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Mike Oldfield - The Millenium Bell CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.33 | 163 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars a.k.a. 'Mike's Retirement Fund'.

This album makes me unreasonably angry. On it MIKE OLDFIELD attempts to appeal to every money-spending instinct we have, from Christmas to the Millennium to tourism - and, of course, let's add the 'bell' to increase sales. Even the cover design looks like a collage of Christmas decorations. Despite this, I can forgive any ploy if the resultant product is worth it.

So is this album worth it? The answer is a resounding no.

It is ostensibly a tour through history around the world, summarising the last two millennia in preparation for the new millennium. Nice concept, but there's just not the scope in eleven pieces of music to make this journey. It's the musical equivalent of travelling around the USA in three days. We begin with 'Peace on Earth', which sounds so much like a Disneyfied Christmas tune it sets my teeth on edge. I can almost hear the sleigh bells. If you're going to conduct us on a historical tour of the world, you'd better get it right: the first Christmas didn't have anything like the feel of a twentieth century American Christmas. Then we get the horrifyingly cringeworthy chanting of 'Pacha Mama'. Points for invoking cultures other than the Western hegemony, but - and this is probably just me - it works for me like fingernails on a blackboard. And so it goes. The spoken lyrics of 'Amazing Grace' kill 'Sunlight Shining Through Clouds' stone dead. The jig of 'The Doge's Palace' ought to have been played with analogue instruments, and the tacky digital mess is sunk by the addition of operatic vocals completely out of keeping with the song. Urgh. 'Lake Constance' is nice. 'Mastermind' begins promisingly, sounding like the James Bond theme's brother, but again the spoken words do it serious injury. The nondescript 'Broad Sunlit Uplands' is replaced by 'Liberation', an 'Amarok' soundalike spoiled by OLDFIELD'S daughter. 'Amber Light', the herald of the new millenium, might also have been culled from 'Amarok', and is quite good if one can forgive the initial stilted vocals. The final track starts with the nails on the blackboard again, and in typical OLDFIELD fashion reprises the album - over a house beat. And here I was hoping its length meant he would develop an idea into a progressive track. Hah! I've not heard anything as unintentionally funny as a jig set to a house beat.

Not only does the concept not work, the resultant music sounds cheesy, formulaic and the work of a man needing a rest. Please don't consider this representative of MIKE OLDFIELD'S back catalogue. Give one of the Big Five a go (Tubular Bells, Ommadawn, Amarok, TB II or Songs of Distant Earth). Even if you don't like them, you'd be bound to acknowledge their depth. Not this one, which is as shallow as music gets.

russellk | 1/5 |


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