everyday and perhaps something deeper, and then sweeps in with an anthemic chorus about the freedom of riding away from it all on horseback. The sentiments are uncomplicated and even childlike on the surface, echoed by the children's choir in the last chorus repeat, but the beauty of the music, and the passion with which Oldfield commands his instruments, is as strong here as on the rest of the album. His classic soft electric guitars harmonise behind the vocals, tuned percussion tinkles away, and the background is awash with rich synth strings. Capturing an atmosphere that's quite unique, this segregated conclusion to Ommadawn is one of truth found through hope and sadness, trial and simplicity.

Once again, Mike Oldfield knits together a whole spectrum of ideas drawn from the extremities of his personal experience, but this time manages to achieve more overall coherence than before. Through a greater complexity of emotions and perceptions, and continued inspired performance, the album presents some gripping material of immense power, and like 1990's 'Amarok' stands as a creative peak for this instrumental genius.

In my world, it would be a crime not to own and cherish this recording.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars In the liner notes it's says ""Ommadawn" is the third in the trilogy of large scale compositions composed by Mike Oldfield in the mid-seventies. In contrast to the Rock influences of "Tubular Bells" and the pastoral Folk feel of "Hergest Ridge", it can be defined as an early example of what is now called "World Music"". I prefer "Hergest Ridge" to this one but man this is a good one. This record is made up of two parts that develope slowly.

"Part One" features some acoustic guitar and harp melodies followed by cello after 9 minutes.There is a female vocal melody and percussion 13 minutes in. We also get some flute and tribal-like drums. And the guitar is really good late in the song. It ends with percussion.

"Part Two" slowly builds and the guitar is again very good. We get some interesting sounding bagpipes and more flute. The tribal drums create an uplifting sound and the guitar melody stops abruptly as we change gears for the last three minutes with a piece called "On Horseback". Here we get vocals from Mike for the first time and children singing too. "Hergest Ridge" is mentioned in the lyrics.

Excellent release ! He's 3 for 3 !

Review by laplace
3 stars Here's another of those albums with one essential side and one that's perfect for collecting dust (or your more specific free-floating particle of choice) - "Ommadawn" exhausts all its fascinating themes by the end of side A and then gets downright rustic. Still, it's a pool of tranquility perfect for general ambient use - it's just that since "Ommadawn" was recorded, there has been an influx of rather minimal "strings, pipes and chimes" CD, most of which now sell at a considerable discount.

Let's consider the superior side A: three immediately identifiable themes weave their ways through different circumstances, describing to this reviewer a wake, a brief repose and a glorious if undisciplined march towards an uncertain enemy. More musically we have have a mixture of very high drones, strings and flutes to support the eternal star of the Oldfield sound - his unique and recognisable guitar technique; whether he is playing a melody or supporting with those echoing arpeggiations, his playing on this central instrument invariably steals the show. Another vital element of "Ommadawn, part I" is that it is supported only by non-rock percussion, including a powerful African drumline and waves of timpanism played by everyone's second favourite drummer. This lengthy piece might be - to this reviewer, of course - the last interesting Oldfield composition until the heady "Amarok" because when we dip into lazy garden folk it fits the song as just one facet of the whole - we can welcome the temporary quiet of the pastoral section halfway through because of what comes next, being a rather powerful closure that seems to evoke a different scene in the imagination of every listener. For me it brings the aforementioned war march; who knows how you'll interpret it?

Basically, side A of Ommadawn is a crucial piece of music from before the time of Oldfieldian diminishing returns and folk-pop; you should probably try to have heard it just to keep a handle of the breadth of progressive rock. If you happen to like the flipside too, then that's a fine bonus for you!

Review by russellk
5 stars This music came along just when I needed it, and has been my most played album ever since. If I could take only one of my thousand-plus collection with me, this would be it.

MIKE OLDFIELD took up the challenge of extending himself, of coming out from the giant shadow cast by 'Tubular Bells'. He meets it by relying on celtic- infused melodies coupled with African rhythms, creating one of the first world music albums in the process. I'd never heard anything like it in early 1976. But what interested me most was how he turned melody into beauty and drama, especially through the first side, which is, in essence, a continual restatement of the main theme with variations in pace, instruments and volume. Unlike 'Hergest Ridge', but like 'Tubular Bells', this side climaxes with an outrageous finale, as glorious as you could ever hope to hear. Finally OLDFIELD unleashes that electric guitar and proves he's one of the era's most lyrical masters of the instrument: his melodies, liberally sprinkled with bends and sustains designed to lift the emotions, matched only by LATIMER and surpassed only by GILMOUR, in my opinion.

And what a finale to side 1. With seven minutes remaining, the main theme is restated one last time, and a shrill pan pipe (played by his brother) introduces CLODAGH SIMMONS singing nonsense gaelic over tribal rhythms, swirling pipes and an acoustic guitar. The music builds in inimitable OLDFIELD fashion, hypnotically, repetitively, layer upon layer, until his acoustic and electric guitars break through, bringing things to an orgiastic climax as the main theme is reprised amid frenetic bass, a wordless chorus and such shrill guitars. The drums tail off detumescently, allowing us to get our breath back.

As with 'Tubular Bells', side two of 'Ommadawn' does not rise to the same heights. Nevertheless, there are moments of thrilling beauty courtesy of bagpipes and those ubiquitous multi-layered guitars. Ater eight minutes of relative ambience comes the sweetest melody played by the bagpipes, followed by another courtesy of pan pipes - here OLDFIELD is at his melodic best. Then at eleven minutes the music swells - for not nearly long enough - introducing a celtic rhythm (developed further fifteen years later on 'Amarok') and a final guitar solo.

There's a sweet naivety to the finish of the album, with 'The Horse Song' (unlisted) bringing things to a somewhat cheesy close (lyrics-wise, at least). But this is the heart of what MIKE OLDFIELD is about: musically sophisticated, but trying to build things of simplicity, beauty and innocence. There are times in every life when such things should be paid attention to, and this album is one of those things. It won't suit every taste, but it speaks to us of things often derided in this cynical world.

Don't bother with this album if aching beauty isn't your thing. But I can promise lovers of melodic beauty a rare treat here.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A collection of the feelings that make life glorious.

Mike's finest moment? A case could be made for any of Oldfield's first four proper albums to be called his greatest masterpiece (TB, Hergest, Ommadawn, Incantations.) Each one would have many enthusiastic proponents. I would say it would be one of the latter two but I can't decide which at the moment. What I do feel is that Ommadawn is a huge step forward over his first two albums. TB was promising but in many places it was a bit of a mess. Hergest was more cohesive and an improvement. And then came the heavenly Ommadawn, one of the highlights of the 1970s progressive symphonic rock arsenal. The album took Mike nine months to record and it truly sounds like the work of a lifetime.

The Ommadawn piece is well over 30 minutes in length and runs a gamut of emotions and colors, from delectable acoustic moments to folk flavored dancings to aggressive electric guitar rock. The playing is always tasteful with every theme introduced quite simply and then being given ample time to build and expand until reaching a dramatic conclusion, at which point there will be a release and a retreat back to another calming rebirth. It is broken into two parts with the first being longer and probably the more complete of the two although after you've heard the album many times, the "point" of the second part's eccentricities begin to unfold. There are incredibly beautiful, calming female chanted vocals that create such an otherworldly, celestial feeling. This type of vocals would be used again quite successfully on Incantations and become a notable part of the "Oldfield sound." At the beginning of part two there is a dark and turgid swamp of what sounds very much like synths, but surprisingly the section is created by Oldfield assembling an army of layered electric guitars writhing over each other. He fooled me, I always thought it was keyboards until I read about this album. There is also an amazing use of pipes and a Celtic flavor that gives the album great depth. The album closes with a short folk piece called "On Horseback." I have read many reviewers over the years chastise this little song and I couldn't disagree more. Horseback is a complete and absolute delight that will knock you right back to the innocence of childhood. It is shamelessly sentimental but more importantly absolutely effective at concluding a challenging listening experience with an easygoing treat, think of it as a homemade slice of desert after a perfect meal. It adds much to this carefully crafted album and I think it was genius for Mike to place it there.

If you are new to Mike Oldfield and wondering where to start, look past the hype of Tubular Bells and grab this one. You have the purest essence of the 70s Oldfield here with the exception of Incantations, but this one is slightly more accessible and condensed down to perfection, whereas Incantations is very long and requires more patience. An essential title that will actually make itself a part of your life if you allow it to. If you obtain this album as a young person I assure you it will eventually be a member of your family in a few decades. It is that special. I believe 5-stars ratings are to be withheld for only the MOST RARE of occasions and Ommadawn is a case where I'm grudgingly forced to cough one up. Dang it!

Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars Aaaaaargh. Ommadawn.

My entry album in the Oldfiled world back in 1975. Another laudatory review from Piero (one of the most eminent Belgian rock-critic ever) in my weekly rock pages was the kick to buy this album. And I have never regretted it of course.

IMHHO, it ranges amongst not only the best work from this artist but it is also an album that I still listen to it with lots of pleasure (like tonight for this review).

There are some fabulous and melodic moments during this (short) album. Fantasy, poetry, beautiful sounds. Truly folkish at times (with beautiful flute play) it is an enchantment to my ears and I very much like to spend almost forty minutes to listen to this excellent work full of great musical ideas.

The one album I prefer in the long Oldfield career. I am of course biased. But to recognize this is as good as being forgiven. I guess that some of you can understand that when one discovers a very good album during its teenage days, it is not illogical to pack it up into a more elegant form as it might probably deserves.

But this is how I feel. I really like Ommadawn. I know every inch of it and I am always thrilled when I got a spin on this great work. I was of course intrigued at the time with the lyrics at the end of the first side. Remember, in 1975 it was not as easy to get the lyrics and any information about these as nowadays.

So, Abyul Annie Id Yadored En Yab Na Logga Toch No Awed Tor May On Ommadawn Egg Kyowl Ommadawn Egg Kyowl Aaahhheeaahh Kyowl were rather incomprehensive. But the wonderful crescendo of this last section (of part one) is just sublime. At least to my ears.

I have always felt that side two was a little weaker (but most of Mike's work sounds like this - sorry Mike). Still, side two is the absolute complement of this great work. It starts on a gorgeous and symphonic part. Maybe a little long to start, but when it does : boy! This is heaven again (sorry for being so lyrical, but this is just how I feel).

Every time I am reviewing an album which speaks so much to me, which is an integrant part of my old body, of my youth, I have the same feeling. Maybe some might call this over-emotional. But I don't care. So am I. But since I received positive feedbacks on such reviews, I guess that it is just normal to express myself this way.

Ommadawn is a beautiful album. It is my fave Oldfield work, it holds so many souvenirs. So, yes : five stars is the rating. Well done again, Mike (even if it won't peak at the first spot in the charts).

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Ommadawn is one of Mike Oldfield's most accomplished works. This really is progressive music in the sense that it builds from the slow, quiet and minimalist, to the bombastic and complex. The electric guitars sound a million times better than they did on Tubular Bells (where they had a very thin sound).

There are many other instruments here that are wonderfully integrated and very well played.

The first part is the best one with the main theme coming and going but never sounding exactly the same as it did last time it occurred. Mixing Folk influences with electric instruments and symphonic structures is quite brilliant.

The second part is a bit less good and it takes too long for it to get off the ground. The first five minutes are quite boring. But it gets better and better until it suddenly turns into a folky song that has no real connection to the rest but somehow fits in anyway. This is the only part with proper vocals, the rest of the album is basically instrumental.

Overall, Ommadawn is a bit less rock oriented than Tubular Bells but still the strong presence of electric guitars ensures that this is one of Oldfield's rockier albums of the 70's. Just don't expect it to rock hard, because it certainly doesn't. This is progressive rock with a strong emphasis on the progressive but not so much on the rock.

Review by MovingPictures07
5 stars One of the most magical albums you'll ever hear. This is something truly unique and special, and it will make you feel one with nature. A masterpiece... no question.

This album really strikes a chord with me, and as such is always a very emotional experience.

1. Ommadawn Part 1- Starting out with a very hypnotic and relaxing theme, the song progresses further and further with absolute perfection with regards to timing, structure, and musicianship. Oldfield really must have been feeling inspiration when writing this song. The guitar playing is comfortable and relaxing, the synths are enveloping and majestic, and the drums and other accompanying instruments assist in making the magic. The Celtic, folk, and other influences work wonderfully here to add to the atmosphere of relaxing out in the breeze. Wow... this truly has to be heard. So many highlights! Flawless. 10+/10

2. Ommadawn Part 2- This one starts where the last part left off, and I really see both parts as one large track. The intro is swirling and haunting in a gorgeous sort of way, and then the song unfolds itself further to your ears. When this song transitions from haunting and crowding to a more nature-esque feel is when I really start to love it even more. The guitar is so emotionally played and the atmosphere is wonderful. My favorite part of the entire album is also on this part... the bagpipe section. How amazing! This is genius on so many levels. Flawless. 10+/10

If you're missing out on this, then what are you doing reading my review?!

Along with Amarok, Oldfield's finest moment. Whereas Amarok is more challenging and chaotic in some aspects along with its subtleties, this journey is much more down-to-earth and innately beautiful with regards to nature.

Buy this. You won't regret it.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Mike Oldfield's third release is still his most beautiful and complete work ever. If Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge were promising, then Ommadawn is his crowning achievement. Beautiful music that touches the heart, mind and soul. Not a single note wasted in the whole record that acts like a journey into this genius mind. Great use of every instrument and the melodies are perfect. It is only unfortunate that Oldfiled never did another CD like this one. All helkped by a great production that made the sound very clear for all the many subtleties.

It is very hard to describe this record, for it is quite unique. The pastoral feeling with so many shifting movements, changes and occasional bombastic outburts is really mindblowing! And everyting here works for its natural flow, like if every note was Godsent. The last movement, entitled The Horse Song kind of wraps up this masaterpiece with a stunning end. One of the greatest records ever made and a must have for any fan of melodic music, prog or otherwisse. Don't need to analyse much, just listen to it and enjoy the ride. Five stars with honors.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For me this is the perfect realisation of the heap of ideas and influences that were Tubular Bells. Gone are the stretched arrangements, disastrous choices when creating dynamics and the unconscious naivety that effectively killed some of the pleasure of otherwise mostly excellent melodies.

The first seconds give away one of the secrets to why Ommadawn is superior to its older brother, with a sense of depth immediately present in the composition. A sort of choral, windy and ethereal backdrop is the perfect way to substantiate the airy guitar melodies on top. Oldfield has this great talent of playing fragile, but powerful music, where the force isn't reliant on volume or riffs or other traditional ways of fattening up the sound. Instead he relies on delivering convincing melodies in an almost endless flow, making the album a veritable feast for melody-loving proggers. On the whole, beauty, youth, friendship, naivety (now in the positive sense) and delicacy is what this album radiates. But there are pending danger, insecurity and drama to be found as well, especially as we move from the lighter beginnings and wanderings into more complex and conflict-ridden motifs. Sublime.

Focusing more on the ambient, flowing qualities that are possible with a 'symphonic' sound, than the more overtly technical aspects of it, while sometimes adding a soft, looped keyboard sequences, creates a generally hypnotising atmosphere that truly works - it pulls you right in to the heart of the music. And when you've reached that, there isn't much turning back. The linear main flow of Ommadawn part 1 never really stops, it just changes perspective, emotion, width and height, emphasising different parts of the music as if governed by a storyteller unseen for us. Many musicians, especially in prog, try to create epic journeys and adventures with their music, but few have the guts to do it like Oldfield. So much is left to discover, nothing is said, and the details and layering feel both independent and meticulously coordinated. You may not realise it, but with the most minimal of changes, a musical uprising is silently brewing, with nervous twitches and rousing bass gradually taking hold of you and making place for a bombastic release of compressed emotion. The big plus is that while I'm so impressed with how dynamic and rich in detail it all feels, there are just none of those rough and forced changes in directions that I mentioned earlier. It's mature and, above all, disciplined musicianship when it feels like the music controls itself, rather than being formed and controlled in the head of a composer.

Timeless is quite a non-descriptive word, but the fact that Ommadawn feels so incredibly fresh and impossible to pinpoint as sounding 70s or anything else guarantee that it will please many fans for many years to come. And by being so free of boundaries when it comes to sound (lacking direction altogether if you don't count the fact that it constantly stimulates your imagination), and deals with genres as possibilities for expansion rather than limitations, it secures a place in the most diverse of music lovers' hearts:

The giddy folk ditties with flute, bagpipes and matching string instruments. The solemn, traditional world music sounds. The awe-inspiring depth, variety and life in textures and timbre. The expressive and bombastic symphonic emotionality. The meditative, hypnotic and pleasing ambience. The chance to enjoy some wonderful guitar, be it acoustic or electric. The experience of picturing your very own movie inside your head, using this as the soundtrack.

Pick a favourite or find something new. You often do when listening to Ommadawn.

5 stars.


Review by kenethlevine
4 stars While the sophomore jinx hit Oldfield with "Hergest Ridge", he effectively banished all demons with "Ommadawn", a hauntingly varied effort in which he scales back both quantity (to a normal LP length) and his own insistence on utter domination of every aspect of the sonic spectrum. As a result, it is a far more compelling and dynamic work than "Hergest" while more focused than TB. It is in a large sense an amalgamation of the best of both releases.

While each LP side was divided into 4 tracks, we are really again looking at a single piece. Beginning with a delicate and unforgettable melody, like a more textured TB, it features Oldfield's delightful acoustic guitar work along with other instruments that enter and exit the fray. Synthesizers are included for the first time, but more for spacey and stringy effect, and we get to hear his intensely melodic lead guitar style that is neither totally fluid nor distorted, the blueprint for much of what would to come in future releases, by Oldfield and his cadre of imitators. Integration of Leslie Penning's recorder played in a tin whistle style shows greater commitment to the folk idiom, as does Oldfield's own banjo accompaniment. The choral work of various female singers including his sister Sally is noteworthy, especially when combined with powerful African drumming as the first half builds to a wrenching climax.

Part 2 begins ambiently and yet with a wall of sound, but as the layers are slowly peeled back we are introduced to a breathtaking air delivered on Northumbrian pipes. My favourite part of the disk is Part 3 of Side 2, beginning with recorder, or perhaps pan pipes, before the synthesizers mass in a simple almost Christmas-like melody. They suddenly break and we have a near jig on bouzouki that is added upon in stages until finally Oldfield cuts loose on spirited Irish lead guitar. Again a crescendo, and it's over. Well., almost, because there is a short break indicating in some sense the end of Ommadawn and the beginning of one of Oldfield's classic little hits, often called "Horse's Song". The spoken verses alternate with a chorus to die for while off kilter guitars and children's choirs swirl about. An ode to the big brown beastie and its big brown face. Mention Hergest ridge one more time for good measure, reprise and end in peace. Simply, and I do mean simply, wonderful.

The best early Oldfield album, "Ommadawn" also marked the end of his first phase before he secluded himself, a few simple horse's song styled hits notwithstanding, and re-emerged a minimalist for a couple of albums. To see what this still early 20 something fellow was on about before he changed, this is the album to get.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Ommadawn" is the 3rd (excluding "The Orchestral Tubular Bells (1975)") full-length studio album by UK music artist Mike Oldfield. The album was released through Virgin Records in October 1975. After the major success of "Tubular Bells (1973)" and the almost equally successful "Hergest Ridge (1974)" the young Mike Oldfield (he was only 20 when "Tubular Bells (1973)" was released) opted to create another release featuring two side long tracks.

Stylistically the music on "Ommadawn" is in many ways similar to the sound and style on the first two album by Mike Oldfield. The music is predominantly instrumental and classical influenced rock, but the "rock" part of the music is often rather subdued and it´s generally not an album with many rock riffs and pounding drums. I´m often reminded of soundtrack music while listening to Ommadawn", as the music is a bit repetitive and highly theme based. There is a strong ambient element throughout the album and the music is often slow building and multi-layered.

The musicianship is on a high level. Mike Oldfield plays acoustic, classical & electric guitars, acoustic & electric basses, mandoline, harp, bouzouki, banjo, grand piano, spinet, electric organs, synths, bodhran, glockenspiel and assorted percussion on the album. In addition to that instrumentation he has various guests on the album playing such instruments as tympani, panpipes and cello. This of course gives the album a colourful soundscape. The use of Celtic music influences is considerable on "Ommadawn" and provides the album with an occasional English native/folk music feel, although it´s by no means a folk rock album.

The album was recorded at Oldfield's home at The Beacon, Hergest Ridge and meticulously recorded layer upon layer of instruments and sounds. Mostly recorded by Oldfield himself, who also acted as producer on the album. "Ommadawn" features a professional, detailed, and organic sounding production, which suits the material well. So there are many positive things to say about the album, and upon conclusion it is a quality release recommendable to fans of ambient progressive rock. It lacks a bit in emotional depth and often comes off a bit emotionally "clinical" and polished, but that´s probably an aquired taste, and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
4 stars The best Mike Oldfield's original work.

If you look at my rating system, you'll find out I have ranked two Mike Oldfield albums with the maximum rating - 5 stars. But they aren't original works, but revisited works of debut album called Tubular Bells - The Orchestral Tubular Bells and Tubular Bells II. That's what I mean when I say Ommadawn is Mike Oldfield's best original work. It's very well balanced album with extremely saturated sound and tunes in some of its parts. It;s another step forward after beautiful Hergest Ridge. It's a beautiful mixture between electronic and folk music - new technologies and old traditions in one. The best part of the album is the denouement at the end of the first part, when all ideas come together and create unique harmony. For this moment 5 stars, for the rest of the album 4 stars. Overall: 4,25 stars!

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Possibly, the best MO album ever. Very folky,atmospheric, with bagpipes,some brass, percussion and Pierre Moerlen ( of jazz-rock Gong), it sounds very fresh even now. Still no traces of later pop-rock, synth-pop and even very far from new age ( but I believe that some new age roots are placed it this album's music too).

Just two long compositions, perfectly played,recorded and mixed. I think this music should be named "prog-folk". But it is one of the best examples.

I know many people, who entered MO discography from later ( much more popular) albums and are very disappointed. Please, give Mike one more chance and listen this one! I believe you will change your opinion!

Warning: I don't think this album will be interesting to Dream Theater lovers, metalheadz and neo-prog fans.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ommadawn is a fanciful melodic album with a few well-crafted themes and wonderful instrumentation. Employing a Celtic flavor throughout, Mike Oldfield has hewn a breathtaking musical work; it is captivating right from the beginning and rarely grows dull.

"Ommadawn (Part 1)" The airy opening immediately whisks me away to some forgotten realm- immediately there is a clear and memorable melody that rests in a minimalistic symphonic basket. It grows into a spiraling wonder, with what sounds like a swarm of faux guitars. It culminates in a regal symphony of colorful and bright sound, but soon it becomes a delightful, lighthearted romp. After some electric guitar aerobics, Oldfield returns to the original melody, infusing it with a Middle Eastern flair and dropping it into an ominous minor key. The distant vocals under the keyboard run are both haunting and soothing. The main theme returns once more in a more urgent fashion, with pulsating bass, wails of electric guitar, and those ghostly cries.

"Ommadawn (Part 2)" The second part begins with heavy synthetic chords, and maintains a stately, menacing air until it tapers off around five minutes. At this point, there is the calm plucking of acoustic guitar, soon to be joined by the boisterous Northumbrian bagpipes. Following this, expect a jaunty, lengthy electric guitar solo that eventually stops unexpectedly. The final three minutes is an actual song, with tender acoustic guitar and brittle electrics running over it. It intersperses the spirited singing of the refrain with a spoken word rhyming verse.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ommadawn is Oldfield's best album. The approach hasn't changed compared to the previous two albums: two side-long tracks with fluidly flowing Celtic folk symphonic prog, replete with inspiration and Oldfield's sensitive playing, especially on guitars and keyboards.

The first part is just perfect and the album would have been an undisputed 5 star if the second part had been equally strong. It alternates between very slowly brooding melancholic sections and cheerful folksy tunes, featuring plenty of great vocal, synths and guitar arrangements. It's a very atmospheric track, ending on a swirling finale with a tribal percussion and gorgeous vocals and guitars.

The second part is excellent as well but, while entirely pleasant, it doesn't feature the gripping highlights of part one. On Horseback ends the album with a warm pastoral folk song, complete with a children's choir and high singalong campfire potential.

Ommadawn is the album to get if you want to discover Oldfield's qualities as an arranger and composer. 4.5 stars, probably 5 in its sub-genre.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Another prog favorite whose allure mystifies me. To my mind this album feels as if Mike is trying to prove something: 'Look how many instruments I can play/can jam into one song!' A little too much ego and show, a little light in the composition department. The lack of variety in melody, lack of development in song structure, and nauseous repetition of the main theme loses me every time! Hergest Ridge, Incantations, and even Tubular Bells are so much better (IMO). I have trouble even giving this a 4 star rating because the above three are the ones truly deserving the four plus ratings. But, alas! He was blazing his own trail--kind of making it up as he went along. The four-and-a-half minute "Ommadawn excerpt" I've downloaded from somewhere is great--five stars! But 36:21 of it! I'm sorry. Too much other great music out there.
Review by EatThatPhonebook
5 stars I must say, I completely underrated this man. I liked some albums that I had from him, such as "Tubular Bells", "Five Miles Out", and I don't mind "Crisis", but I never really studied him well. I realized that I needed more albums by Oldfield. So, I got Ommadawn, which was very well reviewed here in PA.

There are some moments in "Ommadawn" that make me want to cry of joy. A beautiful, touching, and delicate album, I loved it immediately. So far, "Ommadawn" is my favorite Mike Oldfield album, and one of my favorite Crossover Prog albums.

Honestly, I can't belive this album was released in 1975: it sounds more like 1995, mainly because of the crystal clear production, and the revolutionary idea of mixing pop, classical, prog, and ethnic music and instruments.

The album's structure is not so revolutionary, but still a very brave thing: two songs, one per LP side. But, like whoever loves Oldfield knows, Mike always had albums with very few songs, and Ommadawn certainly wasn't his first one.

"Part 1" is do far my favorite Mike Oldfield song: 19 minutes of beautiful, touching music, full of amazing moments, that will move whoever listens to it. It starts with a very melancholic and dreamy atmosphere, some more instruments come along with the melody in different parts, like the solo of the acoustic guitar. There's also a sort of chorus, always beautiful and nostalgic. In the chorus, we can hear a nice electric guitar solo. After around 4'30', the atmosphere is enlightened, and the music is more cheerful, especially thanks to the flute. This atmosphere is more typical of Oldfield. The melody changes pretty frequently, but the mood is always the same. Around 7'00'', a very cheerful sounding flute comes in, and a new part of the composition has begun. This one is very much influenced by Celtic music. Shortly after though, the music, despite being still happy sounding, goes to a much lower tone. A beautiful but guitar solo comes in during this part, giving the music more of a Symphonic Prog touch. After the solo, the initial theme is repeated, with a lovely new element, the keyboarded choir. The flute also repeats the theme, and shortly after a new part comes in: percussion, and you can also hear some women singing in the distance. A few other instruments come in this part as well. Around 16'00'' a new theme comes in, a lot more epic and arcane sounding. Lovely use of both electric and acoustic guitars here. Once again, the main theme is repeated, with the use of a different type of keyboards (it might some other instrument, I frankly am not so good in recognizing instruments). The guitar then becomes the main instrument, playing a solo. The ending is a little weird, and since the music stops completely, until the end of the song.

"Part 2" is a little inferior in my opinion, but they are still many memorable moments. The beginning is completely keyboard driven, with also the presence of an organ. It sounds like a cascade of sounds, all playing just a few notes. This is truly a wonderful part. The melody gets clearer after a while, until 3' 30'', where the guitar and bells come in, to richen the sound more. A flute is also present. Everything stops at 5'0'', except the guitar, that still plays, but then that fades as well. A new theme starts, a lot more delicate and beautiful sounding, since this time it is completely acoustic guitar driven. The electric guitar comes in after a while, followed also by the bagpipes, which give the composition a higher level. The melody is wonderful, and it goes on for a while, until around 10'00'' , when the theme is changed, and the mood goes down a bit, and the atmosphere get's a little more mysterious, until around 11'20'' , when the sound get's epic, thanks to keyboards. At around 11'50'', the music get's another twist, this time with a touch of Celtic, like in the short part in "Part 1", the electric guitar goes along as well, with a solo, until the end comes unexpectedly.

There's also in some versions of the album a hidden track, "On Horseride" which includes also vocals, bringing the composition up to 17 minutes, instead of 14. But I'm yet to hear this.

As a conclusion, I say that this is an essential masterpiece, an extremely important album for Crossover Prog and for the whole Prog Rock genre generally speaking.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Simply Brilliant! The first two albums seemed to be a warmup to Ommadawn. Unfortunately none of his later albums can match this. Incantations comes close but not very. The main differences between this album and the first two are: 1)he starts using synths here, 2)he adds percussion which he will use on later albums off-and-on, and 3)he is now recording on 24- track instead of 16-track. 24-track recording is great for the 'one-man-band' concept but he also has more guest musicians here than previously. This album was remixed by Mike himself as well as being remastered and re-released in 2010. I prefer the original mix but the 2010 version SOUNDS great! A perfect example of what a remaster *should* sound like.

I will admit that I never liked Part 2 as much as Part 1. This makes more sense when you realize Oldfield worked on Part 1 for a few months, whereas Part 2 was written and recorded in about a week. Still, the section on Part 2 that starts with the jig and continues till the end is one of my favourite parts of the album. The "On Horseback" song at the end of Part 2(or on some CD versions is a track by itself) does sound like a children's song. But, maaaan, is it ever a kick-ass children's song! It's a terrific way to end this album. This is one of those albums that I can listen to all the way thru and not want to skip anything. Overdubbed guitars are all over the place, but generally there is nothing here comparable to the 'caveman' part of Tubular Bells or the 'storm' section of Hergest Ridge. Less rock-y for the most part.

Part 1 deserves 10 stars alone. It may in fact be one of the greatest pieces of music ever written/recorded. You have a theme that gets repeated throughout it's 19 minutes. First it appears as a moody synth piece(the synth-bass might really be a bass though), then it turns into a haunting Irish folk melody, and then turns into an African chant. Mind-blowing stuff. In between all that you have many different instruments playing on different melodic sections. The climax at the end of Part 1 is just pure awesomeness. Such a great buildup from African percussion and female chanting to an acoustic guitar rhythm with a hypnotic sequencer part underneath. Then Mike plays some simple but extremely emotional electric guitar lines before you hear nothing but percussion till the track fades out. An absolutely essential masterpiece of prog. 5 stars.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This release was recommended to me by a close friend pretty early on in my exploration of Mike Oldfield's discography and turned out to be my most played album of his. Unfortunately, this repetition had more to do with me wanting to uncover the secret that made so many other people so enthusiastic about Oldfield and, in retrospect, it's never really been a big favorite of mine.

Ommadawn is pretty accessible from the get-go but listening to it many times uncovers a whole new spectrum of hidden passages here and there. But most of its charm disappears after about 10-15 revisits and what you're left with is just a new spin on Tubular Bells formula but with more of a New Age spin to it. Reading most of the other reviews of this release does seem to split the fans where some agree with my opinion while others consider Ommadawn to be superior to most of the other albums in Oldfield's catalog.

Ommadawn Part 1 is in my opinion the most interesting piece on the album but even it has a few bumps along the way like the somewhat awkward transitions between the individual sections. I always tend to imagine Oldfield sitting around in the studio trying to piece this beast of a composition together. The middle section is where the track really starts to shine but some of that charm disappears towards the track's ending where chanting vocals kick in. Ommadawn Part 2 takes a while to start due to the prolonged intro section. Once it does commence, I don't hear anything that cannot be regarded as just a reprise of the themes from Ommadawn Part 1. The ending of the piece reminds me a bit too much of Tubular Bells which is something that Oldfield should, in my opinion, have avoided. The added bonus track, On Horseback, right at the end is very enjoyable but lacks coherence with the rest of the album and even though 2010 mix of the album, available on Spotify, does smooth the transition a bit, the differences of moods is still too much for me.

Ommadawn is another interesting release in Oldfield's catalog and most fans have a legitimate reason to like it. Unfortunately for me, I just can't get past my my preconceived notion of it sounding too much like a I rehash of Tubular Bells.

**** star songs: Ommadawn Part 1 (19:05)

*** star songs: Ommadawn Part 2 (17:20)

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars What a charming album!

(and I don't mean that in a pejorative sense either)

I don't come back to Ommadawn very often, but at least I don't have the buyer's remorse that I experienced after picking up Tubular Bells. With Ommadawn, Oldfield has put together a piece that works very well as a whole, Gestalt slice of pastoral Britain.

I'm definitely a track-skipper for most albums (why listen to the average bits when there's much better stuff that you could listen to immediately?), but when I'm in the mood, I typically only want to hear the whole thing if I'm to hear any of it.

The melodies are largely pleasant, contemplative, or even bouncy at times, interspersed--particularly in the first movement--by relatively brief shifts to minor chords to keep the moods shifting nicely. The first movement is not quite twice as long as the second, but I would argue it contains at least three or four times the musical ideas of the second. I particularly enjoy the build-up toward the end of the first movement, with some nice guitar lines over very effective--but not too front-and-center--trumpet.

This has a new-age type of feel, but it "gets to the point" more quickly, and with more "stuff" generally happening at any given time, resulting in piece that can keep even those most attention-deprived proggers more than satisfied. Lots of texture, creativity and genuine feeling give Ommadawn an unmistakable charm that can usually only happen organically and can be so difficult to find.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars This album was missed from my collection until few years ago, when I have found a CD copy in a supermarket at a very cheap price. So the first thing that I can say is that it was value for money.

As Hergest Ridge and differently from Tubular Bells, this can be considered a suite. Even when after few more than 4 minutes the first transition comes with a change in pitch the fading is continous and one doesn't have the impression of a quantic jump like on Tubular Bells.

Many pieces are folky, specially on side A. Don't forget that the very first debut of Mike Oldfield as Sallyangie was mainly folk and produced by a former Pentangle.

The frequent reminds to the main theme, the initial one, are variations in the classical sense. Technically speaking, the guitar work is sometimes impressive. The scales full of legatos give the impression of a speed greater than the effective (3 notes instead of one at a time), but Mike plays very fast in any case.

The choirs are mainly in the background and this gives the music an ethereal sense.

On my CD the side B is divided in two tracks, but the second is not the bonus track. It's just a gap on Ommadawn part II coming at minute 13.55. On Side B the music is more dramatic. The ambient ethereal feelings of side A are a few darker. it gives me a sensation of being awaken in a dream, and this dream has sevral moments. The first 5 minutes have "action", then the classical guitar adds a "pastoral" touch. I'm used to associate mental images to this kind of music. The first five minutes are in a wood, what follows is an open space in the country. This sensation is enhanced by the pipes. The melody played by the pipes is one of the things that remained impressed in my mind since the first listen. The B side can be considered the folky side. The song after the gap is really good.

Another great album from Mike Oldfield, almost ignored by the mainstream public, even if I think it sold more than Hergest Ridge. The fact that Oldfield was unable to repeat the huge success of the debut even by composing probably better music caused him a period of crisis which brought him to the omonimous album, but I consider all his production, until Crisis included, excellent.

Should I suggest only one album to one who wants to explore the early works of this artist, this is the one.

Review by progrules
3 stars Here's another one you tend to approach with too many expectations because of it's huge status here on PA. Because I shamefully have to admit I'm not really familiar with this work. I know the man's debut from its date of release but somehow I failed to keep following Oldfield's career until Crises from the eighties.

So shame on me for this and the result is I had to find out lately what this album actually is about. The build up is more or less the same as the very famous debut Tubular Bells. Two extended pieces of music so one is tempted to compare them. I can't help but after several listenings I keep having an obvious preference for the Bells. Ok, Ommadawn is a very nice piece of music and I like both editions just about equally with a slight preference for part 2. Probably I'm missing something when I listen to part 1 but I fail to see the greatness most reviewers do see. It's good/very good but not even excellent as far as I'm concerned. And also there are moments (like the bass around the 3:00 minute mark) that are actually ripped from Tubular Bells (same as the guitar in this same section by the way). And noticing these things make me sceptical and it's hard to get on the positive road again. It goes too far to run this work into the ground because of such details but it just doesn't do enough for me really.

But since I bought the disc (and not the vinyl) and there happen to be some very good songs on that one (First Excursion, Argiers and Portsmouth) I must confess I like those best of all six tracks (In Dulce Jubilo is nice as well but more for a wider audience). That means including the two Ommadawn versions. And they (track 4/6) even tempt me to give 4 stars after all but I usually don't include bonus tracks for the rating so I will leave it at three (3,4).

Review by Warthur
4 stars Another fine album-length composition from Mike Oldfield, worthy of consideration alongside the likes of Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge. This time around the Irish folk aspect is a bit more noticeable, with some nonsense poetry in Irish recited by the backing singers on side one adding an interesting texture to proceedings. The album is easily on a par with its predecessors, bar for On Horseback - a short three minute song closing off the second side of the album after Ommadawn itself has finished, and which is simply a goofy and embarrassing novelty track which I personally find supremely irritating. But it isn't too hard to trim that off, so I'll give this one a healthy four stars.
Review by stefro
4 stars Oldfield's some-would-say superior follow-up to the commercial blockbuster 'Tubular Bells' achieved the mean feat of somehow being as good - both technically and musically - as it's record-breaking predecessor. Of course, this time around, there was no epoch-defining supernatural Hollywood shocker to help promote the album, yet somehow it doesn't matter. Whilst 'Tubular Bells' featured an insanely-catchy introduction seguing into some delightfully zany, classically-informed, cod-instrumental prog-noodling that marked the youthful Oldfield out as a genuine talent, 'Ommadawn' showcases a harder, more mature side to it's creator, with elements of celtic folk, symphonic rock and hues of abstract, almost jazzy playfulness making up the album's two gargantuan tracks. Certainly, this is no movie soundtrack, yet neither was 'Tubular Bells' really. Overall 'Ommadawn' is a stronger album - moodier, darker, tougher - and certainly it's a more favoured one in general for the prog-rock community, with less repetition, an occasional bucolic candour and a more inquiring instrumental scope that sees Oldfield increase even more his arsenal of different sonic gadgets. Although successful, it(funnily enough) failed to match the commercial feats of 'Tubular Bells' yet still proved a big seller. Ever the musical hermit, it seems the camera-shy and fame-loathing Oldfield's major influence for 'Ommadawn' was the countryside he would disappear into so as to avoid the acidic glare of publicity - that, and, although this is said through gritted teeth, the constant prodding and coaxing of Virgin Records owner Richard Branson. Full of strange, almost mystical moments and a warm core overlapped by strange, byzantine rhythms and soundscapes, this is an indulgent yet absolutely fascinating piece of music the encapsulates so much of what is interesting about the progressive rock genre. A very, very good album, this is arguably Mike Oldfield operating at his youthful apex.


Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Ommadawn' is Mike Oldfield in his early years that many would say is his best period and it is hard to argue when one has sat through 'Tubular Bells' his masterpiece. One flick down the page of reviews shows that 'Ommadawn' is gaining 5 star ratings ad infinitum so I prepared myself for something special. Unfortunately I didn't get it. This new age meditation music does nothing for me, except almost put me to sleep, and in fact feels very dated especially with the ending folk song that is quite out of place.

There is no doubt the musicians are very accomplished and have skill, especially heard in the beauty of acoustic guitars, soaring keyboards and some of the angelic vocals. It all seems to blur into the background for me. I had heard this many years ago and dismissed it as one to avoid, but on returning to it for a review I could see how this would appeal to those who love to hear dreamy instrumentals. It is dreamy almost to the point of a cure for insomnia.

Mike Oldfield has a distinctive electric guitar sound, that I have grown accustomed to with 'Tubular Bells' and a compilation I own, I adore 'Five Miles Out' and 'Moonlight Shadow' because the melodies are so infectious and the layers of beauty and creativity are incomparable. But on 'Ommadawn' the melodies are forgettable folky with some nice flute and mandolin, but I can't remember any after the album is over. The two pieces are long and drawn out and don't feel as creative as 'Tubular Bells' that had distinct sections that are unforgettable.

Part 2 opens with guitars, bells, a choir, then Northumbrian bag pipes, and delightful pan pipes played by Terry Oldfield. This is the best passage of music on the whole album. The use of other instruments follows such as a Greek bouzouki, and this is followed by an outburst of soaring guitar at the hands of virtuoso Mike Oldfield. Overall it is an album filled with many excellent musical ideas but it failed to move me emotionally, so I can award it 3 stars. It is just not my style of music, but at least I have heard an album that many claim to be the greatest Oldfield album, but it is nowhere as brilliant as 'Tubular Bells'.

Review by jamesbaldwin
3 stars Ommadawn is Mike Oldfield's highest rated record here on Progarchives.

Personally, I believe that, although more varied, it does not reach the peaks of Tubular Bells (which remains his masterpiece).

On this record Oldfield's fusion becomes very daring, using a group of African percussionists, a small choir of children's voices, as well as a lot of orchestral and Irish folk instruments.

1. Ommadawn Part 1 (19:14)

It starts very slowly and frankly until 7 minutes, when the flute and acoustic guitars arrive, the piece is not musically inspired. After this change, there are flashy and fast changes of rhythm and arrangement, too fast, and only towards the end of the piece do we reach a climax of a certain beauty, when African percussion is added to Celtic folk song. The final with electric guitar, on the other hand, is not very inspired.

Rating 7.5 / 8

2. Ommadawn Part 2 (incl. "On Horseback") (17:07)

Part 2 begins with an insignificant electronic carpet that unfortunately continues for a long time, and the music becomes beautiful just when you hear the Paddy Moloney's Uillean pipes. Undoubtedly the folk acoustic moments, which follow the electric ones, make the album more interesting and save it from mediocrity.

Rating 7,5 /8.

Good album, with some peak but even with long uninspired passages.

Rating 7,5/8.

Three Stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Review #87! Mike Oldfield's 'Ommadawn' is a huge step-up from his 'Tubular Bells', which, defying the universal laws of common sense, ranked #17 in Rolling Stone's '50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time' article. I find 'Ommadawn' to be much more structured, and because of that, more ... (read more)

Report this review (#2906221) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Monday, April 10, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think this is Mike Oldfield at his peak. The similarities with Tubular Bells are obvious. But hey, it's the same artist! This record has more warmth, more soul and more variation than Tubular Bells. I also feel this one showcases better musicianship. Not Tubular Bells but this one is the go-to ... (read more)

Report this review (#2841209) | Posted by WJA-K | Wednesday, September 21, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The essence of progressive rock is its ability to absorb and assimilate music from different fields, always looking for innovation, experimentation and the search for new paths. This is what Mike Oldfield does, at least in his early works. And this Ommadawn is a good proof of that. In this work, the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2503873) | Posted by DiversionConVinilos | Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For my first review on progarchives, I'll start with what I consider as one of the biggest prog albums of all time : Ommadawn. The first two records of Mike Oldfield were already marvellous but this one is exceptional! By listening to this record, you'll find : - full of superb melodies; - an in ... (read more)

Report this review (#2275109) | Posted by hergest ridge | Sunday, October 27, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 'Ommadawn' is the third studio album by Mike Oldfield. It was released in 1975 and much like its predecessors, it's split into two "parts". Oldfield, only 22 at this point, was already a worldwide star after the success of his first album, 'Tubular Bells', and much in the same vein as before, he ... (read more)

Report this review (#1909804) | Posted by martindavey87 | Wednesday, March 28, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Definition of Masterpiece. This is a very special album, a true musical masterpiece. I have listened to so many of the albums here on PA, and many classical and jazz albums, and this one stands out as in the top 3 albums of all time. It is so good. Continuing with the composition style he began ... (read more)

Report this review (#1718276) | Posted by Walkscore | Saturday, May 6, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Listed In PA under "Crossover Prog", Ommadawn, to me, is at the apex of symphonic progressive rock and is without a doubt a must have album of it's, mostly, instrumental subgenre. Multi instrumentalist Oldfield crafts another astonishing album with magnificent variations on themes which now incl ... (read more)

Report this review (#1680124) | Posted by SteveG | Sunday, January 15, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Whatever songwriting flaws that were present on Tubular Bells have been refined to form what is by far Oldfield's best work. Like Tubular Bells, Ommadawn contains a single song, broken into two parts, exploring many different moods and atmospheres through the use of a plethora of different ins ... (read more)

Report this review (#1040103) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, September 20, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's just mystical. Mike Oldfield's unique style is captivating in the use of so many different instruments and a variety of textures (played mostly by none other than him!). The album only has one song, which establishes an ominous (dare I spell that omminous or ommanous? I do apologize for the tho ... (read more)

Report this review (#993875) | Posted by JCDenton | Tuesday, July 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This truly beautiful piece of work is among Mike Oldfield's finest. The opening section is enchanting and flows perfectly. Just like this artist's other albums, there's a fabulous mixture of sounds coming from a variety of instruments, including the organ, flute, bells and pipes. It's the best a ... (read more)

Report this review (#457602) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Monday, June 6, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I do not know what say.It is a very strange album, but at the same time very good.Certainly Mike Oldfield is a great musician, is best known for the quantity of instruments that play.In "Ommadawn" (one of the strangest titles I've seen), he is accompanied by several musicians, including his s ... (read more)

Report this review (#434433) | Posted by voliveira | Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is good stuff! I only bought this after having read the positive reviews and I am not disappointed! In fact, Part I is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Especiall the guitar break starting around minute 10 and the whole final with the slight african feeling to ... (read more)

Report this review (#294530) | Posted by herrkaiser | Saturday, August 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album?. correction: this artist is unlike anything else I've ever heard. At times his music is full of glorious orchestration, sweeping melodies, and every type of bagpipe, guitar, and recorder I think I can name; at other times he sounds like one of the actual inventors of new age, befor ... (read more)

Report this review (#292848) | Posted by Relayer Duos | Saturday, July 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Love this one!, No, no other words to describe, except love this one. Mike became a household word with TB and HR, but this one became the hat trick. Hard to pin point what delivers, but what with the chorus, the shiny guitar (s), the celtic rhythms, etc, this one does it for me in a way which ... (read more)

Report this review (#266772) | Posted by raelreels | Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I listened to Ommadawn last night, and I have to say, it wasn't as amazing as people said it was. I mean, it was great, and it really showcases Oldfield's guitar work, but it isn't Tubular Bells. This album kept reminding me of Focus' brilliant guitar work meets The Moody Blues' mellotron ... (read more)

Report this review (#229705) | Posted by The Runaway | Monday, August 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A beautiful and innovative album by Oldfield. He speaks with his guitar in many of the passages. There's not a single moment which is not magnificent. The first part develops in a simple manner, still really progressive, with speed guitar solos in the middle section, and an intense African drum ... (read more)

Report this review (#211577) | Posted by Alfonsomdt | Friday, April 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of his most creative and most important works, for sure one of best Oldfield's albums, and by far my favourite Mike Oldfield album. I probably bought Ommadawn because I wanted to here something by Mike Oldfield that would blow me away. Just listen to the very first few seconds, that' ... (read more)

Report this review (#198367) | Posted by IvanK | Saturday, January 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok what we have got here it`s THE record ,actually i was never able to be calm when i want to talk about this first record with Mike Oldfield`s universe and after that NOTHING was the same.Call it Prog,New Age,Ambient whatever you want you are in.2 long tracks as it was the custom back in ... (read more)

Report this review (#189510) | Posted by gandalf31 | Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hey, and away we go! Beautiful, epic, original, rock-your-stirrups-off brilliant--this is progressive music at its finest! As I said in my inaugural Prog Archives review of another of his albums, Amarok, Mike Oldfield is what I consider the next great thing in prog for dedicated proggers, who h ... (read more)

Report this review (#187883) | Posted by fragilelambtongues | Tuesday, November 4, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If Mike Oldfield had only released only one album through his career and it happened to be Ommadawn, I would still hold the same, tremendous amount of respect for this musical genius that I do now. It's hard for me to come up with my favorite albums of all time, but if I really got down to it, ... (read more)

Report this review (#181257) | Posted by Cool Top | Sunday, August 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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