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Mike Oldfield - The Millenium Bell CD (album) cover

THE MILLENIUM BELL

Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog


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1 stars This is one of the worst records I´ve ever heard ever, and of course, the worst by the superb Mike Oldfield. It´s worst than Heaven´s Open (what an awful record!!). I think he is losing ideas, so he´s repeating himself with Tubular things. Don´t buy this, it´s a recording only made to make money.I hope don´t see more tubular discs, or I´ll go crazy. Please Mike, don´t make CD´s like this, it is horrible!!
Report this review (#28499)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Actually this is a discontinuous work, filtered through the commercial exigencies and with the main defect that He makes his enormous talent emerge in a few circumstances here. This l.p. is not essential but is anyway quite interesting!!
Report this review (#28500)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars For whom the bell tolls

Yet another album from Oldfield with the "Bell" sales enhancing name. This one however bears even less relation to "Tubular bells" than any of the others. Apparently a "journey through time", the tracks reflect different periods or events in the last two thousand years, such as the birth of Christianity, the discovery of the Americas, the slave trade, etc, before moving to the future with the final two tracks.

The early tracks include tribal chanting, while "Sunlight through the clouds" uses the lyrics of "Amazing grace", performed in a rather dull and pointless way. The music tends to become more sophisticated as the album moves on through time, "Lake Constance" for example being a purely orchestral piece inspired by the romantic period poets.

The final five tracks represent the 20th century and beyond. The music here is diverse, ranging from another orchestral piece, through further tribal chants, to disco dance rhythms.

There's some pleasant music on this album, but whether it's worthy of the "Bell" series tag is questionable. It's by no means Oldfield's best, the diversity in many ways spoiling the album, rather than enhancing it.

Report this review (#28501)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Surprisingly enjoyable album that has nothing to do with Tubular Bells despite the use of 'Bell' in the title.This is a very nice album and one that I can happily tolerate even of it's not prog really.
Report this review (#28502)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars After two excellent albums (TB3 and Guitars), Oldfield came back with yet another "Tubular Bells" album. This one, I really don't consider a TB album, so I tend to say my favorite TB work is TB2, and my favorite "Bell" work is The Millennium Bell. Although it's definitely not as complex as earlier works, it still has interesting attempts at mixing multiple cultures into one album. Some of this will remind you of Venezzia's carnival, or maybe it'll make you think of an Inca ceremony. All in all, it's definitely not as bad as most people tend to think--actually I don't know anyone around me who doesn't love that album! ;)
Report this review (#138783)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
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.

Report this review (#139222)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This "Mellenium Bell" is the poorest of the list so far.

Mostly ethnic or "world" music oriented, I can't think of one single part of it which are of some interest to any fan of this great original theme. Because, it has basically nothing to do with it. The worse being achieved during "Santa Maria". Gosh!!!

While listening to "Sunlight Shining.", I have more the impression of being in the middle of the African savannah than to hear a Mike Oldfield track (same applies to "Liberation" and "Amber Light").

At best, there are some pleasant symphonic (meaning with orchestrations) parts : "Lake Constance" and "Broad Sunlit Uplands " for instance. But it is rather strange that I consider these ones as being the most bearable since I have never been into this type of combination.

The electro beats during "Mastermind" are also pretty difficult to swallow. Repetitive to the bones. Press next. The closing "The Millenium Bell" is probably the part that I dislike most. Dance music my friends. Could you believe? Don't even start to listen to this part and eject your CD before it starts. Disgusting.

I don't like this declination of "Tubular" AT ALL. IMHHO, it is totally useless. One star.

Report this review (#162937)
Posted Friday, February 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars An average record... With another wrong name!

After the great Tubular Bells III, and the enjoyable and original Guitars, Oldfield came up with this diverse, incoherent conceptual album, with some great moments, and a lot of mediocre parts. The concept of the album is not bad... The desire of Oldfield was to make a musical travel through the last two millenniums of humanity's history, specially the last one... So we have a singing to mother earth (Pacha Mama), the America's discovering (Santa María), the romantic period (Lake Constance), Chicago's gangster ages (Mastermind), war (Broad Sunlit Uplands)... And even some futuristic elements at the end!

The idea, reported this way, is not bad... But some songs are just improper for a worthy and respectable career like the Oldfield's one. The repetitive melody in The Dodge's Palace, the silly Mastermind, the bad implemented vocals in Sunlight Shining Through Clouds... I'd only save three of four tracks of this album. The rest is really far from the best Oldfield's moments.

The style of the album is versatile, showing some of the different Oldfield's abbilities... From the pure symphonic elements (Lake Constance, Broad Sunlit Uplands) to the electronic synthethised sounds (Mastermind, The Millennium Bell), to some ethnic moments (Pacha Mama, Liberation), new age elements (Santa María, Amber Light) ... Is one of the most diverse albums Oldfield has made, both in style and quality!

Best songs: Lake Constance (the only true jewel of the album... Is like a soundtrack of a romantic film. Could be easily have the sign of Maurice Jarre or John Barry... Not really originial, but I really love this beautiful and evocative song, specially the spanish guitar part!), Broad Sunlit Uplands (like Lake Constance, is another symphonic track... More melancholic, and with a nice piano melody) and Liberation (because it reminds me to Amarok... And it has the typical Oldfield's guitar sound at the end)

Conclusion: this album has great moments, like Lake Constance and Broad Sunlit Uplands... Nevertheless, it's very irregular. Some sublime fragments are mixed up with really mediocre ones, so this album is far from the Oldfield's best. For all this, I recommend you this album only if you are an experienced Oldfield listener. If you are not, please start with another one, because The Millennium Bell is among his weakest efforts.

My rating: **1/2

Report this review (#175861)
Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
1 stars The Milennium Bell is not up to the standard of previous Tubular Bells Efforts.

There is a lot that Mike Oldfield attempts on this CD particularly the way he merges his trademark style with operatic and symphonic elements to create a huge wall of sound. But it is so overblown and pretentious at times it simply does not work in the way that previous Tubular Bells albums do.

We start with the bombastic Peace on Earth merging into the dull Pacha mama and Santa Maria. It was at this stage that I decided that I did not like this album. Mastermind and Broad sunlit uplands captured my attention in a small way as they were more progressive in style, but overall this is a mediocre album at best.

The only reall standout is The millenium bell but at over 7 minutes even this becomes a yawnfest.

Whatever Oldfield was attempting here it fails on almost every level. A disappointing effort and one to avoid unless you are a completist.

Report this review (#188736)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One more Mike Oldfield album with "Bell .." name on the cover. No too much relations with real Tubular Bells in album's music however.

Mike Oldfield knows how to play some kind of music, I even think he is doing it quite well. The problem is, having invited formula, he just uses it again and again,in a safe way, without searching something new or even little experimentation.

This album just confirms it. Few Celtic folk motives, a bit a world music, symphonic orchestra, some classic voices. All mixed in slow or mid tempo pleasant sound, comfortable enough, but all the time you have the impression that you heard these songs so many times before!

This album will give you absolutely nothing new , but if you like usual Oldfield works from 90-s, you will easily will listen this album as well.

Report this review (#260193)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I'd rather start from the bottom, maybe the very bottom of Mike's catalogue, and work my way up towards his prime albums. If I did it in an opposite direction, I'd never find motivation to write on The Millenium Bell.

Honestly, the album cover says it all. Collage of planets, spheres, blocky fonts with a campy, digital feeling of 1990s - it was supposed to look modern, I guess. Instead it screams: CHEAP ATTEMPT ON CGI WITH A TUBULAR BELL AND 2000 THEME FOR NAIVE AQUARIANS. As much as I adore the original music and ideas behind 1973 Tubular Bells, I'm afraid these ideas only got cheap and diluted with so many revisions. It'd be fine if Mike decided to reserve Tubular Bells tag for his best material, but it's not the case unfortunately.

The Millenium Bell tries to summarize 2000 years of history and a dozen of cultures that influenced it the most. To illustrate such diversity Oldfield adheres to different styles and aesthetics, often times marrying his electronic fascination and New Age spirituality with ethnic/world music, rather poor attempts at classical (soundtrack quality, at most) and other musical flavors. What we get is a very disjointed record with terrible lyrics. For instance, Sunlight Shining Through Cloud starts with African chants to an electronic drum beat, followed by orchestral synths and cringeworthy spoken word by a female, android-like master of ceremony. The song culminates with saccharine R&B/gospel tune, more akin to Tina Turner's heyday than Incantations.

And that's the story behind most of it. The Doge's Palace features oboe in the foreground backed by strings and HOUSE beat. Once in a while some Italian fella (don't mistake him for a proper tenor singer) interrupts, screaming:

Franceso Donato! -House Beat- Pieeetro Polani! -Church Organ- Enricooo DANDOOLOOO! -More Oboe-

...yes, these are simply NAMES of couple Venetian princes (doges) from centuries ago. What's the insight behind it? What kind of Enlightenment or discovery lies behind these names? The answer is none.

Unsurprisingly, the strongest moments come when Mike invests heavily in New Age, ethereal sound, such as Peace on Earth or Liberation, topped with a pleasant, howling guitar solo. At times he succeeds with world music, especially when he's bold and reaches epic levels (Amber Light). On those occasions he's not far from Vangelis "Conquest of Paradise" (both stylistically and quality- wise). But for every good moment we get at least two disappointments, that's the rule here. Too many songs try hard to couple distant influences and results are mixed, ranging from passable to awful and silly.

Honestly, you can just spin the self-titled finale, reprising the most important themes of the album in a a 7-minute shell, to get the point. Inspiring guitar licks and epic themes are overwhelmed with mediocre ones, only to resurface at the very end.

The Millenium Bell offers too little quality and connection to its predecessors to deserve its name. Certainly, Mike Oldfield fans will find a few tracks interesting enough to try it out... but personally, I had a hard time reasoning with myself it's passable enough to get two stars. In the end the sentiments won.

Report this review (#1942694)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2018 | Review Permalink

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