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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | Mercury

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Six years after the classical Music of the Spheres, Mike Oldfield returns to his version of rock. Man on the Rocks is a slick production that recalls the AOR sounds of the late '70s and early '80s. He plays many instruments here but concentrates mainly on guitar. Among his collaborators are bassist Leland Sklar, keyboardist Matt Rollings, drummer John Robinson, guitarist Michael Thompson, and the Struts' vocalist Luke Spiller. Though these songs are housed in tightly written, hooky pop/rock melodies with conscious source checks from Queen and Toto to the Rolling Stones and the Steve Miller Band, they are among -- if not the -- most deeply personal entries in his catalog. Opener "Sailing" contains pained, troubled lyrics, yet its Celtic-flavored singalong chorus and ringing slide guitar solo add contrast and elevation. "Moonshine" is a poignant Irish immigrant's song. The opening guitar vamp deliberately evokes U2 (though one can convincingly argue that the Edge got it from Oldfield). A sweet backing chorus carries the refrain as martial snares, fiddles, accordion, pipes, and whistles increase the drama until an epic guitar break carries it out. The title track is one of the set's finest moments. Enormous drums, a chorale, sweeping strings, washes of organ, synth, and blazing guitars frame Spiller's anthemic vocal. On "Castaway," the pulsing keyboards and guitars recall Queen and Oldfield's guitar blisters, spitting angular riffs, and spiraling prog changes. "Dreaming in the Wind" begins as an acoustic rocker illustrated by strings, guitars, organs, and a fine lead vocal. Oldfield's guitar transforms it, melding arena rock, folk, and prog to its core. "Nuclear" again suggests Queen, but its thudding tom-toms, guitar layers, and orchestra are classic Oldfield. "Chariots" uses big zig-zagging synths and fat phased guitars working a Bo Diddley beat; it's where Toto meets Jim Steinman, but the deliberate excess works. This set does run out of steam near the end. The long ballad "Following the Angels" is repetitive and dreary. "Irene," where Oldfield takes on the Stones, is clever but feels out of place here. The closer, a read of William McDowell's hymn "I Give Myself Away" strays far too close to CCM. It's easy to dismiss Man on the Rocks as simply "dad rock," but it's more complex than that. These songs, all framed inside classic pop/rock, are beautifully written and played. Their fine lyrics contain complex emotions of crisis, struggle, resolve, and redemption. Oldfield is one of the few remaining musicians with the songwriting, production, and playing chops who could helm a big league session like this, let alone pull it off. Imperfections aside, this is a strange, oddly compelling addition to his catalog. ~ Thom Jurek
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

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Following a long-established production pattern, Mike Oldfield assembled some relatively simple pop- and rock-flavored numbers following one long introductory piece on his 1983 Disky release, Crisis. The 20-minute opening title-track is a quintessential Oldfield texture study that consists of sparkling synth washes with edgier material weaving in and out. A fine setup, this track cleanses the aural pallet, preparing the listener nicely for the tunes that follow. Yes fans who can adjust to the sugary highlight "In High Places" will enjoy Jon Anderson's springy vocal work on the track. The energetic guitar romp "Taurus 3" will also appeal to most prog and art rock fans. Those in search of more ethereal Oldfield material should be aware of this record's pop leanings, but open-minded listeners will have a good time exploring Crisis, one of Oldfield's better releases of this type. ~ Vincent Jeffries
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
£14.99
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
£14.99
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Mercury

Mike Oldfield's groundbreaking album Tubular Bells is arguably the finest conglomeration of off-centered instruments concerted together to form a single unique piece. A variety of instruments are combined to create an excitable multitude of rhythms, tones, pitches, and harmonies that all fuse neatly into each other, resulting in an astounding plethora of music. Oldfield plays all the instruments himself, including such oddities as the Farfisa organ, the Lowrey organ, and the flageolet. The familiar eerie opening, made famous by its use in The Exorcist, starts the album off slowly, as each instrument acoustically wriggles its way into the current noise that is heard, until there is a grand unison of eccentric sounds that wildly excites the ears. Throughout the album, the tempos range from soft to intense to utterly surprising, making for some excellent musical culminations. Mandolins and Spanish guitars are joined by grinding organs and keyboards, while oddball bells and cranking noises resound in the distance. In the middle of the album, guest Vivian Stanshall announces each instrument seconds before it is heard, ending with the ominous sounding tubular bells, a truly powerful and dominating instrument. The most interesting and overwhelming aspect of this album is the fact that so many sounds are conjured up yet none go unnoticed, allowing the listener a gradual submergence into each unique portion of the music. Tubular Bells is a divine excursion into the realm of new age music. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Humour/Spoken Word - Released May 26, 2003 | WM Spain

Mike Oldfield's groundbreaking album Tubular Bells is arguably the finest conglomeration of off-centered instruments concerted together to form a single unique piece. A variety of instruments are combined to create an excitable multitude of rhythms, tones, pitches, and harmonies that all fuse neatly into each other, resulting in an astounding plethora of music. Oldfield plays all the instruments himself, including such oddities as the Farfisa organ, the Lowrey organ, and the flageolet. The familiar eerie opening, made famous by its use in The Exorcist, starts the album off slowly, as each instrument acoustically wriggles its way into the current noise that is heard, until there is a grand unison of eccentric sounds that wildly excites the ears. Throughout the album, the tempos range from soft to intense to utterly surprising, making for some excellent musical culminations. Mandolins and Spanish guitars are joined by grinding organs and keyboards, while oddball bells and cranking noises resound in the distance. In the middle of the album, guest Viv Stanshall announces each instrument seconds before it is heard, ending with the ominous sounding tubular bells, a truly powerful and dominating instrument. The most interesting and overwhelming aspect of this album is the fact that so many sounds are conjured up yet none go unnoticed, allowing the listener a gradual submergence into each unique portion of the music. Tubular Bells is a divine excursion into the realm of new age music. [The 2003 bonus DVD edition included tracks mixed in 5.1 sound, as well as "Introduction 2003: 'The Video'."]
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Mercury

Mike Oldfield, the self-taught guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, and producer, is chiefly remembered for his album-length "Tubular Bells" composition, an eerie, fascinating, and conceptual piece that did so much to set the tone for the movie The Exorcist. Oldfield played most of the instruments himself on "Tubular Bells" and it remains, and undoubtedly always will remain, his signature piece, but he's done a lot more than that, exploring styles and musical forms from progressive rock and folk to jazz, ambient, world, pop, and even disco and beyond throughout his maverick recording career. This two-disc set, selected and sequenced by Oldfield himself, provides a nice survey of his shifts and turns, and illustrates the restless and often brilliant way he produces a sound and style that manages to be expansive and insular, popular and eccentric, and sometimes all of these at once. Excerpts from "Tubular Bells" are here, naturally, along with the African section of "Amarok," "Ommadawn," and shorter pieces like "Ascension," "Supernova," and "The Tempest," and there's even a message in Morse code for Richard Branson woven in here. Now 60, and making his home in the Bahamas, Oldfield continues to do his own thing, combining the avant-garde with classical composition techniques, prog rock dynamics, and his own restless sense of pop music. This self-chosen set makes a great introduction to his life's work, although ardent fans will no doubt have everything here in their longer forms. ~ Steve Leggett
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New Age - Released January 1, 2011 | Mercury

After a two-year pause following the release of Boxed, Mike Oldfield returned with a new epic project, this one spread over four vinyl sides and devoted to Native American themes rather than hewing once more toward the Celtic end of the spectrum. Included was Oldfield's musical adaptation of "The Song of Hiawatha," grandiose but empty; there was a nice sense of the dramatic when it came to dynamic range, but no sense of time -- the piece ran far too long as Oldfield searched for enough musical ideas to prop the whole thing up. After this, Oldfield avoided album-length concepts for quite some time. ~ Steven McDonald
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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Although it features the beautiful recorder of Leslie Penny and the Chieftains' Paddy Maloney playing the uilean pipe, Ommadawn didn't gain Mike Oldfield the success he was looking for. The album was released in the same year as the David Bedford-arranged Orchestral Tubular Bells and nine months after Oldfield picked up a Grammy award for the original Tubular Bells album. The most pleasing attribute of Ommadawn is its incorporation of both African and Irish music in its symphonic rock & roll mainframe. Boosted by a hearty amount of different horns, piano, cello, trumpet, and synthesizer, the album has its moments of rising action, but the whole of Ommadawn fails to keep its lovely segments around long enough, and there are some rather lengthy instances that include bland runs of unvaried music. Another plus is Oldfield's use of a choir, giving the album a soft, humanistic feel when contrasted against the keyboards or synthesizer. While it does include flashes of Mike Oldfield's brilliance, the entire album may seem a little anticlimactic when compared to some of his other releases. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Classical - Released January 1, 2008 | Decca

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Mike Oldfield in the magazine
  • The Qobuz Studio: Episode #5
    The Qobuz Studio: Episode #5 This week featuring albums from David Bowie, Kevin Gates, Mariss Jansons & Wiener Philharmoniker, Pop ETC, John Moreland, and a retrospective on Mike Oldfield.