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MIKE OLDFIELD

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Mike Oldfield biography
Michael Gordon Oldfield - Born 15 May 1953 (Reading, Berkshire, 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 ...
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Tubular BellsTubular Bells
Remastered · Extra tracks
Mercury UK 2009
$3.84
$2.84 (used)
Return To OmmadawnReturn To Ommadawn
Virgin Emi 2017
$6.24
$6.78 (used)
Tubular BellsTubular Bells
Deluxe Edition · Extra tracks
Mercury Uk 2009
$16.50
$16.49 (used)
The ExorcistThe Exorcist
Limited Edition · Soundtrack
Perseverance Records 2018
$12.11
$10.61 (used)
Crises: Deluxe EditionCrises: Deluxe Edition
Universal I.S. 2013
$56.72
$26.54 (used)
OmmadawnOmmadawn
UMe Imports 2010
$5.05
$6.35 (used)
Tubular Bells 3Tubular Bells 3
Warner Bros UK 1999
$4.90
$1.28 (used)
Tr3s LunasTr3s Lunas
Extra tracks
Warner Bros Uk 2002
$4.90
$3.84 (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)

4.10 | 1076 ratings
Tubular Bells
1973
3.93 | 555 ratings
Hergest Ridge
1974
2.50 | 175 ratings
The Orchestral Tubular Bells
1975
4.31 | 1233 ratings
Ommadawn
1975
3.92 | 427 ratings
Incantations
1978
3.13 | 283 ratings
Platinum
1979
3.49 | 304 ratings
Q.E.2
1980
3.68 | 357 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.44 | 401 ratings
Crises
1983
2.78 | 245 ratings
Discovery
1984
2.68 | 149 ratings
The Killing Fields
1984
2.62 | 203 ratings
Islands
1987
2.03 | 170 ratings
Earth Moving
1989
4.06 | 543 ratings
Amarok
1990
2.48 | 173 ratings
Heaven's Open
1991
3.57 | 297 ratings
Tubular Bells II
1992
3.72 | 285 ratings
The Songs Of Distant Earth
1994
3.09 | 212 ratings
Voyager
1996
3.38 | 212 ratings
Tubular Bells III
1998
2.96 | 180 ratings
Guitars
1999
2.31 | 142 ratings
The Millenium Bell
1999
2.42 | 147 ratings
Tr3s Lunas
2002
3.72 | 198 ratings
Tubular Bells 2003
2003
2.76 | 143 ratings
Light + Shade
2005
3.03 | 178 ratings
Music Of The Spheres
2008
3.14 | 173 ratings
Man On The Rocks
2014
4.04 | 303 ratings
Return To Ommadawn
2017

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

3.76 | 90 ratings
Exposed
1979

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

3.92 | 46 ratings
Tubular Bells II & III Live (DVD)
1999
2.59 | 41 ratings
The Art In Heaven Concert Live In Berlin (DVD)
2000
4.33 | 15 ratings
DVD Collection
2003
3.15 | 32 ratings
Elements - The Best Of (DVD)
2004
3.82 | 37 ratings
Exposed
2005
4.39 | 73 ratings
Live At Montreux 1981
2006

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

3.78 | 43 ratings
Mike Oldfield - Boxed
1976
3.57 | 15 ratings
Airborn
1980
3.00 | 4 ratings
Impressions
1980
2.98 | 9 ratings
Music Wonderland
1981
3.68 | 39 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
2.67 | 16 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
4.10 | 10 ratings
Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield
2012
2.47 | 11 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)

3.75 | 4 ratings
Tubular Bells
1974
4.04 | 8 ratings
In Dulci Jubilo
1975
3.60 | 5 ratings
Don Alfonso
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
Don Alfonso (German Version)
1975
3.24 | 10 ratings
Portsmouth
1976
3.83 | 6 ratings
William Tell Overture
1976
3.80 | 5 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
3.40 | 5 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.60 | 5 ratings
Family Man
1982
2.25 | 9 ratings
Mistake
1982
3.23 | 7 ratings
Moonlight Shadow
1983
3.28 | 13 ratings
Shadow on the Wall
1983
3.90 | 10 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
 Voyager by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.09 | 212 ratings

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Voyager
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

3 stars Mid-1990s was a good time for Celtic music, I suppose. Enya struck gold (or rather platinum) on "Shepherd Moons" and "The Memory of Trees", Loreena McKennitt had "The Mask and Mirror" and "The Book of Secrets" very high on the charts, the movie Braveheart brought much interest to Scottish themes as well. Mike Oldfield also had part in this revival: his music always breathed Celtic influences and even featured British instruments on numerous albums, starting with "Ommadawn" (uileann pipes, bodhran, northumbrian pipes and so on). Thus it wasn't necessarily a surprise when mystical "Voyager" came out in 1996, even though it's the only "100% Celtic" album in Mike's resume.

Much of "Voyager" content is filled with arrangements of traditional songs, albeit done in a tasteful and intrinsically Oldfield way. String instruments with guitars of all sorts dominate, but we also get droning woodwinds and thumping drums in large doses. Not to mention synthesizers, so fitting in his New-Agey approach. "Women of Ireland", also featured heavily in Stanley Kubrick's epic "Barry Lyndon" twenty years earlier, gained completely new face with Mike's arrangement - with synthesizers filling the gaps beautifully, pouring over the cliffs like crystal waves. The same is true for other numbers too, like "She Moves Through the Fair" with ooh-ooh choirs, or "Dark Island" with multilayered guitars and mandolins. Mike definitely had a good taste with these arrangements, even if they start to sound "samey" after a while.

Oldfield's original songs - 4 out of 10 total - hold up pretty well, too. "The Voyager" melody simply stays in your head, while "Celtic Rain" enchants you with dreamy background and perfect articulation. The latter is definitely a highlight: sweet guitar sounds, sliding all over the fretboard with grace and tenderness, always leave me in a yearning condition. What a great piece. "Wild Goose Flaps Its Wings" might be the most relaxed song on the album, quite repetetive, but still decent.

Actually, repetitiveness and difficulty with winding up when time is right are the biggest issues on "Voyager". Many songs could be easily shortened by few bars and, in worse cases, even a minute. "Women of Ireland" and "The Song of the Sun" popped to my head as prime examples. Majestic "Flowers of the Forest" could work even better if Mike reduced it to 4:45 or so. Even the best melodies suffer a bit from overexposure.

While speaking of longer tracks, one cannot overlook the ending piece, "Mont St Michel". Although far from a bona fide progressive rock classic, it succeeds in interweaving soothing passages with moments of majesty and grandeur, utilizing both Celtic instruments and traditional orchestra. Nice piece, even if I find it a bit too safe and predictable.

All in all, Mike succeeded in creating a cohesive album, always staying true to its Celtic theme and contemplative moods with a pinch of mystery. There is enough variety to keep you interested for almost an hour. Even if you're not exactly a fan of Celtic music per se, I encourage you to try "Voyager": both light-hearted and melancholic pieces serve well as a background music to autumn daydreaming sessions. In this context, foggy islet shown on a cover is a fitting "establishing shot".

Quality-wise, it deserves three stars without blinking. I just wish it was a bit more proggy.

 The Orchestral Tubular Bells by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.50 | 175 ratings

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The Orchestral Tubular Bells
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by martindavey87

2 stars I realise this review is kind of half-assed, but I don't really know what to say about this album. Released in 1975, just two years after the original, 'The Orchestral Tubular Bells' sees Mike Oldfield, alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, play through his magnum opus 'Tubular Bells', in what's unfortunately a rather unnecessary live recording.

While 'Tubular Bells' has never been my favourite album (I gave it a three-star rating), it's no doubt regarded as Mike Oldfield's most popular work and has become one of 'those albums' that everybody owns. So why release a live orchestral version just two years later?

I can understand touring the album with a band, but performing it with a full-blown orchestra just seems a bit overbearing, not to mention, kind of boring. The music is fine, but honestly, when it all comes down to it, just stick to the original version. It's got a charm about it that this one lacks.

 Heaven's Open by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.48 | 173 ratings

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Heaven's Open
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

1 stars It's fascinating how unpredictable Mike's (Michael's?) career turned out to be. But if I were to pinpoint the most puzzling period, it would be 1989-94, hands down. In this context, "Heaven's Open" is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

To my knowledge, "Heaven's Open" is the most light-hearted, "I don't give a damn anymore" album up to that point. Stylistic choices point in this direction: another portion of inane pop songs, bits of reggae, female choirs popping out like mushrooms, and that incomprehensible long track on B side, bordering on cacophony so often... Clearly it wasn't a work of great vision or artistic importance, just a batch of loosely developed ideas. What's more, Michael was the lead singer for the first time, not counting him reminiscing childhood days on "Ommadawn". I'm not too sure what lay behind this decision; it generally fits my view of "Heaven's Earth" as a partial joke. Not that the vocals are atrocious - he does ok in a limited range - but to sing an entire album? Worth noting, he hasn't repeated that feat, as of 2018.

Side A tries to be catchy and fancy with sleek basslines and new generation of synths/samplers. There isn't much to say about these tracks, I'm afraid. "Make Make" is too repetitive and silly, not my cup of tea. "No Dream" picks up a bit during second half, but let's be honest: too little content to pull out a four, let alone six minutes song.

Surprisingly, "Mr Shame" works for me quite well. So called Sassy Choir sounds hot and fantastic this time, actually the whole chorus section is very recognizable and satisfying. Bonus points for nice keyboards and Michael not spoiling the show. The highlight, even if it's more R&B influenced than prog rock.

"Gimme Back" is just a pure reggae kitsch in my eyes. Skip it ASAP. The title track is a relief, in comparison - so buoyant and single-worthy. Not enough to save the album, but it has good moments.

I don't know what to make out of "Music from the Balcony". On one hand, I'm always fond of Oldfield's side-long epics, but on the other, this one is vastly different than others. It's split almost evenly between unmelodic experimentations with tribal drums, odd monkey samples, sudden bursts of synthesizers, and uptempo, guns blazing funky bits. Admittedly, there are also brief, uplifting moments refusing that scheme, especially towards the end, but the general impression stays the same. Mike opted to mix chaotic pieces together without stressing too much about structure. The result is intriguing, but after repeated listens I think it's more about experimentation, seemingly without rhyme or reason, than actually Good Music. Strange, since 20 minute tracks usually were the highlights of his 80s output.

It's quite possible that Oldfield decided to rush recording process a bit to free himself from Virgin contract. At least that's how this album sounds in general, and the hidden message at the very end - F*** OFF - seems to confirm it, if you ask me. I recommend you to check out "Mr Shame" and "Heaven's Open" if you enjoy poppy side of Oldfield. And maybe try "Music from the Balcony", if you have much time on your hands. Who knows if it clicks with you - for me it's the poorest "epic" of the era. In these circumstances, it's hard to justify two star rating, especially when I consider "Islands" a decidedly better album.

 Music Of The Spheres by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.03 | 178 ratings

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Music Of The Spheres
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

2 stars I never believed in classical music with rock elements, at least not in the long run. For certain there are examples of succesful songs merging two esthetics, but to have an entire album/symphony with such underlying philosophy? I don't think one could justify it with Moody Blues or Pink Floyd. Better examples of this approach are "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" (or "Sarabande"), and even if I admire the effort and enjoy its parts, as a whole it failed to achieve its goals. However, it seemed that Mike could pull it off, and "Music of the Spheres" is the closest he ever tried. The concept of musica universalis is a good excuse to merge contrasting genres. And who's better than Oldfield to take the challenge? He was so succesful with pairing folk instruments, electronic beats and distorted guitars for decades, right?

Understandably, the leading instruments are classical guitar and grand piano, most of the time. Although Mike doesn't play the latter, he had much more experience with it than with strings or brass. And you can hear it on this record, unfortunately. Brass instruments appear rarely, oboes and clarinets play secondary role as well, and strings... well, I'd just say they're not leading too often and mostly serve as a backing track with very basic moves.

I also don't see too much of a development here. Individual movements offer some delightful melodies ("Animus", "The Tempest", "Empyrean" or beginning of "Shabda"), but they don't reinforce one another, synergy between them is very limited. I really miss the mastery of classical music paragons, the mastery of arrangement, revisiting memorable motifs and epic buildup. "Music of the Spheres" is too modest in this regard.

What do I like here, then? In my opinion there are no serious blunders ruining the experience. As I said, there is a fair share of charming melodies (add "Silhouette" to the list), guaranteeing the listener will sit through 40+ minutes with ease. Especially if he's having something else to do in the meantime - once again Mike Oldfield delivered a calming, even soothing collection of music. So it's a bonus, I see myself revisiting "Music of the Spheres" from time to time just its peacefulness.

But in the same time, I'd like it to have more hooks, diversity, more memorable parts and - most importantly - a strike of genius that Mike's capable of. Instead I have a bunch of "Classical Lite FM" compositions with underused orchestra that I could easily live without. Oh well, this might be too harsh: I honestly applaud "The Tempest" and see true beauty in there.

A two star record with (sparse) four stars moments.

 Guitars by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.96 | 180 ratings

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Guitars
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

3 stars Let me spell it out for you once more: every single sound comes from a guitar or guitar synthesizer/MIDI. Rhythm section included. It's advised you actually LIKE guitars enough to buy into an album going overboard with its use. Granted, many rock records are dominated with guitar riffs, responsible for up to 70% of played music. But here it's 100%, and it's all Oldfield. Although the idea itself isn't entirely new, I deem it a pretty bold move for a musician known primarily as a multi-instrumentalist, skillfully incorporating bagpipes, glockenspiels, spinets, organs, bells and Farfisas into rock environment.

Admittedly I was happy to replay this album a couple of times. There is enough variety to appease even casual listeners. For starters, we have a bunch of well-executed, melancholic madrigals, beginning with charming "Muse". Similar moods are invoked with beautiful "Embers", though this time additional sounds come into play and give it more artificial, slightly futuristic feel. "Four Winds" is the longest track here and I really recommend it; avid Oldfield fans will feel at home with its middle section, very mellow and dreamlike. The part around 4:00 minute mark is lovely, too, and so refreshing. The latter half, although far from flamenco, turns out to be heavily influenced by Iberian music. "Enigmatic" and "From the Ashes" may feel generic once you come across them, but they're solid on their own.

Aside from these softer etudes, Mike composed couple hard rocking songs. "Out of Sight" comes around with a heavily distorted guitar, almost as sharp as Frippian crooky nightmares. Similar effects are employed in "B Blues" and "Out of Mind". While all these tracks are fun, I sense too much repetition there, and I wish they formed together a longer, more progressive piece, or at least a foundation of one.

As it is, "Guitars" is a very entertaining, colorful journey. And I haven't even mentioned my favorites: "Cochise" and "Summit Day". The former strikes us with an elegant, fingerpicked melody; and then, clouds fill the skies and the scenery gets more dreary and engaging. Distorted riffs in the chorus are beautifully intertwined with yearning lead guitar. Such an emotional piece. The latter follows its steps, capably contrasting acoustic romanticism with electric despair and bitterness - such a wide range is covered, and it's all a SINGLE melody, but exposed from dramatically different angles.

Yes, I enjoyed "Guitars" despite its cheap album cover and risky premises. Of course I'd love if it was more progressive; most of featured compostions could be lumped together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. I'm sure Mike was perfectly able to make such rearrangements. But I still recommend you to give it a try. Even if you're sceptical of instrumental self- indulgence, you won't deny the beauty of "Cochise", "Summit Day" and even "Four Winds".

In my book it's enough to warrant three stars

 Tr3s Lunas by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.42 | 147 ratings

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Tr3s Lunas
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

2 stars I have a feeling this review's going to be very compact.

"Tr3s Lunas" came out some ~15 years before I gave it a chance. Low ratings and general lack of interest for Phase 4 Oldfield ("Guitars" to "Music of the Spheres" in my book) held me back for so long. I knew what to expect, so that's a third reason.

But once I tried it I came to a conclusion: this is not bad, it's just plain.

Oldfield chose a very safe route. "Tr3s Lunas" is soothing, very modest in melodies, without radical tempo changes or unusual rhythms. Elegant, but minimalistic piano is as much of a driving force as the guitar, synthesizers ooze with atmospheric textures, sporadical vocals serve as another instrument.

I described most of the following "Light + Shade" in a similar manner, but honestly these albums sound very much alike. The differences? Well, "Lunas" are more succesful in chillout department. Emulated saxophone is more prominent, atmosphere sometimes gets "Blue Velvet hazy" and intimate. "Light + Shade" tried to couple two contrasting worlds of emotions with mixed results; here Oldfield more often shoots for nocturnal soundscape. Certainly, there are exceptions to that rule, such as naive "To Be Free" or earthy "Turtle Island". There are some traces of sci-fi inspirations too, my favorite being "Return to the Origin" and "Sirius". These two are highlights, hands down.

Unfortunately majority is far from memorable. As everyone said before, this album lies somewhere between soundtrack and elevator music. It won't do you no harm, but what's the replay value? Will you ever hum a single tune from "Lunas"?

Chances are slim.

To drive "Light + Shade" comparisons home, I'll say the following album had more of an embarrassing filler, but also more heartwarming moments. In the same time I appreciate "Tr3s Lunas" for focusing on atmosphere instead of forced emotions. You should try "Misty", "No Mans Land" or tracks I mentioned before to see if you have a taste for sixty minutes of this. "Thou Art in Heaven" does a good job as well.

The day I'm writing this review is kind of fitting for "Tr3s Lunas". Chilly, overcast, frequent rainstorms - relief from July's heat. But even on a best day, "Lunas" are just a pleasing, chilled out, creativity inducing background music.

We demand more! Two stars.

 Platinum by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.13 | 283 ratings

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Platinum
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

3 stars One could argue that each and every album in Mike Oldfield's discography was a milestone of sorts. If we narrowed it down though, just to separate 4 or 5 major periods in his career, I'd say Platinum is one of these turning points, the beginning of Phase 2.

Obviously the formula has changed. We're treated with a side-long, titular epic, and a bunch of shorter tracks, more appropriate as potential singles than excerpts from greater pieces. Who knows if success of "Portsmouth" and "In Dulci Jubilo" didn't play a part here. Anyhow, two of those songs feature proper vocals with easily digested, straightforward lyrics, provided by Wendy Roberts. These are decent, but nothing to write home about honestly. I find her voice a tad too dramatic and unoriginal, but she's skillful enough to get a pass.

The title track, "Platinum", definitely stands out. Reviewing this album I listened to it three times in a row, and each time I appreciated new bits and elements. It serves as another proof of Mike's compositional skills, just check out the synth melody from 3:15 onwards! Ear pleasing and very engaging, all instruments have their place and reinforce each other beautifully. Second movement is dominated by typical hammer-on/pull-off guitar licks played over an upbeat, almost funky bass lines and some scat singing. Nice, but the best bit is the concluding Mike solo with a trademark, spacious, uplifting sound. I just adore those wails and squeals, always trying to reach the skies.

The third part, so called "Charleston", evokes music of 1920s, mixed with acoustic passages and occasional ghastly, female choirs, reminscent of Greek tragedies perhaps. I'd say he could've done a tad better here, but I appreciate his boldness. Still, it's decent enough to keep your attention and prepare ears for a standout part four, also known as "North Star". This one is the most "oldfieldesque" and rewards us with another emotional, lofty coda. Quite progressive and definitely worth a listen. Honestly, "Platinum" would do great as Incantations Part V, with often changing, but always relevant - sometimes superb - themes.

The rest of the album, a.k.a. The Shorties, is a mixed bag really. "Woodhenge" is rather dull, maybe because I don't enjoy African influenced music as much, and congas put me to sleep. "Into Wonderland" might be pleasant, but to me it's just a herald of upcoming sugary ballads and 1980s in general. The latter half picks up a little, it's not a gamechanger though.

"Punkadiddle" deserves more attention. We've got trademark reverby guitars alternating with high pitched, almost ear-piercing main theme which I find extremely pleasing and tasteful. I really like how Mike's in the front this time, at times echoing the grandiose of Ommadawn. Bonus points for going instrumental again. A winner!

"I Got Rhythm" just wanders aimlessly in slow tempo, hard to find any redeeming quality here. Rather an anticlimax for an album so promising on Side A.

Given the circumstances - Virgin Records hiring punk/new-wave bands and disco dominating the charts - Oldfield did an okay job with reinventing himself. Shorter tracks, with exception of "Punkadiddle", don't impress at all... but the "Platinum" suite gives much hope for the future, showing that Mike Oldfield is capable of compromising ambitious musical efforts with contractual obligations. Fortunately, the formula only got stronger with following albums. As it is, Platinum did just enough to climb a 3-star rating. I'd say "Decent, but non-essential".

 Islands by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.62 | 203 ratings

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Islands
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

2 stars "Islands" has to be that "forgotten album" of the eighties. We listen regularly to succesful hits such as "Moonlight Shadow", "To France" or "Family Man", surrounding albums are widely discussed, even lackluster "Earth Moving" seems to be picked apart more often. Honestly, if not for the reviews section here on Progarchives, I'd never read a word on this LP anywhere. Is it fair though?

As on many previous records, Oldfield follows "compromise" formula: 20 minute track on Side A and bunch of 4 minute trifles on Side B. "Islands" features very catchy vocals of Bonnie Tyler in a power ballad, interestingly backed with saxophone, oboe and omnipresent synths. Although I find it too sentimental and a lacking in structure, pretty melodies and non-typical instruments make it recognizable. A good listen once you accept Oldfield's general approach and standards in the 1980s.

It's good to mention that vast majority of this record is showered with reverbs, delays, chorus pedals, lush production and so on. While most Mike's albums are either 'green', 'blue' or in-between, "Islands" is definitely 'pink' for long stretches. Especially "Flying Start" and "Magic Touch", which got way too close to Summer Hits Territory for my taste. The latter could find its way to early episodes of Baywatch or 90210. Very disappointing.

"North Point" and "The Time Has Come" feature Anita Hegerland vocals and I appreciate it. The best I can say though is that these are decent, maybe of Kate Bush outtake quality. My CD version concludes with a bonus track, "When the Night's on Fire", which is another mellow Hegerland piece. It also left me unimpressed, I can't even recall its melody now.

Thankfully there is still Side A, twenty-two minutes long "The Wind Chimes" epic. Most segments consist of pleasing melodies, engaging rhythms and interesting arrangements, usually led by Mike's guitar and... a flute! Bjorn Lindh, a Swedish flautist hired to record this track, excels at breathy, almost percussive articulation, somewhat similar to Ian Anderson's style. Some three minutes before the end the music rapidly intensifies, transforming into a magnificent, lovely coda.

Admittedly, "The Wind Chimes" is far from perfect. Sometimes it resembles a bunch of minor compositions thrown together without proper bridges/passages. At times it loses my interest, getting a bit too experimental (~6:00 minute mark) or unfocused. But in the same time it's so peaceful (3:15) and has a good dose of charming moments. I believe prog lovers will appreciate it the most, and it deserves to be called a highlight.

As much as I like delving into underrated albums and searching for overlooked gems, like pearl fishers, "The Wind Chimes" is not enough to compensate for lackluster Side B. The shorter set isn't as strong as preceding ones and foreshadows the following "Earth Moving". Sure, I could revisit the title track once in a blue moon; I can even sit through the entire album without MUCH harm, but music shouldn't be just "tolerable".

So, is it fair that "Islands" isn't really discussed anywhere? To some extent, yes. I was expecting to hear some New Age/prog, appreciating nature's beauty and wonders of the world, in a very Oldfield manner. And I got just twenty minutes of that. It falls a little short of three stars, in my book.

But yes, try "The Wind Chimes" with an open mind. This is my pearl for today.

 Man On The Rocks by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.14 | 173 ratings

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Man On The Rocks
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

2 stars First things first: I'm so happy for Mike Oldfield to come back from semi-retirement and continue recording! "Man on the Rocks" was the first album in six years and Mike himself admitted that 2012 London Olympics ceremony reinvigorated him so much. In an interview I've read at the time, Oldfield claimed he started amassing a brand new collection of instruments and recording software. This album might very well represent the beginning of Phase 4 (or maybe 5?) of his illustrious career, hopefully the most harmonious and peaceful.

Regardless of my enthusiasm and numerous times I've listened to MOTR in its entirety, I'm certain he could've done a better job. This release is merely a collection of generic, poppy soft rockers, rarely shooting for anything grander.

Generally speaking, we have two categories of songs here. First group tries to be vigorous, uptempo, positive (i.e. "Sailing", "Minutes"). Unfortunately they turn out to be unconvincing, lacking in the hook/riff department and very forgettable. Title track also fits in this category and I find it marginally better, maybe for its lyrical content. "Chariots" might be the most edgy, it starts like John Paul Jones solo efforts, but quickly falls off the cliff imho.

Second group is more sentimental and almost tear-jerking. "I Give Myself Away" is apparently a cover, but it falls in line with "Following the Angels", "Nuclear" and the rest of tame, soft ballads. Among these, I find "Following the Angels" a bit better, though overlong... and "Moonshine", oh wow, this one is actually good. It sounds like Oldfield meets Coldplay meets Auld Lang Syne. Easily the best here.

I have a hard time with categorising "Castaway", it has elements of both, but fails so miserably and drags four minutes too long. Very unimaginative and uncharacteristic of Oldfield.

I can't find any enthusiasm to write on this album anymore. It's simply too tame, too safe, too wimpy most of the time. The production and vocals, although "Correct" from a technical point of view, just scream Adult Oriented Rock and lack that organic quality of better Oldfield albums. It reminds of me "Earth Moving" way too often to justify a good rating. I'm giving it two stars for the sake of sweet "Moonshine" and optimistic, marine themes.

Funny that both "Earth Moving" and "Man on the Rocks" were followed with so different and astonishing albums. The man is a unique talent, there is no denial.

 Return To Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 303 ratings

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Return To Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by tempest_77

5 stars Return to Ommadawn is truly a magnificent return for Mike Oldfield. I hesitate to call it a return to form, per-say, as he has repeatedly demonstrated over the course of his career that his focus is on more than just progressive rock, but it really is a great album harkening back to his work from the 70s.

As for the actual music itself, it's incredible! I might even like this album more than the original Ommadawn album. All the interplay between the instruments is just magnificent. Return to Ommadawn has musical flow of such a caliber that very few albums are capable of reaching. It really is an incredible journey from start to finish. It's hard to explain the album, as it speaks so well for itself; all I can really say is go listen to it! 5 stars, without a doubt.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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