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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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Man on the RocksMan on the Rocks
Mercury 2014
Audio CD$14.83
$9.90 (used)
Tubular Bells 3Tubular Bells 3
Import
Warner Bros UK 1999
Audio CD$3.50
$2.74 (used)
Tubular BellsTubular Bells
Remastered · Extra tracks · Import
Mercury UK 2009
Audio CD$5.67
$4.60 (used)
Music of the SpheresMusic of the Spheres
Decca 2008
Audio CD$9.83
$3.44 (used)
Songs of Distant EarthSongs of Distant Earth
Import
Warner Spec. Mkt. UK 2008
Audio CD$2.70
$2.01 (used)
Tubular Bells, IITubular Bells, II
Reprise Records 2011
Audio CD$9.06
$1.92 (used)
CrisesCrises
Import
Universal I.S. 2013
Audio CD$16.41
$21.94 (used)
Five Miles OutFive Miles Out
Import
Universal UK 2013
Audio CD$16.94
$24.45 (used)
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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)

4.05 | 729 ratings
Tubular Bells
1973
3.95 | 362 ratings
Hergest Ridge
1974
2.43 | 118 ratings
The Orchestral Tubular Bells
1975
4.34 | 807 ratings
Ommadawn
1975
3.90 | 273 ratings
Incantations
1978
3.07 | 181 ratings
Platinum
1979
3.48 | 188 ratings
Q.E.2
1980
3.68 | 228 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.39 | 264 ratings
Crises
1983
2.75 | 156 ratings
Discovery
1984
2.63 | 94 ratings
The Killing Fields
1984
2.56 | 137 ratings
Islands
1987
2.06 | 109 ratings
Earth Moving
1989
4.07 | 385 ratings
Amarok
1990
2.51 | 119 ratings
Heaven's Open
1991
3.56 | 193 ratings
Tubular Bells II
1992
3.74 | 202 ratings
The Songs of Distant Earth
1994
3.05 | 144 ratings
Voyager
1996
3.38 | 138 ratings
Tubular Bells III
1998
2.93 | 113 ratings
Guitars
1999
2.30 | 93 ratings
The Millenium Bell
1999
2.42 | 92 ratings
Tr3s Lunas
2002
3.71 | 129 ratings
Tubular Bells 2003
2003
2.80 | 100 ratings
Light + Shade
2005
2.97 | 120 ratings
Music of the Spheres
2008
3.40 | 64 ratings
Man On The Rocks
2014

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

3.69 | 54 ratings
Exposed
1979

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

3.87 | 25 ratings
Tubular Bells II & III Live (DVD)
1999
2.43 | 27 ratings
The Art In Heaven Concert Live In Berlin (DVD)
2000
4.50 | 10 ratings
DVD Collection
2003
3.08 | 20 ratings
Elements - The Best Of (DVD)
2004
3.73 | 24 ratings
Exposed
2005
4.39 | 56 ratings
Live At Montreux 1981
2006

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

3.75 | 34 ratings
Mike Oldfield - Boxed
1976
3.59 | 8 ratings
Airborn
1980
3.00 | 4 ratings
Impressions
1980
2.98 | 8 ratings
Music Wonderland
1981
3.67 | 26 ratings
The Complete Mike Oldfield
1985
3.17 | 4 ratings
Collector's Edition Box I
1990
3.11 | 6 ratings
Collector's Edition Box II
1990
2.48 | 21 ratings
Elements: The Best of Mike Oldfield
1993
2.87 | 10 ratings
Elements: 1973-1991
1993
2.64 | 11 ratings
XXV - The Essential Mike Oldfield
1997
2.03 | 8 ratings
The Best Of Tubular Bells
2001
2.83 | 6 ratings
The Mike Oldfield Collection
2002
2.56 | 7 ratings
The Complete Tubular Bells
2003
2.40 | 11 ratings
The Platinum Collection
2006
4.40 | 5 ratings
Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield
2012
3.00 | 2 ratings
Tubular Beats
2013

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

2.13 | 5 ratings
Mistake
1982
3.08 | 7 ratings
Shadow on the Wall
1983
3.92 | 11 ratings
Pictures in the Dark
1985
3.33 | 9 ratings
Shine
1986
1.80 | 5 ratings
Innocent
1989
2.20 | 5 ratings
Tattoo
1992

MIKE OLDFIELD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.40 | 64 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Chris S
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I must say I was somewhat skeptical when learning of this release late 2013 but when I heard the sampler of the studio work, saw Leland Sklar in the background and Luke Spiller on vocals, I knew that this could be potentially a refreshing new release.

Mike Oldfield has always managed to cross between long epic instrumental passages with short crossover pop/prog songs. In fact he even went totally pop on the studio album Earth Moving. So what am I driving at? Albums like side two off Crises, side two off Islands, side one off Heaven's Open, Discovery and Earth Moving always had a wealth of shorter, vocally driven songs. Exclude short tracks off more definitive works like Five Miles Out or QE2. So this is Oldfield in his comfort zone, mixing a good dose of rock and crossover which results in mostly a highly enjoyable album. Cleverly composed songs with a perfect blend of Oldfield's ubiquitous guitar solo's and led with Luke Spiller's vocals. I will go one further and say that in terms of choosing a male vocalist to guest on his albums, this is by far Oldfield's shrewdest choice yet.

So what about the songs. I am thrilled to say there are no throw away tracks at all. The combination of musicianship, choruses, vocals, work a treat and flow seamlessly. Spiller is so good he allows Oldfield space to belt out his music without any pressure. There are eleven tracks on Man on the Rocks, the highlights would be Nuclear. Listen to the chorus, Spiller sounds like Greg Lake on Epitaph.......yeah that good! Moonshine and Dreaming In The Wind are excellent also as is Irene. This last track really does sound like a hurricane building to a relentless and oppressive climax. Castaway has some solid drumming by John Robinson. Leland Sklar never disappoints on bass throughout the album either. So I stick my neck out and unashamedly say this the most enjoyable studio release since TBIII. A deserved four stars and great to see Oldfield back and enjoying himself. His guitars really shine.

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 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.40 | 64 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars How fantastic Mike Oldfield is here again with a fine record with many songs and a lot of music. This time it's 2014 and the record's name is "Man on the rocks" and we can see an opening in a rock where we see the sea on the cover picture. Mike Oldfield is the master of guitars and keyboards on this record and the other musicians are Luke Spiller who sings, John Robinson who drums and Leland Sklar who plays bass.

There are a lot to praise on this album some things to complain on. Firstly it's lovely to hear Oldfield's characteristic guitar, most likely those on "Crises" and secondly he has found a very talanted singer to sing his songs. Luke Spiller has a strong and very poetic voice that fits this music well. On some of these songs they have really made a good job. Particularly the title track "Man on the rocks" is fantastic(10/10), I love it very much, it is poetic, harmonic and has a lot of great guitars. The first song "Sailing" is a lovely pop song(7/10) almost in class with those on "Crises". Then we have "Nuclear" which is less enthusiastic than the other's but takes place in a fine atmosphere(7/10) and "Moonshine" is also a fine track(6/10). The others aren't as interesting. "Minutes", "Dreaming in the wind", "Chariots" and "Castaway" are quite nice songs(5/10) but the three songs in the end are actually very bad(3/10), these three should you definitely skip but listen to the eight first and get a nice collection of songs. I will let the strongs sections be higher valued than the weak ones.

For well made compositions, some nice guitar and Luke's great vocals I will give three stars. But I don't think this is enough for Oldfield, I would have liked to hear more of his guitars.

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 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.40 | 64 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The first thing to say in this review is a health warning. If you are a person who believes that for a song to qualify as prog, it should be at least ten minutes long, and preferably twenty, or that any Mike Oldfield album that does not include at least one track of that length represents a sellout or abomination to all things prog, then it is fair to say that this new release is not for you. Do not waste your money, for you will be very upset and disappointed. Actually, best not to even read any further, go settle down, relax, and listen to some of that real prog.

For the rest of you, those open to the principle that a song based album can actually be pretty good and, well, like prog, this album might well be for you.

It is some six years since Oldfield's last release, and he had clearly entered a state of semi-retirement. However, the overwhelmingly positive response to his live appearance at the superb London 2012 Opening Ceremony, and, as clearly, the need to exorcise some inner demons that have been dormant for some time, persuaded the great man to sit down, write, get a band together, and release an album of entirely new material.

Band is the first thing, actually, to note about Man On The Rocks. It is an Oldfield band performance, rather than Oldfield doing it all. The man himself plays guitars and keyboards, but enlists the services of veteran bassist Leland Sklar (Phil Collins and CSN), drummer John Robinson (Eric Clapton), and, on vocals, Luke Spiller, of Derby indie rock band, The Struts. Yep, you read right, Oldfield has recruited an Indie singer to perform on one of his albums, which, if some comments are to be believed, represents a capital crime.

In fact, Spiller is one of the finds of the decade, and puts in one hell of a shift in on this. He has the full range, from the soft textures of the title track and Following The Angels, to the full rock pelt of Nuclear. Some have compared him to Freddie Mercury, and the comparison is not entirely a load of old spin. The way he works with Oldfield on the disturbingly catchy Minutes does, actually, invoke memories of another fine partnership Oldfield once had with a certain Maggie.

The music is fair mix of styles, from the pure, and instantly enjoyable toe-tapping, pop of opener Sailing, to the dark, heavy, and brooding Nuclear, via Celtic infused influences (similar to those found on Voyager) of Moonshine, Chariots, which could easily have found a way into a album such as Calling All Stations, and gospel influences on Following The Angels and the closer, I Give Myself Away.

The constant throughout is Oldfield's guitar work. If he had been the lead guitarist of a common or garden band, rather than the multi instrumentalist we know, I genuinely believe that we would be talking about him in the same reverential and hushed tones we reserve for the likes of Howe and Hackett. His (undoubtedly conscious) decision to restrict himself to guitars and keys allows him to shine, and this album contains some of the best trademark guitar bursts, licks, and riffs heard from him for many a year. I simply love the electric burst of Castaway, which screams and cries emotion.

I mentioned earlier inner demons. Well, the extraordinary title track, with its slow opening right to the bombastic rock pomp of the emotional outlets that follow, deals with his, and his late mother's, many addictions, the thoughtful Castaway with the fear of a child, Minutes and Chariots, with missing loved ones and separation (he is going through yet another separation and divorce), and, especially, the very dark Nuclear, the highlight of the album for me, dealing with emotional suffering, the riffs of which remind me of Blackmore at his rock peak, and put many so called heavy rock acts to shame. The other fine harder rock track is Irene, dealing with the hurricane that struck the island where Oldfield now calls home.

It is not, however, all doom and gloom. Following The Angels, the longest track at just over seven minutes, is a tribute to the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Sailing is about the joy of a life on the ocean waves, and a nice, gently performed, worship number in the closer, I Give Myself Away, written by William McDowell, a black gospel singer and preacher. I love the complex prog pop of Dreaming In The Wind, a tribute to an unknown man whose ashes were spread in the sea, but is more cheery than it might sound on reading. Actually, the word, in spite of some of the subject matter, that best describes this album is fun, in that Oldfield, I believe, had a great deal of fun and satisfaction in making it. It is not a "simple" pop album, it is the mature work of a great songwriter which grows on one with each and every listen.

Okay, so to a rating. Going back to the beginning of this review, this is not an Amarok, Bells, Incantations, or Ommadawn. It could be better compared to side two of Crises, or albums such as QE2 or Discovery, and stands up very well in comparison, so four stars for this, an album which I will play regularly for a long time. This review is of the single cd only. There is an extended version available with instrumental work.

His swan song? I know not, but, if it is, there are far worse ways to sign off.

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 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.40 | 64 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by franp

3 stars Clean, well played, well recorded, sure. But prog not much.

Heavy drums and male echoed voice in Sailing, which is basically a transposition to plain old rock of "Island" Flying Star or "Earth Moving" Hostage.

Celtic influences and Guilmour-esque guitar ā la "Songs of Distant Earth" in Moonshine.

Man on the Rocks is a nice ballad starting over classical guitar and slwoly growing with drums, bass and finaly typical Oldfield acoustic guitar and celtic influences again. Great dynamics on this track. This is probably the best track, the most Oldfield-esque (post-Hergest Ridge era), and the most prog of the set.

Castaway is another slow ballad with Gilmour-esque guitar staring mid-way featuring the specific Oldfield tremolos. Once again the closest comparaision coming to mind is "Songs of a Distant Earth".

Minutes is a average beat rock. Think Shadow of the moon with a male voice instead of a female one. You won't remember this one.

Dreaming in the wind is an entertaining rock song again, staring over a Mark Knopfler-esque guitar. Finishes on plain acoustic guitar the Oldfield way. Pleasant. You cannot but swing on this one. Could easily be turned into a single calibrated to reach the hit.

The darker Nuclear (describing a post-nuclear world) is a derivative of "Heaven's Open" No Dream lacking any interest, contrary to the original.

Chariots is an heavy rock with tremolos. Skip.

Following the Angels is a ballad on a slow pace, gradually introducing acoustic guitar and chorus, reminescent of "Discovery" Saved by a bell. You will swing again on this one. Pleasant.

Irčne is a plain blues-rock you will skip.

I Give Myself Away is a slow ballad again with Oldfield acoustic guitar and and short mellotron sequence starting on the third third. You won't remember much of this one either.

I would say it is not that bad. Lot of various influences, nothing bad (nothing to compare with Earth Moving), a kind of resume of the post-Hergest Ridge era (minus the house period, thanks gods). Nothing great, nothing bad. Much more homogeneous than most of previous Oldfield efforts. The sound is perfect. You just feel the genious is gone.

One more to say : at least, this is not an n-th Tubuilar Bells variation contrary to most of the 90's Oldfierld productions. I give a 3 for I am sure a few songs will grow on me.

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 Guitars by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.93 | 113 ratings

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Guitars
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Elements - The Best Of (DVD) by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover DVD/Video, 2004
3.08 | 20 ratings

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Elements - The Best Of (DVD)
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Having pre-ordered the new Oldfield cd out shortly, I have been listening a fair bit to the great man recently.

It is fair to say that many people know Oldfield only for albums with Bells on them, certainly in terms of sales and public consciousness. Mention to same people Moonlight Shadow, and most will say, "ooh yes, I liked that. So did my mam!".

All rather unfair, because Oldfield has been responsible for some great music, ranging from the pure prog of Bells and Amarok, through Celtic influenced folk as in Voyager, with pure commercial rock/pop as well.

Given that this is a collection of music videos, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is a fair amount of the more commercial material here, but that really should not put you off getting this as a fairly definitive chronicle of Oldfield releases down the years.

In rating this DVD, I will not pay any attention to the quality of the videos themselves. For example, Don Alfonso, featuring an old Carry On film stalwart, is pure camp and shocking, but it should be realised that videos are, in the main, products of the time or a particular director's interpretation or imagination. This is a music site, and it is on the music it shall be judged.

And, by and large, it passes the test more than adequately.

We have an early performance of TB (made for BBC, I believe), which is a fascinating record of how technology in bringing such a complex work was at 40 years ago, now. It is excellent, although, of course, you can get far better quality live recordings elsewhere of all three Bell cd's.

Some of the absolute high points of his early instrumental work is superbly represented. In Dolci Jubilo, William Tell, Blue Peter theme, and Portsmouth are all utterly sublime, and pure progressive music of the era.

My favourite here is, actually, a cover. The video might be somewhat corny with a sprog attached to Oldfield's lap, but the rendition of The Shadows Wonderful Land is far superior to the sublime version which appeared on QE2.

There are a couple of curiosities, such as the Jon Anderson collaboration Shine, released as a single in the mid 80's. I really enjoy this, but, of course, you need to be a fan of his solo output of the time to enjoy it, so be warned.

The gorgeous voice, and input to Oldfield's career, of Maggie Reilly is well represented, with my particular favourite To France included.

It is fair to state here that if you loathe the later commercial aspects of Oldfield's career, then the last eight to ten videos will not be for you. I did enjoy, so am pretty happy to have them here.

I rather like this DVD, and got it a number of years ago. It is one of the few such discs I have that my wife is extremely happy to sit all the way through, join in, and thoroughly enjoy. Not a bad thing really, eh?

So, four stars for this. Judge not the video (ham sandwich on Shadow on the Wall, anyone?), but the tunes. Here, you have nigh on three hours of top quality

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 Amarok by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.07 | 385 ratings

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Amarok
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by ebil0505

5 stars "Amarok" is probably one of the more interesting albums/songs I've ever listened to. If ever there was an artist who could successfully create an hour-long song and still maintain the listener's attention for the entire duration, it is Mike Oldfield. Not only does he compose this elaborate test of dedication with the expected skill we've come to know and love as Mike Oldfield, but he does so with the perfect balance of melodies one might relate to in Thick as a Brick. Besides kill time, this album/song provides a most elaborate escape into the world of music that is quite unparalleled in music that I've listened to. You could listen to this song in fragments like any other album, or you could sit yourself down and listen to the full hour. Either way, Oldfield's got your back. There's just enough random nonsense contained within for it not to be taken too seriously, which I think humbles the music itself. I respect the fact that I can take this music seriously and at the same bask in the silly moments with delight. Definitely one of Oldfield's best, if not his best already and definitely worth checking out if you enjoy his other works.

Also, for some reason I always pictured Meryl Streep as the "woman of endings".

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 The Songs of Distant Earth by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.74 | 202 ratings

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The Songs of Distant Earth
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This concept album based on the Arthur C. Clarke album of the same name finds Oldfield playing David Gilmour-esque guitar over a serene, somewhat New Agey musical backing, with occasional speech samples in the style of Amarok slipped in here and there to offer a narrative. To be honest, I don't think it's very successful as a concept album, not least because the mood evoked by the tracks sometimes flies in the face of what is supposed to be happening in the story - the destruction of Earth seems just as blissful and relaxed as any other incident. But as an album of relaxing background music with a bit of progressive teeth to it, it's actually pretty good.

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 Amarok by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.07 | 385 ratings

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Amarok
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by benbell

5 stars There is no doubt about it: this is a very odd piece which provokes very mixed reactions and I'd say it's by far and away Mike Oldfield's least accessible album. When I first heard it I didn't like it and it only really got played because it was on side two of a cassette a friend had made for me, and my tape player had no working fast-forward or rewind. Slowly, though, parts of it started to gel for me and eventually it started to make musical sense.

As a piece it's very jarring and full of rapid changes of direction and character. This makes it quite different from most of Mike Oldfield's instrumental output which tends to rely heavily on minimalist techniques such as a slow and repetitive development of sections.

As an example of what I mean: it opens with a frantic guitar riff then suddenly explodes with aggressive stabs, but before the first minute is up it's changed down into a more gentle acoustic guitar rendition of the opening, but by two minutes it's changed again, and thirty seconds later it's broken down in into something different again. It's almost like a story where the narrator keeps changing their mind about the most important details to divulge first and you have to wait for them to calm down.

There are some beautiful sections, and some of the interplay between different lines and harmonies is up there with his finest. Once you get used to the undeniably chaotic and disturbing presentation, it's compelling stuff.

A lot of people describe it as Ommadawn 2, and while I can see where they're coming from I think this is a very different beast. There's a lot of trademark Mike Oldfield electric guitar work, a large amount of acoustic guitar, a lot of percussion instruments and chants, and then there's the occasional sound effect like a chainsaw or toothbrush. I think if you come to it expecting to be Ommadawn, you'll have the wrong expectations. I'd say it's not an album that everyone's going to love, but that it's certainly worth listening to a few times before writing it off.

I'm giving it five stars. It would certainly be one of my desert island discs, but I think more than that it's an album that's unique and so far I've not found anything else like it.

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 Tubular Bells by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.05 | 729 ratings

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Tubular Bells
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Mr. Mustard

3 stars The debut album from Mike Oldfield is without a doubt one of the most diverse and experimental prog albums in existence. Oldfield was experimenting with a plethora of different instruments, many of which are odd even by prog standards, to create a nearly 50-minute piece of music that is complex yet accessible, melodic yet atmospheric.

The opening theme alone is testament to the creativity of Oldfield, and despite its popularity, is actually relatively complex, containing alternating measures of 7/8 and 8/8. From here, the album progresses through the many vastly different sections, most of which convey a particular genre of music, some of which include Latin, Blues, Jazz and even Thrash. The conclusion to the first part of the song is a crescendo of different instruments playing the same melody, each being introduced over time, and is certainly a bone-chilling experience.

Unfortunately, Part Two isn't nearly as strong as the first. Perhaps it is because of the complete lack of intensity due to it being almost entirely soft and down-tempo. There is nothing really interesting happening, no good melodies of the sort to grab the listener.

Even with the greatest of creations, there are flaws, and this one has plenty. The most noticeable is the lack of cohesion, one may even go as far as to say it is just a mess of sections mushed together to form a 50 minute epic. I would say this isn't too far from the truth. The experimentation and extreme diversity is nice up to a point, but not when just glued together for the sake of it. Perhaps this would have fared better with a bit of artistic control of the amount of content going into the album, a as I fear the problem is in the arrangements, not lack of content (at least for part one). However, if such a thing is not overly bothersome to someone as it is to me, than perhaps that person may find some enjoyment. But unfortunately for me, the lack of cohesion and the weak second part make this somewhat of an underwhelming experience.

5/10

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