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Oldfield, Mike - 1980 QE2

ARTIST: Oldfield, Mike
LABEL: Virgin
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1991, Caroline/Blue Plate, CAROL 1857-2


LINEUP: Mike Oldfield - guitars, percussion, banjo, bass guitar, celtic harp, drum machine, mandolin, piano, keyboards, vibraphone, vocoder, vocals * Maggie Reilly - vocals * Phil Collins, Morris Pert - drums * Mike Frye - drums, percussion * Tim Cross - piano, synthesizers * David Hentschel - synthesizers, drums, vocals, horn arrangements * Guy Barker, Raul D'Olivera -trumpet * Paul Nieman - trombone * Philip Todd - tenor saxophone * Dick Studt - strings * David Bedford - string & choir arrangement

TRACK LISTING: 01 Taurus 1 * 02 Sheba * 03 Conflict * 04 Arrival * 05 Wonderful Land * 06 Mirage * 07 QE2 * 08 Celt * 09 Molly


For better or worse Mike Oldfield will forever be remembered for the spooky theme to the 1973 film 'The Exorcist'. The music, fitting perfectly with the eerie mood of the movie was actually pulled from his debut album and the first release on Richard Branson's Virgin Records - 'Tubular Bells'. The record put Mike Oldfield on the progressive rock map and has since sold at an astounding level. Unfortunately the albums success was too much of a good thing with Oldfield sadly cashing in on numerous sequels including 'The Orchestral Tubular Bells', 'Tubular Bells II' and 'Tubular Bells III' as well as 'The Millennium Bell' and 'Tubular Bells 2003', all of which were completely unnecessary and a waste of good plastic and time. And yet, before all this embarrassingly tragic self-parody, Oldfield released a few good LP's including 1974's 'Hergest Ridge' and 'Ommadawn', but as the 70's progressed, Oldfield like many of his musical brethren were faced with the cold truth as progressive rock had for the first time, run its course and a clear sign Oldfield saw the future was his dabbling in that most hated of genres - Disco and the single 'Guilty' which much to everyone's surprise was a minor hit in the UK.

The Songs
The times were indeed changing, punk be damned and with 'QE2', Mike Oldfield attempted a further bridging of the gap between pop and prog rock. Of course old habits die hard and 'Taurus 1', the first in a series that would appear on future albums is classic Oldfield, blending world music in a prog rock context and it works exceedingly well. 'QE2', named after the luxury liner 'Queen Elizabeth II' marks the first appearance of Scottish vocalist and ex-Cado Belle Maggie Reilly. Her stylizations on 'Sheba' are a perfect example of world music's commercial potential long before the new age movement and labels like Private Music and Narada boiled it down to bland Americanized MOR. Even more proof Mike Oldfield had turned a commercial corner was his cover of ABBA's 'Arrival'. The song was the album's first single, very much in keeping with the Euro-centric original and the single sleeve even parodied the ABBA album cover, Helicopter and all. Nicely done, but it didn't chart although his cover of The Shadows 'Wonderful Land' as the B-side to 'Sheba' did find its way on radio and in Australia of all places. The title track throws everything prog and the kitchen sink into a glorious seven and a half minutes while 'Molly' closes the album with a haunting lullaby written for the musician's daughter and is all too brief, but a nice coda to a truly wonderful album.

In Summary
As the 1980's wore on, Oldfield continued to release albums in a commercial direction. Following up 'QE2' with the stupendous 'Five Miles Out' and 1983's 'Crisis' which features Oldfield's biggest hit 'Moonlight Shadow' are worth having in the collection as well as 'Discovery' which is by far his most pop oriented album to date although make an effort to avoid his 1990 release 'Amarok' and the horrible 'Heaven's Open' unless you're a glutton for punishment.

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