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Mike Oldfield - Platinum CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.18 | 353 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Into blunderland?

I cannot really get excited about this album, in fact some of the history behind it is more interesting than the music itself. Yes, the performance is as always exemplary, but with Oldfield at the time beginning to wear out the path he was repeatedly walking, the need for strong compositions was even greater than on preceding albums.

The feature track Is the four part "Platinum", which occupies the whole of side one of the LP. The piece has the usual variety of themes, but I found the links between them somewhat more jarring than usual. Oldfield appears at times to be on cruise control when playing guitar. As he descends into full Hank Marvin mode you can just about picture him smiling and winking at the camera as he plucks each note. There is some variation from the norm in the Chicago like brass, and a rather jazzy piano interlude leading up to the "Ommadawn" like ending, with non-lyrical vocals. Overall though, it is just a bit too dull and Oldfield by the numbers like.

Side two is an eclectic mix of mismatched songs. They range from the ambient, rather spacey "Woodhenge" to the crooning George Gershwin cover "I got rhythm". "Into wonderland" is a jaunty female vocal piece, with strong pop connections. "Punkadiddle" is Mike's reaction to punk rock, a genre he did not take to. Punk had of course had a major impact on the success of Oldfield's releases, not least because Virgin had been signing and promoting punk bands while putting less than 100% effort into marketing their original benefactor. The track itself is something of a simple lightweight collection of melodies, fun but entirely dispensable.

The history of the tracks "Sally" (a song about Oldfield's then girlfriend Sally Cooper who worked in the Virgin press office and played tubular bells on this album) and "Into wonderland" is somewhat confusing. If your version of the album has a track with the lyric "Sally, I'm just a gorilla, I'll say I'll love you ever more" you have the version of the album with the track "Sally", otherwise you have "Into wonderland". Indeed the lyrics were the main reason the confusion arose. Initial copies of the album were pressed with "Sally" included, but when Richard Branson (Head of Virgin records) heard the song, he insisted that it be removed from the album. Future pressings therefore had "Into wonderland" instead. The sleeve artwork was not changed though, leading many people to think that the song "Into wonderland" is called "Sally". Apparently, even Wendy Roberts, who provided the vocals for "Into wonderland", thought the song she had sung on was actually called "Sally"!

"Platinum" is certainly not a solo effort by any means. Oldfield brought in many accomplished musicians, including a number from the then current line up of Gong. Indeed this was the third Oldfield album Gong drummer Pierre Moerlen played on. Meanwhile, another drummer, Morris Pert, was making the first of his many contributions to Oldfield's work.

In all, a rather disappointing album which is pleasant but undemanding. The second side of the LP gives the impression that Oldfield is running short of inspiration, even reverting to a rare cover version to fill the time.

In the USA, the album was released under the title "Airborn" (Listed separately on this site) with the track "Woodhenge" replaced by the single track "Guilty".

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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