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MIKE OLDFIELD

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Mike Oldfield biography
Born in 1953 in Reading, England, Mike OLDFIELD took up the guitar at seven and was composing instrumental pieces by age 10. With his sister Sally, he secured a record deal under the name SALLYANGIE and released the folkish album "Children of the Sun" in 1968. He then landed a position playing first bass and later guitar with WHOLE WORLD, led by ex-SOFT MACHINE co-founder Kevin Ayers. During the next few years he also served as a studio musician at Abbey Road, where he experimented with a wide range of instruments. He gradually built up a home studio and began working on a large-scale project, playing all of the parts himself. This was the prototype for "Tubular Bells", but OLDFIELD had no success generating label interest until he met with future Virgin Records founders Simon Draper and Richard Branson. They loved his ideas and gave him plenty of freedom to record in their state-of-the-art The Manor studio, and ended up releasing "Tubular Bells" on their brand new label when no other record company showed interest. The record shot to first place in the UK and elsewhere, attracting the attention of director William Friedkin, whose use of the intro segment in "The Exorcist" generated widespread recognition (OLDFIELD was not pleased by the association, however).

Retreating from his newfound celebrity, OLDFIELD recorded several more critically acclaimed albums, similar in scope and approach but constantly developing new instrumental and compositional skills. In 1979 his single "Guilty" showed that shorter vocal-based pieces and more recent music styles were beginning to creep into his work; he also returned to touring in 1979 after undergoing therapy to combat his reclusive, solitary tendencies. His work in the 80s included such far-ranging releases as "Crises" (including vocals by Jon ANDERSON), the soundtrack to the film "The Killing Fields", and a song called "Family Man" which became a hit for HALL & OATES. Known for consistently offering a visual spectacular in his live performances, he also developed an interest in video artistry, including a video album called "Wind Chimes". The 90s saw a return to longer symphonic-style works, including "Amarok" and "Tubular Bells II", for which he departed the increasingly commercial Virgin Records for the smaller WEA label. His "Songs of Distant Earth" album was the first CD ever to include CD-ROM content, as well as album notes by legendary sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. "Voyager" showed his appreciation f...
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Discovery: DeluxeDiscovery: Deluxe
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$13.00
$21.97 (used)
Tubular BellsTubular Bells
Remastered · Extra tracks · Import
Mercury UK 2009
Audio CD$3.77
$3.14 (used)
Songs of Distant EarthSongs of Distant Earth
Import
Warner Spec. Mkt. UK 2008
Audio CD$2.34
$0.33 (used)
Man On The Rocks [2 CD]Man On The Rocks [2 CD]
Mercury 2014
Audio CD$10.79
$13.00 (used)
OmmadawnOmmadawn
Import
Universal UK 2010
Audio CD$14.99
$15.15 (used)
Platinum [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]Platinum [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
Remastered
Hip-O 2012
Audio CD$13.00
$19.66 (used)
Two Sides: The Very Best Of Mike Olfield [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]Two Sides: The Very Best Of Mike Olfield [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
Hip-O 2012
Audio CD$5.24
$3.85 (used)
Tubular Bells II (180 Gram Vinyl)Tubular Bells II (180 Gram Vinyl)
Rhino Records 2015
Vinyl$15.36
$9.99 (used)
Killing FieldsKilling Fields
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$4.99
$3.99 (used)
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12h 14m
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12h 19m
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12h 23m
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14h 12m


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MIKE OLDFIELD shows & tickets


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MIKE OLDFIELD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MIKE OLDFIELD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 901 ratings
Tubular Bells
1973
3.93 | 448 ratings
Hergest Ridge
1974
2.48 | 143 ratings
The Orchestral Tubular Bells
1975
4.32 | 1020 ratings
Ommadawn
1975
3.90 | 344 ratings
Incantations
1978
3.09 | 222 ratings
Platinum
1979
3.47 | 238 ratings
Q.E.2
1980
3.67 | 286 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.40 | 325 ratings
Crises
1983
2.72 | 197 ratings
Discovery
1984
2.62 | 119 ratings
The Killing Fields
1984
2.59 | 168 ratings
Islands
1987
2.02 | 138 ratings
Earth Moving
1989
4.06 | 464 ratings
Amarok
1990
2.50 | 146 ratings
Heaven's Open
1991
3.57 | 239 ratings
Tubular Bells II
1992
3.71 | 246 ratings
The Songs of Distant Earth
1994
3.07 | 175 ratings
Voyager
1996
3.37 | 172 ratings
Tubular Bells III
1998
2.93 | 140 ratings
Guitars
1999
2.28 | 113 ratings
The Millenium Bell
1999
2.46 | 117 ratings
Tr3s Lunas
2002
3.72 | 161 ratings
Tubular Bells 2003
2003
2.78 | 117 ratings
Light + Shade
2005
3.01 | 142 ratings
Music of the Spheres
2008
3.35 | 126 ratings
Man On The Rocks
2014

MIKE OLDFIELD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 73 ratings
Exposed
1979

MIKE OLDFIELD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.88 | 32 ratings
Tubular Bells II & III Live (DVD)
1999
2.48 | 33 ratings
The Art In Heaven Concert Live In Berlin (DVD)
2000
4.50 | 12 ratings
DVD Collection
2003
3.09 | 24 ratings
Elements - The Best Of (DVD)
2004
3.78 | 30 ratings
Exposed
2005
4.41 | 60 ratings
Live At Montreux 1981
2006

MIKE OLDFIELD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 38 ratings
Mike Oldfield - Boxed
1976
3.56 | 12 ratings
Airborn
1980
3.00 | 4 ratings
Impressions
1980
2.98 | 9 ratings
Music Wonderland
1981
3.69 | 33 ratings
The Complete Mike Oldfield
1985
3.21 | 5 ratings
Collector's Edition Box I
1990
3.16 | 7 ratings
Collector's Edition Box II
1990
2.49 | 23 ratings
Elements: The Best of Mike Oldfield
1993
2.93 | 13 ratings
Elements: 1973-1991
1993
2.64 | 14 ratings
XXV - The Essential Mike Oldfield
1997
2.06 | 9 ratings
The Best Of Tubular Bells
2001
2.83 | 6 ratings
The Mike Oldfield Collection
2002
2.53 | 8 ratings
The Complete Tubular Bells
2003
2.48 | 13 ratings
The Platinum Collection
2006
4.00 | 8 ratings
Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield
2012
3.14 | 7 ratings
Tubular Beats
2013
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Studio Albums: 1992-2003
2014
3.67 | 3 ratings
The Best Of: 1992-2003
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Space Movie
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
The 1984 Suite
2016

MIKE OLDFIELD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
Tubular Bells
1974
3.67 | 3 ratings
In Dulci Jubilo
1975
3.00 | 2 ratings
Don Alfonso
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
Don Alfonso (German Version)
1975
3.18 | 9 ratings
Portsmouth
1976
3.50 | 4 ratings
William Tell Overture
1976
3.33 | 3 ratings
Cuckoo Song
1977
2.00 | 1 ratings
Take 4
1978
3.75 | 4 ratings
Guilty
1979
3.25 | 4 ratings
Blue Peter
1979
2.50 | 2 ratings
Extract From Tubular Bells (live)
1979
3.00 | 3 ratings
Arrival
1980
3.67 | 3 ratings
Wonderful Land
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Singles
1981
2.25 | 9 ratings
Mistake
1982
3.33 | 3 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.25 | 4 ratings
Family Man
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Moonlight Shadow
1983
3.23 | 12 ratings
Shadow on the Wall
1983
4.00 | 6 ratings
To France
1984
3.93 | 14 ratings
Pictures in the Dark
1985
3.38 | 12 ratings
Shine
1986
2.11 | 9 ratings
Innocent
1989
2.89 | 9 ratings
Tattoo
1992

MIKE OLDFIELD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Q.E.2  by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.47 | 238 ratings

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Q.E.2
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Replayer

4 stars QE2, like its predecessor Platinum, is a transitional album between Oldfield's more progressive albums of the 70s with side-long tracks and the more commercial works of 80s. This album starts Oldfield's collaboration with Maggie Reilly, who would later sing on future Oldfield hits Moonlight Shadow and To France.

Many songs on QE2 feature the unlikely combination of vocoder, brass instruments, mandolin and African drums. The album's working titles included Mirage and Carnival, but it was changed to QE2, which is a reference to the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 (in service 1969-2008). I think any connection is tenuous at best, especially since the album is mainly instrumental and the lyrics are made-up words. The original vinyl made the nautical theme more explicit by featuring a porthole on the cover (which is supposed to represent the side of a ship, the blue area representing the sky), a schematic of a ship with on inside sleeve and a life preserver-shaped record label.

Taurus 1 is a strong opener. The title might be a reference to Mike's birth sign, which is in fact Taurus; I'm not sure whether it's supposed to represent a musical autobiography. The song features Phil Collins on drums, although a drum machine is used during the introductory mandolin section (insert joke about Genesis loaning their drummer and drum machine to Mike). The song is split into five short sections with memorable themes. Towards the end there is an interesting section where the main melody keeps switching between different instruments every few notes.

Sheba is a vocoder song with nonsense words. Mike sings though the vocoder and Maggy Reilly joins later using her normal voice. Phil Collins also plays drums on this song. The second half is more rocking than the first. This is the song I like least on this album.

Conflict is a guitar-focused Celtic rock instrumental with African drumming and quoting the Badinerie movement of Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor on flute synth. It's quite progressive and packs all of this in just a couple of minutes.

At Virgin Records' request, Oldfield included a couple of cover tunes. The first cover is Arrival, one of two instrumentals by ABBA. It's a pleasant folk tune and I think it benefits from Oldfield's changes to its instrumentation.

The second cover is Wonderful Land, made famous by The Shadows, and showcases Mike's guitar skill. Oldfield makes the track his own with one of his characteristic multi-instrumental arrangements. The second half is more up-tempo and livelier. I particularly enjoy the mandolin snippets.

Mirage is one of those songs with a classic Oldfield climax, that starts simple and has more and more instruments added, increasing its tempo adding more variations. It's little repetitive for my tastes (and this is coming from an Oldfield fan!). The electric guitar in the second half is quite good, but I feel the song takes too long to take off. I don't really like the horn section stabs either.

The title track is another climaxing song. The official title is QE2/QE2 Finale. My guess is that the QE2 Finale starts at the four minute mark, when the drums join in. The finale features a charming electric guitar and Northumbrian Bagpipe duet, both played by Mike, reprising the last theme from Taurus 1. David Hentschel, known for producing Genesis albums in the late 70s, arranged the brass section (which I appreciate here). He gets a writing credit on QE2, but not the QE2 Finale.

As the name suggests, Celt is a Celtic song with fake Celtic lyrics, African drums, and very good guitar playing. Hey, this sounds like an Ommadawn review!

Molly is a simple and short lullaby-like electric guitar instrumental dedicated to Mike's daughter.

I thoroughly enjoy this album despite its rather light nature. I find the music very optimistic and joyful and I particularly like Taurus 1, Conflict and the title track. Instrumental compositions have always been Mike's forte and he delivers many interesting themes and arrangements. I'd rate it as his best 80s album, but below his first four studio albums. I also recommend his live video recording Live At Montreux 1981, which features several QE2 compositions.

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 Amarok by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.06 | 464 ratings

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Amarok
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by HarmonyDissonan

5 stars CLASSIC OLDFIELD-DEFINITELY BACK TO FORM W/ONE EXCEPTION: NUMEROUS POINTS OF HUMOR!

I listened to this cd at work the other evening and I remembered how I liked it, but I really felt that I never paid as close attention to it as it deserved, until then! It made me feel...ha-ha-ha-happy?! Although I had known that it was as good as his hey-day work from the seventies, I had forgotten just how good it was! Sure, history shows us just how good Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Incantations are without a doubt and how well received they've been, but there is something special about this cd! There are many points within this work where humor is both subtly and obtrusively brought to the fore. I love the classic cd's I mentioned above, but it is the amount of humor in this work that sets it apart. I haven't reviewed any of his other albums, but needless to say, I'd rate the four that I had mentioned all 4 to 5 stars! And although this has been reviewed almost innumerably as well, I just felt compelled after my emotional reaction while listening to it for the first time in quite a while the other evening, to spend the time to critique it also. If anyone who enjoys Mike Oldfield's oeuvre, but as of yet hasn't purchased this album, I'd highly recommend this as a 2nd or 3rd purchase of his with only Hergest Ridge a close 4th and Incantations as a close 5th. It is somewhat lighter than the classics but not at all in a bad way. I can't help but wonder if Mr. Oldfield was just in a very happy period of his existence during the time he produced this album or if making it, with that humorous vein, was a conscious decision? Which ever is the case, I'm glad that the stars aligned the way they did so as to leave us blessed with this piece of artwork! As I listen to this again while writing this review, I can't help but smile at the quality and the humor! Just great!

But even if you think that nothing much is happening, wait for the grand finally! Lol! Well that's what I'd like to talk to you all about...endings. Now endings normally happen at the end, but as we all know, endings are just beginnings! You know, once these things really get started, it's jolly hard to stop them again. However, as we have all come this far, I think, under the circumstances, the best solution is that we all just keep going! Let's keep this going in site, never an ending. Let's remember that this world wants fresh beginnings!...of course...of course...

Well that's about it for now. Take care and enjoy God's gift of music!

Isn't that charming, toodle-oo, I really feel like I could dance! Lol...Lol, charming, Lol...

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 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.35 | 126 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by shantiq

3 stars At times it sounds very lame like a motivational ad for a Democratic Convention gathering (Liberty ... Liberty )but still it has that MO magic underpinning it all so that you will listen to it time and again thinking this sounds like an ad for a Democratic Convention gathering ... and then you will listen to it again ... and ...

The themes here seem to be more in line with the interests and appetites of a rockstar exile ; i'll take the schooner across to Florida from the Bahamas; than it has to do with anything else but whichever way one sees flaws in the project it still has that MO magic the way Earthmoving all those years ago [1989 i think] although the tunes were more catchy then .... so YES ... BUT

PS1: Could that voice [Luke Spiller ]be more MOR? More banal? MO used a similar singer on his other "song" album [Earthmoving] There are 3 reasons I can think of for using such a bland vocal : 1. Catch the "market" especially US MOR 2. MO likes that voice :] and he sure is entitled to that ... 3. It is the voice he thinks he would have if he himself sang. Carlos Santana does exactly the same on his albums: bland MOR voice. Would love to ask MO why? I would surmise 1. was the answer ...

PS2: Explaining the MO magic : Mike Oldfield seems to carry/embody/incarnate the Spirit of Summer Albion; his music somehow resonates best in England in the summer months; as if he has a direct line to the Spirit of the Land ; and this he imbues in all his tracks including the ones here; although they are geographically more on the Nassau-Florida axis on this album

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 Portsmouth by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1976
3.18 | 9 ratings

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Portsmouth
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars Mike Oldfield's marvelous albums Hergest Ridge (1974) and Ommadawn (1975) were recorded in the countryside of Herefordshire where the introvert, young musician had escaped the sudden fame and success brought by Tubular Bells. As a freetime activity he used to go pony riding with folk musician Leslie Penning (one of the guest musicians on Ommadawn). The two collaborated on several folk oriented singles that Oldfield released in the following years; the next major work, double album Incantations, came out no sooner than in 1978.

'Portsmouth' is a joyful two-minute instrumental with a danceable rhythm. The innocently naive and happy melody is played by Leslie Penning's recorder, and Oldfield's simple, rhythmic acoustic guitar is joined by hand drum and accordion along the way. It's quite obvious that Oldfield just had a good time making this kind of simple folk music, without giving a slightest thought on the pressures of success. And it was very much about returning to his musical roots; he started his musical career in the age of fourteen playing folk with his elder sister Sally, as a duo called SALLYANGIE.

Four-minute 'Argiers' is also a recorder-centred folk piece but in minor and in a slow tempo. This tune stands much better the repeated listenings. It has a New Agey serenity, and it's up to the listener how melancholic one feels it to be. To me it's mostly soothing.

This charming but non-essential single is among the finest representations of the low-profile era in Oldfield's career between Ommadawn and Incantations. Both tracks are included on the 4-CD "Best of" box set Elements (1993) and on the Deluxe edition of Ommadawn (2010).

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 Five Miles Out by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.67 | 286 ratings

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Five Miles Out
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by steelyhead

4 stars This CD doesn´t need all the bad press It has had all those years. It is a good one and I think Taurus II is one of the finest pieces of music He has ever written (I mean It).

So enough with the backlashing and I encourage you to buy this CD and listen for yourself the good music It has on It. There's even a collaboration with Carl Palmer (not a good one, but alas).

I know, I know It has Family Man on It but take as a little Disco amusement and try to dance at the rhythm.

3.5 stars rounded up to four. Live with It.

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 Crises by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.40 | 325 ratings

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Crises
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album is an attempt to help broaden Mike Oldfield's listening audience. It is made up of one side of short, mostly vocal songs (on my copy there are 6) and one side is one long track, mostly instrumental.

The short songs are mostly decent, a few of them poppy but not too overwhelmingly cloying. Apparently "Moonlight Shadow" was a big hit in some countries and it sounds like a song that would have been a hit in the 80s. "Mistake" is another song in the same vein but only available on the North America version and it could have easily been another hit. One of the songs on this side has Jon Anderson from "Yes" doing a guest vocal. Jon shares writing credit with Mike on this song "In High Places" and it is one of the best vocal tracks on any of Mike Oldfield's albums, especially once the full instrumentation comes in. There is one instrumental song called "Taurus 3" which highlights some amazing acoustic and electric guitar work, but alas it is too short. Roger Chapman also guests on one of the vocals, but the song is quite underwhelming and probably the worst track on the album. Not a lot of interesting stuff, but at least it is well produced and the sound is great, so that helps make up for a lot.

Of course, the best track is the side-long title track "Crises". This is mostly instrumental except for a few mostly unnecessary vocals by Mike himself. Not a bad singer though, so I don't know what he didn't sing more, probably to concentrate on what he does best, instrumentation. "Crises" has everything in it that he is famous for, great instrumentation, composition, mood and meter changes, a very nice balance of sound and instruments with interesting rhythm throughout. I don't feel that there is a returning melody on this track which is fine, it is probably more of a continuous suite than anything, and it stays consistently good throughout the entire twenty minutes that it plays. This track is as good as anything essential that he has released including "Ommadawn", "Tubular Bells", or "Hergest Ridge".

The more pop oriented songs bring the essential-ness of the album down, but at least there is enough variety among the short songs to keep it all interesting. After the popularity of this album, Mike will release a follow up album to try to copy it's success named "Discovery". That album unfortunately fails in most every aspect because of poor production and sound quality and all uninteresting pop songs except for only one 12 minute instrumental. "Crises" proves that the mix of pop and prog can work where in contrast "The Discovery" shows you how to do it all wrong. If you have a choice, look for "Crises" as the better album. But if you are interested in what Mike's essential albums sound like, get one or more of the 3 essential recordings that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. As for this album, I consider it good but not essential. 3 stars.

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 Discovery by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.72 | 197 ratings

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Discovery
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

1 stars I can't say that I've heard every Mike Oldfield album, but I have heard the ones that are essential and own a few to them. But I can say for sure that this is the worst one I have heard. It's not simply for the fact that it has pop tracks (7 out of 8) with vocals and only one track that can be considered progressive. It is because the pop tracks are so uninteresting and cheesy. I can understand the attempt to get a bigger following, using pop to get more people to listen to your better music. Frank Zappa and many others have done that and were successful. But you have to have something appealing in your music that will persuade the masses to dig deeper into your discography, and this album simply does not do this.

Now, the singing isn't too bad, but it is quite standard fare, and that is surprising considering that half of the vocals are by the lead singer from Triumverat. But it sounds like he is not convinced about the music. The only vocal track worth listening to is "To France" which is the first track, and the only reason it is any good is because there is at least a short instrumental interlude that is interesting. The rest of the songs featuring vocals are just bad. The production here doesn't help either. Even though I am not a fan of pop in most cases, even people that listen to radio friendly music expect better sound and lyrics. Nothing here is really that appealing.

However, the one progressive track "The Lake" is more like the Mike Oldfield that most of us are familiar with. Completely instrumental and progressive with changing meters, tempos, great development, it has what you come to expect from this genius. This is where his talent resides and this is where he shines. It is also the only reason to look for this album, but he has so many other great albums that are full of great sounds and compositions that one 12 minute track may have a hard time convincing me that it is worth purchasing an entire album. I bought the vinyl for 50 cents so I wasn't out much and "The Lake" is definitely worth that much. So you decide if it is worth it to you. As far as I'm concerned it is a poor album that only completionists need to track down if they really just have to have everything he recorded. 1 star.

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 Hergest Ridge by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.93 | 448 ratings

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Hergest Ridge
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars ''Tubular bells'' was one of the best selling music products in the UK, over 2,500,000 copies were bought by the public, while the main theme of the album became the soundtrack of the horror film ''The excorcist''.Oldfield was not quite comfortable with this sudden popularity and relocated to the English countryside, near Kington in Herefordshire.1974 sees him participating on Robert Wyatt's album ''Rock bottom'', while he had already started working on a second album.During the spring of 1974 he returned to The Manor Studios and recorded ''Hergest ridge'', named after a hill near his house and close to the England-Wales borders.The album was released in August on Virgin and features drummer Chili Charles, Lindsay Cooper and June Whiting on oboe, Clodagh Simonds (from Mellow Candle) and Sally Oldfield on vocals, Ted Hobart on trumpet and David Bedford as the strings&choir conductor.Mike Oldfield plays acoustic and electric guitars, different organs and percussion and mandolin on the album.

Oldfield was not enthusiastic about his star rising, but at the same time he was not ready to abandon the long and atmosphertic music forms as presented on ''Tubular bells''.As a consequence ''Hergest ridge'' was yet another attempt on refined Orchestral Prog Rock with spacey, symphonic and pronounced British Folk flavors, split in two parts, each lasting a bit over or under 20 minutes long.The music is mostly instrumental and listening to the first part you can just admire the genius and talent of this young English composer and multi-instrumentalist.The material passes through various orchestrations, which combine Modern Classical Music with British Folk, but the cosmic grooves of ''Tubular bells'' along with the soft electric melodies are alive and kicking in this track as well.The mood is airy, pleasant and ethereal, the orchestrations with the wind instruments and string parts are beautiful, so are the rural soundscapes created by Oldfield via his acoustic guitar and the light organ parts.Charming instrumental delivery, which says farewell with a cinematic choir and Olfield's bells and recorders.As expected the second part shows no significant stylistic differences compared to the first, the music has still a strong Folk touch, but the opening minutes offer female vocals and mandolin next to the smooth electric guitars, while from the middle part begins an innovative instrumental section with guitar distortions fused with electronics and orchestral effects.Really fascinating and genuine music before the outro, which is an acoustic one with recorders, choirs and symphonic keyboards in an almost Celtic-like and grandiose melody.

Pretty great work of dreamy Progressive Rock fused with strong Folk melodies and Classical sections.Strongly recommended, especially if you love also the works of STEVE HACKETT, GORDON GILTRAP or ANTHONY PHILLIPS...3.5 stars.

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 Tubular Bells 2003 by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.72 | 161 ratings

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Tubular Bells 2003
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by madcap68

5 stars My 5 stars go to the DVD-Audio version of this remake and then to the high-definition surround version. If you're into surround sound, adventurous surround, that is, this is a must have! I know many listeners don't like this aggresive approach of mixing ("making my head spin...") but for me it's "if you make it surround than really use those 5 (5.1 actually) channels". And that's what they've really done here. For example, the sailor's hornpipe start scircling around you faster and faster as the melody accelerates. The whole album is packed with such effects. If you're a straight stereohead, you'll surely hate those guitar solos starting on the front left speaker and then zigging away to the back right...

As for the music, it's basically the gold old Tubular Bells, which Mike wanted to re-record without those mistakes in the old rushed recording (which I never noticed anyway, but I really tend to listen with the heart and belly and not so much with an analytic mind...). So, whenever he could remember how he did something, he reproduced it faithfully (without those wrong notes, of course).

When you can't get a grib on the - as it seems - long-cancelled DVD-Audio (which is getting more and more expensive as a second-hand item) look out for the "Mike Oldfield DVD Collection" which includes the DVD-Audio. And thus you might get it much cheaper with two bonus DVDs (that aren't that good, but we fans don't mind having them, do we?) than only the DVD-Audio.

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 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.35 | 126 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I frankly will again acquire the fulminating rage from prog purists, those extremist fundamentalists who will always jump on the "easy way out bandwagon" to bash the progressive rock elite. While I do not like the poppier style espoused by some of the golden era stalwarts, the commercial Genesis and the lame recent Yes come to mind, it is always due to a lack of chops that drive me bananas. How a mega drum maestro like Alan White can become so sappy and tepid, is beyond my understanding and yields nothing but contempt.

Mike Oldfield needs no introduction, pretty much releasing material since his Tubular Bells debut, a career that spans over 41 years. Some early fans have not digested kindly his decision to delve into other forms, interjecting his TB sequels with some more accessible material, a trend that began with the tongue in cheek single "Punkadiddle", showing a gifted musician unafraid of change and whimsy. Willing to take risks and eat crow if necessary. Undeniably there have been early masterpieces and then some more along the way ( "Amarok", "Songs from Distant Earth"), a few misunderstood albums that I particularly enjoy for their freshness and melodies such as the evil "Earth Moving", the Celtic-tinged "Voyager" and the thrilling "Light & Shade", panned and even crucified by most prog fans as drivel-pap. Well, in such a long and storied career, there will be some duds, or at the very least, unsatisfying albums that just don't have any pull. They are in my humble opinion, "The Millenium Bell", "Tres Lunas", "Heaven's Open", "Islands" and the classical "Music of the Spheres".

So what does the deluxe 2 CD version of "Man on the Rocks" have to offer? A return to quality that becomes apparent when listening to the instrumental CD, the brisk freshness of the sound, with the organic bass from the mighty and legendary Leland Sklar (his bass lead on Billy Cobham's Stratus remains a mythical fixture) and the cannon-fire drumming of John Robinson giving Mike all the leverage needed to instill a massive and yet pristine sound that serves little interest in reformulating past glories but forging ahead in simpler horizons (the man already has a PhD in complexity, no?). To go from the vocal to the instrumental versions really gives the dynamics a serious address, a clever little concept , something Oldfield had done on Light + Shade with the U-Myx option open to fans to alter the sound of the tracks to their own preferences.

"Sailing" is one of those crafty songs that you flippantly dismiss as 'pop-pap' and then find yourself humming it without restraint for the next few weeks, hooked, lined and sinkered! It's a sunny, breezy, tropically-tinged and relaxing song expertly delivered by Luke Spiller, a muscular voice that has oomph, power and tons of drama, which is already eliciting comparisons to the great Queen Fredo of Mercury! But when you partake in the instrumental version, it almost feels like country song with serious progressive tendencies, guitars flipping around all over the place.

"Moonshine" is a continuation of sorts, as it the peppier tendencies become now a tad more proggy, though the Spiller lead vocal is straight forward, uniquely intertwined with the whopping melody, a bar room pub anthem if I ever heard one and appropriately titled. One can imagine pub patrons all singing the chorus in harmony, raising another pint of delicious tepid brew and swinging to the marching lilt. Oldfield does one of his patented bagpipe toned guitar licks to seal the deal. Totally memorable! Without the massive anthemic voice, the vocal-less version becomes even more phenomenal, as if belonging to some movie soundtrack, the slippery electric guitar now becoming the main focus.

The title track is a flat-out monster, "Man on the Rocks" being a clever play on marital situation (Mike is going through another divorce!) but the mood and spirit is phenomenal. Spiller emotes gently, yet confidently on the microphone, fueled by a glorious hymn and symphonic bombast. The double chorus is mesmerizing, as it elevates the swell of emotion and instills the sense of celestial eternity. The energy just keeps torqueing forward, revving at optimum speed and maximum acceleration, with a whopping guitar break to send this into the stratosphere. Spiller really gets heavy towards the end, hurling his desperate words, backing vocals in tow. Mike unscrews a twirling solo that sears and even perhaps roebucks (LOL). Definitely the most proggy piece here, proof lying squarely with the orchestral version on the instrumental second CD, where the arrangement seeks to take its time in delivering the necessary aplomb.

The deliberate and measured "Castaway" takes it sweet time to get off the pier, the sails still waking up and stretching from a long siesta but ultimately Spiller and the insistent organ riff start building up a head of steam, heading into the warm winds, where Robinson's hefty drums steer the good ship Oldfield on its merry voyage. But the explosive second part gets nicely aggressive with Spiller's mighty scream and Mike's liquid and blitzing guitar rampaging with both water and fire. The hushing finale is utterly sweet and brilliant.

Sorry, do not care much for the short "Minutes" , a bit too square and plodding for this listener to appreciate, though it is far from being unpleasant, it just does not resonate at all, even in pop song terms. The instrumental version does have a bit more palate, what with another delightful axe solo.

The sultry "Dreaming in the Wind" is perhaps my preferred tune, screw-driving guitar getting the mood set up, tick-tack drumming and a bass undertow keeping pace. It's just a pretty melody, deep in melancholia, very mystifying and invigorating though I must admit the vocal version is frantically gorgeous, Spiller is a true gem and a perfect foil for the older and wiser composer. There is almost a classic the Fixx feel, especially in the drums that sound like Adam Woods and the Cy Curnin-like vocal. Mike performs a sizzling guitar solo, all sting and guitar pick, insistent and directionally inquisitive. The repetitive chorus line has a definite Bob Seger wink.

The doom-laden "Nuclear" is incredibly dark, searching out definite contrasts to the jumpier previous pieces as Spiller does his best Greg Lake imitation, I mean it's downright uncanny (think the classic "Epitaph")! Brooding, exhausting and very British, the sense of gruesome devastation and useless disconsolation are expertly accomplished, easily the most progressive piece on the disc. The vocal-less option is not as explosive, showing how important a distraught vocal can be for a songs dynamics.

"Chariots" is Mike Oldfield at his rockiest, chugging guitar boldly plowing forward, boom- boom tchak drums and a rock chorus. I guess after the soporific classicism of "Music of the Spheres", Oldfield wanted to shake some cobwebs and get perspiration heavy. Spiked by another biting and snarling axe solo, he is not cheap and minimalist in his playing, something that was woefully lacking on his previous disc.

Still wondering if the goods are all delivered? Well "Following the Angels" is another consecration of Oldfield's newfound inspiration, a majestic 7 minute + with a rather fragile and effortless initial vocal setting the mood quite eloquently, jangling and clanging guitar twangs, that country picking that I normally despise but fall in love with every time his fingers slap the fret board. I know why too, Oldfiled's guitar playing is never linear, always geometric in its audacity and vivacious in its expression. This is a sweet love song, swooning backing vocals giving this a soulful sheen that just overtakes one's possible indifference. Simply terrific piece of music.

Wanna smile there, boy? "Irene" is another rocker, raspy guitars and all, as if an outtake by ZZ Top (yeah, a Billy Gibbons raucous style to say the least), Spiller doing a remarkable job on the microphone with a testosterone/masculine delivery, showing off both tonal versatility and lung prowess. The clincher is the overt brass treatment that is straight out of Muscle Shoals , Alabama, a deliriously juicy rocker, what do you expect when the word "rollin'" is repeated infinitely. One word= Fun!

"I Give Myself Away" closes this delicious musical monument, a thoroughly enjoyable exercise giving the fan the option to go back and forth between the vocal and non-vocal selections and thus truly understand that this icon still has lots of magic in him. Spiller spills (sic) his feelings all over this dreamy track, hoarse and yet defiant, a voice of hope and resolve. Yes, it's a love song and tell me, what is wrong with that? Romantic proggers beware, this will pull at your heartstrings, perhaps even ponder your life as you look into the mirror, look back at it all and wonder how much better it could have been if love was there from the very first day.

Way more enjoyable than I hope for, but Oldfield has smartly chosen to surround himself with intensely brilliant talents, a tight rhythm section of the very highest pedigree and a lead singer that just might be rock and prog's next revelation.

4.5 Male Ice cubes

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