Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mike Oldfield Guitars album cover
2.96 | 218 ratings | 18 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Muse (2:09)
2. Cochise (5:13)
3. Embers (3:49)
4. Summit Day (3:46)
5. Out Of Sight (3:46)
6. B. Blues (4:27)
7. Four Winds (9:31)
8. Enigmatism (3:29)
9. Out Of Mind (3:44)
10. From The Ashes (2:28)

Total Time: 42:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Oldfield / acoustic, electric, MIDI, bass & sampled guitars (incl. drum sounds), producer

Releases information

Artwork: Bill Smith Studio with Andy Earl (photo)

CD WEA ‎- 3984274012 (1999, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy MIKE OLDFIELD Guitars Music

MIKE OLDFIELD Guitars ratings distribution

(218 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

MIKE OLDFIELD Guitars reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars We all know that Mike Oldfield is a great and unique guitarist but Guitars is strictly for collectors and die hard fans only.The stunners are' Cochise', ' Summit day' and ' Enigmatism', sadly the album does lose it's way occasionally.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Bells or blues

No prizes then for guessing what the predominant instrument is here. What you may not realise though is that this is Oldfield's only album where he performs absolutely everything himself. Not only that, but ALL the sounds are made using guitars, midi guitar or individual guitar samples, including the drum sounds.

The tracks are however diverse, with various types of guitar and effects appearing throughout. It is worth detailing here Oldfield's own descriptions of the tracks (from his official website):

Muse' - A simple track played on two guitars that has an almost Elizabethan feel.

Cochise - This track is loosely based on the first two bars of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

Embers - The first track recorded for the album, using a custom made classical Spanish guitar. The instrument is one of my most treasured possessions.

Summit Day - Inspired by John Krakauer's best-seller Into Thin Air which dealt with a climbing tragedy on Mount Everest. I wrote the song as a tribute and attempted to put the emotion of the final push to the summit into music."

Out of Sight - A jazz, rocky riff marks an upturn in tempo for the album.

B. Blues - A homage to the legendary B B King.

Four Winds - "Four individual pieces of music in one, named after the four winds with the music taking their characteristics. Enigmatism - I played my guitar through a synth without a delay, using a midi converter, allowing me to produce a mysterious, spooky sound.

Out Of Mind - The penultimate track was borne out of my love of rock'n'roll. With the Rolling Stones' sound as a base, I set about recreating my own version of their style.

From the Ashes - A reprise of Embers but with an added Celtic ending.

The first few tracks are soft acoustic pieces, with occasional interruptions by lead guitar. They are of course well performed, but rather dull repetitive affairs. It strikes me as a general comment that much of the music here could have been more successfully used as sections on one of Oldfield's longer more complex pieces. They tend to lack sufficient substance to stand up in isolation. One of Oldfield's strengths is that he does not tend to labour a theme, moving on to another before it outstays its welcome. Here though, the tracks consist mainly of fairly basic themes which are played repeatedly, with perhaps changes of sound but not melody.

"Cochise" is a case in point. It's all very well using the opening notes of "Whole lotta love", but the track needs to go somewhere beyond that to avoid becoming tedious and dull.

As the album progresses, the diversity of sound increases, with "Out of sight" and "B Blues" having a much rougher feel. The latter may be based on a blues theme, but there is still far more "Bells" to it than "Blues".

In all, a good if slightly dull album by a very accomplished musician. I can't help but feel though that perhaps he has now been to the same well, or is that "bell", once too often.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars One of the most underrated releases from Mike! "Guitars" is my favorite and the most original of Oldfield's album from the 90's. As its title may suggest, Music, sounds and rhythms here are mostly made with guitars. The record alternates inspired rock, blues, floating and melancholic passages, all instrumental and all in his own style.

It opens with "Muse", a short but nonetheless beautiful song, to go on with one of the highlights of the disc, "Cochise", displaying Mike Olfield's well known musical signature with various kinds of guitars, featuring floating, soft and energetic moments. This tune rocks! In contrast, "Embers" is much more calm and spacey, whereas the little magic "Summit Day" could have well escaped from "The Songs of Distant Earth". Then come the rock parts of the album with the hard bluesy "Out of Sight" and its catchy melody. Very refreshing and efficient! Electric guitars stay for the melancholic rock of "B. Blues", another powerful highlight of the record. Oldfield re-discover his 70's spirit with the mini-epic "Four Winds", changing from rock to enchanting and far-west ambiances! It even has sitar on it. You fell like riding a horse in a desert at the end of the song. The next track, "Enigmatism", is another little gem of acoustic guitar, very floating and mysterious. The flaws here are undoubtedly the two final tracks, "Out of Mind" and "From the Ashes", which are respectively repetitive and lazy...

Behind its audacious concept, "Guitars" truly contains great passages and shows that Mike has always something new to offer without losing his touch and his identity at any moment. Not very progressive, but nevertheless a surprising and enchanting album!

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars A guitar album.

The album is not particular bad, but even a guitar lover like me wants a little more variety than constant guitarwork. This album represents a departure from his quest with the bells and also highlights Oldfield's craftsmanship with the instrument.

As can be guessed, there's lots of layering here, and a bit too much repetition. The melodies can be captivating, but at times they are overdrawn. There are enough stylistic elements, from hard rockers to blues to jazz, but the riffs are repeated too much.

I can really only recommend this to guitar lovers. Fans of Mike will also probably enjoy it, but in truth you must love the instrument in question, or this album probably won't be for you.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Guitars" is a real treat for those of us who appreciate Mike's large all-consuming projects but always yearn for a little more of his guitar and less of the big production. Well here it is and I think it's a little better than it gets credit for.

Just over half of this album is excellent. These six songs (Muse, Cochise, Embers, Summit Day, Enigmatism, From the Ashes) are as melodically perfect as anything in Mike's canon. Muse especially is just gorgeous. These tracks deliver delightful acoustic melodic backgrounds with very tasteful and expressive lead guitar, occasionally layered even more with additional rhythms and effects. Were these six songs released as an EP cd alone I'd give the thing 4.5 stars.

But then we have the other 4 songs on "Guitars." The worst offender in my book would be "Out of Sight" with its laughably amateur sound in the power chord sections, proving that metal is one style Mike hasn't conquered. I've heard more believable stuff coming from the garage band practices of 13-14 year olds. These heavier riffs and power chords appear on other tracks as well and are completely against the grain of the better material. Rocking the boat is all well and good if the material is solid but in these instances it is not. The other three songs are just OK and sound like tired filler with a few good moments.

But "Guitars" is surely an album that most Oldfield fans will enjoy a good portion of. Others may want to proceed with caution but know that the first 6 songs I mention will deliver the beautiful melodic Oldfield sound in a unique guitar-centric context, some will find the deal worth it and others will not.

Review by russellk
2 stars This is a very competent album. But when did we ever buy MIKE OLDFIELD to listen to competency?

Here's the clever trick: everything on this album is either a guitar sound or triggered by a guitar. But I'm not sure that impresses anyone. It's what the album sounds like, not how it was made, that matters. OLDFIELD could have created these sounds by filing the heads off Barbie dolls or beating trees with sticks, for all I care. What does it sound like?

Well, almost exactly like 'Voyager', actually. The celtic themes are muted here, but the same high degree of attention has been lavished on the production, taking out all the interesting sharp edges, leaving a slick, smooth product that sits blandly on the palate. It doesn't deserve three stars, but it's not really an album for OLDFIELD fans either. 'Guitars' is worth listening to if you're a guitar aficianado, though OLDFIELD'S virtuosity is well and truly tempered here. The bigger hole, of course, is the absence of compositional excellence, due to the restrictions the choice of format has imposed.

So what's the explanation for this album? By this time MIKE OLDFIELD had become domiciled in Spain, and remains popular there. This album seems to have been issued to appeal to Spanish guitar lovers, of whom there are many. As nice as this is, as perfectly executed, I find it more muzak than music, especially when considering what this gifted man is capable of. And there is nothing remotely progressive here.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This is another guitar-oriented album from Steve Hackett. This time he is full in command and develops both acoustic and electric pieces.

When you listen to "Cochise", this album sounds almost as an old Oldfield work. Reminiscent of his great and early works. But moments like this one are scarce on this offering. The problem being that this is a too synthetic music to be true and emotional. Cold, properly played of course, but soulless I'm afraid.

Neither fans of the early days or from the latter ones could be really enthusiastic about such an album. The relative dull and repetitive mood prevails during "B. Blues" for instance.

This album is not a bad one (as "Heaven's Open" was) but there are very few (one?) brilliant pieces of music. I totally agree with Easy Livin' when he mentions that some tracks could have been integrated in some more elaborate of his works like "Four Winds" which is another fave of mine here.

All in all, it a decent work from Mike. At least, it changes from the bells theme, right? But I can hardly be concentrate from start to finish with this offering. Most of the times, ambient music is what you'll get. None of the tracks are bad, but none will bring you to heaven, for sure.

Like Steve, Mike is extremely gifted but won't always deliver. Five out of ten probably. OK, I'll round it up to three stars. But only because I like his work more than the average fan.

Review by The Crow
3 stars After the (well deserved) success of Tubular Bells III, Oldfield came up with this little, beautiful, and experimental piece of work!

The original fact of this album is that it's made completely by guitars... Even the percussions are samples of guitar sounds. This is a truly original concept and Oldfield made it decently. You will not miss any other instrument through the songs... All is well developed and the sound is great, like almost every Oldfield's work. But what about the quality of the music itself? Ok, it's a bit irregular in my humble opinion...

Some good tracks like Cochise, Summit Day and Four Winds are mixed up with other mediocre songs like B. Blues and Enigmatism... The sensation I have after hearing the whole album is that it could have been better. The idea is great, but some uninspired songs make the album just a good and pleasant listening, but nothing really special. Oldfield is a great and personal guitar player, and an album completely made with his favourite instrument could have been really, really better. It's a pity...

Best tracks: Cochise, Summit Day (one of the most beautiful short songs Oldfield have ever made...), Four Winds (a diverse and variated track... The most progressive act of a not progressive album) and Out of Mind (just funny).

Conclusion: this album gives me a bitter sensation... It has some great moments, like the incredibly beautiful Summit Day, but it fails in offering a really worthy experience due to some boring and not really inspired moments. The concept could have been really better accomplished... But the originality of the idea and the good moments make this album a good purchase anyway, specially for Oldfield's die hard fans. The other people will not find anything really special here...

My rating: ***

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Somebody should give this man a guitar!

If you are a person who can't get enough of the guitar sound, in all its different shapes and forms, then Mike Oldfield's Guitars might just be the record for you! Personally, I've always been on the on/off terms with this particular instrument and that's exactly how I also feel about this album. Yes, it's a pretty decent effort, but my main question is --- Why? It's not like Oldfield's previous efforts lacked the gentle caress of this fine instrument but taking it to the extreme just might seem a bit too... extreme.

Most of these tunes are pretty decent and the only real complaint of mine is that they lack a focus that was so well depicted on Mike Oldfield's earlier albums. Guitars is nonetheless a very nice little record that does a great job of, if anything, making a guitar sound like a decent New Age instrument. If you though that most of Oldfield's work felt pretty accessible then this record should probably be filed under the easy listening section of your record collection.

This is definitely not a record for everyone and I would not recommend it as an introduction to Oldfield's work but other than that, this is a fairly decent album from his discography that is well worth picking up after you've experienced at least 3-4 other of Oldfield's albums. Therefore good, but non-essential.

***** star songs: Muse (2:09) From The Ashes (2:28)

**** star songs: Cochise (5:13) Embers (3:49) Summit Day (3:46) Out Of Sight (3:46) B. Blues (4:27) Enigmatism (3:29) Out Of Mind (3:44)

*** star songs: Four Winds (9:31)

Review by lazland
3 stars After the heady excitement, Ibiza grooves and all, of Tubular Bells III, Oldfield decided to indulge himself, and absolutely nobody else, for this, his follow up album.

Actually, that is such a misleading description. This is a follow up to nothing except, perhaps, a need by him to simply pit down some licks and ideas on the instrument which, quite clearly, he is most adept at.

Thus, we have a veritable smorgasbord of ideas here, ranging from identifiable prog, to virtuoso acoustic, misplaced metal chords, to even country and western, via Celtic folk and easily recognisable Bells sequences.

There is virtually no structure to this album at all, but, as those of us who love and appreciate Anthony Phillips' noodlings will appreciate, that is not necessarily a bad thing. There are occasions when you wish to sit down, with a good set of headphones, and simply lie back and let the sound of a class musician, playing his instrument of choice, wash over you. It is, actually, worth buying for Muse alone which is an exceptionally beautiful composition, and one of his finest.

Three stars for this, a very good and satisfying work, without being remotely essential or crucially important. It was, though, somewhat brave after the commercial success that Bells III brought.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Most of MIKE OLDFIELD's classic albums, not to mention live clips, leave little doubt as to which instrument would accompany him across the desert should he find himself in the middle of the Passover story. If he is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, it's really only on the guitars, and maybe those bells, those bells, that he established a singular style that permeated even his most commercial and vocal oriented work. So dedicating an album exclusively to guitar sounds doesn't seem much less exploitative than "Tubular Bells XIV" or whatever. So of course he has done so!

The album opens with the pretty "Muse", which bears resemblance to the material on the weak "Voyager", but "Cochise" resolutely dispels the notion of yet another new age album. A riff reminiscent of LED ZEPPELIN's "Whole Lotta Love" dominates, while lead guitars sear the pungent upper atmosphere of the piece. I can't say I had noticed Oldfield's idolatry of JIMMY PAGE before, but in case you somehow missed it, the riff from Led Zep's "Heartbreaker" is compressed into service by "Out of Sight". While I'm grateful to learn something new about his influences, by the time more early metal riffs appear in "B Blues" I've had quite enough, but even that's not the last time. Luckily "Four Winds" morphs from a beginning reminiscent of the storm sequence of "Hergest Ridge" to a decent epic with several distinct parts, including an almost surfer rock later theme. The main highlight here is the well named "Enigmatism", adopting the gravitas of the best Oldfield instrumentals of that time. "Out of Mind" is an infectious rock piece which I think would work well with lyrics, in a "Heaven's Open" kind of way but heavier.

While certainly not revolutionary or even a worthy introduction to this influential musician, "Guitars" includes more than enough dynamic playing to keep it from being stored in the attic along with other unwanted toys, musical or otherwise.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Let me spell it out for you once more: every single sound comes from a guitar or guitar synthesizer/MIDI. Rhythm section included. It's advised you actually LIKE guitars enough to buy into an album going overboard with its use. Granted, many rock records are dominated with guitar riffs, re ... (read more)

Report this review (#1948054) | Posted by thief | Friday, July 13, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Some of the songs on this generally tedious album work well, but the others tend to repeat themselves. Well, I suppose that is to be expected on an album of exclusively guitars. But guess what - it's not just an album of guitars. In fact, it has bass, keyboards, and all sorts of percussion. Mike m ... (read more)

Report this review (#109217) | Posted by Shakespeare | Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Guitars! 5/5 for Concept (Make an album with full instrumentation. The twist being, every sound, to include drums, percussion, and keyboards, are really being played on guitars with Midi effects) Execution: 5/5 (He really gets some amazing sounds from his collection of guitars and computers) E ... (read more)

Report this review (#97515) | Posted by Mcgraster | Tuesday, November 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Surprisingly good. That was just after that questionable Tubular Bells III and just before questionable Millennium Bell. Mike Oldfield heard some desperate voice of old fans (for the last time I fear) and wrote spectacular instrumental album. Yes, all the sounds are just guitars. Just as s ... (read more)

Report this review (#78290) | Posted by Zavgorodny | Monday, May 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Since "Amarok" (1990), this is the most inspiring and unique Oldfield album. It has a theme that feels natural and crystal clear. I sense a slight resemblance to "Hergest Ridge" in its character. The new-age sound from "The Songs of Distant Earth" (and less apparent on "Voyager") is gone and r ... (read more)

Report this review (#75874) | Posted by 1971 | Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, the album here is undervalued. The artist should not be the same in all his doings, so why shoudn't Mike Oldfield do something like "Guitars" if he wants? I was ready to give three stars, just because I listen to pure guitar music not very often... But the album is very good. For me it's ... (read more)

Report this review (#44760) | Posted by stansult | Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Guitars is a collection of great diversity in sounds as well as in quality. While some pieces are truly moving and complex, the others sound as if Mike wanted to find out just how many instruments he could play through his MIDI pickup instead of paying attention to the music itself. In my opin ... (read more)

Report this review (#28495) | Posted by | Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of MIKE OLDFIELD "Guitars"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.