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Mike Oldfield - Islands CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.62 | 207 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars It was the whimsy of fate that I should first wash up on the shores of "Islands" within the archipelago of MIKE OLDFIELD's musical estates. With no point of reference save for snippets of "Tubular Bells" on my mental map, I recognized my good fortune at happening upon such a warm and inviting place. Haste being the enemy in the world of musical criticism, I won't extend my understanding of "Islands" to cover MIKE OLDFIELD the artist. But, having canvassed this island from side to side, I can at least recount the tale of this isolated expedition in full measure. "Islands" is separated into two halves, the first featuring the "The Wind Chimes" in two parts. It's tantamount to musical seafaring, rising and falling as a ship on a tempestuous sea. OLDFIELD takes his place alongside England's rich history of musical composers, invoking the imagery of exotic places while prone to England's affection for pomp, a worldview unique to the English lens. It's a trait that appears in many English writers, half-moored to the hearth even in their wild discoveries, to which The Wind in the Willows and The Hobbit come to mind. Side two re-casts some of the themes from "The Wind Chimes" as pop songs featuring an array of guest vocalists. When ANITA HEGERLAND is singing, KATE BUSH becomes the reference point. BONNIE TYLER shifts that point to CYNDI LAUPER. JIM PRICE suggests ASIA/GTR (no wonder since GEOFFREY DOWNES co-produces his cameo, "Magic Touch"). KEVIN AYERS is his own inimitable self. It's an interesting concept, employing the themes as an epic instrumental on the one hand, as parcelled pop songs on the other. The latter connects OLDFIELD to artists like TONY BANKS, who seemed to be pursuing the same goals on Bankstatement.

On "Islands", however, the sails are always full of wind, his songcraft propelled by the participation of a skilled crew that outclasses the hands available to Banks. I'm sure I'll revisit "Islands" some day after I've explored other works by OLDFIELD ("Tubular Bells" and "Hergest Ridge" beckon from the undiscovered country on my shelves) and place it in relation to other points of interest. In the meantime, no harm done to set sail straight for "Islands" and drop anchor here for a spell.

daveconn | 3/5 |


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