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Mike Oldfield — Man On the Rocks (2014)

 Mike Oldfield — Man On the Rocks (March 3, 2014)

GBR Flag Mike Oldfield — Man On the Rocks

    Man on Rocks is Mike Oldfield's first album of new material since 2008, featuring 11 brand new tracks. Recorded in the Bahamas, Mike's 25th studio album has been produced by Mike with legendary British producer Stephen Lipson (Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox).
   A talented and successful multi–instrumentalist who will forever be associated with Tubular Bells, a progressive masterpiece that sold millions. 
Birth name: Michael Gordon Oldfield
Born: 15 May 1953, Reading, Berkshire, England
Member of: The Sallyangie
Genre: Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock
Location: Palma de Mallorca, Spain ~ Monaco ~ Bahamas
Album release: March 3, 2014
Record Label: Virgin EMI
Duration:     59:25
Tracks:
01 Sailing     4:45 
02 Moonshine     5:48 
03 Man on the Rocks     6:10 
04 Castaway     6:32 
05 Minutes     4:50 
06 Dreaming in the Wind     5:27 
07 Nuclear     5:02 
08 Chariots     4:37 
09 Following the Angels     7:05 
10 Irene     3:58 
11 I Give Myself Away     5:11
   Tracks 1 — 10 written by Mike Oldfield, tracks 11 written by William McDowell.
   The new record was produced by Stephen Lipson and is described as a ‘song–based’ album. Sessions took place in The Bahamas during 2013.
Track listing (as per 2LP vinyl):
Side One:
   Sailing
   Moonshine
Side Two:
   Man On The Rocks
   Castaway
   Minutes
Side Three:
   Dreaming In The Wind
   Nuclear
   Chariots
Side Four:
   Following The Angels
   Irene
   I Give Myself Away
Credits:
   William McDowell  Composer
   Mike Oldfield  Composer, Primary Artist
♣   “People are very complicated machines — to get them to do what you want, you have to be very careful. You have to behave towards them in a very definite sequence.” — NME, April 1979

REVIEW
By Graeme Marsh | posted on 25 Feb 2014 | Score: ***
   Following the euphoria of a successful appearance at the spectacular London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, veteran instrumentalist extraordinaire Mike Oldfield found himself suitably revitalised to the extent whereby the veritable genius — once cruelly labelled an “old fart” by corners of the press — now releases his 25th studio album at the ripe old age of 60. Of those previous 24 efforts, he will of course always be remembered for 1973’s Tubular Bells and with good reason — who else can lay claim to an album that’s topped 17 million worldwide sales? And a totally instrumental one to boot.
   With the Olympic ceremony casting the spotlight back on the maestro after a lengthy absence — 2008’s Music Of The Spheres was his last studio effort — the world was reminded of his stature as one of the UK’s greatest ever musicians as he performed excerpts from that famous album along with a couple of other pieces.
   Before listening to Man On the Rocks it wouldn’t be too harsh to expect nothing more than a collection of tired, uninspiring dad rock numbers and upon first airing it’s unlikely to convince otherwise. However, this apparently deeply personal album — undoubtedly inspired by Oldfield’s 2013 separation from his wife in places — should not be written off so easily.
   Opening track Sailing is not the best way to showcase the strengths on offer here, a radio friendly, non intrusive number along the lines of 1983’s Moonlight Shadow but without the vital vocal contribution from Maggie Reilly; it was recently voted BBC Radio 2’s record of the week, a fact that speaks volumes with its Traveling Wilburys vibe.
   Ears prick up for Moonshine’s intro though, as Oldfield does his best impression of U2’s The Edge, but as the song then trudges down another mundane path it comes as a refreshing surprise to hear an excellent guitar solo following an Irish pipe section.
   The Struts’ Luke Spiller is (rather unexpectedly) on singing duties throughout and the passion in his delivery is often key. This is no more apparent than on the album’s centrepiece, the epic title track: slow acoustics provide foundations before the building commences through strings, guitar and Spiller’s vocals, culminating in another superb guitar solo.
   Castaway begins even more subtly, with drums kicking in just before the two minute mark as the layering process is again undertaken until the track begins to resemble something takin to Queen, but it is, remarkably, another — and even better — guitar solo that steals the show. Nuclear is another Queen–like effort with an anthemic chorus and the lyrics are rather telling. “What a mess we made when it all went wrong,” go the words, as relationship failings are likened to nuclear catastrophe.
   Dreaming In The Wind recalls Mark Knopfler’s guitar sounds until it develops into something else entirely, with more genius soloing abound; Irene, though, is a little too reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Women for comfort, chugging along very similarly until a brass sounding section leads to its conclusion.
   Minutes offers little other than a slow unexciting trudge through mediocrity, whilst Chariots boasts short sharp bursts of guitar riffage but nothing else of note to add to the ticking percussion. A cover of William McDowell’s gospel song I Give Myself Away closes the album but sounds like something an ex–member of Westlife might put out and Following The Angels repeats the title a little too many times throughout its melancholic piano based existence to warrant repeat plays.
   It is undoubtedly the guitaring that represents this album’s main strength, often elevating average tracks into something better, but when telling guitar contributions are absent there’s little else to get excited about. The quality of that guitaring though is impressive enough to keep listeners coming back; the old master may not be as abundantly creative as he once was but there’s life in the old fart yet. (http://www.musicomh.com/)
Website: http://mikeoldfieldofficial.com/
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Instruments:
♦   Although Oldfield plays various instruments, he considers himself first and foremost to be a guitarist.
Guitars:
♦   Over the years, Oldfield has used a various selection of guitars. Among the more notable of these are:
1963 Fender Stratocaster
♦   Serial no. L08044, in salmon pink (fiesta red). Used by Oldfield from 1984 (the Discovery album) until 2006 (Night of the Proms, rehearsals in Antwerp). Subsequently sold for £30,000 at Chandler Guitars.
1989 PRS Artist Custom 24
♦   In amber, used by Oldfield from the late 1980s to the present day.
1966 Fender Telecaster
♦   Serial no. 180728, in blonde. Previously owned by Marc Bolan, this was the only electric guitar used on Tubular Bells. Having been put up by Bonhams for auction in 2007, 2008 and 2009 at estimated values of, respectively, £25,000 — 35,000, £10,000 — 15,000 and £8,000 — 12,000, Oldfield has since sold the guitar and donated the money received to the charity SANE.
Various Gibson Les Paul and SG guitars
♦   Used extensively by Oldfield in the 1970s and 80s.
♦   Oldfield used a modified Roland GP8 effects processor in conjunction with his PRS Artist to get many of his heavily overdriven guitar sounds from the Earth Moving album onwards. Oldfield has also been using guitar synthesizers since the mid–1980s, using a 1980s Roland GR–300/G–808 type system, then a 1990s Roland GK2 equipped red PRS Custom 24 (sold in 2006) with a Roland VG8, and most recently a Line 6 Variax.
♦   Oldfield has an unusual playing style, using both fingers and fingernails and several ways of creating vibrato: a "very fast side–to–side vibrato" or "violinist's vibrato". Oldfield has also stated that his playing style originates from his musical roots playing folk music and the bass guitar.
Recording:
♦   Oldfield has self–recorded and produced many of his albums, and played the majority of the instruments that feature on them, largely at his home studios. In the 1990s and 2000s he has been mainly using DAWs such as Apple Logic, Avid Pro Tools and Steinberg Nuendo as recording suites. For composing classical music Oldfield has been quoted as using the software notation program Sibelius running on Apple Macintoshes. He also used the FL Studio DAW on his 2005 double album Light + Shade. Among the mixing consoles Oldfield has owned are an AMS Neve Capricorn 33238, a Harrison Series X, and a Euphonix System 5–MC.
Keyboards:
♦   Over the years, Oldfield has owned and used a vast number of synthesizers and other keyboard instruments. In the 1980s, he composed the score for the film The Killing Fields on a Fairlight CMI. Some examples of keyboard and synthesised instruments which Oldfield has made use of include Sequential Circuits Prophets (notably on Platinum and The Killing Fields), Roland JV–1080/JV–2080 units (1990s), a Korg M1 (as seen in the "Innocent" video), a Clavia Nord Lead and Steinway pianos. In recent years, he has also made use of software synthesis products, such as Native Instruments.
Studio albums:
   Tubular Bells (1973)
   Hergest Ridge (1974)
   Ommadawn (1975)
   Incantations (1978)
   Platinum (1979)
   QE2 (1980)
   Five Miles Out (1982)
   Crises (1983)
   Discovery (1984)
   The Killing Fields (1984)
   Islands (1987)
   Earth Moving (1989)
   Amarok (1990)
   Heaven's Open (1991)
   Tubular Bells II (1992)
   The Songs of Distant Earth (1994)
   Voyager (1996)
   Tubular Bells III (1998)
   Guitars (1999)
   The Millennium Bell (1999)
   Tr3s Lunas (2002)
   Tubular Bells 2003 (2003)
   Light + Shade (2005)
   Music of the Spheres (2008)
   Man on the Rocks (3 March 2014) © ♦ Mike Oldfield & Luke Spiller — Man On The Rocks (Acoustic Version) — YouTube ♦ 
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Mike Oldfield — Man On the Rocks (2014)

 

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