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Mike Oldfield

  • Tubular Bells,
  • Hergest Ridge,
  • Ommadawn,
  • Incantations,
  • Platinum,
  • Five Miles Out,
  • Music Of The Spheres,

  • Album Reviews |

    Mike Oldfield

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    Tubular Bells 8 ( 1973 )
    Tubular Bells / Tubular Bells

    Child prodigy Mike Oldfield was out there playing folk clubs in a duo with his sister at the sprightly age of 10 or 11. Moving on in time, Mike was in his late teens when he became bass player for Kevin Ayres, working on two albums for him. A multi-instrumentalist, it was on a tape recorder lent to him by Kevin on which he recorded the tubular bells demo, only to see it rejected by dozens of record labels, including all the majors. Eventually signed to Richard Branson's fledgling Virgin Records Mike got a release for 'Tubular Bells', May 1973 - the age of progressive rock, suitably. Not that anyone had heard anything quite like this spooky tinkling of 'Tubular Bells' before, but I fancy that the early Seventies was exactly the right kind of time to be releasing an unusual 49 minute instrumental suite! And, about this two part instrumental suite? The first section is built around a bedrock of repetition, the tinkling bell sound present almost throughout, dropped out in places for variation. Mike plays virtually all the instrumentation, anything that was laying around in the studio at the time, usually. It's from the very first sequence or stretch of 'Tubular Bells' that an edit was taken to be used in horror movie 'The Exorcist'. That particular famous chiming sequence of disquieting spirituality is actually one of the least 'scary' sections of music present in the first stretch of 'Tubular Bells'. There are nosier, more ominous bass and guitar led sections that would perhaps have been more traditionally suitable for use in a horror movie. 'The Exorcist' itself broke new ground however. Plenty of subsequent films in the horror genre ditched the usual slashing strings and went for tinkling piano sounds instead.

    I like this first part of 'Tubular Bells', even though there are some patently daft moments contained in it, such as the weird medieval guitar sequence around the 15/16 minute mark which itself follows a ( pretty ) section consisting of humming and various weird noises as well. Time for a bass solo? Ok, then! Yeah, this is a pretty self-indulgent piece in places, every instrument under the sun showcased at one point or another. One of the more 'daft' ( or inspired, depending on your viewpoint ) inclusions in this first half of 'Tubular Bells' is the stretch where professional English eccentric Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band gets to introduce all of the instruments in a semi-serious, semi-taking the piss, posh important voice. After which, choir like female voices come in, and we fade out to the sound of Mike playing very nice folky acoustic guitar. End of part one, see you after the intermission....

    Part two carries on from the first with more variations on a theme, and although Mike tries to vary the formula of 'Tubular Bells' in the albums that follow this, trying a few genuinely different things along the way, his fans always wanna talk about 'Tubular Bells', and it's this work for which he'll be remembered. This second half of 'Tubular Bells' is blissful by the way. Lots of sweet guitar playing, less unusual or striking than the first twenty four minutes or so, but easier to listen to, or play to your hipper friends. 'Tubular Bells' is kind of boring in places, and in other places patently ridiculous, but it does draw you in to a worrying degree. The blissful mood and hypnotism of this second half of the album is completely broken around the twelve minute mark, by the way. A growling, howling monster parades around for a few minutes whilst the music turns into pretty standard 'progressive' of the era. Things return to more or less 'normal' for the remainder of the piece. You know? I quite like this album. Obviously a labour of love and good for Mike Oldfield that against all sensible predictions, it actually worked and became a bestseller. It's even managed to stand the test of time pretty well.

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    Hergest Ridge 8 ( 1974 )
    Hergest Ridge / Hergest Ridge

    Now, this is nice! Mike does the same thing as before in one sense - a lengthy single composition split into two parts. Well, if the age of CD was around, none of these things would have been split into two parts, of course. And because CDs take 80 minutes of music, you'd probably have major padding on both 'Hergest Ridge' and 'Tubular Bells'. Imagine an 80 minute long 'Tubular Bells'?? Mike didn't have those particular problems. The problem he had was the fact that he was still riding high with 'Tubular Bells' and there was still major interest in 'Tubular Bells'. 'Hergest Ridge' was a big seller in both the US and the UK, especially well received in the UK, but it didn't make the same waves as 'Tubular Bells'. Why should this be? Well, let's see. It's not as distinctive, even if we forget 'Tubular Bells' ever existed, if that makes sense. 'Hergest Ridge' has folky passages, beautiful classical inspired passages - lots of lovely delicate and subtle sections of quiet music. 'Tubular Bells' was far more distinctive than this relaxed and subtle work. Well, if you do happen to sit down and actually LISTEN, with no external noise in your room, your house or your brain - then you can appreciate 'Hergest Ridge' a lot more than you may otherwise do. 'Hergest Ridge' doesn't jump out at you with a catchy sequence of strange sounding notes and instrumentation. What it does do is prove that Mike Oldfield was hugely talented at both arranging and producing. 'Hergest Ridge' contains far more guitar playing than 'Tubular Bells' and Mike is very accomplished with his playing. The classical string parts and the folk flute passages all add to the melting pot. But, as i've said, this isn't as distinctive or as striking a melting pot as 'Tubular Bells' was. It may very well be better arranged, recorded and put together. I believe that it is. Both parts are beautifully constructed, although neither section raises the noise levels much beyond a whisper. Well, there's a strange section in the first stretch of the composition that arrives shortly after the seventeen minute mark. Sleighbells? Oh, yeah! Mike Oldfield plays a mean guitar? Oh, yeah! He does actually, and with constant attention and reference to the 'Tubular Bells' album throughout his entire career, the fact of Mr Oldfield's proficiency is sometimes overlooked.

    Beautiful holy vocal sounds enhance the latter part of 'Hergest Ridge, Pt. 1' and reappear in a slightly different manner in the second part. 'Hergest Ridge' is beautiful, yet too subtle sometimes for its own good. Dig in, listen and concentrate with an open mind, and you'll discover so many beautiful sequences of music that you may just have to reappraise your views on Mike Oldfield altogether. 'Hergest Ridge' doesn't have the novelty value of 'Tubular Bells', even all these years later. Oh my god, I love the soft guitars and almost surf guitar feel that appears towards the beginning of the second part of the album. You know what? The female vocals and weird electronic keyboard sounds amid soft, vaguely surf guitar sounds, reminds me of a very hip alternative group called Stereolab. Mike Oldfield is hipper than you thought, oh yeah! Well, the remainder of the albums goes off on different tangents - very quiet, then very noisy with ugly and blasting electronic keyboard progressive rock sounds that don't become him. Five of the last ten minutes or so of 'Hergest Ridge' continue with this feel amid squealing electric guitar - but the mood of the album is broken entirely, unfortunately. Much better is the sweet utterly beautiful section of folky soft guitar that follows, with a string section tugging at your heart and emotions.

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    Ommadawn 7 ( 1975 )
    Ommadawn / Ommadawn

    Mike gets himself a group of African musicians. Not so much to help himself out - being the multi-instrumentalist that he was/is - he hardly needed help in that sense. The guy could play pretty much anything he wanted, and introduced new sounds into rock music. I see the presence of these musicians as a nod towards the press, a publicity thing. You wouldn't guess after listening to Mikes first two albums, then listening to this.... that 'Ommadawn' wasn't another Mike Oldfield playing everything he can get his hands on show. You wouldn't guess that. But, we do have African rhythms, but these African rhythms are arranged in such a way that the sounds they provide are akin to just another instrument. 'Tubular Bells' was built around, well, Tubular Bells. 'Ommadawn' is built around ethnic African sounds, and it really is as simple as that. The first part of 'Ommadawn' flows pretty well - Mike sure plays a mean pinball! Sorry, a mean guitar. Sorry, he plays guitar. Quite well. Is this anything astonishing? Well, no, of course it isn't. What it actually is, is smooth, professional - interesting and nice to listen to. Is it bad? Is it good? Is it something that just can't be understood? Still, those African rhythms sway gently and the wind instruments sound nice. The faint backing vocals and chanting, sound nice. 'Ommadawn' sounds nice. It's nice, a nice album! Is it a good album? Is it far too easy on the ears? Far too smooth? There is a sense here that Mike knew exactly what he was doing and as a result, too little surprises. He's produced ( very well ) a professional product - the African parts add to the melting pot and form the very core of 'Ommadawn'. Without them, he may as well have stayed in bed, you know? Mike sure plays nice guitar - but three albums in - you naturally start to question a repeating formula. Even if that repeating formula is being changed subtly, being changed on a surface level. The heart remains the same.

    An organ type sound opens part two of the album - a second part that initially doesn't at all carry on from the first part - and you wish that it did. Of course, that's not Mikes fault. CDs weren't invented back in those days.... So, you'd flip the vinyl record over and play the other side. That took time, waiting for the needle to return to its resting position, picking ( gently ) up the record, turning it over, setting the needle at the start of the record, placing it in the wrong place - repeat to fade until a few minutes had passed and you were happily listening to the second side of 'Ommadawn'! And, the bells, the bells. The mixture of sounds!! Actually - this opening stretch of 'side b' is really beautiful. Around six minutes in, things change - Mike gets the acoustic out - and this section seems to relate in no way whatsoever to the previous section. 'Ommadawn' comes across a lot more piecemeal than either of his first two albums. Those albums had changing, evolving pieces of music of course - but they swung back to a main melodic thread. 'Ommadawn' has nothing to hold it together other than the fact of African instrumentation in places. Subsequently - it's not as enjoyable as either of his first two albums - although..... the second side of 'Ommadawn' for all its pointlessness and faults - is very nice to listen to. As was the first side, actually. As a whole piece, 'Ommadawn' doesn't hang together brilliantly, that's the thing. But, and the thing is! It's fairly enjoyable anyway and Mike continued to earn music fans respect with releases such as this.

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    This was my very first Mike Oldfield album. I first listened to it 5 years ago (it was on a tape). And I've been a Mike Oldfield fan ever since. I especially love side one. Especially the climax at the end of side one. Those screaming guitars! Side two is a bit choppy for me. I really don't like those damned pipes in the middle of part two. And the begining of part two drags on for too long. Speaking of the begining of side two, you say "an organ type sound opens part two of the album". I don't mean to be picky, but it's actually layers upon layers of over-dubbed guitars. The "Horseback" song was a favourite of mine when I was first introduced to this album. It's still a good song. He makes reference to Hergest Ridge (the place, and the name of his second album) in the song, also. All in all, i think I enjoy side one better than side two (those damned pipes!! agh!!), but that's just my opinion.

    Mat repro@pads.uk.com
    After reading your dissapointing reveiw of Ommadawn I feel it's worth making a few comments. Firstly, to rate it less than the first to albums seems add, as it's simply a far more realised and beautiful piece of work. Bells and Ridge both contain sections which are badly structured, poorly produced and frankly, unlistenable. None of this happens with ommadawn. The 13odd minute section which begins part two is surely one of the greatest melodic passages of modern music - glorious accoustic guitar and a heartbreaking middle section which can stick in your mind for days afterwards. Pure Joy, music which is it's own end, rather than a soundtrack to something else.

    Mick mick_deal@lineone.net
    Having had an ear for Mike Oldfield's music for some years before listening to Ommadawn for the first time, I made the purchase after hearing an extract off his 'Collection' album in 1985. While I think Bells is a great album, and while there are parts of Ridge I love, Ommadawn is, in my opinion, the greatest thing Mike has ever done. Not only do we hear African influences, there are also East European and Celtic sensations to the music, which is both bewitching and emotional. The music (Ilove those pipes) on side one begins majestically and climaxes into awesome proportions, while side two culminates with childlike charms. This is one of my fav albums of all time and I have never tired of listening to it.

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    Incantations 6 ( 1978 )
    Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four

    Mike takes three years out and as a result, lands up right in the middle of Punk Rock. Not that Mr Oldfield paid even the slightest bit of attention to what was going on around him, of course. And also not to suggest that Mike even should have done so, to make a Mike Oldfield 'punk' album would have been truly a weird thing, but perhaps it would have been more entertaining than 'Incantations' proves to be. You see, what happens is this..... recording technology and recording studios advanced, resulting in easily the best sonically sounding Mike Oldfield album at the time. What he decides to do in the 'tunes' department is another matter. 'Incantations' is easily the most relaxed album of Mike's career so far, and that's even with the mix of classical and African that's employed here. The opening stretch of 'Part One' is very good, with stabbing, short, classical string sections amid spacey 'new age' and 'futuristic' meditative sounds. Oh, and Mikes guitar of course makes itself heard, but that's no surprise. By the way, this 'Incantations' album consists of four, nineteen minute long sections. That's a double album, right? Well, yes! But, the second two parts very nearly just repeat the first two. There is little sense of progression as you listen to the album from beginning to end. You could happily choose to either listen to the first two sides, or the second two - without losing any of the 'meaning' or flow of the record. Of course, and I keep banging on about this, in the CD AGE!!! you can do what you like. Why not just buy 'The Best Of Tubular Bells' and be done with it? Surely, that has all the best bits? Why not buy a Mike Oldfield single CD compilation? Well, firstly, such a thing is difficult to easily compile - although many have tried - and thirdly, an album is more than the enjoyment ( or not ) factor of the individual tracks contained on it. If it wasn't, The Beatles '1s' album would be now hailed as the greatest musical artistic achievement of all time.

    An album is more than just a bunch of songs. We should be concerned with how it flows, how long it is, how easily it holds the attention span. Whether the album is too long, too short, or just right. Whether the flow from one track to the next makes sense. Whether inserting an additional track, perhaps even one of the greatest tracks that artist has EVER DONE (!!!) right slap bang into the middle of the running order, plus adding another right at the end, would improve matters? Okay, so i'm drifting here, but Mr Oldfield is the perfect opportunity for me to make a point. I think 'Incantations' would of course be wildly improved by inserting an excerpt from 'Ommadawn' right in the middle, and the entire 'Tubular Bells Part One' right at the end as a 'bonus'! More tracks is better, right? NO! This album would be far better served losing half of the running time it already has. Oh, by the way. One note about this very excellently produced, great sounding, but rather dull Mike Oldfield record, is that vocal voices and even ( gosh! ) lyrics are heard at certain points. Hats off to the Oldfield guy! <

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    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    I got INCANTATIONS 2 years ago on vinyl. It has fantastic sound quality. It was kind of difficult to get into (especially side one), but it was worth it. I must admit, some of it is repetitive, (especially part one, and the last bit of part two), but it is otherwise very good musically. Mike's arrangements are stunning: layers of strings, mallet percussion, and guitar (and some piano and synths). Quite worth it if you're a Oldfield fan. Kind of hard to find, though. **CD buyers beware: the old CD edition chopped off the first three minutes of part three. The new edition has the complete version.**

    Rob robchaundy@yahoo.com
    This is by far my favourite Oldfield album (I have them all, all the good ones anyway). The sheer size and scale of Incantations is part of the attraction. It is his defining work. I don't think he would have undertaken such a topographic project if he didn't feel he had good enough material to justify it, and he obviously did feel that. He was right too. The only movement that fails to thrill me from beginning to end is the second one. The other three, though, are harrowingly wonderful. They don't drag at all, and the climax of part four is one of the most majestic, beautiful and moving pieces of music he has ever recorded. In retrospect, this is his musical peak. It never got this good again. Keep listening to Incantations - its majesty will reveal itself to you in time.

    John Bacsa jbacsa2@yahoo.ca
    I'm an Oldfield fan and this is my favourite album. It starts with a chord which seems mystical - almost sacred. Most of the album seems to be a development/variation of this chord. A lot is being said about the Golden ratio appearing everywhere in nature, and I wonder whether it appears in this scale? Its a mystical album that seems to come deep from Mike's subconscious, and I can't listen to it without it having an effect on my soul.

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    Platinum ( 1979 )
    Airborn / Platinum / Charleston / North Star - Platinum Finale / Woodhenge / Sally / Punkadiddle / I Got Rhythm

    This album gains an entire point and a half because of how ahead of its time it sounded. Seriously, I mean, I'm serious here! This album DOES NOT sound like it was made in 1979. It sounds like it was made in 1985. Unfortunately, the mid eighties saw all sorts of former 'rock gods' succumb to inappropriate production techniques. I said in the previous review that Mike was oblivious to Punk? Well, maybe not! You see, here, he vastly thins out his backing group and use of differing instrumentation. We've almost got a regular rock band line-up in places. Second track, the title song - is just this weak as piss Pink Floyd rip off. Having said that, it sounds good! You can't argue with the way it's been put together, the proper structure, the great sounding guitar and the tight rhythm. You can't argue with any of that, objectively - that's all good. But, it sounds as interesting as watching paint dry. Mike doodles, he paints - he lacks creativity here compared to earlier in his career. 'Charleston' is of course the name of an old English dance - and this is funny! Mike continues to prove he was ahead of his time by doing a dance/techno/ripping off an old tune/thing - way before the time! 'Platinum' is very commercial in sound and intent, but by god! 'Charleston' sounds for all the world like it was made in the mid-eighties. I don't care very much for this album at all, but i'm very impressed by the sound of the album, given the time it was recorded and released. Again, i'll say it again. Seriously! Well, serious isn't something that 'Charleston' is. It's very bouncy and novelty. Imagine it was released yesterday as a dance single. It'd be a huge hit all over the world. My god, how things have declined....

    'North Star-Platinum' has a very nice melody, flute, a good rhythm you can boogie to - the works! But oh, on this album of short Mike Oldfield pieces, 'Woodhenge' ( ha, ha! ) stands out in the new-age stakes, very tasteful. Less nice or tasteful is the average synth pop of 'Sally'. A 'proper' song with 'proper' ( very poor ) singing and lyrics. Hurray! The following song is called 'Punkadiddle' and I'm going to leave you with that song-title in your mind. 'Punkadiddle'? Good grief! Mike, get over it!

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    Five Miles Out ( 1982 )
    Taurus II / Family Man / Orabidoo / Mount Teidi / Five Miles Out

    Mikes previous album had included a ten minute long track titled 'Taurus'. He builds upon that here with the near twenty five minute long 'Taurus II'. It's impressive in places, new vocalist Maggie Reilly adds her voice to the mix at certain points. It all sounds mighty impressive with the usual dazzling Oldfield array of noise and instrumentation. Some really noisy sections are here too - check out the thumping guitar led, percussion heavy section that ends around the eleven minute mark to give way for 'machine alien speak'. Earlier in the piece, Mike indulges his love of all things Morris ( as in Morris Dancing ) with a truly daft, but endearingly English sequence of genuine folk music. Later in 'Taurus II', we get a piece of bouncy euro disco ( almost! ) infused with Mikes guitar soaring away with quiet, yet sing-song vocals. I guess that 'Taurus II' is quite admirable really, an effective Eighties updating of the signature Oldfield sound. Very modern, yet still all done in an Oldfield style. After 'Taurus II' has either left you quietly impressed or caused you to fall asleep ( it could have either effect quite easily ), we get 'treated' to the song 'Family Man', later a huge hit for Hall & Oats. I must say, I can vaguely remember their version, it did have a catchy tune. I never realised all those years ago that it was a Mike Oldfield tune! Wonders never cease, Mike writing a concise three minute pop song? Well, yeah. It's a shame this sounds like Madonna, or Cyndi Lauper or something, but there you go. I guess I prefer the Hall & Oats version. And I never in my life thought i'd ever find myself preferring a Hall & Oats ANYTHING!

    'Mount Teidi' and 'Orabidoo' prove that Mike Oldfield would be quite capable of making deeply average, although fairly interesting, but still deeply average, electronica based music in the nineties. The closing title song includes a few signature Oldfield guitar parts, it flows and moves and gives off a very 'Mike Oldfield' feel, even though the production is very, very Eighties. Not as false or plastic sounding as a lot of Eighties music, though. A growled male vocal appears during certain points of the title song, by the way. Maggie Reilly gets another vocal spot. All in all, the entire album works well as a Mike Oldfield eighties album without compromising his artistic integrity too much. That counts for something.

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    Readers Comments

    Paul Haines paul_haines@hotmail.com
    This was my 1st exposure to Mike Oldfield (it was 1990 and I was 19). This album blew me away with the way it messed with the speakers. He perfected it all with "Amarok" in 1990.

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    Crises ( 1983 )
    Crises / Moonlight Shadow / In High Places / Foreign Affair / Taurus 3 / Shadow On The Wall

    Family vocalist Roger Chapman gets to sing a little. So does the mighty Jon Anderson of Yes. So does Maggie Reilly, most famously on the sizeable hit single 'Moonlight Shadow'. So, what do we have? Well, we've got a twenty minute long opening track, immediately setting up 'Crises' for a similar format and structure to the previous album. 'Crises' doesn't contain as many endearingly daft sections as 'Taurus II', but does flow nicely and hold your attention, just about. Whereas 'Taurus II' was probably the best thing about 'Five Miles Out' however, this opening title song for 'Crises' isn't really the best thing on this album. We've got several other delights! We've got a consistent record, actually - and you can't always say that about Mike Oldfield. Even when he was doing those two part things, one for either side of a vinyl record, each part would tend to be inconsistent. Anyways, where was I? Oh, who could ever forget 'Moonlight Shadow'? It kind of annoyed me, that talented English folk singers, and proper English folk-songwriters had been trying to achieve good record sales for years and years, then up pops Mike Oldfield along with a memorable vocal courtesy of Maggie Reilly, and goes top ten with the bugger! Dammit. Anyway, let's forget that - this really is a superbly produced pop single, simple as that. It may well be far too cute for its own good, but yeah. Decent stuff.

    The real meat of this album? You wanna know, you wanna know?! Why, a Mr Jon Anderson gets to sing 'In High Places', a co-write between himself and the man Oldfield. It's glorious, and very funny too. Of course, Jon Anderson has a very distinctive voice. Oh, by the way. The song released as a follow-up to the big hit 'Moonlight Shadow' was the Roger Chapman sung 'Shadow On The Wall'. 'Shadow On The Wall' sounds slightly bluesy. It also sounds fun although slightly unconvincing. Much better to release as a follow-up to 'Moonlight Shadow' would have been 'In High Places'. Of course, a big thing about Jon Anderson and his distinctive voice is the fact he can sing in a high register. So, when Jon sings "Could we get much higher?" sung in a pretty high voice, you're left smiling and thinking to yourself, "Go on man! You can do it!!!", but secretly hoping that he won't actually try to. Anyway, 'In High Places' is gloriously captivating. Aside from Jon Anderson providing a great vocal full of melody, Mike provides truly beautiful and interesting melodic music. Works for me. One of my favourite Mike Oldfield songs, no question at all.

    Another impressive thing? Well, I don't care especially for 'Taurus III' although the instrumentation is noteworthy. No, the other real impressive thing is 'Foreign Affair' with its mentions of taking trips to a tropical beach, mentioning 'taking a trip' and 'magic potion'. It could be released now and played in Ibiza chill-out clubs and become absolutely huge. How the hell Mike did such a thing in 1983 amazes me. Was he ahead of his time? Well, he was so 'off', off on his own, I mean. He didn't connect, and not that many people paid him much attention. So, chances of Mike getting any credit are slim, but give the guy a break.

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    This is my favourite 80's Mike Oldfield CD. The Remastered CD version has fantastic sound. The title track is one of his best 20 minute pieces. Great synth work and drums/percussion. "Moonlight Shadow" is a great song. Great vocals by Maggie R. Stunning guitar solo by Mike. "In High Places" has Jon Anderson (of Yes) singing. Great music, off-kilter time signature. The only bad part of this song is the echo delay on his voice. It gets out of time with the music alot. "Foreign Affair" would've made a good 2 minute song, but instead it's incredibily repetitive 4 minute song. Good vocals, though. "Tarus 3" is a great acoustic guitar song. Catchy, and has massively overdubbed parts to it. "Shawdow On the Wall" is terrible. I really do not like Roger Chapman's vocals. the guitar riff is okay. Over all a good mike oldfield album, and one of my favourites.

    top of page Music Of The Spheres 7 ( 2008 )
    Harbinger / Animus / Silhouette / Shabda / The Tempest / Harbinger (reprise) / On My Heart / Aurora / Prophecy / On My Heart (reprise) / Harmonia Mundi / The Other Side / Empyrean / Musica Universalis

    Music of the Spheres is the first classical album released by Mike Oldfield and was recorded with a full orchestra at Abbey Road studios. Mike promoted the album with a variety of appearences and the album peaked at number 9 on the UK charts, his highest charting studio album ( without 'Tubular' in the title ) since 1983's 'Crises'. So, no rock instrumentation here at all, although Mike does play accomplished classical guitar. As for those Tubular Bells, why sure, they make an appearence towards the very end of the LP and the main melodic motif weaved in and out the album sounds suspiciously similar to that of the first 'Tubular Bells' LP. Recording with a full orchestra does lend the album a kind of sonic perfection however that's hard to deny. On top of that, Mike doesn't over use the strings or other parts of the orchestra for the sake of it, as many 'rock' musicians venturing into this kind of territory are won't to do. 'Music Of The Spheres' therefore is a fairly spacious work, split into two main sections then further sub-sections. Indeed, in terms of concept, this reminds one of his earlier Seventies albums, something surely there to please long-term Oldfield watchers.

    'On My Heart' features New Zealander Hayley Westenra, soprano singer. Rather beautiful it is too, ushering in the second part of the album. Overall, this is an album that comes across as a movie-soundtrack for a film yet to be made and it's surprising Mike isn't connected with scoring movies by now. This isn't an album that's going to rock your world, this is firmly classical yet also contains many nods to Mike's own recording career, quite naturally. It's a forty-five minute long composition that when we reach 'Shabda' reaches a peak, although as a whole 'Music Of The Spheres' is never less than listenable. Actually, i'd rate it as one of the finer Mike Oldfield albums i've heard, although a few more classical vocal touches here and there would have been welcome.

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    Readers Comments

    Gerry Milligan SW Glasgow

    Adrian Glasgow
    This has to be one of the most amazing compositions in recent time. I'm shocked that anyone could not like this album - especially the track Empyrean - I love it! I have to admit that I've listened to this constantly since it was released, Honestly listen to the album loud through good speakers in a dark room wi a beer. The album is haunting, melodic and inspiring all at the same trme. My favourite Oldfield album surpassing my previous favourite The Songs of Distant Earth. This isn't a return to form for Oldfield but has raised him to a new level in my eyes.

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