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The Return of Mike Oldfield

In connection with the Man on the Rocks-album, Jim DeRogatis has some very interesting comments in his review of Mike Oldfield’s most recent release:

Man on the Rocks fails to live up to this fan’s expectations, sharing more in common with latter-day pop excursions by fading prog heroes (see: Mike + the Mechanics or the dreaded Asia) than with quality vintage Oldfield, or even those Tubular Bells remakes. For his 25th solo album, our boy apparently wanted to do something a bit rockier and more song-oriented, so he recruited some studio musicians and a particularly bland and generic singer (Luke Spiller) and collaborated with them largely via Skype, resulting in thoroughly unmemorable, hook-free, and meaningless ditties such as “Sailing,” “Dreaming in the Wind,” and “Following the Angels,” redeemed only slightly and briefly by his typically elegiac guitar solos.

Oh, well; we still have old Oldfield, and I’m sticking with my contention that a lot of that is very much worth rediscovering and celebrating, starting with that infamous musical millstone around his neck. Oldfield recorded some 28 instrumental parts for Tubular Bells—including everything from Spanish guitar to Lowrey organ to glockenspiel—saturating the master tape with some 2,000 overdubs. The album sold more than 16 million copies, putting Virgin Records on the map, and introducing classical music for people who wouldn’t otherwise touch the stuff, or rock ’n’ roll that rejects conventional song structures, vocals, and instrumentation. (And who ever said you couldn’t rock out with a glockenspiel?)

Read the complete review here.