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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released November 21, 1994 | WM UK

The Songs of Distant Earth blend together two motifs crafted through Mike Oldfield's atmospheric music. (Both outer space and inner space under water) are the themes of this album, but Oldfield's synthesized artistry comes up short during the course of the 17 tracks, mainly because of the intermittent talking and unnecessary vocabulary that quickly becomes irksome and ineffective. About the music, it is usually Mike Oldfield's differentiation of rhythms or styles on a song to song basis that makes his music thought-provoking and fresh. On this album, the same rhythm lurks through half of the songs, with only smidgens of add-on instrumentation to elevate its flow. Absent is the freewheeling percussion pulses, or the onslaught of strings that so often shower his music. Instead, each track seems flat as his keyboard work comes off gray and bland. Even a few sudden bursts of tempo become short lived, as the pace always falls back to its straight-lined origin. Inspired by Arthur C. Clarke, Oldfield tries to capture the wonder and mystery of the stars and the sea through washes of synthesizer, but his attempt at capturing both themes could have benefited from a multitude of other instruments, as his work usually includes. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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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Rock - Released January 29, 2016 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released August 31, 1998 | WM UK

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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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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Rock - Released February 1, 1973 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released August 31, 1998 | WM UK

Tubular Bells III is a record quite similar to Mike Oldfield's second update of the original classic, recorded just six years prior. The production methods are a bit more polished and the tone is more serious, but the music remains dreamy, somewhat overevocative new age-with-a-beat music, quite similar to Enigma -- thanks to the Eastern textures of vocalist Amar on three tracks. There are a few occasional moments of levity, however, including the raging guitar stormer "Outcast" and a remake of Oldfield's early-'80s hit "Man in the Rain." ~ John Bush
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Rock - Released January 29, 2016 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 29, 2016 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Crack all the jokes you want about Mike Oldfield and his Tubular Bells becoming the hit theme song for The Exorcist. While Oldfield is an amazing guitarist who could play with the best of them, with a lithe synth touch that became a trademark, the bottom line is that the man is a serious composer. All the proof one needs apart from his own records like Incantations and Hergest Ridge is this killer movie score. While Oldfield used a purely Western and neo-classical formal approach to write the music for Roland Joffé's dramatization of true events, his musical mates were among the best in the business at helping him to bring it off: David Bedford wrote arrangements and directed the choir, while Eberhard Schoener helped to conduct and direct another choir (!) and master percussionist Morris Pert lent his talents to the mix as well. While many scores written during the 1980s come off as laughable fluff in the 21st century, Oldfield's score for The Killing Fields is in many ways far more memorable than the film itself. The music here is full of drama, dynamic, textures, and unexpected twists and turns even in the smallest of the incidental pieces, and carries within it a certain majesty that lacks pomp and remains graceful throughout. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop - Released August 31, 1998 | WM UK

Mike Oldfield has always been a bit of a musical dilettante, and Voyager is no exception. If he didn't come by it honestly, one might almost suspect this album's Celtic influences derived from that music's being in vogue when this disc was recorded. There are certainly some enjoyable melodies herein, but nothing that rises above the ordinary. Oldfield's stinging guitar work is in evidence, and some synthesized bagpipes try to lend it an air of majesty, but ultimately this recording doesn't really voyage much of anywhere. ~ Ross Boissoneau
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QE2

Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | Decca (UMO)

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QE2

Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released July 30, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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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.