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Mike Oldfield Earth Moving album cover
2.11 | 203 ratings | 16 reviews | 2% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Holy (4:38)
2. Hostage (4:09)
3. Far Country (4:25)
4. Innocent (3:31)
5. Runaway Son (4:07)
6. See the Light (3:59)
7. Earth Moving (4:04)
8. Blue Night (3:49)
9. a) Nothing But / b) Bridge to Paradise (8:42)

Total Time 41:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Oldfield / electric & synth guitars, Roland & Korg M1 synths, Fairlight III, backing vocals, Atari computer & sequencing software, programming, horns co-arranger (5,6), co-producer

- Daniel Lazerus / clavinet (2), blues harp (9b), backing vocals (2,5,8), tambourine (8,9b), horns co-arranger (5,6), programming, co-producer
- Carol Kenyon / Ad Libs (1), lead vocals (9a)
- Adrian Belew / lead vocals (1), guitar (3)
- Nicky Bentley / lead vocals (2,7)
- Max Bacon / lead vocals (2,7,9b)
- Mark Williamson / lead vocals (3)
- Anita Hegerland / lead & backing vocals (4)
- Chris Thompson / lead vocals (5,6)
- Maggie Reilly / lead & backing vocals (8)
- Paul Lee / lead vocals (9a)
- Phil Spalding / backing vocals (1,5,6,9b), fretless bass (7)
- Jackie Challenor / backing vocals (7,9b)
- Lance Ellington / backing vocals (7,9b)
- Sonia Jones-Morgan / backing vocals (7,9b)
- Maggie Ryder / backing vocals (7,9b)
- Carl Wayne / backing vocals (7,9b)
- Keith Marshall / backing vocals (7,9b)
- Simon Clarke / horns (5,6)
- Roddy Lorimer / horns (5,6)
- Simon Gardner / horns (5,6)
- Tim Sanders / horns (5,6)
- Raf Ravenscroft / saxophone (7)
- Bobby Valentino / violin (2)

Releases information

LP Virgin - V 2610 (1989, UK)

CD Virgin - CDV 2610 (1989, UK)
CD Virgin ‎- MIKECD 14 (2000, UK) Remastered by Simon Heyworth
CD Caroline Records ‎- CAR49384 (2000, US) Remastered by Simon Heyworth

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Buy MIKE OLDFIELD Earth Moving Music

MIKE OLDFIELD Earth Moving ratings distribution

(203 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(2%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(8%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (38%)
Poor. Only for completionists (30%)

MIKE OLDFIELD Earth Moving reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is the least progressive and the most pop one by Mike Oldfield: it does not mean the music is simple and bad: all the songs are short, loaded, and have many male and female guests as lead vocalists. I must admit that those little pop songs are pretty well made and recorded! The sound is VERY fresh and most of the voices are beautiful. The omnipresent rhythm is catchy. Rather pleasant and accessible, the keyboards just do the job properly, perfectly merge with the music, not trying to steal the show. Oldfield's guitar is sometimes emotional and never dull! Adrian Belew sings and plays guitar on a couples of tracks. Oldfield still has his perfect female singers, Maggie Reilly and Anita Hegerland, unfortunately on only 2 tracks.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Mike has certainly gathered a huge leaque of talented people for producing this calculcated pop rock disco album, which failed to convince me in spite of Adrian Belew's charmant coval lines on the opener. All details look carefully contructed and are lost to my perspecition of plastic trash of capitalism's curses. I recall Mike stated on some interview about his fascination to disco dancing, and I believe this album might suite well for conservative and cleaned up partying from cencored Hollywood television series. From my own limitness, I cannot relate to this kind of activity, nor see any artistic ambition yearning spiritual enlightenment, only money.
Review by The Crow
1 stars In 2004īs Christmas, I bought the album "Crises" in offer, and I was so pleased with it, that along the next months I bought all the Oldfieldīs albums and I started hearing the Oldfieldīs discography from his first to his last release, in perfect order. I started with "Tubular Bells", and in the moment of now Iīm hearing "Tubular Bells II". Soon I will start with "The Sounds of Distant Earth"...

And in my opinion "Earth Moving" itīs the weakest Oldfieldīs album Iīve heard till now. For me, even the infamous "Heavenīs Open" surpases it. Itīs a pop albums without instrumentals, and everbody knows that instrumentals are the Oldfieldīs peak...It has some good songs, and I think itīs even a good pop album, but itīs not the style I like from Oldfield... At least itīs not boring, and It can be heard pleasantly while you are doing another things... But of course, if you want some of the classic Oldfield, or music related with any kind of ProgArchvies standards, please avoid this album.

Best songs for me: Holy (just wonderful, Adrian Belew does a great job...), Far Country (marvellous double solo of Oldfield-Belew...), Blue Night (a song for nostalgic, and the last collaboration of Maggie Reilly with Oldfield...) and Bridge to Paradise (very apropiate ending...)

Conclusion: only recommended if you are an Oldfield fan or a 80īs pop lover! The rest of the people, can easily forget that this album exists... Because is one of the lower points of the Oldfield's career, and there is nothing progressive here.

My personal rating: **

ProgArchives rating: *

Review by russellk
2 stars A crushing disappointment. Progressive fans lamented the lack of an instrumental track on this album, and worried that they'd seen the end of MIKE OLDFIELD'S stellar progressive instrumental works. This a single year before 'Amarok' delighted music fans around the world. I prefer to think of this album clearing the decks, so to speak, a compromise with his recalcitrant record company, an album of commercial pop music giving him the freedom to release an avant-garde album a year later. But at the time we didn't know what was to come.

That said, some of the pop here is much better than that on 'Islands', released two years previously. 'Holy' features ADRIAN BELEW on vocals, and the KING CRIMSON vocalist/guitarist does an excellent job. The original album track has been reworked, so if you own one of the interminable OLDFIELD compilations you'll probably hear a different version, as was the fashion of the time. 'Innocent' is the single; it's dreadful and probably sunk the album. OLDFIELD is trying to get with the next generation and he fails miserably here. Still, there's always the skip button. You'll use it quite a bit on this album.

'Earth Moving', the title track, is an entirely different thing. It crackles with energy, mostly through the excellent vocalist, NIKKI 'B' BENTLEY and a fabulous sax solo. At the start of the track she sounds like yet another sweet-voiced OLDFIELD girl, but just listen to her on the chorus: she really tears it up. It's not OLDFIELD'S best work, but it has juice! Again, those with compilations ('Elements' for example) will have a reworked version with extra synths that do nothing but distract the listener from BENTLEY'S voice.

Nothing else of note here. Two tracks worthy of MIKE OLDFIELD, so two stars - and that only if you're tolerant. If you hate eighties style production, you'll hate this. Drums that sound like they were recorded in a lift shaft, synth stabs and virtually no guitar. And absolutely nothing, not a single thing, for the connoisseur of progressive rock.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
2 stars Earth Moving is probably Mike's least progressive album. Not bad for pop, but it didn't really succeed commercially, my copy is a cutout. I'm pretty sure this one started to be cutout fairly soon after it's release. For me it's mostly notable for having Adrian Belew doing only lead vocals for the first track, Holy. I have to think, what a squandered opportunity. The Maggie Reilly track is kind of nice, but wait, no credit for the drum machine in the booklet? Drum machines just get no respect. Most of what you'll hear here is stereotypical '80s music. If I had to get rid of some of my collection, this will be one of the first to go. I don't think I could find it a good home, unfortunately. Fortunately, Mike veered back into prog with his next release Amarok.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars I don't dig it

For his last album of the 1980's, Mike turned his back on the side long epics and the intricate compositions of old, and went for something much more accessible. A quick look at the list of performers reveals a plethora of talented vocalists whose combined contribution dominates the album. The names are impressive too, including Adrian Belew, Chris Thompson, Max Bacon and of course Maggie Reilly (who has worked with Mike many times over the years). Rumour has it that Fish ("Holy") and Ian Gillan ("See the light") were also lined up to guest on a track each. Both receive name checks in the booklet but neither actually appear on the album.

The album reveals itself right from the start as being an unashamed effort to secure further success in the pop environment through the exploitation of catchy themes and simple structures. This of course is quite at odds with what we have been led to expect from Oldfield, and for many of his fans it means putting a finger in each ear and passing by on the other side of the road. It is however necessary to look at the album without preconception and assess it for what it is rather than what we hoped it might have been.

Mike's trademark guitar sounds are reassuringly present right from the opening "Holy". Adrian Belew does a good job on vocals, but the song is not particularly strong or memorable. That essentially is the weakness of this album as a whole. Making a pop album is by no means a crime in itself, but the requirement for a quality product remains.

"Hostage" features the voice of Max Bacon (once of Asia) on a very familiar sounding AOR pop song with brass like bursts and a catchy hook. Nicky 'B' Bentley adds some decent soulful backing vocals. Mark Williamson slows things down for the soft ballad "Far country", where Oldfield and Belew duet on lead guitars for the solo (OK that doesn't make sense, does it!), one in each channel. The song would make for a pleasant track on an album by a conventional male vocalist.

"Innocent" hints at Oldfield's future exploration of Ibiza sounds on "Tubular Bells 3", Anita Hegerland sounding distinctly like Maggie Reilly. Manfred Mann's Earth Band's Chris Thompson takes the next two tracks. Both "Runaway son" and "See the light" are brass driven pop/funk/rock numbers with little to distinguish them from the thousands of similar songs.

The title track is for me the best of the bunch. It is a million miles from prog, but Nikki "B" Bentley offers up a fine vocal performance and the cast of thousands backing vocalists, including Maggie Reilly and Carl Wayne (The Move), give the track a spiritual feel. Nice sax solo too. Reilly finally gets her own song on "Blue night", a song with obvious (and welcome) similarities to "Moonlight shadow".

There has been considerable debate as to why the final two songs "Nothing but" and "Bridge to paradise" are combined into a single track. Some speculate that it is so that the album at least appears to include a longer track to appeal to long terms fans. One of the more bizarre theories is that it is to maintain the 9 track gaps between the "Taurus" tracks. Whatever the truth is, they are in fact separate songs. "Nothing but" is another female (Carol Kenyon) vocal pop song which actually fades and concludes before "Bridge to paradise" kicks off. Max Bacon returns on vocals, but once again, the song is prosaic.

In summary, "Earth moving" is not as bad an album as some of the press it receives might suggest. It remains me in some ways of Tony Banks' solo work, especially "Still". It is true though that in the context of Oldfield's vast catalogue, this album sits well towards the bottom of the list of best albums. Even if we consider it purely on the basis that it is a pop album, it is unremarkable.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars It was bound to happen, I guess.

Mike was one of the very few dinosaurs to have been spared from mediocrity during the eighties. Of course, the grandeur of his debut was no longer available, but he still produced some good albums during this infamous decade for progressive music. Even if "Discovery" and "Islands" were the most unaccomplished ones they were still decent albums. But the quality was weakening, inexorably.

It is very difficult to imagine such a poor album as this one. The Abacab syndrome, you know. It is a long nightmare from start to finish. Even the very good Maggie Reilly couldn't do anything great during her vocal appearance ("Blue Night").

I am looking hard, but it is impossible to find any stand out track. Just a succession of awful songs. Maybe "Holy".

Mike will hopefully adjust the fire during his next album.

Let's take this one as a mistake. As an album that shouldn't have seen the light, will you? Still, one star is the only possible rating.

Review by kenethlevine
1 stars Given that Mike Oldfield's attention span for 20 minute excursions seemed to have diminished manifold over a mere half decade, an album consisting only of pop songs might not have been a bad idea, provided he remembered to write some memorable material and arrange it carefully. Such had been Oldfield's stock-in-trade, but "Earth Moving" sees his trajectory careening off a cliff.

Particularly on the latter half of this album, the material is remarkably weak, even by the lax standards of this dark period for quality material. In other words, this sounded poor even then, and I know because I was there. Even Maggie Reilly cannot save "Blue Night", and the faux soul of the title cut and "Bridge to Paradise" seem like failed parodies. Once in a while a cutesy Oldfield riff surfaces but it's out of context, adding to the sense that little real effort was donated to the cause - at least one would hope, because the results are abysmal.

A few bright spots do emerge, particularly the lovely "Far Country" with a sublime lead guitar duet between Oldfield and Adrian Belew. "Holy" is well executed which partially hides its general lack of appeal as a song, while "Hostage" and "Innocent" are both decent in a synth pop sort of way, with a faithful Anita Hegerland doing an admirable job when called upon.

It's hard to believe that a man so talented could sink so low, and produce an album that so belies its title that one would be exaggerating to credit it with 0.001 on the Richter scale, or 2 stars on the PA scale. 1.5 stars rounded down.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am pretty sure I will incur the wrath of many prog fans about my review of Earth Moving, the multitude of purists have expressed their rather thorough disgust for this 1989 release by the prolific Michael Oldfield. My intention is to clarify more than anything the method by which we, as a prog community have a tendency to judge, at times unfairly in my opinion, albums that almost always represent a diversion from otherwise massive discographies (We can include albums such as Tangerine Dream's "The Dream Mixes I" or the despised "Under Wraps' by Jethro Tull, among a few others). That does not mean that there cannot be stinkers like ELP's "Love Beach" which clearly showed a lack of interest or corporate oppression. Hey, artists are creative souls that can occasionally falter in terms of inspiration or dedication to excellence. But I take exception to the unjust criticism of "Earth Moving", as I am taken aback by pundits seemingly wishing for another "Tubular Bells" (really? you need more?) or "Amarok" (which was more a project than anything) or an "Ommadawn" revisited. I say that is patently ridiculous for an artist with such exceptional talents as Mr Oldfield and owner of an extended career, not to explore different avenues of expression. The man did not sell out, he simply felt the need to visit the perennial black sheep of the prog sub-genres which I like to call Prog-pop but that the community prefers to refer to, for aesthetic purposes, as "Eclectic Prog". Let us not forget that Mike has composed albums that were essentially classical music, soundtrack, New Age, Celtic, symphonic and orchestral. He also was fascinated by odd little unpretentious ditties like "Punkadiddle", which was nothing more than a rebuke to media criticism for being too 'stodgy" and clinical. So he had a pop phase, which include some staggeringly beautiful songs, if you choose to listen to them for what they are worth and not for what the fans expect from their star. In purely song writing terms, pieces like "To France", "Moonlight Shadow", "Arrival", "Family Man" and the haunting "Foreign Affair" are nuggets of musical brilliance and exceptional performance.

So after 17 years and a dozen albums released, Oldfield decided to record "Earth Moving", a stellar set of finely chiseled songs with no epics, no one-man show of editing sophistication or extended instrumental breaks. The pieces are rich in melody, tight in delivery but mostly provide platforms for some of the finest vocals ever put to record, both lead and backing that are quite startling to witness, should one delve into the matter with a finer microscope. I will agree that it's not a progressive rock masterpiece but it's a pop album but a damn good one, with immense doses of "progression", especially vocally.

"Holy" features the miraculous voice of Adrian Belew (before he joined Fripp & co), a cleverly crafted slice of impassioned presence that is sanctified by some details of genius such as Mike's volatile hard-guitar rant, slashing rhythm axes afire and little squeals of zeal. The shrieking choir vocals by the irresistible Carol Kenyon are seconds of sheer thrill. "Hostage of the Heart" has trumpet-synths, swirly yet harsh guitars and metronomic drum machines that punch hard and fast, but the duet vocal work by the underappreciated Max Bacon (yeah, the poor GTR guy) and the scintillating and soulful Nikki Bentley is simply exemplary. The melody is rich and expressive, a fabulous piece of highway driving music that certainly has a strong late 80's feel, synthetic yet soulful, a rare winning combination. Oldfield has a fiery lead guitar, up front and center, where it should be. Thrown in some amazing clavinet and you can appreciate the jewelry. One of my all-time favorite hymns, "Far Country" is simply a stunning tune, unknown vocalist Mark Williamson delivers a trembling aria, full of airy passion and forlorn despair, with weaving orchestrations (a lot of synth-bass and backdrop strings). Adrian Belew shows off his tense, effect-laden guitar skills (can you imagine, he has played with Fripp, Zappa and Oldfield, what a lucky man!).

Now, "Innocent" is eerily close to then Madonna/William Orbit style, female vocals by Anita Hegerland zoom about amid a rather simple funky 80's style euro-pop canvas. Hummable, unpretentious, perhaps even slightly puerile but really not very guilty of any sin. "Runaway Son" is a horn-fest, loaded with so much brass, it's almost like a military onslaught. The other immediate pleasure is the voice of the talented Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann's Earth Band fame. Otherwise, it's not my cup of tea as the song is a little too rushed for my liking and I am not a fan of "Ooo-oo-oo" backing refrains.

"See the Light" is heavy and sweaty, with Thompson again grasping the microphone and doing a good variation on the "Blinded by the Night" theme, full of dense bravado and conviction when he sings "I can see the light, I can feel the light". Slash guitars and superb backing vocals really compliment the deal but the harmonica detail is just priceless. Very obvious hints of classic Foreigner, as there is a strong bluesy feel a la Lou Gramm. Nice! The title track has been one of my favorite easy listening piece ever, mainly because the voice of Nikki Bentley stuns me now as strongly as it has for the past 24 years. Vocalists have a lovely term called 'belting out" a vocal, well this is my finest example! Her screeching delivery on the chorus ('reaching out for you') supplies goose bumps like no other, the catty guitar and the masterful sax blowout courtesy of Raf Ravenscroft (remember Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street"?) , just convince me every time I hear "this sweet love song". Talk about intense, my goodness!

The superb voice of perennial Oldfield collaborator Maggie Reilly is featured on the rambling "Blue Light" and is typical of her previous work with the guitar madman, who BTW uncorks a sizzling acoustic guitar solo. This is standard Oldfield/Reilly fare and will only contribute to their legend with another glorious melody. Carol Kenyon opens up the voice fest on the epic 8 minute plus suite "Nothing But/Bridge to Paradise" with a spirited delivery full of lung and lust as she deliciously wails 'Nothing but love when you open your eyes'. The segue into the livelier second part is seamless with Bacon coming to the fore with a strong exertion of his chest cavity, ably assisted by a slew of backing vocalists both male and female, all 'building a bridge to paradise'.

Okay, not a lot of detestable notes here, so in context, not quite what you would consider before "Hergest Ridge" and say even the spectral "Songs From the Distant Earth" but still a good reference point as an introduction to prog for the massive "pop goes the world" universe. I mean you need tools to convert music fans to our cause and this album does a great favour to us all, as a stepping stone to more profound sounds and intricate thrills. For this album to be shamed by a 1.91 star rating is truly sad and much undeserved. I know and own a few less compelling Oldfield albums that are yet firmly in the prog realm but are totally uninspired, a totally justified result from a nearly 40 year career that still continues 'til today.

4 Bull?..Dozers

Latest members reviews

5 stars I admit I'm not very objective when it comes to an album I literally grew up with. But if you look at this as any album released in 1989, it's probably one of the best that was made. I remember reading that Virgin wanted albums that would sell well, capitalizing on the Mike Oldfield brand that ... (read more)

Report this review (#2604059) | Posted by larkhon | Friday, October 15, 2021 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Judging first four or five bars of the initial track, "Holy", we unmistakingly come to a conclusion: this album is firmly entrenched in 80s pop sound and it's gonna stay that way for the next 40 minutes. Story goes that Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records, insisted on Mike to provide ano ... (read more)

Report this review (#1942778) | Posted by thief | Monday, July 2, 2018 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Well, I may as well start my Oldfield review selections at the bottom. And this is as "bottom" as you can get. This is pure 80's overdone pop with some dance disco? thrown in. Did Phil Collins produce this? ANy sense of musicianship or prog seems to have been sucked out of Mike with this relea ... (read more)

Report this review (#271212) | Posted by mohaveman | Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not prog. Commercial album done in exchange of creative freedom for later Ommadawn. Good (not very good) songs. Nice guitar work. Not very interesting for prog fan. Highly accessible. Highlights: Adrian Belew / Oldfield duo solo on Far Country, brilliant vocals on Earth Moving, rockish See ... (read more)

Report this review (#78288) | Posted by Zavgorodny | Monday, May 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Of course, the music on this album isn't progressive rock at all, but on the other hand we have a collection of nice songs performed by great artists (I believe "Holy" performed by Adrian Belew makes this album worth buying). This kind of music was popular in the late 80's, just remember "Stil ... (read more)

Report this review (#43250) | Posted by | Thursday, August 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A friend who works at a radio station gave me a promotional copy of this in 89. I don't know that I would have ever purchased it full price.... by then CDs were listing for $18+. I only knew Oldfield as "the exorcist guy" and I had bought a CD4 copy of Hergest Ridge simply for the quad..... ... (read more)

Report this review (#42660) | Posted by | Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Earth Moving? Hardly! But it's decent, non-descript pop. As always, Mike lines up excellent singers. The chap who sings "Holy" and the chick who sings "Earth Moving" have great chops. Mr. O's guitar solos on the opening and closing tracks are awesome. But, . . .hmm, maybe this album only deser ... (read more)

Report this review (#28413) | Posted by | Monday, January 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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