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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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Return to OmmadawnReturn to Ommadawn
Import
Imports 2017
Audio CD$6.22
$5.29 (used)
Tubular BellsTubular Bells
Remastered · Extra tracks · Import
Mercury UK 2009
Audio CD$5.25
$5.00 (used)
Tubular BellsTubular Bells
Deluxe Edition · Extra tracks · Import
Mercury UK 2009
Audio CD$10.09
$10.95 (used)
OmmadawnOmmadawn
Import
Universal UK 2010
Audio CD$9.79
$9.78 (used)
Man On The Rocks [2 CD]Man On The Rocks [2 CD]
Mercury 2014
Audio CD$10.86
$14.33 (used)
Original Album SeriesOriginal Album Series
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$10.58
$13.76 (used)
IslandsIslands
Remastered · Import
EMI Europe Generic 2000
Audio CD$11.95
$5.99 (used)
Music of the SpheresMusic of the Spheres
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$4.68
$4.84 (used)
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2h 52m
MIKE OLDFIELD Portsmouth 7" Single USD $2.48 Buy It Now 3h 7m
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3h 29m
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Man on the Rocks [Single] [2/4] by Mike Oldfield (CD, Feb-2014) USD $6.24 Buy It Now 6h 42m
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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)

4.09 | 1018 ratings
Tubular Bells
1973
3.95 | 520 ratings
Hergest Ridge
1974
2.53 | 165 ratings
The Orchestral Tubular Bells
1975
4.32 | 1159 ratings
Ommadawn
1975
3.93 | 399 ratings
Incantations
1978
3.13 | 264 ratings
Platinum
1979
3.50 | 287 ratings
Q.E.2
1980
3.70 | 338 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.44 | 378 ratings
Crises
1983
2.78 | 234 ratings
Discovery
1984
2.67 | 140 ratings
The Killing Fields
1984
2.63 | 189 ratings
Islands
1987
2.05 | 161 ratings
Earth Moving
1989
4.06 | 520 ratings
Amarok
1990
2.52 | 164 ratings
Heaven's Open
1991
3.56 | 278 ratings
Tubular Bells II
1992
3.72 | 273 ratings
The Songs Of Distant Earth
1994
3.09 | 199 ratings
Voyager
1996
3.38 | 203 ratings
Tubular Bells III
1998
2.95 | 168 ratings
Guitars
1999
2.32 | 133 ratings
The Millenium Bell
1999
2.46 | 133 ratings
Tr3s Lunas
2002
3.72 | 183 ratings
Tubular Bells 2003
2003
2.79 | 133 ratings
Light + Shade
2005
3.04 | 164 ratings
Music Of The Spheres
2008
3.23 | 158 ratings
Man On The Rocks
2014
4.15 | 190 ratings
Return To Ommadawn
2017

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

3.76 | 84 ratings
Exposed
1979

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

3.94 | 40 ratings
Tubular Bells II & III Live (DVD)
1999
2.58 | 39 ratings
The Art In Heaven Concert Live In Berlin (DVD)
2000
4.57 | 14 ratings
DVD Collection
2003
3.15 | 28 ratings
Elements - The Best Of (DVD)
2004
3.80 | 32 ratings
Exposed
2005
4.39 | 68 ratings
Live At Montreux 1981
2006

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

3.78 | 42 ratings
Mike Oldfield - Boxed
1976
3.58 | 14 ratings
Airborn
1980
3.00 | 4 ratings
Impressions
1980
2.98 | 9 ratings
Music Wonderland
1981
3.69 | 35 ratings
The Complete Mike Oldfield
1985
3.28 | 6 ratings
Collector's Edition Box I
1990
3.20 | 8 ratings
Collector's Edition Box II
1990
2.57 | 23 ratings
Elements: The Best of Mike Oldfield
1993
2.96 | 14 ratings
Elements: 1973-1991
1993
2.65 | 15 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
2.67 | 9 ratings
The Complete Tubular Bells
2003
2.53 | 14 ratings
The Platinum Collection
2006
4.13 | 8 ratings
Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield
2012
2.43 | 9 ratings
Tubular Beats
2013
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Studio Albums: 1992-2003
2014
3.67 | 3 ratings
The Best Of: 1992-2003
2015
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Space Movie
2015
4.33 | 3 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
4.00 | 4 ratings
In Dulci Jubilo
1975
3.50 | 4 ratings
Don Alfonso
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
Don Alfonso (German Version)
1975
3.24 | 10 ratings
Portsmouth
1976
3.80 | 5 ratings
William Tell Overture
1976
3.75 | 4 ratings
Cuckoo Song
1977
2.00 | 1 ratings
Take 4
1978
4.00 | 6 ratings
Guilty
1979
3.60 | 5 ratings
Blue Peter
1979
3.00 | 3 ratings
Extract From Tubular Bells (live)
1979
3.50 | 4 ratings
Arrival
1980
4.00 | 4 ratings
Wonderful Land
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Singles
1981
3.50 | 4 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.60 | 5 ratings
Family Man
1982
2.25 | 9 ratings
Mistake
1982
3.20 | 6 ratings
Moonlight Shadow
1983
3.23 | 12 ratings
Shadow on the Wall
1983
4.00 | 9 ratings
To France
1984
3.93 | 14 ratings
Pictures in the Dark
1985
3.32 | 13 ratings
Shine
1986
2.22 | 9 ratings
Innocent
1989
3.00 | 9 ratings
Tattoo
1992
3.50 | 2 ratings
Man In The Rain
1998
5.00 | 2 ratings
Tubular Bells Limited Edition
1998
4.00 | 2 ratings
Far Above The Clouds CD 1
1999
3.00 | 1 ratings
Far Above The Clouds CD 2
1999

MIKE OLDFIELD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.23 | 158 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

2 stars No, Mike. Just no.

It's not that it's not prog. OLDFIELD's done plenty in his career that isn't prog rock. It's not that it's poor quality. In fact, every note is played with consummate professionalism. It's not even the composition of the songs: some of them are actually pretty good, and in one case (the title track), excellent. No, it's the arrangements. OLDFIELD manages to smother each track in MOR sauce, and the choice of vocalist (so clean, so British) doesn't help either. It's as though Mike took all those wonderful elements that make up the unique OLDFIELD experience and stuck them in a 1980s blender. Voila, MOR on the rocks. I'm not saying he wasn't trying, just that the recipe is a bit stale. I've not been able to listen to the thing right through, and I've tried half a dozen times. This time I drifted off somewhere between 'Minutes' and 'Dreaming In The Wind'.

There is so much good music in this world, and even plenty of interesting bad music. Go find something compelling to listen to.

 Tubular Beats by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
2.43 | 9 ratings

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Tubular Beats
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Fascinating thing, this. I have to say at the start that you ought not to buy it, and don't waste any time listening to it - unless you're an OLDFIELD completionist or an electronica fan. It's basically a reinterpretation of OLDFIELD classics in an techno/house style. A collaboration between OLDFIELD himself and YORK, a German dance music composer. Yeah.

Is it any good? Surprisingly, it's better than I would have expected. The original tracks are recognisable, their melodies not entirely subsumed by the beat. YORK actually adds some decent variation to the music. It's certainly not cringeworthy, and I've heard plenty of projects that are (my other love is 90s electronica/IDM). But it's not great either. I doubt I'll be back to listen to it again.

Two stars reflects its status here, not the quality of the actual music, which rates a solid three stars.

 Return To Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.15 | 190 ratings

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Return To Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well, this album is an unexpected and wholly welcome treat.

MIKE OLDFIELD has been prog rock's premier melody maker for getting on towards half a century, ever since 1973's Tubular Bells. His combination of long-form, folk and new-age inspired work captured the hearts of a generation. With the advent of disco and punk, however, he put the long- form works aside and made poppier albums for the next twenty years (with a few glorious exceptions). Then, after the millennium, he began to fade away.

Until this. Like the title says, it's a return to his 1975 masterpeice, Ommadawn, IMO the best of his catalogue and, quote simply, the best single prog rock piece ever written. So I might have had a few expectations when I (belatedly) found out this had been released.

The album is good. Remarkable, even. It is certainly structurally similar to Ommadawn, with Part One beginning with an extended acoustic introduction based on a simple celtic tune, followed by a rhythm-based crescendo into a typical Oldfieldian guitar-laden climax. Part Two is a little more pastoral, but no less beautiful, if in places almost cloying in its sweetness. I'm fairly certain the vocals from the original Ommadawn have been sampled and re-used, and certainly the children's vocals from 'On Horseback' make a brief appearance. As with Ommadawn, OLDFIELD plays virtually all the instruments with breathtaking virtuosity.

At this point my personal joy at this wonderful gift has to take second place to the pragmatics of a review. This is a wonderful thing, but it isn't essential, not to progressive rock music and not even to Oldfield's canon. It's a return, after all; a going-back, a regression. So, as beautiful as it is, I'd counsel those new to OLDFIELD to sample something from his first four albums, or perhaps Amarok. This can be an additional purchase if you like what you hear. But, for me, this is up with THE ORB's latest as the record of 2017.

 Moonlight Shadow by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
3.20 | 6 ratings

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Moonlight Shadow
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It's Mike's birthday today, he's 64 now. Here's a little First Review For This Single. 'Moonlight Shadow', the pop hit that made Maggie Reilly famous and brought Mike Oldfield back to high places on charts, needs no introduction. It's among the smash hits of the early/mid 80's that was being played constantly back then. It was also made into a pretty nice music video. In many European countries it reached No. 1 spot, but in the UK it lost to Rod Stewart's 'Do You Think I'm Sexy', Paul Young's 'Wherever I Lay My Hat' and The Police's 'Every Breath You Take'.

The flip side features 'Rite of Man', a folky singalong type of a song sung by Mike himself. He's certainly not a great singer, but just about every man of the street could do justice to a song like that. The very repetitive chorus "Speak up! Speak up! Speak up for the rite of man" dominates this simple working man's song that features some accordion. Thumbs up for the rarity, but frankly it's not a song I'd choose to listen to again. The rating of a pop single on a progressive rock site feels rather pointless really. From the prog's point of view this single is of no use at all; the album Crises as a whole is a great work, and the songs sung by Jon Anderson ('In High Places') and Roger Chapman ('Shadow on the Wall') are more interesting for us than 'Moonlight Shadow'. On a pop site it would easily be worth four stars, so why not give three stars here, for the masterful and pretty charming pop song. It's not Mike's fault that it became so overplayed.

 Return To Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.15 | 190 ratings

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Return To Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars *Almost* four stars.

While Mike Oldfield has made many sequels to Tubular Bells, it took him 42 years to make the first official sequel to Ommadawn, his masterpiece. In many ways, this is the album we have been waiting for Oldfield to make for almost this long. It is structured into two 21-minute halves (labelled part 1 and part 2), just like his first three albums. And like those, it moves through a series of themes that build and shift, leading to minor musical climaxes. There is a lot to like about this album. First and foremost, we finally get to hear Oldfield play lots of guitar! (I really liked Music of the Spheres, but the one flaw with that album is the paucity of guitar solos. One has to go back to his 'Guitars' album to get this much guitar playing). Another thing I really like about this album is that it is not over-laden with instrumentation (which was a problem with many of his albums from 'Incantations' onward). Much of this album is quiet, allowing the guitar-playing to shine through. Also, unlike Tubular Bells II (which I just reviewed) this album is not a copy of the original, although it clearly refers to the original in a few places (see below). But overall, this music is new and original (unlike TB2, which is like a carbon copy of TB1 from a parallel universe). The sound quality is great, too, very clear. On the whole, a pleasurable listening experience.

On the downside, the music quality is mixed, and not all the melodies are that hot. I have listened to this album now about 10 times, and while my first reaction was very positive, over time the variability in quality has become clearer. So, this is not on par with the original Ommadawn, which for me has maintained its very high level of musicality. Part 1 (side 1) is the better one here. It actually begins with a theme and sound that could have come from Hergest Ridge, then moves into a acoustic guitar pattern that harkens back to, but does not mimic, the original Ommadawn theme. One of the better themes on the album is the one that starts with a repeated bass/electric guitar line of classic Oldfied at just before the 3 min mark (again, more akin to Hergest Ridge than Ommadawn), and taking us to just after 8 mins. After a few other themes, around the 13 min mark, a new theme beginning with African Drums (ala the original Ommadawn), some acoustic and electric solos, starts and takes us to just before 19 mins. This theme has background choir-vocals that are very similar to the original Ommadawn (indeed, they sound like the original Ommadawn theme sung backwards), and this section ends with a similar electric-guitar solo pattern to the end of side 1 on the original Ommadawn. This is the only part of 'Return to Ommadawn' that comes sufficiently close to the original that one could use the term "sequel". After that section, Side 1 ends with a very nice, quiet, flute/acoustic guitar theme. I would give Part/Side 1 8.1 out of 10.

Side 2 is the weaker half of this release. Many of themes sound like more mainstream celtic melodies, with pretty standard chord progressions. The theme that begins at roughly the 2 minute mark sounds like another Oldfield theme, but not anything on the original Ommadawn. I like the section that begins at roughly the 5 min mark, with the Irish/African drumming, the pulsing bass line and the electric guitar solos, lasting about two minutes. The themes that comes after repeat the ones that began this side, and stretch them out for much of the rest of the side (with a short acoustic interlude at around the 15-min mark). The album ends with a theme that is musically much more like the Sailors Hornpipe ending on the original Tubular Bells than the On Horseback section of the original Ommadawn. However, Oldfield briefly repeats the "Hey and away we go" children's-choir vocals from the original Ommadawn/On Horseback ending here, perhaps to make clear to the listener that this part is meant to remind one of that section. Also, at the beginning of this final section, we hear Oldfield say "on horseback? I would rather be HERE", apparently referring to his current abode on the Bahamas (the fold-out photos are of his backyard where he lives there). I personally wish he hadn't including this brief voice-over, as it seems to dismiss or at least put into doubt the original 'On Horseback' section from the original Ommadawn, and does so in an elitist way (how many of us can afford to live in the Bahamas?). But apart from that, the ending is actually not that musical, and the whole side has a few too many standard (major-key) chord progressions, making it more like 'Voyager' or his other albums from the 1990s/2000s. I give Side/Part 2 a score of 7.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

Taken together, this is among the better Oldfield albums of the last 30 years. Just how does it compare with the rest of Oldfield's catalogue? Is it the best album since the original Ommadawn? Well, I went back and listened to his back catalogue to try and place this one. I think it is slightly better than 'Music of the Spheres' (which was his best album, in my opinion, since Amarok). It is better than 'Guitars', although it shares a lot of features with that album (but on 'Return' everything segues together, which 'Guitars' was missing/needing). It is better than 'Songs of Distant Earth', even though it is almost as new-agey. It is far better than any of the Tubular Bells sequels. It is better than 'Discovery', even better than 'Crisis'. I don't think it is better than 'Amarok', but it is close (Amarok, interestingly, is also a sequel of sorts to the original Ommadawn, although it is quite a bit more different from Ommadawn than 'Return'). However, it is definitely NOT better than 'Five Miles Out', nor 'QEII', both of which had more original and more compelling musical statements, even though both of those albums are among those over-laden with instrumentation. (And of course, it is not better than any of Oldfield's first four albums). I would place this somewhere around Oldfield's 8th or 9th best album (out of roughly 27 albums). On balance, I give this 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to high 3 PA stars.

 Tubular Bells II by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.56 | 278 ratings

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Tubular Bells II
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars The most bizarre musical experience

Before reviewing the new "Return to Ommadawn" I thought I would go back and listen to some of the old Oldfield albums, so I could place it within Oldfield's overall catalogue (will send that review soon). But upon re-listening to this one, I was reminded just what a bizarre experience it is. The whole album is written to match the original Tubular Bells in form, structure and melodies, but using (slightly) different orderings of notes, melodies, or (slightly) different rhythms. It is as if we entered a parallel universe in which everything we have now still exists, but it is just slightly different. There is the beginning repetitive theme played on piano and organ. There is section with the duel guitars. There is the suddently-loud almost punk section. There is the 'Master-of-ceremonies" section with the same theme played by various different instruments over top of a repeated bass line, etc, etc. This is the only album I can think that has ever been written like this. Every part of the original album is represented, and you can tell instantly which part it is, but there is always some (slight) difference. The melody runs up the scale, when in the original it falls. The order of the chords is reversed, but otherwise has the same structure. The sonic timbre is the same, but the notes are in major rather than minor scale. The tempo is in 4/4 instead of 7/8. That sort of thing. Almost as if a computer were programmed to write another Tubular Bells, while making sure no other computer would register an exact match. This must have been a fun, but also difficult, exercise in song-writing for Oldfield, as he clearly thought everyone who knew the original album would need to instantly recognize each part in this one, but at the same time, he could not just plagiarize himself. The problem is, while very interesting, none of the actual music on this album is as good as the original. And some sections just don't work at all. The worst part is the 'Caveman' section, which sounds very similar to the original, but has a mother/daughter voice-over that mocks the caveman in an unintelligent, off-putting way. Oldfield seems to be mocking himself. If this had been the only version of Tubular Bells ever released, it likely would have flopped, and Oldfield would not be known as he is today. It is both not as musical, but also far too close to the original Tubular Bells. It is a very strange trip for anyone who loves the original, and I doubt most will want to listen to this more than once. I give it 3.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. Only for true fans, and/or those wanting a parallel-universe type of experience.

 Five Miles Out by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.70 | 338 ratings

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Five Miles Out
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars His Fourth-Best Album.

While following in much the same vein as QEII compositionally, this album is much stronger. "Taurus II" is a side-long piece, and Oldfield's strongest composition since the latter half of Incantations, with a highly memorable main theme, and lots of other strong sections. The rest of the album also contains a number of strong pieces, with the title track, parts of Orabidoo, and Mount Teidi all harkening back to themes in Taurus II. So, in a way, the entire album comes across as a coherent musical statement. This also happens to be the album when Oldfield scored a commercial radio hit (covered by Hall and Oates) with the song "Family Man". While Oldfield would write a number of hit singles throughout the 80s, and even into the 90s, I still to today think this is his best single, and while I am not generally prone to commercial singles, I generally look forward to listening to this one. I like Oldfield's version much better than Hall and Oates' version too. But apart from the single, the rest of the album is strong. It shares with QEII and his other albums from this time period a tendency to excessive instrumentation (additional synths and sequencers, which were now common by the early 1980s), but unlike QEII, Platinum, or Crises there is no track that is off-putting here. The albums is generally highly musical and listenable all the way through. I give it 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

 Q.E.2 by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.50 | 287 ratings

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Q.E.2
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Fragmented, Mixed.

QEII has a lot of strong musical ideas. Unfortunately, this time they are not linked together into a seamless flow, as on his previous albums, but instead appear mostly in shorter fragments. From Incantations onward, many of Oldfield's albums have been over-laden with instrumentation, and QEII fits this description. While I like Oldfield experimenting, sometimes he is best when just playing the acoustic guitar to a simple chord progression. Furthermore, the song fragments here are interspersed with a couple of cheesy tunes and covers. Indeed, on this one Oldfield covers Abba's song "Arrival". As in the previous "I got Rhythm" flop from Platinum, the listener is left with "what was he thinking?". Saying this, the better tunes are generally very good, and if only they had been stitched into a single piece the listener would have been left with something solid. I got around this by making a cassette tape of this album leaving out the cheesy tracks. When you do this, the musicality of the stronger pieces (like "Taurus I", "Conflict" and the title track) shines through. But the fragmented nature of the album means it can't achieve anywhere near the musical greatness of his previous albums. I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

 Platinum by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.13 | 264 ratings

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Platinum
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Side A Great. Side B...ughh

The title track, taking up side A of this album (Platinum) is great, while the side B - a mix of throw-away shorts and covers - is pretty poor. This album sees Mike Oldfield in his post-Exegesis period, when he changed from being painfully introverted and shy to out-going. Tom Newman, the engineer at the Manor who recorded Tubular Bells with Oldfield, said he thought Oldfield lost some of his musical inspiration once he got over his pain and shyness. While the first three albums (and Incantations too to an extent) are introverted musical journeys, this album is light as a feather. It was recorded at the commercial height of disco, and is clearly influenced by it. Platinum, the title track, is formally broken into four sections, but is a seamless 19-min instrumental piece of music. It is definitely of a light-hearted vibe - fun, playful - yet still classic Oldfield, with similar melodic structures, bass lines, etc. It seems like Oldfield was having a lot of fun writing and recording this one, playing off the disco thing and the jazzy side of commercial music. And it is quite musical. Up there with the best of Oldfield post-Incantations. Side B is another story. The only song I can listen to here is "Punkadiddle", although it is also quite light. The cover of "I got Rhythm" is so totally not Oldfield - the contrast with everything that came before it will shock. Oldfield's first colossal failure. I would recommend still getting the first side of this album - it is an essential addition to the Oldfield catalogue. But side B is better left alone. I give Side A 8 out of 10. But side B only garners 3.4 out of 10. Since an album rating has to take into account the entire album, I can only give this 6.0 on my 10-point scale (slightly weighted to the first side, because the first side is longer than the second side on the original vinyl).

 Incantations by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.93 | 399 ratings

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Incantations
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Original, but Laden.

Oldfield attempted to go beyond his first three albums, by writing an even-longer and more orchestral piece stretching now to four sides of a double- (vinyl) album. The result is highly original, often very musical, and totally Oldfield. However, it over-reaches, particularly on the first two sides. And there is not enough of Oldfield's distinct guitar playing (especially on the first two sides) . I use the word "laden" for this one - it is overly laden with expectations, instrumentation, and repetition. It sounds like Oldfield was trying to come up with something that would meet the now-huge expectations from his fans and the British music press for producing something new and original that went beyond TB and Ommadawn. To do this, he stretched it out to a double-album, but to accomplish this, he had to write in a number of repeats and codas, which are particularly evident on the first two sides. This album also comes across as overly-precise, and in turn, a bit cold, probably because there was an expectation that his next move should come close to perfection, given the slight timing flaws on his earlier albums (which were recorded all by him, without sequencers, etc). On Incantations, the sound quality is very crisp, and the playing is perfectly timed. The xylophones shimmer. But the growth in instrumentation takes away from the guitar, which here plays more of a bit part. Nonetheless many (but not all) of the sections are quite musical, and I particularly like sides 3 and 4, each of which is a shorter piece (roughly 16 mins) not overly-given to repetition (whereas sides 1 and 2 are over 19 minutes each). If Oldfield hadn't tried so hard to stretch this out to four sides, it could have been another 5-star single album. Saying all this, I think this one is still up there among the best of Oldfield's catalogue, his fifth-best studio album (after Five Miles Out, which I put as his fourth-best). I give this 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

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