on 31 October 2000
Although my interest in the music of Mike Oldfield began with Tubular Bells I only really started collecting his albums in the late 80s. Usually it took a few listens to really appreciate his work but only one album ever impressed me on the first listen - Ommadawn.
In the past few years a number of acts have proclaimed themselves to be the first to produce Afro/Celtic fusion, but go back to 1976 and you will find that this album predates them all.
From its simple harp intro, Ommadawn builds up to a powerful guitar finale - and that's part one. I would agree with a previous reviewer that the final eight minutes or so of Part 1 are the finest eight minutes I have heard in my lifetime, as yet unrivalled.
A simple but enjoyable folk song completes the album. One of Oldfield's finest works. Another point to remember is that if you look at his first three albums - TB was a sort of rock album, Hergest Ridge was a sort of light classical, Ommadawn is different again. Each album has the Oldfield style, yet each is so removed from the other. Not many artists can pull off such radically different albums, especially now.
on 10 June 2010
On listening to the 2010 stereo mix my first impressions were that my high expectations had been met. I try to keep an open mind on revisiting such a classic as it can be hard to accept a new take on it. The clean, crispness of the sound is instantly evident and the mix is far more dynamic than the original. You certainly hear sounds that were lost before as the levels of each instrument have changed. Where you may anticipate a crescendo or a wind instrument to take the lead as in the original sometimes it is quite different. I noticed the electric guitar coming through a lot more and some of the recorders/flutes/pipes a lot quieter. After a few listens I think that it has been done very well; cleaning up the original with care. There are only 3 criticisms I have, 1 is the change at 11:57, rather odd, sounds like a slip of the mixing slider, 2 the finale of part 1 at 16:55 hasn't got the punch I thought it might have and 3, the finale melody on gloc is almost lost now. That said I will continue to enjoy listening to it.
The 5.1 mix for me was exceptional and very enjoyable. It has been done subtly; unlike the 2003 tubular bells merry go round. The rear speakers are used very well with vocal chords and strings with the main instruments coming from the front. Occasionally you may get duplicate sound in the rear speakers to complement the front giving the listener more emersion. Funnily enough criticism 1 above isn't evident at all in this mix; however point 2 and 3 still stands.
Overall this is a must have for any Oldfield fan, great care has been taken on this and though there are 3 points I have raised they don't detract too much from the experience.
on 17 June 2010
Ommadawn is the first album where Oldfield made the transition from multi-instumentalist noodling away in his bedroom to fully fledged composer / producer / genius - and we can only really judge this from this reissue. Back in 1976, Oldfield replaced the original mixes of Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn with the remixes from "Boxed". In the case of Hergest Ridge this was a radical change, resulting in a much subtler and less involving piece. In Ommadawn the changes he made were less brutal, but they can nevertheless be heard, especially in the first five to ten minutes. The second disc here presents the 1975 for the first time on CD - and is worth the purchase price on its own.
Oldfield's remix sounds crystal clear and is interesting to fans in that it reveals layers of the texture, consisting of a myriad overdubs that were Oldfield's trademark at the time. Ommadawn utilized many overdubbed guitars, often fed through harmonising effects units, to create scintillating textures, rendering each instrument almost unrecognisable within the texture. These days all you need is a decent synth patch to produce the same effect, so in the new mix Oldfield has chosen to focus on details within textures. Sometimes I found this disruptive, but never at a loss to my enjoyment. It is like hearing a very good live interpretation of a well known classic. In general, Oldfield opts here for a warmer, more three dimensional sound.
The liner notes are excellent, although I was disappointed by the occasional error -"In dulci jubilo" and "Througham Slad" are misspelt throughout. However, the inclusion of the lost version of Ommadawn more than makes up for this. The notes explain that as Oldfield worked on the first draft, the tape began to wear out, resulting in him having to re-record the whole of side one. Up to now, the only record of this original version had been a few tantelising snippets from Tony Palmer's film "All You Need Is Love". Here though, the abandoned recording is presented in full, ammounting to approximately 18 minutes of original Oldfield, never before released in any audio format. It explains so much - for example, why was Herbie credited on the Northumbrian pipes, when the only pipes to appear on the final recording are Uilleann, played by Paddy Moloney from The Chieftans. Why was Pierre Moerlin credited with playing Timpani - no hint of which mad it through to the final version. All is revealed when you listen to this lost recording. I must admit that with a few exceptions I felt that this work benefitted hugely from the tape wearing out. The ideas presented here have an unfinished feel to them.
Obviously, had the tape held together, Oldfield would have revised certain features and reworked some of what is presented here, but I can't help feeling that being forced to rethink the whole piece produced a more mature, satisfying recording.
Every Oldfield fan should buy this - even if they own the original on CD. It also serves as a perfect introduction to new enthusiasts, either for Oldfield or for the genre of "World Music", of which this is one of the absolute pioneers.
on 7 April 2001
Anyone who has listened to this album will know the high point comes at 12 and a half minutes into track 1 - The stirring theme, choice of instruments and beautiful chant is perfect.
While this section is the strongest part of the album, the album works extremely well as a whole and is not in any way musically disappointing - a much more mature album than Tubular Bells.
The only let down on this version (Virgin VIP) is the cover and lack of any sleeve notes but at this price who's complaining?
Grab a beer, turn the lights down, close your eyes and drift away on a heavenly cloud of emotion. Great!!!
on 7 September 2010
I first came across Mike Oldfield when Crises went out. Back then, it was almost impossible to run away from his 'Moonlight Shadow' hit tune.
However, soon after I started dipping into his earlier era and eventually got to the very beginning, i.e. the early 70s albums.
It was then that I discovered Ommadawn - and was astounded. Moreover, the very first part of the record was the running theme of a very prestigious journalist TV show in Greece back in the late 70s...! The producer of the show definitely had an ear for good music. Without even knowing what Ommadawn was back then, I carried the tune in my mind subconciously until the moment I actually listened to the album.
In my view, Ommadawn is the best of Mike Oldfield's early amazing piece of work. Most of the records of the era are now quite famous and are a joy to listen to. But Ommadawn manages to captivate the listener in a unique way. The melodies are sublime, the instrumentation is perfect and the inspiration is glowing through.
Now comes the best part: this 2010 deluxe edition hosts *new* 2010 remixes of the original stereo mix, supervised by Mike Oldfield himself. These are simply awesome! The improvement in those against the original stereo mixes (that btw are also included in the CD#2 of this pack) is phenomenal, with much added sound clarity & depth.
I also enjoyed the surround remixes (disc #3) that came in DVD format. I do realise though that this is quite a new aural experience that distances itself from the original stereo format. I personally like it whenever it is offered but I am aware that people out there have expressed reservations of the 2->6 channel remaster.
So: if you are looking to own Ommadawn, definitely seek this 2010 edition that has the new stereo remixes - or even better get this edition that has it all. And kick back and enjoy the work of a trully inpired young man back in the '70s.
I grew up in a house soundtracked by Mike Oldfield's albums as my Dad was a huge fan, and since then we've both eagerly awaited each release, and keenly discussed each record after our first listens. "Ommadawn" was always a big favourite of my Dad's ("The Songs of Distant Earth" was his absolute favourite - "Amarok" mine) so this reissue was a must for both of us.
First of all it looks splendid - a three disk set (2xCD, 1xDVD) in a cardboard case protected by a thick plastic sleeve, and even the David Bailey artwork seems to have been given a bit of attention. The booklet is definitely worth a read, telling the story of the making of the album, in which several interesting snippets are revealed, such as that part two of "Ommadawn" was written and recorded in a week, and the overwhelming wall of guitars at the start is made up of 1,984 tracks! I was surprised to find a typo in the credits ("purcussion") but that aside it's an enjoyable read.
But what of the music? For me, "Ommadawn" was always far more consistent than "Tubular Bells" - for me that one tailed off badly in the second part - and is altogether a more pastoral sounding record, almost folky in places. It's a wonderful piece of music, eerie in parts due to the female vocals, powerful in others, particularly the last eight minutes or so when the African drums come in and Mike opens up with the guitar. The 2010 mix sounds great, some small details finally rising from the murk (drums in the "reggae" section which I'd never heard before) and by the end I was reaching for the play button once again to have another go. Part two isn't quite as good, dominated by drone-like guitars and uilleann pipes for long sections, but is still excellent in its own right, particularly the jaunty section at the end. "On Horseback" still raises a smile, but is far from essential Oldfield.
Elsewhere in the package there are a few tracks previously issued on the "Boxed" compilation many years ago, and the second disk features the original mixes of "Ommadawn". There is also a demo of "Ommadawn", previously thought to be lost. It is almost as long as the finished part one and is surprisingly close to the end result in places, but very different in others. It's a fascinating listen, marred only by a bizarre section where Mike (I presume) is telling bad "I say, I say, I say" jokes, which is reminiscent of the Janet Brown section on "Amarok" many years later (of course, Mike originally saw "Amarok" as being "Ommadawn 2", which explains the cover artwork and the similar construction in some areas). It won't replace the final version of "Ommadawn" in my affections, but it's still interesting to hear.
The DVD contains a 5.1 version of the 2010 "Ommadawn" mixes and, although I don't have a 5.1 setup my Dad does and he's informed me that it sounded great to him, but that the visuals - still photos of Mike back in 1975 - aren't up to much.
Always one of Mike's best albums, "Ommadawn" is an essential purchase. Roll on the rest of the remasters, and hopefully more new music soon.
on 6 March 2008
This is a very good album from Mike but would dissagree with some reviewers when they say it is a better album than Tubulars Bells.I find Ommadawn a lovely album and very laid back whereas Tubular Bells for me is a stronger more flowing album with a lot more guitar work on it,anyway if you like the music of Mike Oldfield you will really enjoy this album and if your wanting to start listening to his work I suggest Tubular Bells remastered followed by Ommadawn,Hergest Ridge,Incantations and Songs From The Distant Earth not in any specific order all excellent albums with there own beauty and charm.Great Stuff.If you want to here vocals on any of Mikes albums you might want to check out these albums;Discovery.Crisis and Islands all excellent works from Mike Oldfield.Hope this review as been of some help to you.
on 2 June 2003
As much as I like Tubular Bells it pales in comparison to Ommadawn. Here with the advantages of time, experience and better recording facilities Oldfield pushes the boundaries of his unique style of Progressive Rock to it's ultimate conclusion.
Altogether more Celtic in feel than TB, you will not find much on this album except virtuoso musicianship and spiritual exploration.
Quite simply his best album.
on 4 February 2002
Part I of Ommadawn has to be Mike Oldfield's greatest work, and I can't stop listening to those last eight minutes! Part II is less spectacular (maybe if the running order was different...), and "On Horseback" that closes the album has a somewhat cheesy folk quality about it, but the use of instrumentation throughout the album and use of backing vocals (sister Sally, Maddy Prior etc) is just great!
on 11 November 2005
This is a piece of music that surely deserves 10 stars.
It is music that Mike Oldfield was put on this Earth to create.
After 30 years of listening, to my ears it is still wholly
original, breathtaking, moving and, music to die for.
Packed with melody and surprise. The final 7-8 minutes of Part 1
is an ultra-brilliant jewel in the Crown of music.
Go on treat yourself