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Mike Oldfield - Discovery CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.83 | 313 ratings

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3 stars Perhaps inspired by how well Roger Chapman's rough and ready vocal style suited his contribution to the prior "Crises", Oldfield recruited former Triumvirat crooner Barry Palmer to share the billing with the everpresent Maggie Reilly on this 1984 release, while taking over almost all instrumental duties at the expense of the Mike Oldfield "band". The results are mixed, but there can be little argument that the turn towards 80s pop stylings is irreversible by this point.

"Discovery" sounds a lot like the Alan Parsons Project for most of its duration, particularly on Palmer's gothic "Poison Arrows" and the hard rocking title cut, reminiscent of early APP a la "Tell Tale Heart" or "Dr Tarr". A sprinkling of Abba can be sampled on the nonetheless impressive opener "To France", which somehow barely dented the UK sales charts. Reilly and Palmer even do a duet on the infectious "Tricks of the Light". "Talk About Your Life" reprises the "To France" theme only to expose its own failure to endure even more than an album side. But the real dud is "Saved by the Bell" which lyrically and musically finds MO stuck in reverse, perhaps the nadir of his career to that point. Palmer's screeching beseeching only amplifies this listener's irritation.

The album is partially redeemed by the multi-part instrumental "The Lake" which gets better and better over the course of its 12 minutes and shows that Oldfield could do an instrumental epic without having to pad it to 20 odd minutes. Sure the 80s synths are in copious rotation but it was the 80s, and, unlike much of that decade's keyboard extravaganzas, this one remains relatively tasteful and emotionally charged.

While this 1984 installment won't likely rank as your discovery of the year, it's worth a listen if you want an example of why Mike Oldfield might be classified as crossover prog. It hasn't aged well, but it's still undeniably Oldfield, with quality in spades, and that's some pedigree.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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