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Mike Oldfield - Guitars CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.96 | 219 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Bells or blues

No prizes then for guessing what the predominant instrument is here. What you may not realise though is that this is Oldfield's only album where he performs absolutely everything himself. Not only that, but ALL the sounds are made using guitars, midi guitar or individual guitar samples, including the drum sounds.

The tracks are however diverse, with various types of guitar and effects appearing throughout. It is worth detailing here Oldfield's own descriptions of the tracks (from his official website):

Muse' - A simple track played on two guitars that has an almost Elizabethan feel.

Cochise - This track is loosely based on the first two bars of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

Embers - The first track recorded for the album, using a custom made classical Spanish guitar. The instrument is one of my most treasured possessions.

Summit Day - Inspired by John Krakauer's best-seller Into Thin Air which dealt with a climbing tragedy on Mount Everest. I wrote the song as a tribute and attempted to put the emotion of the final push to the summit into music."

Out of Sight - A jazz, rocky riff marks an upturn in tempo for the album.

B. Blues - A homage to the legendary B B King.

Four Winds - "Four individual pieces of music in one, named after the four winds with the music taking their characteristics. Enigmatism - I played my guitar through a synth without a delay, using a midi converter, allowing me to produce a mysterious, spooky sound.

Out Of Mind - The penultimate track was borne out of my love of rock'n'roll. With the Rolling Stones' sound as a base, I set about recreating my own version of their style.

From the Ashes - A reprise of Embers but with an added Celtic ending.

The first few tracks are soft acoustic pieces, with occasional interruptions by lead guitar. They are of course well performed, but rather dull repetitive affairs. It strikes me as a general comment that much of the music here could have been more successfully used as sections on one of Oldfield's longer more complex pieces. They tend to lack sufficient substance to stand up in isolation. One of Oldfield's strengths is that he does not tend to labour a theme, moving on to another before it outstays its welcome. Here though, the tracks consist mainly of fairly basic themes which are played repeatedly, with perhaps changes of sound but not melody.

"Cochise" is a case in point. It's all very well using the opening notes of "Whole lotta love", but the track needs to go somewhere beyond that to avoid becoming tedious and dull.

As the album progresses, the diversity of sound increases, with "Out of sight" and "B Blues" having a much rougher feel. The latter may be based on a blues theme, but there is still far more "Bells" to it than "Blues".

In all, a good if slightly dull album by a very accomplished musician. I can't help but feel though that perhaps he has now been to the same well, or is that "bell", once too often.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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