Mike Oldfield

Mike Oldfield is my all time favorite musician and deserves a page of his own. Ever since the release of the album 'Tubular Bells' in 1973 I have been a great fan of his music. More than 25 years later this album is still one of my absolute favorites and there are a couple of other Mike Oldfield albums in my absolute favorite category as well. Below is a listing of my Mike Oldfield collection and some comments about each one of the records. I have used a five grade scale to give you my opinion about the albums, this scale is only relevant for Mike Oldfield (verdict = 2 is not bad at all). At the end of this page there are some links to sites dedicated to Mike Oldfield and his music. Some of them also includes sound files and if you are new to Mike Oldfields music I recommend some listening. Mike Oldfield should also have been included on my 'Relaxing Music' page but as he has his own page I decided to leave him out of the relaxing page.


Mike Oldfield

Born May 15th 1953. Mike was 15 when he and sister Sally started the folk duo The Sallyangie - releasing two singles and an album "Children of The Sun". Almost immediately after, Mike formed the folk group Barefeet with his brother Terry. It was during this time that the first embryonic ideas for Tubular Bells started to come together. In 1969, Mike joined Kevin Ayers and the Whole World as guitarist. The band also featured David Bedford, who Mike was to often to work with in the following years. The Whole World split in 1971. On most albums he plays all instruments and he soon became famous as a tremendous multi-instrumentalist, but he is really a guitarist and a magnificent one too.

Tubular Bells (1973)

His first album introduced a new type of music never heard before. It consists of repetitional elements weaving into each other in a subtle manner. Transitions between the very different parts of the album is made in a smooth and ingenious manner. Even if it is built around repetitions the music is constantly changing. It contains many types of music, spanning from serene melodies to large scale crescendos and everything from classical music elements to rock music and folk tunes. There are no synthesizers and a lot of acoustical instruments. The first time I heard this piece I thought it was interesting, but it took some time before I was really caught. The music grows on you and I have played this album hundreds of times without getting bored. It contains so many subtle details that each time you listen to it you hear it in a new way. It is not background music, to really appreciate the music you shall listen concentrated and it will reward you with its meditational qualities. Not every one likes this kind of music, it all depends on which side of the brain you use. The right side of the brain is the right one to use. I think this album is a masterpiece and it is hard to understand that it is written and performed by a teenager. This album is responsible for my HiFi interest. It contains so much small details and I wanted to hear everything and this was the beginning of my HiFi equipment upgrading path. The re-mixed anniversary gold CD sounds quite good, almost as good as the LP.

Hergest Ridge (1974)

This album is a bit similar to Tubular Bells, but it is more melodic and not much rock music. It is really a more classical piece, and it contains some of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard. The CD version I have sounds terrible and it is even hard to believe it is the same piece of music as on the LP. Maybe there are different mixes around.

Ommadawn (1975)

This album mixes some of the elements from the previous albums, but it is really a totally different piece of music and is perhaps a little easier to learn to like than Tubular Bells. Some new elements were introduced on this album, among others an African rhythm section. This is another masterpiece and many Oldfield lovers consider this to be his best album. I used to like it more, but have gotten a little bored with Ommadawn. It is highly recommended though, and is one of the essential Oldfield albums. This album may also be a good starting point for those who are new to Mike Oldfield. The last piece on this record - On Horse Back- is a quite different tune.

The Orchestral Tubular Bells (1975)

An orchestrated version of Tubular Bells, the arrangements made by David Bedford. Some of the more melodical parts of the composition works well in this version, and especially so the first part of page two. I miss the dynamical qualities of the original and especially the rockier parts suffer from this.

Boxed (1976)

A four LP box with Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn plus a collaboration album. This box is recorded in SQ quadraphonic (four channel), but not many can hear this nowadays. The last part of Tubular Bells is not the same as on the first album, this is the piece that was rejected on the original and is quite fun. It consists of someone going around in a house playing acoustic guitar whilst a not too sober Mike Oldfield talks about some paintings. The collaboration album consists of some folk music arranged and played by Mike Oldfield and fellow musicians plus some of David Bedfords work with Mike Oldfield on guitar. This is not an essential album, but fun for the collectors.

Incantations (1978)

A two LP set with some beautiful parts, but I think it is a bit boring. Many Oldfield lovers consider this to be a really good album, but not me.

Exposed (1979)

A two LP set with live recordings featuring the normal rock musicians and a symphony orchestra. This box is recorded in SQ quadraphonic (four channel), but not many can hear this nowadays. This is his best live album and it contains Incantations, Tubular Bells and Guilty.

Platinum (1979)

Mike's first album with pop songs on one side and a long instrumental piece on the other. This is a quite good album and it was made in the era when a lot of artists made disco versions of their work. Platinum has some of this disco rhythm too.

Airborn (1980)

A two LP set containing the Platinum record(without the Philip Glass piece) and a live recorded record with Tubular Bells part I and an Incantations mix (live and studio). This is not an essential album.

QE2 (1980)

Basically a pop album with his new group featuring among others Maggie Reilly on vocals. Some good songs on this album.

Impressions (1980)

A two LP set containing a live version of Tubular Bells part I, Ommadawn part I on the first record and some pop songs and traditional arrangements on the other record (some of them only available on singles). This is not an essential album.

Five Miles Out (1982)

A long instrumental on side one and more pop oriented material on the other. This album contains my favorite Oldfield pop song 'Five Miles Out', a really different piece with a fabulous drive and a terrific end. A good album.

Crises (1983)

When many considered Mike Oldfield to be out of date he came up with this album which made quite a success, as it contains the mega hit 'Moonlight Shadow' with Maggie Reilly on vocals and also 'Shadow on the Wall' made it quite big. On side one there is a long instrumental piece with an interesting drum crescendo at the end. A good album.

Discovery (1984)

Yet another pop album and a quite good one as well. The pop songs are similar to those found on 'Crises'.

Killing Fields (1984)

Film music. Features a symphony orchestra and contains some good music, but also just a lot of sounds. Film music works best together with film.

The Complete Mike Oldfield (1985)

A 'Best of Mike Oldfield' album with a good selection of his work. It also contains a few tracks previously not released on LP. A good album, but I don't like compilations like this because it does not work as an album any more, it is merely a selection of tunes put together.

Islands (1987)

Side one features a long instrumental inspired by Balinese music. At first I was not too fond of this album, but now I like it quite a lot. On side two there are some pop songs and quite good ones. On vocals are among others Mike's new Norwegian wife Anita Hegerland (now separated). A good recording with some DSP trickery making the soundscape quite large. The LP cover is marked Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) and I don't know what that is.

Earth Moving (1989)

A pop album again. Mike Oldfield makes nice pop songs, but it is not his best field of operation. I listen to it occasionally and it is quite good.

Amarok (1990)

It took some time, but here is a new masterpiece. A really different album liked by many Oldfield fans, but disliked by many others. The dynamics on this album is on the border of scary, and this is probably the reason why many dislike this album, it is unpredictable. Lots of acoustical instruments and not much synthesizer. You can clearly hear that Mike had fun making this record, and if you give it a chance this piece is rewarding. It takes some time to get used to the dramatic and sudden changes in the music. Good recording. The album is marked with a health warning: This record could be hazardous to the cloth-eared nincompoops. If you suffer from this condition, consult your Doctor immediately.

Heaven's Open (1991)

A pop album with Mike Oldfield on lead vocals. He is not a singer, but it is not that bad either. I don't like this album.

Tubular Bells II (1992)

Basically a modernised Tubular Bells, and the result is very pleasant for the ears, a remarkable piece of music.

Songs of Distant Earth (1994)

A musical interpretation of a sci-fi book by Arthur C. Clarke. The space feeling is present all the time and you feel that you are on the move. The music is a little bit boring compared to Mike Oldfields best work, but still very good. If you are looking for a record with deep, strong bass this is one of this kind.

Voyager (1996)

Celtic music in Mike Oldfields way. Good music, but it does not lift to the higher levels.

Tubular Bells III (1998)

A completely new piece of Tubular Bells music, inspired by modern house music. A very good album.

Guitars (1999)

All sounds on this album are made using guitars, even the drum sounds. This album is similar to 'Voyager' and is Mike Oldfield music 'on idle'.

The Millenium Bell (1999)

The first impression was that this is not one of Mike's best albums and after some more listening sessions the impression is still the same. Similar to 'Songs of Distant Earth' with almost the same amount of strong, deep bass for those who like that. Beautiful music 'on idle' but without the emotional ingredients on his best albums. This is more like film music (would be great with film) but without pictures it is a bit boring. For my taste this is too much computer music, I hate synthesized percussion and it is plenty of that stuff on the album and also very much programmed material. There are some very interesting parts on the album too but as a whole I find it boring, to me this is 'event music' to be used at a Millenium show with film showing events from the past and maybe this is exactly what it is meant to be?
The verdict is: not bad, but not very good either.

Single: Don Alfonso

Very funny, featuring David Bedford on vocals. Occasionally he picks the right tone, but often not. This does not matter, because this is not meant to be a musical masterpiece, it is solely entertainment. Excellent guitar solo though. Side two features 'In Dulci Jubilo' by J.S. Bach in Mike Oldfields arrangement. I have seen a 'Don Alfonso' MP3-file, download this and you will have some fun.

Single: Cuckoo Song

Traditional arrangement by Mike Oldfield with flute and acoustical guitars. On side two you find 'Pipe Tune'.


Pat's Mike Oldfield Page

Opinions (Pat's page)

Tubular Web

Mike Oldfields sister Sally and brother Terry have also made a musical career and both have released quite a lot of good music.