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Mike Oldfield - Islands CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.62 | 207 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars This is one of a few below-average albums MIKE OLDFIELD made at the end of the second phase of his career. Much of his musical malaise can be attributed to his deteriorating relationship with Virgin, his record label, who offered him no support. But I tend to think OLDFIELD was a victim of his own success twice over: first 'Tubular Bells' and then 'Crises' overly influenced his direction and musical 'voice' - and probably led to his label putting undue pressure on him for encores. It wasn't until Virgin's shackles were removed that OLDFIELD showed us what he could do: a succession of albums in the 1990s demonstrated the breadth and virtuosity of his talent. Unfortunately, not much of that talent is visible here.

Yet the majestic 'Wind Chimes Part 1', a two and a half minute overture, would have you believe otherwise. Sadly it heralds a competent-at-best, banal-at- worst twenty minute instrumental composition, 'Wihd Chimes Part 2', which for the first time sounds like OLDFIELD-by-numbers. Part of it vaguely presages the experimentation of 'Amarok,' but I hear more of the excrable 'Music From The Balcony' here. Noodling rather than melody or rhythm, his strong suits, dominates the piece. A well-known guitar line appears with four minutes to go (filched from 'Ommadawn'), far too late. The last three minutes are quite nice, and earn a star.

Yet once this is over, you have heard the best this record has to offer. The second side is - you guessed it - a sequence of shorter, pop-structured songs. No problem, if any of them were of the quality of 'Five Miles Out', 'Moonshine Shadow' or 'Discovery' from earlier albums. Sadly, none are. Each takes its melody from 'Wind Chimes', the most obvious borrowing audible in 'Flying Start'. The title track was supposed to be the 'hit' single, but failed despite BONNIE TYLER'S vocals, her of JIM STEINMAN/'Total Eclipse of the Heart' fame. Simply put, it's a poor pop song. 'Magic Touch' is a little better, but still doesn't measure up to the excellent pop music coming from around the world at the time. 'When The Night's On Fire' reuses the tune and song structure of the title track, and manages to suck away what little life it had. The second side of this record is simply pedestrian.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't bother unless you are an OLDFIELD fan. Even then there are thousands of records, made with passion, commitment and love, that should be listened to before this.

russellk | 2/5 |


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