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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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MIKE OLDFIELD discography


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

4.13 | 1297 ratings
Tubular Bells
1973
3.96 | 668 ratings
Hergest Ridge
1974
2.54 | 198 ratings
The Orchestral Tubular Bells
1975
4.30 | 1471 ratings
Ommadawn
1975
3.96 | 517 ratings
Incantations
1978
3.17 | 339 ratings
Platinum
1979
3.51 | 364 ratings
QE2
1980
3.70 | 426 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.49 | 485 ratings
Crises
1983
2.81 | 295 ratings
Discovery
1984
2.71 | 176 ratings
The Killing Fields
1984
2.62 | 235 ratings
Islands
1987
2.10 | 197 ratings
Earth Moving
1989
4.02 | 637 ratings
Amarok
1990
2.49 | 198 ratings
Heaven's Open
1991
3.58 | 359 ratings
Tubular Bells II
1992
3.72 | 328 ratings
The Songs Of Distant Earth
1994
3.10 | 246 ratings
Voyager
1996
3.34 | 255 ratings
Tubular Bells III
1998
2.95 | 207 ratings
Guitars
1999
2.32 | 168 ratings
The Millenium Bell
1999
2.47 | 171 ratings
Tr3s Lunas
2002
3.75 | 234 ratings
Tubular Bells 2003
2003
2.76 | 164 ratings
Light + Shade
2005
3.04 | 204 ratings
Music of the Spheres
2008
3.13 | 208 ratings
Man On The Rocks
2014
4.06 | 402 ratings
Return To Ommadawn
2017
0.00 | 0 ratings
Tubular Bells - 50th Anniversary Celebration
2022

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

3.81 | 109 ratings
Exposed
1979
3.00 | 1 ratings
Dark Star - Live American Radio Broadcast
2021

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

3.94 | 52 ratings
Tubular Bells II & III Live (DVD)
1999
2.59 | 47 ratings
The Art in Heaven Concert Live in Berlin (DVD)
2000
4.28 | 18 ratings
DVD Collection
2003
3.20 | 38 ratings
Elements - The Best Of (DVD)
2004
3.89 | 49 ratings
Exposed
2005
4.48 | 84 ratings
Live At Montreux 1981
2006

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

3.81 | 51 ratings
Boxed
1976
3.61 | 18 ratings
Airborn
1980
3.12 | 7 ratings
Impressions
1980
3.00 | 12 ratings
Music Wonderland
1981
3.72 | 51 ratings
The Complete Mike Oldfield
1985
3.41 | 10 ratings
Collector's Edition Box I
1990
3.24 | 11 ratings
Collector's Edition Box II
1990
2.61 | 28 ratings
Elements: The Best of Mike Oldfield
1993
2.95 | 17 ratings
Elements: 1973-1991
1993
2.67 | 19 ratings
XXV - The Essential Mike Oldfield
1997
2.15 | 12 ratings
The Best Of Tubular Bells
2001
2.88 | 8 ratings
The Mike Oldfield Collection
2002
2.80 | 11 ratings
The Complete Tubular Bells
2003
2.58 | 16 ratings
The Platinum Collection
2006
4.15 | 13 ratings
Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield
2012
2.60 | 16 ratings
Tubular Beats
2013
4.40 | 5 ratings
The Studio Albums: 1992-2003
2014
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Best Of: 1992-2003
2015
2.67 | 3 ratings
The Space Movie
2015
3.50 | 6 ratings
The 1984 Suite
2016

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

4.00 | 7 ratings
Tubular Bells
1974
4.10 | 11 ratings
In Dulci Jubilo
1975
3.25 | 8 ratings
Don Alfonso
1975
1.50 | 2 ratings
Don Alfonso (German Version)
1975
3.29 | 12 ratings
Portsmouth
1976
3.88 | 8 ratings
William Tell Overture
1976
4.00 | 7 ratings
Cuckoo Song
1977
3.67 | 3 ratings
Take 4
1978
4.11 | 9 ratings
Guilty
1979
4.00 | 7 ratings
Blue Peter
1979
3.60 | 5 ratings
Extract From Tubular Bells (live)
1979
3.80 | 5 ratings
Arrival
1980
4.20 | 5 ratings
Wonderful Land
1981
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Singles
1981
3.88 | 8 ratings
Five Miles Out
1982
3.86 | 7 ratings
Family Man
1982
2.43 | 11 ratings
Mistake
1982
3.13 | 4 ratings
Crime of Passion
1983
3.30 | 11 ratings
Moonlight Shadow
1983
3.29 | 16 ratings
Shadow on the Wall
1983
3.69 | 13 ratings
To France
1984
3.89 | 18 ratings
Pictures in the Dark
1985
3.38 | 15 ratings
Shine
1986
1.62 | 12 ratings
Innocent
1989
3.00 | 11 ratings
Tattoo
1992
3.20 | 5 ratings
Man In The Rain
1998
3.33 | 3 ratings
Far Above The Clouds CD 1
1999
2.50 | 2 ratings
Far Above The Clouds CD 2
1999

MIKE OLDFIELD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.30 | 1471 ratings

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Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by WJA-K

5 stars I think this is Mike Oldfield at his peak. The similarities with Tubular Bells are obvious. But hey, it's the same artist!

This record has more warmth, more soul and more variation than Tubular Bells. I also feel this one showcases better musicianship. Not Tubular Bells but this one is the go-to album to discover what Mike Oldfield is capable of. Because, unlike the far better-known debut, this one isn't frontloaded at all. Both sides of the album are equally beautiful and great.

And can someone please explain why this would be Crossover Prog? What's not "real" prog about this?

This is so great. 5 stars from me.

 Hergest Ridge by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.96 | 668 ratings

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Hergest Ridge
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

4 stars So funny story on why I am reviewing this album. I accidentally rated this album, and since you cannot remove reviews, I decided to take it as an opportunity to review this album. I have made a previous review on this album on a Discord server before, but it kinda blows so I decided to make a new one. Anyways, about Mike Oldfield. I really think he is one of Prog's best musicians, not THE best but definitely up there with some of the greats. His work blows me away with the fact that his albums are made mostly by himself, no band backing him up, just him in the recording studio playing a bunch of instruments to create one giant song. Obviously in recent years he doesn't do this anymore, and if he does than it is sort of less impressive due to the technology of today allowing people to create giant songs on their own without band members, but to me Mike Oldfield will forever be that man who created a bunch of albums with a bunch of instruments, all on his own, and Hergest Ridge is one such example of how impressive his work effort really is.

Mike Oldfield's songs are pretty hard to describe, especially his early work. His more pop stuff in the 80s are definitely a bit easier, but generally he is an interesting man to describe when talking about his music. Definitely not impossible but can be tricky. Though I think with this work, it's a lot more grassy, if that makes sense. Not like a folk sounding album, that's definitely a lot more adjacent to Ommadawn, but this album, or more specifically the first part feels a lot more homegrown. This is also the part where we see a bit of Mike's charm with leitmotifs. Mike's sound is a lot more based on the relation repetition but also a sense of movement. Generally his songs have a signature melody. For Tubular Bells it was the classic jingle that is famous for its inclusion in the Excursist films, while Hergest Ridge is a long winded flute melody that soon evolved into a melody with brass instruments. This album, like the preceding album before, has a bunch of different continuous melodies, however they are a lot more expanded upon and thus a lot longer. This definitely makes the songs on this album way more fulfilling. This all comes to ahead for part one's ending, being this acoustic bit of music with a chorus in the back that goes into this bell melody, obviously resembling the finale to Tubular Bells Part 1. Due to this, it makes this album feel like a logical next step for Oldfield's sound. However I do have to give my critique where it is due, and that is this song feels a lot more reminiscent of the previous album, clearly taking major notes from it, like the ending with the bells, but also the use of continuous and long winded melodies. I am not saying it is bad, in fact I like it a lot, it gives his albums before and afterwards a sense of growth and evolution from one to another, but here you could tell some things are more based off Tubular Bells than something completely original. Just a small nitpick to an otherwise good song.

Then we have part two. It still carries the same kind of feeling part one has, even including the leitmotif at the beginning to some effect, similar type of feeling too. However, that is all in the first half of the song. The second half is this extremely noisy guitar melody. Not metal in a sense, but you can definitely feel Mike cranking up the amps for this bit. I do admit though, it goes on a bit too long for my liking. However it is all worth it, because the ending, like the first part, has a nice pay off, with a melody that evolves from the signature leitmotif of the first part. It makes these parts feel a lot more connected and generally a lot smoother of an experience than the previous album. However I do feel like this has a problem, one which is the opposite to the problems of the first part. This part feels very removed from Mike's style. It's not poppy, or overly simplistic, but the part with the guitar and how long it is, it makes this part in particular less Oldfield and more like somebody trying to make his style more hard hitting and overdriven, and not working all too well in their favor. However besides that one critique this part is definitely still as good as the first, and definitely an enjoyable listen.

Overall I think this album is a very nice romp through Mike's signature style. Obviously I do think sometimes it feels too much like Tubular Bells at points and that overdriven guitar segment can be annoying, but I wouldn't call this album bad and certainly one I'd recommend to anyone wanting to get more into Mike Oldfield.

 Tr3s Lunas by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.47 | 171 ratings

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Tr3s Lunas
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Mike Oldfield has never been one to avoid diverting into different styles of music in his long career, and 2002's `Tr3S Lunas' (translating from Spanish to mean "Three Moons") is no exception. Originally conceived as the soundtrack to a multi-media video game/virtual reality crossover project, this release can probably be considered a fairly minor entry in the sizeable discography of the legendary multi-instrumentalist, but is still a collection of atmospheric and relaxing pieces that holds together rather well.

New-Age, electronica, chill-out, ambient and lightly symphonic styles, not to mention the music of a range of cultures from around the world are filtered into approachable shorter compositions here, although Mike's instantly recognisable guitar playing is frequently front and center. In several moments, the results are somewhat comparable to the more exotic period of Tangerine Dream that began around the mid-Nineties, or even Jean-Michel Jarre's poppy electronic crossover approach on his modern albums.

The carefully crafted pieces here are predominantly instrumental, however occasional spoken word passages and soothing singing will pop up. Despite not being as complex as his grander works, Oldfield's mastery over numerous instruments and a range of modern production techniques is still evident, and some musical motifs and themes that pop up throughout are memorable and engaging.

Looking at some of the highlights, the laid-back synth sighs, punchy programmed beats and mellow guitar strains of opener `Misty' have that accessible Jean-Michel Jarre-like appeal. `Viper' is more strident with eastern- flavoured programmed percussion, the acoustic `Turtle Bridge' is romantic and tranquil, and there's gorgeous Mellotron-like veils that skip around the first half of `Fire Fly'. Michael's sister Sally delivers breathy spoken-word and sighing harmonies here and there throughout the disc, and there's even a lyrically positive pop tune in `To Be Free'.

`No Mans Land' and its album closing reprise is the absolute standout moment, a softly striking theme from blissful synth strains that rise and fall around a repeating electric piano motif, while shimmering guitar reaches flit in and out.

Many will look upon this album as lightweight, throwaway, even bland, but it's also melodic, tasteful, gentle, undemanding and really rather lovely. Perhaps there's not always a lot of depth, and Oldfield's approach to the various genres mentioned above are perhaps not particularly original or distinctive here, but `Tr3s Lunas' still has enough to offer more undemanding or easy-going fans.

Three stars.

 Tubular Bells by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.13 | 1297 ratings

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Tubular Bells
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Saimon

5 stars Review #25: Tubular Bells

I've never understood why people call it "overrated". It is simply one of the greatest creations of all time.

Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield's debut album, is an instrumental album full of rhythmic breaks, haunting melodies, extravagant and innovative sounds and otherworldly atmospheres. It is one of the most experimental progressive rock albums in history and also one of the best. The fact that in his youth, Oldfield managed to create such an incredible piece of music using a wide range of instruments that he had managed to learn, is one of the most inspiring concepts if ever there was one.

The most important promotion of the recording came from an unexpected source, when the introduction to the first part was chosen to appear in the film The Exorcist, which was released in the United States in December 1973 and in European cinemas in March 1974. According to British film critic Mark Kermode, the decision to include the music was a fluke: director William Friedkin had decided to scrap Lalo Schifrin's original score and was looking for music to replace it. Friedkin was visiting the offices of Ahmet Ertegun, president of Atlantic Records (which distributed Tubular Bells in the US), and picking up a white label from the selection of records in Ertegun's office, he put it on the record player and instantly decided that the music would be perfect for the film. Although the introduction only appears briefly in two scenes of the film, it has become the most commonly associated theme of the film. Oldfield has stated that he did not want to see the film because he thought he would find it too scary.

Oldfield learned to play guitar at an early age, and by the age of 12 or 13 was playing in folk clubs with school friends. His teenage years were marred by problems in the family home, and to escape his troubles Oldfield spent many hours in his room practising guitar and composing instrumental pieces, becoming an accomplished performer. He formed a short-lived folk duo called Sallyangie with his sister Sally, and after its dissolution became the bassist for The Whole World, a band formed by former Soft Machine member Kevin Ayers. The Whole World recorded their album Shooting at the Moon (1970) at Abbey Road Studios over several months in 1970, and the 17- year-old Oldfield was fascinated by the variety of instruments available in the studios, which included pianos, arpischords, a Mellotron and various orchestral percussion instruments. When the band wasn't booked for a recording session until noon, he would arrive at the studios early and spend hours during the morning experimenting with the different instruments and learning how to play each one.

Tubular Bells is divided into two parts. The first part is the most interesting, it is a gale of emotions through the ears, and I want to give you a sensory review of the journey of listening to it. I offer you, section by section, the impressions produced in my nervous system by this melodic orchestration. First of all, it should be very clear that "Tubular Bells" was already a hit in the music world before it was incorporated into the soundtrack of "The Exorcist", but for many film buffs and music lovers, Olfield's theme is irremediably associated with the film, and it goes without saying that part of its great success in sales came from its incorporation into the film.

This album has moments of gentle beauty, great slices of widdly prog, some strangely exciting moments where Oldfield simply decides to rock, parts that defy explanation (the whole Piltdown Man section still baffles me, as does ending the album with "The Sailor's Hornpipe"), and it still has time to be one of the key releases in the evolution of electronic and ambient music. As far as instrumental orchestral rock music goes, there is little to compare with it.

As much as his fans salute the intense genius that is Mike Oldfield, it must be admitted that he has struggled to match the artistic and commercial success of Tubular Bells ever since, despite repeated attempts to recapture its elusive appeal through sequels, orchestral follow-ups and even full, state-of-the-art re-recordings. Perhaps it is partly due to the fact that, despite the technical virtuosity and painstakingly constructed from dozens of overdubs, the original version of Tubular Bells was largely organic, and subsequent attempts to eliminate even the slightest error have robbed this largely instrumental monster of its humanity.

9/10, 4.8 stars. A great, sentimental and powerful piece, created on the basis of a single person... One of the greatest artists ever born.... Mike Oldfield, ladies and gentlemen!

 Crises by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.49 | 485 ratings

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Crises
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

5 stars I really do love Mike Oldfield's work. His albums are always so enriching to the ears with beautiful uses of instruments and composing them to their absolute potential. Utilizing various genres like classical, art rock, and during the early years of the 80s, more pop like scores too. After two amazing albums, QE2, and Five Miles Out, his next work, Crises, shows more of his innovation with both his use of prog rock and his use of more pop like tunes.

The first song, the title track of the album, Crises, is a brand spanking new suite from Oldfield himself. To me, this is like the perfect combination of the 70s Mike and the 80s Mike. It is both complex in it's craft, has a pop feel, and shows improvements of Mike's craftsmanship from 1970 to 1983. I also love the combo duet that the guitars and synths occasionally have, they are truly beautiful in how they work together. Not only that but the drumming is absolutely superb. I really absolutely dig this song. The next song is Moonlight Shadow. Side 2 is a lot more pop like than side 1, and this song shows this, however I think Mike's pop music is as superb as his more progressive works. The acoustic guitar on this song goes kinda hard sometimes, and it sorta contrasts the sweet and pretty vocals sung by Maggie Reilly. Also that guitar solo is honestly really cool. I really dig this song. Next song is In High Places. Sung by Jon Anderson of Yes, this song is very pretty in it's both simplicity and complexity. Jon's vocals are honestly one of the best things in the song, it's like listening to a fusion of Yes and Mike Oldfield. It is absolutely great. Also I should note, if Kanye West samples your song for an album that many fans say is his best, than that shows that talent recognizes talent. The next song is Foreign Affair. Back to more pop like songs, we have this pretty cool song with some great minimalist use of only (I think) three instruments, a bass, drums, and a bouncy and bubbly electric piano. It's very chill in a way. Also funny thing, when I first heard the first few seconds of the song, I was afraid that Mike would start rapping, glad that didn't happen but it's kinda funny if he did. After that, we got the 3rd part in the Taurus line up of songs that started in QE2. It is pretty Spanish like with it's instrumentation, like you just entered a mystical dance hall in a Mexican city. It is very cool, but I kinda wish it went a little longer. After that we got Shadow on the Wall. It sorta has this hard rock vibe, but mixed with Mike Oldfield's signature sound. When I hear this tune I imagine Led Zeppelin and Mike Oldfield going in the same room in the studio and just jamming out. It's honestly very cool, and that Electric guitar is just so, so, so so superb.

So yeah, this album is excellent. It shows Mike's beautiful music making and his use of many different genres from both the pop and prog scenes with a little bit of hard rock. I feel like this album is rather underappreciated because while it is a lot more pop like, it still has amazing music within it, and I think that makes it one of his best albums.

 Earth Moving by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.10 | 197 ratings

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Earth Moving
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by larkhon

5 stars I admit I'm not very objective when it comes to an album I literally grew up with. But if you look at this as any album released in 1989, it's probably one of the best that was made.

I remember reading that Virgin wanted albums that would sell well, capitalizing on the Mike Oldfield brand that produced stuff like Moonlight Shadow. I'd invite anyone to take a look at the music industry today before judging the work that was done on this album. I'm quite happy if all this led to unhappiness and ultimate breakup with Virgin, because it gave us Tubulars Bells II and Song of the distant earth...

Now, to the album, my favorites are 'See the light', 'Earth Moving' and 'Nothing but - Bridge to Paradise'. I feel like they're the masterpieces of an era that's gone, and it would appeal to people who were not into that kind of music. Artists always get criticized for doing mainstream music but when it's done with talent, there is no problem.

 Crises by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.49 | 485 ratings

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Crises
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In this album, Oldfield, after the usual suite, Crises (20:53), almost good, published some good songs sung by great singers that made of this album a great commercial success.

Notably, the melodic song Moonlight Shadow (3:38), with vocals by Maggie Reilly, his famous besteller on single, gave Oldfield a planetary dimension, and this single has the ability to coin a commercial sound and a clear melody where Reilly's voice is perfect.

In High Places (3:34), with vocals by Jon Anderson, is another good song, as is Foreign Affair, again sung by Reilly. After it is the turn of Taurus 3 (4:17) and especially of

Shadow on the Wall (3:10) where one of the greatest singer ever, Roger Chapman (by Family) make this song wonderful. Chapman's raucous and neurotic singing is delightful, and the only sin of these songs is that they are too short, too studied with a commercial format, but still Side B is better than side A. And the album, in its commercial format. it's good

Rating 7.5. Three Stars.

 Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.30 | 1471 ratings

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Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ommadawn is Mike Oldfield's highest rated record here on Progarchives.

Personally, I believe that, although more varied, it does not reach the peaks of Tubular Bells (which remains his masterpiece).

On this record Oldfield's fusion becomes very daring, using a group of African percussionists, a small choir of children's voices, as well as a lot of orchestral and Irish folk instruments.

1. Ommadawn Part 1 (19:14)

It starts very slowly and frankly until 7 minutes, when the flute and acoustic guitars arrive, the piece is not musically inspired. After this change, there are flashy and fast changes of rhythm and arrangement, too fast, and only towards the end of the piece do we reach a climax of a certain beauty, when African percussion is added to Celtic folk song. The final with electric guitar, on the other hand, is not very inspired.

Rating 7.5 / 8

2. Ommadawn Part 2 (incl. "On Horseback") (17:07)

Part 2 begins with an insignificant electronic carpet that unfortunately continues for a long time, and the music becomes beautiful just when you hear the Paddy Moloney's Uillean pipes. Undoubtedly the folk acoustic moments, which follow the electric ones, make the album more interesting and save it from mediocrity.

Rating 7,5 /8.

Good album, with some peak but even with long uninspired passages.

Rating 7,5/8.

Three Stars.

 Live At Montreux 1981 by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover DVD/Video, 2006
4.48 | 84 ratings

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Live At Montreux 1981
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

5 stars In the mere 8 years between Tubular Bells and this concert, Oldfield had gone from kitchen sink 50 minute opuses in studio solitude to a tight rock band, passing on the way thru various prog folk derivations ("Hergest Ridge", "Ommadawn"), modern neo classical ("Incantations"). massive stage extravaganzas rivalling some of Rick Wakeman's earlier ambitions ("Exposed"), minimalism ("Platinum"), and finally his own influential take on Celtic rock ("QE2" ). One could argue he grew more during this time than many artists do in their lifetime, and that his audience grew in lock step with him, attaining an appreciation and love of more complex music that very few artists could have cultivated. I have heard bobblehead critics refer to Oldfield's work as childish, but I believe they may be conflating the artist's gift with childlike wonder that permeates many of his electric guitar solos with immaturity. In fact his restraint at resisting the guitar hero profile in favor of a clean shaven if slightly long haired boy wonder is to be commended. At least at this point, he seemed so genuinely happy with having finally engineered a tete a tete with the audience that this joy is discerned right through the gritted teeth holding his pick collection in place as his guitar plays him.

The concert begins with a medley from QE2, the album that was current at the time, and the first of his 2 predominantly Celtic albums. Although the successor "Five Miles Out" was still a year away, in "Taurus 1" we can perceive some of the motifs later used in that album's opus "Taurus 2". While the vividly red-haired Maggie Reilly adds a vocal dimension even to tracks that didn't have a singer on the original release, at this point her contributions are wordless and all the more vivid for it, being utilized craftily in place of both voice and accompanying instrumentation as the need is intuited. That this same singer became the voice of a string of chart hits shortly thereafter is tribute to her versatility and Oldfield's creativity.

The peak, though, is the underrated "Platinum" suite in 4 very different yet harmonious parts, each building on the previous, even the roaring twenties honky tonk of the "Charleston" part during which the band members are served wine, leading effortlessly into the "North Star" finale which Oldfield's riffs trade off with sweet acoustic guitar by Rick Fenn who otherwise plays mostly bass in the concert. Maggie returns to coax it to an appropriate crescendo. Throughout this opus and others, the keyboard work of Tim Cross is top notch and his stage presence is not bad at all. The two percussionists center the naturally rhythmic nature of Oldfield's music. The liner notes indicate that he set up the touring band as a profit sharing enterprise rather than simply paying them a gig fee. Based on their performance, Oldfield's genius is not limited to musical realms.

Oldfield later returns to QE2 with the wonderful "Conflict" that morphs from synth storm to a hot blooded Irish jig with nary a trace of self possession or artifice. This segues into Ommadawn Part One which covers many high points of that masterpiece. The abbreviated Tubular Bells 2 (highlight being the guitar played like a bagpipe!) and the full Tubular Bells 1 seem like the right proportions given the time constraints. The concert balances reflective, almost campfire intimacy when Oldfield is playing mandolin or acoustic guitar to rousing melodic solos to full on prog rock. To say that Punkadiddle is supremely anticlimactic is an understatement, but it's nice seeing these lads shed their doubtlessly drenched shirts before returning to the stage for this encore.

Given the breadth of what is presented here, the manner in which it is performed, the justice that it does to this man's legacy, and the enthusiasm of the audience that surely counted primarily jazz fans amongst their number, I can only conclude that this DVD represents an essential encapsulation of an eventful first 4/5 decade in a remarkable career.

 Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.30 | 1471 ratings

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Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by DiversionConVinilos

5 stars The essence of progressive rock is its ability to absorb and assimilate music from different fields, always looking for innovation, experimentation and the search for new paths. This is what Mike Oldfield does, at least in his early works. And this Ommadawn is a good proof of that. In this work, the main influence comes from world music, with rhythmic and tribal elements that serve to develop melodic motifs of great strength and consistency.

From the first moment powerful melodies are combined with the folk elements to create a complex ecosystem that develops and varies throughout the first part, making the tension grow until it reaches a brutal climax at the end of this first part and that includes one of the most spectacular guitar solos of Oldfield's entire career. The second part is, by contrast, much more relaxed, exploring more the folk vein to which musicians of the stature of Paddy Moloney, the leader of the Chieftains, contribute, playing the Irish bagpipes or his brother Terry playing the flute, in addition to the group of African percussion Jabula, also protagonists of the amazing end of the first part.

An album, in my view, exceptional in its development and its content. Music that is pleasant to listen to, without taking away its extraordinary originality.

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

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