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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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Buy MIKE OLDFIELD Music


Tubular BellsTubular Bells
Remastered · Extra tracks
Mercury Uk 2009
$4.72
$1.96 (used)
Original Album SeriesOriginal Album Series
Rhino 2016
$13.30
$12.30 (used)
Man On The Rocks [2 CD]Man On The Rocks [2 CD]
Mercury 2014
$16.71
$10.42 (used)
Return To OmmadawnReturn To Ommadawn
Virgin Emi 2017
$6.08
$8.52 (used)
Tubular BeatsTubular Beats
EARMUSIC 2017
$7.15
$5.54 (used)
Tubular Bells 2003Tubular Bells 2003
Rhino Records 2011
$10.95
$1.98 (used)
Tr3s LunasTr3s Lunas
Extra tracks
Warner Bros Uk 2002
$5.80
$4.01 (used)
Millennium BellMillennium Bell
Warner Bros Uk 1999
$5.83
$3.19 (used)
QE2QE2
Extra tracks
Hip-O 2012
$20.94
$21.99 (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 | 1138 ratings
Tubular Bells
1973
3.94 | 581 ratings
Hergest Ridge
1974
2.51 | 182 ratings
The Orchestral Tubular Bells
1975
4.30 | 1320 ratings
Ommadawn
1975
3.92 | 451 ratings
Incantations
1978
3.14 | 296 ratings
Platinum
1979
3.50 | 322 ratings
Q.E.2
1980
3.68 | 371 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.47 | 422 ratings
Crises
1983
2.78 | 253 ratings
Discovery
1984
2.69 | 152 ratings
The Killing Fields
1984
2.62 | 207 ratings
Islands
1987
2.04 | 172 ratings
Earth Moving
1989
4.05 | 566 ratings
Amarok
1990
2.48 | 175 ratings
Heaven's Open
1991
3.57 | 309 ratings
Tubular Bells II
1992
3.72 | 294 ratings
The Songs Of Distant Earth
1994
3.09 | 216 ratings
Voyager
1996
3.38 | 220 ratings
Tubular Bells III
1998
2.95 | 184 ratings
Guitars
1999
2.31 | 146 ratings
The Millenium Bell
1999
2.41 | 150 ratings
Tr3s Lunas
2002
3.77 | 207 ratings
Tubular Bells 2003
2003
2.77 | 145 ratings
Light + Shade
2005
3.03 | 182 ratings
Music Of The Spheres
2008
3.16 | 176 ratings
Man On The Rocks
2014
4.04 | 341 ratings
Return To Ommadawn
2017

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

3.77 | 94 ratings
Exposed
1979

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

3.92 | 47 ratings
Tubular Bells II & III Live (DVD)
1999
2.59 | 41 ratings
The Art In Heaven Concert Live In Berlin (DVD)
2000
4.27 | 15 ratings
DVD Collection
2003
3.16 | 33 ratings
Elements - The Best Of (DVD)
2004
3.84 | 38 ratings
Exposed
2005
4.40 | 74 ratings
Live At Montreux 1981
2006

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

3.78 | 46 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 | 17 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
4.18 | 11 ratings
Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield
2012
2.45 | 12 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
3.00 | 1 ratings
Crime of Passion
1983
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 | 3 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
 Hergest Ridge by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.94 | 581 ratings

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Hergest Ridge
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by hergest ridge

5 stars The second of the first four Mike Oldfield albums that are for me all masterpieces! What surprises me the most with this one is that he was able to compose such a work after all the emotional pressure he had to know after the succes of "Tubular bells". All the beginning is very soothing and relaxing like the first seconds that make me think of the music of a Tibetan monastery ; the rest is much more folk. We find in "Hergest ridge" a typical aspect of his music : a "complex" theme that is developed and regularly comes back, on side one as well as on side two (two parts of a long composition). The music is more slow in general but the melodies are very rich and captivating. To listen absolutely if you don't know!

 Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.30 | 1320 ratings

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Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by hergest ridge

5 stars For my first review on progarchives, I'll start with what I consider as one of the biggest prog albums of all time : Ommadawn. The first two records of Mike Oldfield were already marvellous but this one is exceptional! By listening to this record, you'll find : - full of superb melodies; - an incredibly varied music : celtic style, african drums, a marvellous bagpipe; - mostly instrumental music but also a very catchy song; - a sublime and captivating choir that finishes side 1; - a complex and beautiful theme that comes back regularly. Throughout both sides, the musical changes are very numerous and really typical of his progressive style. For me, this is really a must have album!
 Crime of Passion by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Crime of Passion
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars 'Crime of Passion' is a non-album Oldfield song that became familiar to me on the double vinyl compilation The Complete Mike Oldfield (1985) when I was a teenager. The vocalist Barry Palmer -- who by the way had a prog merit of replacing Helmut Köllen in Triumvirat -- would be heard alongside Maggie Reilly on Mike's next studio album Discovery (1984), that Palmer probably still is best known from. Strangely so, for he's not a bad vocalist at all, slightly resembling John Miles (but not as good). Wikipedia reveals that his early 70's band Brave New World was influenced by e.g. Family and Wishbone Ash; a neverheard-case for me, though.

'Crime of Passion' is not very progressive as a composition, but it is a pretty good pop piece in minor key, and very easily identified as a Mike Oldfield song. Compared to the songs of Discovery that Palmer sang, such as 'Poison Arrows' and 'Discovery', I actually like 'Crime of Passion' more than those; it would have worked well on that album. Relatively steady, forward-going rhythm is a bit similar as on 'Man in the Rain' (Tubular Bells III).

Also the dreamy, slow-paced instrumental 'Jungle Gardenia' appeared on The Complete Mike Oldfield. I remember playing it as a relaxation after skiing. The shamelessly easy-listening, Muzak-like piece has a sweet New Age aura to it -- which doesn't mean one one shouldn't or wouldn't enjoy it.

 Q.E.2 by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.50 | 322 ratings

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Q.E.2
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Skull

5 stars When I hear this album, I want to sing! I want to dance! My heart is bursting with joy! I feel goosebumps and the hair stands on the back of my neck! And an enchanting spell is cast over me!

I know a lot of the more hardcore Prog guys like his earlier works and although I love those as well this album as well as Five Miles Out are the ones that speak to me the most. Maybe because those are the ones I heard first and being the spatial creatures we are our first experience of anything ties us to that magick spatially, so that might have something to do with it. But there's more to it than that! There is a beautiful otherworldly magick to this album that is disguised by the decidedly unfantastical and very modern looking album cover. Because whenever I hear this album, I hear elves frolicking and singing and dancing in the sylvan woods of Rivendell! There is something that otherworldly about it to me!

I first heard this in the late 80's when I was already a diehard fist pumping, headhanging Metalhead but as a member of the Brotherhood of Orpheus I was always taught to be open minded about listening to all types of music in the interest of experimentation. So, the fact that this album spoke to me so powerfully when I was on such a drastically different path musically at the time speaks volumes. (When I first heard this I was at a party at my musical mentors house and so I didn't know who or what it was. I was just enjoying and embracing a pure unbridled listening experience. Which was revelatory and beyond magickal as you can tell!)

So put on this album and let it cast its spell over you! Daydream of lands of wonder and let your spirit soar!

 Tubular Bells by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.10 | 1138 ratings

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Tubular Bells
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

4 stars It's one of the most inspiring stories I've ever heard.

Shy, nineteen year old English boy pitches his instrumental demos to EMI, CBS Records and other prime companies. He fails initially, but with persistence and some luck he finally gets the chance. Unexpectedly his music tops the charts, makes critics shake their heads in disbelief, and sets the bar for future albums unreasonably high. The success is so immense that it puts the fledgling record company instantly on the map, and the boy becomes so ridiculously rich he can buy an island for himself. And he's pleased with it, since peace of mind and safe shelter is all he wished for.

"Tubular Bells" always had its mysteries. How such a young person came up with music so unobvious yet lyrical. How did he manage to play all the instruments. How did he produce the "Piltdown Man" sound. What was going on in his head. Was he really nineteen then. And the album cover, what does it mean. Heck, what does the music mean. Does he even know. Is it just a joke, exercise in songwriting, or a Book of Secrets.

Why can't I stop looking at the artwork, what is so captivating about waves splashing at southern England shores? Is it linked to our dreams and memories? Or the instincts, and the archetypes? Is it burned down in my mind because I heard it as a child. Or rather the music evokes the themes we were all born with*?

Now I'm pushing it perhaps, but the point stands. Ideas behind "Tubular Bells" are powerful, and I doubt that Mike Oldfield tried hard to impress us. It's not highly technical, it's not reliant on cheap tricks, rehashed popular melodies or massive advertising. In fact, there was no advertising. The success came after few months and it only happened thanks to word of mouth, before William Friedkin incorporated the opening theme in his celebrated horror classic. I believe the intentions were honest.

Yes, there are imperfections. A botched note here and there, two or three dull bends, a buzzing string on higher frets. But aside from that? Well, I'm not able to list all the highs and lows, but there are some trends I noticed.

The composition relies heavily on buildups and amassing of instruments in key moments. Core melodies are played with muted electric guitars primarily - there is much focus and precision in Mike's crosspicking, especially for a teenager playing in 1973. The rhythm section is reduced to bass guitar, but meditative nature of "Tubular Bells" doesn't demand percussion or drums to work. The only part with drums is the "Piltdown Man" (or "Caveman") segment on B side, which starts at 11:40 and lasts for 5 minutes roughly. Understandably it's one of the rockier sections - the rest is mostly reflective and it already has that trademark, New Age vibe.

Musically speaking, one of the most attractive qualities of "Tubular Bells" is the proper use of overdubbing. Mike doesn't come up with earth shattering melodies, but for him the arrangements are paramount. That's how he pulls off the famous intro to Part 1 - the melody doesn't change much for five minutes, but other instruments are gradually entering and altering the scene, especially that tempered double guitar lick at 3:40 leaves its mark. We're all familiar with Part 1 finale, that section with Master of Ceremony announcing instruments playing the main theme time and time again. For some it's cheesy nowadays, everyone and their grandma knows that stuff, but remember it's a 40+ year old album we're talking about! Definitely a fresh addition at the time, and when it comes to me, I stay impressed to this day. There is something very comforting in that finale, maybe the melody works well so I don't mind it being repeated for 5-6 minutes, or maybe that certainty that in a moment or two we'll have 10+ instruments playing beautifully in unison, it's very fitting here. I especially cherish the glockenspiel, mandolin and - of course - the tubular bells themselves. I can see why Mike was trying to get the loudest sound possible, it's truly an epic and uplifting moment.

There is some noodling here and there, unfortunately. The Part 2 is especially guilty of this, just check out the acoustic guitar section between the "Plitdown Man" and coda. I'm a man of simple tastes apparently; I always wanted Tubular Bells to end in a grand fashion, a truly majestic crescendo wrapping up the best ideas. Unfortunately, Oldfield thought differently and went for a quiet, ambiguous ending (I'm not counting the 'Harvest Festival' section at 21:50). The bridge at 16:00 (Part 1), between the 'eerie sunset' motif and 'master of ceremony' section is also a bit shaky; for some listeners it might be too disjointed. Fortunately as soon as that radiant bass reappears at 17:15 it's natural to 'refocus' and follow the main theme development.

So we discussed the Exorcist, the MC and the Caveman a bit, but what about other, less touted parts?

I can't stress enough how much I enjoy that weird acoustic guitar bit at 7:40 (Part 1). It's doomy, gloomy and completely changes the peaceful landscape we've just heard. I'm thinking of sunsets in God forsaken lands, horrors of Edvard Munch or King Crimson creations. This is a prime example of good contrast, because at 4:20 we were treated with incredibly sweet, pastoral melody, quite similar to strongest moments of "Hergest Ridge" and "Ommadawn". I also have a soft spot for beginning of Part 2, I call it 'kite over Copenhagen, 1800s', it's so nostalgic and purely European, whatever that means. Further down Part 2, there is an adorable section starting at 5:30 roughly, I'd describe it as 'dungeon synth meets the hobbits in Bree', and another one at 8:50 or so, when lead guitar comes up and down, like a spell cast from sorcerer's tower on a windy day.

As you can see, Oldfield already succeeds in evoking mysterious auras and symbolic pictures, which makes his music tenfold more interesting on subsequent listens. He's not pushing his version of events: the soundscapes are ambiguous and each time a different narrative is born organically in our minds. His best moments remind me of early Renaissance, Flemish paintings, with all these strange yet symbolical details happening far in the background. One time you're paying attention to Icarus crashing down from the sky, the other - all you see are tiny drunken bastards and insane old man dancing with a bear. And the same is true for Mike Oldfield's debut, I think.

"Tubular Bells" is clearly not as refined as Mike's crowning achievements, but it doesn't lack the ambition, the melody, the feel or cerebral aspect of his prime albums. I wish it had just a bit more polish - it's rough around the edges and the some parts (10-20%, tops) could benefit from further development. Then it would live up to its legendary, unprecedented status and earn a perfect 10; now it's 9, or if your prefer - 4.5 stars, fully deserved.

It's a musical journey, and always a journey towards unknown.

* with water being the equivalent of Collective Unconscious according to C.G. Jung, "Tubular Bells" couldn't have a more fitting artwork.

 Crises by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.47 | 422 ratings

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Crises
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars I have some spare time to review one of my favorite albums of the 80s. As a YES fanboy, the main reason why I immediately went to buy this album just after released was a song featuring Jon Anderson, bt let's come back to it later.

I don't know if it has been the biggest commercial success of Mike Oldfield after Tubular Bells. Surely the two songs sung by Maggie Reilly were big hits back in 1983.

The album follows the format of Platinum: a side long track on side A and a bunch of shorter songs on the B side. The suite is effectively divided into two parts, but the use of sudden changes, clearly short different pieces of music tied together, as in Tubular Bells, is limited. Crises is a typical Oldfield's track, in which he likes playing every kind of instrument he can think of, but it's one of his things that I still like more. The lyrics are quite hermetic, I'd like to know their meaning.

Arrived to side B, you immediately find the big hit: "Monlight Shadow". Oldfield tried several time to resurrect the formula but this remains probably his most known song in the pop world. Easy listening excellently sung by Maggie Really, later also on Mason and Fenn's "Lie for a Lie". Her "r" is a distinctive thing.

Then comes the first reason why I have bought the album: "In High Places" is perfect for Jon Anderson's voice. Its lazy rhythm makes it one of the best things of the album. I didn't regret the purchase.

"Foreign Affair" I though was the B side of Moonlight Shadow's single. It's not at the same level , as it's more repetitive, but it's again Maggie Reilly. She spells it "Foveign Affaives". Also in this case, it gives the song a unique identifier. Only this couls have been the single's B side.

Another instrumental of the "Taurus" serie, "Taurus 3" is made for acoustic gutar. Primers wanting to try something a little more difficult have done, I think, a huge use of the tablatures. In the album's economy it's not just a filller, but I consider it a bridge to the closer.

Also Roger "Chappo" Chapman has a unique voice, with his vibrato. Probably only Francesco Di Giacomo from Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso had a similar vibrato. "Shadow on The Wall" is everything but a masterpiece, but Chapman's voice makes it interesting and, being more rock-oriented, it's a good closer for the album.

If it was released 10 years before, it would have probably been ignored, but looking at the albums released in the same year it actually looked like a masterpiece. Because of some love that I personally have for it, I go against the site rules assigning 4 stars instead of the 3 that objectively it would deserve.

 Crises by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.47 | 422 ratings

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Crises
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

4 stars I wanted to review this album for so long now, but it couldn't happen sooner: the plan was to start with subpar and average records and only then climb to the very top. I have a soft spot for "Crises" which is quite hard to explain, especially for a person more fond of his cryptic, progressive work than happy little tunes of the 1980s. Hopefully you'll see where I'm coming from after reading the whole thing.

"Moonlight Shadow" doesn't need to be introduced. Radiant, beautifully produced and flowing so calmly from the very first note - no wonder it reached the No. 1 pretty much anywhere west of Volga. What's more, "Moonlight" still receives significant radio airplay 35+ years later and for this reason it's grown weary for some. Instead of giving credit for innocent, perfectly delivered vocals, effervescent backing guitars or spot on soloing, we focus on its status in the 80s popculture, one of the more recognizable symbols of the era, and we're all a bit fed up with it. Can't blame anyone for thinking that way after dozens involuntary listens, but it's not exactly fair to let overexposure cloud our judgment. With fair treatment and a pair of good headphones, "Moonlight Shadow" holds up very well today.

"In High Places" features Jon Anderson on vocals - very welcome albeit unexpected addition! It's not the place to discuss fully all merits of his angelic voice; suffice to say he fits extremely well with airy, mesmerizing compositional style of Mike Oldfield, and even in this relatively simple song I sense enticing chemistry. Especially the latter part, where synthesizers take hold and we're heading out, all textures mesh really well.

"Foreign Affair" also relies on simplicity of the beat and gentle atmospheres. This one might be a hard pill to swallow, we're knee-deep in pools of softness and naivety and not much of it sticks. "Taurus 3" falls a bit short of its mighty predecessors, I admit; but aside from that it's such a nice display of Spanish guitar creativity, brimming with colorful passages and and impeccable articulation. I want some more, why just two minutes?

"Shadow on the Wall" concludes the 'shorties' section. This one draws heavily from "Five Miles Out" style: perfect blends of distorted and acoustic guitars, synthesized and organic timbres, all led by raspy Roger Chapman's (Family) vocals. This track makes good use of edgier sounds: it feels like a relief at this point because it satisfies my hard rocking inclinations. The tune is catchy enough to stay in your memory, although the chorus might be a tad overused.

All in all, we have a smashing radio hit, an acoustic wonder, two decent and one forgettable pieces on the B side. Quite good, perhaps on the "QE2" level, maybe a tad less adventurous (but in turn better produced). Sounds like an average material, eh? Not really! I omitted the title track, "Crises", on purpose.

And the reason is: I usually prefer leaving the Good Stuff until I'm done with the rest.

Granted, after tons and tons of listens this 20 minute mammoth lost a bit of its appeal, but it happens to any song you've had too much of. And I definitely did my best to kill this one in recent years. I just can't get over the infinitely pleasant and intriguing intro - a perfect use of synthesizers in my opinion, crafting such a mysterious and inviting atmosphere, and then following it with the main theme for the ages! The melodies so nice, drum kits thumping so convincingly, the 'strings section' providing so much joy; and that shining background, it all makes for a great promise.

And then we have that solitary bassline with twangy guitars on both channels, police sirens in the distance, crashing windowpanes, you remember that part? Or the next one when it all goes bananas with aggressive cross-picking, or Fripp inspired guitars at 5:25? The point is: good parts never take the backseat and before we're satisfied with the first idea, the second one rolls around; and the same happens with the third, fourth, and so on. I even happen to like the part with Mike singing "Crises, crises, you can't get away" constantly.

The epitome, the peak of this song enters the scene some 8 minutes in. Just look at the album cover and rediscover the dreams of your past, remember the times you were waiting for Godot to come, let those moments flow through you. The music is delightful, and it's all done with a bunch of perfectly aligned electric guitars and some synths. And then, the calm itself, this is beauty.

Now I'm past the 12 minute mark and wonder, how is it possible that one musician, time and time again came up with ideas - and atmospheres - that leave you happy and yearning at the same time, wandering along the coasts of British Isles from a different dimension, or maybe eras unexplored by modern man. Isn't it exactly what New Age music should hope to duplicate, as a genre? Those calm and transcendent moments when our souls try to reach further, or maybe reconnect with the places and times we're all coming from?

The main theme comes back and lays the foundation for mighty satisfying coda, full of drums and unadulterated joy, positive to the limits, magnificently joining all the ideas into one celestial body. I'm done!

I think the startling contrast between shorter songs and magnitude of the title track is Almost like a Statement from Mike Oldfield. The statement being: 'my new self sells records with radio hits, but I can still deliver big time, watch it!'. It's especially compelling on an album such as "Crises", where Oldfield cranks up simplicity and commercial appeal significantly. It's like a mini-era in itself, that time between "Crises" and "Earth Moving", when his records could be listened by your wife without eye-rolling and checking the clock every moment. "Crises" definitely offers the most of the bunch.

Certainly my praise for the title track may seem exaggerated, but I'm aware of its shortcomings, too. I know it's not in the league of "Ommadawn", "Supper's Ready" or "The Gates of Delirium", I realize it's full of synthesizers and that transitions between part A and B are suspicious at times. But the composition makes up for it on emotional level and I don't think anyone could duplicate that sound and approach. Plus, if we take into account "Crises" hit the stores in 1983, well, what are we expecting? Even Jethro Tull introduced Fairlight CMI at that point.

For me, "Crises" is a very pleasing and surprising album. Pleasing, because even the bland "Foreign Affair" isn't bad really and I enjoy qualities in every song. Surprising, because the title track has plenty to explore and brings together complexity with meditative atmosphere so well. For these reasons I'm willing to dish out a 4 star rating - a huge accomplishment for an 80s record.

Now I'll spin it once more, I need to wait with a 'watcher in the tower' and ponder a bit.

 Q.E.2 by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.50 | 322 ratings

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Q.E.2
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

3 stars It took me quite some time to give QE2 a fair chance. Unimaginative album cover, pointless mention of RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 and odd structure always made listening to this album a daunting task. Only after my interest in Oldfield grew into unaffected fascination all this material clicked with me.

"Taurus 1" is the easiest to like: a ten minute instrumental interlacing relaxed, folkish tunes of foggy mornings with more abrasive fuzz guitars and dense rhythms. I can't recognize which sound is made by Yamaha CS80, ARP Solina or Prophet 5, but even an amateur can tell the variety of synthesizers and textures is awe-inspiring. "Taurus 1" is terrific at times: I can't get enough of this solemn, whistling melody starting at 3:30 or the adventurous, upbeat part at six minutes mark. Guitar is crafty and interesting every time it pops up. Another moment of pure joy is the buildup in the coda: very proactive, clear, simply rewarding.

I also have nothing but good things to say about "Sheba". Very tender in the beginning, it evokes that characteristic New Agey feel with liquid synths pouring out of emerald flask in heavens. Female choirs fit the soothing textures and, together, they make for a very pleasant experience. I believe it was the first time Maggie Reilly was featured on Mike's album, so it's worth noting.

The bulk of "QE2" consist of such short, easy to follow compositions, most of them instrumental and seamlessly crossing from progressive to plain, from rustic and folksy to modern and synth-heavy.

"Conflict" isn't my favorite of the bunch: the intro seems a bit messy and I don't know the reasoning behind quoting J.S. Bach (Badinerie), but it doesn't translate too well. It gets much better in the second half though, with coda approaching 'epic' proportions. Then we have two covers of Abba and The Shadows, "Arrival" and "Wonderful Land". The former is quite good and oldfieldesque enough to warrant a spot, but I prefer the latter: the Spanish guitar is just lovely there and I deem it a MAJOR improvement of the original. Perhaps both covers were ordered by Virgin owners, but they turned out pretty well.

"Mirage" features rather typical musical cues, not that different from parts of "Ommadawn". A bit of everything here: frantic fuzzed guitar, classical arpeggios in the background, increasing tempos and fanfares ramping up towards the end. Worth a shot. "Celt" also has a fair share of interesting drum beats and tasty synths, this time paired with pianos, Maggie's singing and precise lead guitars. Speaking of guitars, Mike hasn't declined a bit in this department and always lays out crafty passages, a big plus. The closing number "Molly" doesn't add much, no point in looking deeper.

I left out "QE2" because I wanted to bookend this review with another highlight. A bit longer piece that builds up similarly to the opening track. In this one the drum kits really shines as the song gets dense and full of textures. It really builds up constantly, and four minutes in we get a beautiful payoff: awesome, no, FANTASTIC lead guitar work and musical quotes straight from "Taurus 1". The jolly feel, gleeful bagpipes and surprising keyboards popping out from every corner never fail to put a smile on my face. Along with "Taurus 1" it's a clear winner highlight. I wish Mike worked the two songs together, especially that they borrow from each other and share a similar feel.

While "Platinum" had a proper, side long epic, "QE2" beats it with quality of 3-4 minute compositions. I feel Mike was getting comfortable with the 'new' format and didn't experiment as much, resulting in more cohesive and pleasing songs. Of course some listeners aren't too eager on analog synthesizer music, but the main course is still acoustic and organic, despite the New Wavey artwork. Certainly I have minor complaints: not all songs fire on all cylinders and I'd reconsider covering ABBA in his place. Most of the material deserves a listen, but only "Taurus 1" and "QE2" (long ones) approach brilliancy.

But the good outweigh the bad significantly, so I'm comfortable with three star rating, even 3.5 on a good day. Just try it on a rainy morning in May.

 Discovery by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.78 | 253 ratings

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Discovery
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by thief

2 stars Deeper and deeper in pop rock rabbit hole.

"Crises" brought Virgin Records fresh dose of smash hits with "Shadow on the Wall" and immortal "Moonlight Shadow". The plan was to double down next year with a new batch of successful singles; Mike followed the plan. Inspired by alpine landscapes and Lake Geneva - immediate surroundings of his new home in Switzerland - he delivered a good number of pleasing, inoffensive songs right on schedule. Thus "Discovery" was born.

Once again we're treated with all sorts of guitars, dreamy layers of Fairlight/Oberheim synthesizers and crystalline Maggie Reilly vocals. Ex-Triumvirat singer Barry Palmer teamed up for half of the songs and done a decent job, especially for a guy who lost voice during the recording week. The public opinion thought the same; the album quickly went up in the charts and even turned Gold/Platinum in Germany, United Kingdom, France and Spain.

But aside from commercial success in the day long gone, what "Discovery" really brings to the table?

It begins strongly with fan favorite "To France", one of the most recognizable songs of the era - at least in Europe. Maggie really leads the charge with lovely, though a bit sappy vocals. The rhythm, background, guitar synths and dainty acoustic solo round out the composition and make promise: this album's gonna be soft, simple, but pleasant in its own way. "Discovery" lives up to these expectations for the most part. "Poison Arrows" is catchy and even rocking at times, though it swallows its own tail at the end. "Crystal Gazing" sounds like mid-80s Kate Bush which is good, but it tends to cross the line between 'sweet' and 'saccharine' quite often. Maggie and Barry shared vocals on "Tricks of the Light", although they've only met after the album had been completed. Straightforward, average song, not much to write about honestly.

The title track fools us a bit because the strongest parts are the musical cues straight from "Five Miles Out" - not the album, but song itself. Actually the resemblance between the two is striking, although this one is less edgy and lacks the magical touch. I'd rather name it "Five Miles Out (Faint Memory)"... We're halfway through the album, 'just hold your heading true' folks.

After this point the formula starts wearing down and I find myself losing interest steadily. "Talk About Your Life" takes the 'sugary' route once again and doesn't really stand out in any way. Now I only remember it reused the most prominent melody of the album (the one from "To France") and tried to ramp up emotion at the end, but missed the point. "Saved by a Bell" might just define the term 'forgettable' and ultimately proves to be the weakest link here.

"The Lake" saves the B-side a bit, though I was expecting more. A twelve minute instrumental from Oldfield usually means we're in for a musical journey across mythical lands and emerald oceans; the water theme is (obviously) strong in this one, but not as breathtaking as expeditions of "Taurus" or "Crises" brand. With that being said, there is a good deal of pleasing melodies and 'background atmospheres'. I enjoy the abstract intro with 'droplets', the main theme breaking in at 1:45 or bold guitar licks around 5 minute mark. I also like the positive, but quite timid finale. So it's not that the music is disappointing: it just feels like a melting pot of separate ideas, lacking a common denominator or logical interludes. For this reason "The Lake" is a bit less than the sum of its intriguing parts.

I appreciate how 1979-83 albums tried to maintain the healthy balance between progressive and pop elements, but I also think that approach was abandoned later, "Discovery" being the first example. I don't mind spinning Mike's radio hits once in a while, but it's definitely not the reason why I grab these albums in the first place. The vision of "Five Miles Out" or even "Crises" is mostly gone while sweetie lil' tunes dominate. While it's listenable enough to make for a charming road trip, it pales in comparison with uplifting journey high above the clouds experienced on "Five Miles Out". Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I like such comparison: "Discovery" is Volkswagen in Swiss Alps, while "5MO" is Lockheed Electra aircraft gliding above Pacific Ocean.

"Discovery" is not a bad album per se, but soft tunes get dull sometimes. It doesn't really live up to its mysterious album cover, somewhat reminiscent of "Ommadawn". I can't really give it more than 2.5 stars (rounded down on Progarchives), in other words: mixed results.

I recommend checking out "The Lake", "Crystal Gazing" and perhaps title track. If you remain excited, go ahead and grab it. In other case please explore earlier Oldfield albums or jump straight to 1990s. Since I've already reviewed "Islands" and "Earth Moving", I can assure you it's not gonna get much better until "Amarok", save for "The Wind Chimes" suite (you might disagree on this one).

 Hergest Ridge by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.94 | 581 ratings

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Hergest Ridge
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Craig Evans

5 stars In this world that has been [%*!#]ed-up and ruined by The Man and his right-wing friends, there is one place to escape to if only for a little while. Mike Oldfield's Hergest is both my favorite Oldfield album and one of my favorite albums ever. Hergest Ridge evokes a fairy-tale world were no hate or violence exists only beautiful creatures and beautiful music. This Otherworld is enhanced by the unusual but awesome combinations of instruments and sounds. Mike's trusty and beautiful Cherry Red Gibson SG Junior both rocks out fast and slow on the one hand and softly sooths and cries on the other. There are both real and synthetic orchestra's on this album. The real orchestra conducted by David Bedford is the suitable source of the romantic parts of Hergest Ridge whilst the whistling synthetic strings curtesy of the Farfisa Organ, Lowrey Organ and GEM Organ create the magic of the Otherworld itself.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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