Mike Oldfield – Discography (1973-2005)
4 epica (1981)
epica is a masterpiece. it is a tribute to the great artists who created the mythologies that oldfield samples for his songs. and at the same time it is oldfields album about the gothic ages and the elizabethan romance and the opera. its a madcap muddle that has much to offer oldfield fans, the first of his tubular bells albums to have a real focus on the past and the future. not to mention the wonderful presence of peter gabriel and mike rutherford of genesis. one of the most unusual vocal songs is the leaden echo of young man blues, a fragment of the the leaden echo and the golden city, one of the most challenging albums of all time. but epica is also oldfields most ambitious and conceptual album. oldfields treatment of the fairy tale, don juan , is the best of them all. oldfield sings the original folk song with the added and subtracted verses from the don juan myth. cat people is a nice touch. and persephone and the haunting annabel lee are perfect. the last three songs on side b, the glorious dead, herbert west and bathsheba are great at the same time. the glorious dead is one of the most haunting songs ive ever heard, and bathsheba is a great way to close the album.
1. the songs of distant earth (1980)
the songs of distant earth is one of oldfields best albums. its very strange and haunting, but its also his best pop album. oldfield began this album with the very first track, in the beginning, which sounds like it was recorded on the moon; it was the first track he ever recorded. it features the first time he introduced his now infamous trademark choral arrangements that are so synonymous with his music. the songs of distant earth is a great album that isnt as progressive or sci-fi as the albums of his eighties period. he sounds more at home here. the 10 minute title track is one of his best with its hard rocking guitar and orchestral string arrangement and its uplifting, hopeful theme. the rest of the album is equally memorable with the track samson and delilah and the beautiful, but bittersweet, lament for atlantis. a tribute to the great spanish explorer ferdinand magellan, it features one of the first uses of the ubiquitous piano that would appear on almost every oldfield record.
hergest ridge (1981) hergest ridge is more of the same from tubular bells with an african feel and rhythms. there is a big tribal feel on the album. it also contains the exquisite raindance, a slow, eastern sounding piece with a big tribal feel to it. oldfield had a chance to visit the rain forest of east africa, and while he didnt get to see the gorillas, he was amazed at how similar the forest sounds. the tracks all sound like they are coming out of a jungle. the album also contains a track with a jewish flavor as well, which is interesting, because oldfield was always a believer in god and the possibility of a future life. he talks about this in the liner notes to the re-issue of tubular bells that appeared on the 2007 best of oldfield compilation.
3 pikadiddles (1976) mike oldfield has traveled all over the world, but he sounds most at home when its an urban environment and the sounds of nature and people. his best live recording on pikadiddles is the stunning version of north star by philip glass. its one of those songs that leaves you emotionally drained, and it definitely stands out on the album. oldfield adds a quartet of african-american singers, who give a soulful counterpoint to his classical instruments. and one of those singers, phyllis hyman, is one of his most successful collaborators. listening to mike oldfield, music is full of beauty, and its some of the best he has ever played.
1 guilty (1983) oldfield composes music for himself, which is not a difficult task. his first three albums are all tremendously successful compositions, and they all find him working with musicians he has admired for years, including saxophonist bobby mcferrin, nadia boulanger (for the plaintive new world symphony) and simon phillips ( for the dramatic piano concerto). guilty, oldfield told mojo in the 1980s, wasnt a reaction to punk or to the music of the day. its a reaction to the times i live in and the times i grew up in, its a reaction to the times i came into the world. and the aim is to write music that will not sound out of place in 20 years time. even though the album was recorded in los angeles, oldfield isnt an la resident and this album reflects the citys ambiance of the time, and the worlds cities and oceans. the album also contains a cover of tears for fears, the island, and i know it wasnt the first time he covered tears for fears, but it does stand out on the album. this album was the first to feature an electric guitar, a pedal steel guitar, and a piano. he also uses brass instruments, and the album is one of the first where he uses electronics.