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Edward Leedskalnin

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Man On The Rocks
Man On The Rocks
Price: 12.99

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Man on the Rocks, 3 Mar 2014
This review is from: Man On The Rocks (Audio CD)
You never really know what to expect from a Mike Oldfield album so what’s Man on the Rocks all about then? First things first; there isn’t a single Tubular Bells parody here, this is pop-rock Oldfield and it’s mostly rather good.

My prog-rock compatriots wonder why I stick with this Oldfield chap. Well, amid the mediocrity of the past 20 years are some hidden gems but this album is a much richer treasure chest all together. There’s more verve and natural flare than Oldfield has expressed in decades. He’s been coasting for far too long but this time he means it; Man on the Rocks is easily the best Oldfield outing since The Songs of Distant Earth back in 1994.

The hardcore ‘complex-instrumental’ fans will be disappointed again. If so, Andrew Taylor’s Mohribold should be more to their liking or The Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues if they were hoping for a more acoustic song approach. Don’t write this album off too hastily though, I’ve sat with it for a few days and it is maturing. Luke Spiller’s powerful vocals are passionately delivered with a youthful swagger. Once or twice they even carry a song that might otherwise just trudge along but it is Oldfield’s guitar that truly raises the game. I thought we’d seen the last of that unique, wailing style but many of these solos will go straight into his cannon of classic guitar licking. Oldfield the guitarist is reborn!

Sailing, Moonshine, Man on the Rocks, Castaway and especially Dreaming in the Wind and Nuclear are real highlights, which at over half the album is pretty good going. The rest of album does sound rather ordinary at times though and songs such as Chariots and Irene (which sounds like Led Zeppelin!) feature a few too many rock clichés for my liking.

On the whole the production is more ‘straight down the line’ than we’ve become used to but in offering a fair review I must not gloss over the misgivings just because it’s such an improvement on the ‘chill-out’ phase. The slick, session-player sound is a bit too nice at times; a rawer, stripped back, not so MOR sound might have been more to my taste. It somehow doesn’t do the subject matter justice either. The redeeming feature though is Oldfield’s range of gutsy guitar sounds which, of course come to life with his excellent playing style.

As an album it runs together very well. Each song feels like it sits in the right place and the journey complete. Man on the Rocks is not a challenging listen but it is the sound of someone re-connecting with their love for musical expression and enjoying themselves. I suggest going for this one because I think there is much for the listener to enjoy too. I’m not sure if the deluxe edition with the instrumental versions is really worth it though, it is literally the songs minus the vocal, maybe if you want to do Mike karaoke...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2014 9:51 PM GMT


Music Of The Spheres
Music Of The Spheres
Price: 7.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Music of the Years, 14 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Music Of The Spheres (Audio CD)
With the imminent release of Oldfield's 2014 release; Man on the Rocks, I find myself drawn to his other most recent release now 6 years old. For those fans of old like myself, Music of the Spheres is a (very sweet) treat. Finally, Oldfield shakes off his frankly dreadful techno-chill phase and goes classical!!!

Harbinger, the albums opener, heralds this as another work in the Tubular Bells series. At first this grated with me but hang in there, the nods to Tubular Bells are only occasional. I find it helps to make sense of Oldfield's entire back-catalog if you see it as one big piece of music with plenty of variations on a theme along the way. I'm sure some of those grand old masters of classical music used to do this throughout their careers, Viv Aldi for example, before he set up that supermarket chain.

Joking aside, Music of the Spheres features some truly beautiful moments, it is clearly Oldfield's most rewarding work for many, many years. The only negative for me is that at times it does stray into Hollywood film-score territory. With so much of that in our lives already is this unnecessary? I might have preferred those saccharine cinematic passages to instead have been pieces more challenging to the ear of a listener matured by years of Oldfield's grander moments.

Plus....for those who yearn for a return to the sound of those early classics; Ommadawn, Hergest Ridge, Incantations and the like, an artist by the name of Andrew Taylor has come to your rescue. Look up his recent Mohribold album, many of the Oldfield faithful seem to be talking about it.


Crises
Crises
Price: 10.49

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2013 Deluxe Edition, 8 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Crises (MP3 Download)
You may be a returning Oldfield fan or altogether new to Crises, so is the remaster worthy of the spend out and what of the musical content?

First to the remastering; we definitely have more volume this time round and so the music jumps from the speakers. To be fair though, my hi-fi does have a volume control and the boosted sound comes with a compromise. Yes you may catch a few more details but they were there already if you listened carefully enough. I think this a more cluttered mix. Everything is loud so there is no dynamic to the sound. Previous releases had space and subtlety, a major strength of Oldfield's. Crises seems to have become a victim of the so called loudness war.

Some may prefer the remastering so what about the music? Well of course it's great. There are nods to Tubular Bells, but they're not too obvious. This is perhaps Oldfield's most synthy work from this era but as always the melodies come first, if nothing else Oldfield is a master of the catchy tune. Since Ommadawn we'd always been treated to some very interesting percussion work with every release and with Simon Phillips on board we get an onslaught of power drumming and it's great.

The extras don't really cut the mustard for me this time and again we've been denied a classic b-side with the exclusion of Rite of Man. We're given the 12" versions of Moonlight Shadow and Shadow on the Wall of which the Oldfield faithful will already have. The unplugged mixes of these songs are little more than interesting though it's great to hear the banjo on the latter track really brought to the forefront. The redeeming feature of the whole release however, is the tremendous live disc. Instrumental tracks Taurus I and II and Crises are rocky, playful and inventive, they are worth the money alone. The songs don't fare so well in my opinion but it's great to hear an improvisational edge to Oldfield's soloing and of course Roger Chapman joins in on Family Man, well he had to didn't he!?

I must add a footnote about a much more recent album I know some of the Oldfield faithful are discovering. It's called Mohribold and was recorded by Andrew Taylor (google it!). If you like Crises or any of Mike's early albums you will love Mohribold and with such little new music coming from the old maestro we all need a fix of something to fill the hole where a new Oldfield album should go!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2014 7:31 PM BST


Crises
Crises
Price: 11.91

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2013 Deluxe Edition, 8 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Crises (Audio CD)
First off, the other reviews listed amongst this one currently appear to have been lifted from previous releases of Crises, this review relates specifically to the 2013 Crises Deluxe Edition.

You may be a returning Oldfield fan or altogether new to Crises, so is the remaster worthy of the spend out and what of the musical content?

First to the remastering; we definitely have more volume this time round and so the music jumps from the speakers. To be fair though, my hi-fi does have a volume control and the boosted sound comes with a compromise. Yes you may catch a few more details but they were there already if you listened carefully enough. I think this a more cluttered mix. Everything is loud so there is no dynamic to the sound. Previous releases had space and subtlety, a major strength of Oldfield's. Crises seems to have become a victim of the so called loudness war.

Some may prefer the remastering so what about the music? Well of course it's great. There are nods to Tubular Bells, but they're not too obvious. This is perhaps Oldfield's most synthy work from this era but as always the melodies come first, if nothing else Oldfield is a master of the catchy tune. Since Ommadawn we'd always been treated to some very interesting percussion work with every release and with Simon Phillips on board we get an onslaught of power drumming and it's great.

The extras don't really cut the mustard for me this time and again we've been denied a classic b-side with the exclusion of Rite of Man. We're given the 12" versions of Moonlight Shadow and Shadow on the Wall of which the Oldfield faithful will already have. The unplugged mixes of these songs are little more than interesting though it's great to hear the banjo on the latter track really brought to the forefront. The redeeming feature of the whole release however, is the tremendous live disc. Instrumental tracks Taurus I and II and Crises are rocky, playful and inventive, they are worth the money alone. The songs don't fare so well in my opinion but it's great to hear an improvisational edge to Oldfield's soloing and of course Roger Chapman joins in on Family Man, well he had to didn't he!?

I must add a footnote about a much more recent album I know some of the Oldfield faithful are discovering. It's called Mohribold and was recorded by Andrew Taylor (google it!). If you like Crises or any of Mike's early albums you will love Mohribold and with such little new music coming from the old maestro we all need a fix of something to fill the hole where a new Oldfield album should go!


Five Miles Out
Five Miles Out
Price: 14.76

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five out of Five Miles Out, 5 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Five Miles Out (Audio CD)
First off the bat my review is for the 2013 Deluxe Edition. Now I'm guessing most listeners coming to this release will already be familiar with Mike Oldfield's Five Miles Out so is this remaster worth the spend out? Well actually yes.

By the time Oldfield came to record Five Miles Out recording techniques and studio gear had improved a great deal since he started his career. It is from this point onwards in the Oldfield cannon that I always thought the remastering process wouldn't offer very much over the original releases. Well I was wrong, this release sounds absolutely tremendous. There is such definition and clarity and the bass is so round and warm. It sounds great loud too, those crunchy distorted power chords sound like they're gonna come straight out of the speakers.

Musically, Five Miles Out is a real highlight in Oldfield's career. There are so many twists and turns and so many beautifully interwoven layers. Oldfield was riding the crest of a very creative wave, there is so much energy on offer here. Many of the passages are actually quite heavy in a heavy rock sense but the number of styles presented is baffling. Five Miles Out is a unique album and the title track is perhaps one of the most unique, idiosyncratic pieces of music I've ever heard, it's just so strange yet familiar!

On to the extras; the live disc is stunning. There are some very playful and deftly executed versions presented here. The highlight for me is the crowd joining in with Five Miles Out while the band actually slip into a reggae vibe led by some amazing organ. I didn't think I could sit through yet another rendition of Tubular Bells but the version here is so different and creative. The other bonuses are worth the lay out too; we've had Waldberg (The Peak) several times before but again the remaster is so good that it sounds like a new track. As for the demo version of Five Miles Out (the track); very, very interesting, I'll be listening to that for a long time to come. I'm sorry to say I can't offer a review of the 5.1 mix as I'm not set up for it.

I must add a footnote about a much more recent album I know some of the Oldfield faithful are discovering. It's called Mohribold and was recorded by Andrew Taylor (google it!). If you like Five Miles Out or any of Mike's early albums you will love Mohribold and with such little music coming from the old maestro we all need a fix of something to fill the hole where a new Oldfield album should go!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 23, 2014 6:59 PM GMT


Apostrophe(')
Apostrophe(')
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 10.03

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exclamation (!), 27 July 2013
This review is from: Apostrophe(') (Audio CD)
Frank Zappa's extensive output can seem quite intimidating to the uninitiated so here is a little help. I'll make it simple; start with Apostrophe.

Apostrophe is perhaps Zappa's finest album. It features all the essential ingredients from his earlier LPs but the blend is far more palatable. Zappa's voice on this album has a wonderfully deep, rich and very satisfying timbre effectively translating his unique humour and charisma. His lyrics paint such clear comic strip pictures in your mind that it's really worth taking the time to listen to this album properly and watching these pictures pass by your mind's eye.

And friends, if you already love Zappa, look up my recent discovery Discharge Lounge, a very tuneful and humourous live band who have some great recorded work out there too, you'll find them on a site called bandcamp:)


Hot Rats
Hot Rats
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 10.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grab-a-Zappa, 19 July 2013
This review is from: Hot Rats (Audio CD)
So you're intrigued by this Frank Zappa chap, you've heard a lot of different things about his music, you don't know where to start. Well; Hot Rats is where you should take the plunge!

I could write forever about this album but in a bid to be more helpful to the Zappa novice I'm going to keep it brief.

Where was the music world going to go after Sgt.Peppers but to Zappa's Hot Rats? It's a beautifully textured album, featuring a resplendent array of instruments from fair-ground organs, to clarinets, flutes, saxes and of course some blistering guitar for it was on this album album that Zappa was revealed as a supreme axe master! The quick succession of phases, textures and moods which permeates Peaches en Regalia especially is one of the LP's most attractive qualities. If music could capture colour then Zappa has captured a kaleidoscope of colour here.

Zappa was by now also a gifted composer of the so called 'rock concerto'. There are moments when so much is going on it's like a busy conversation in which everyone is shouting at once but one in which the cacophony somehow shines with clarity and complete musical sense. A composer this intelligent could quite easily give us something stiff and serious but instead his style is one he clearly wants us all to enjoy and enjoy it you will.

Not many have ventured to be so brave and daring as Zappa, he's a one off and always will be. However, I like to always sign off with a recommendation! Discharge Lounge, look them up folks, they have an EP named Honourable Discharge that I downloaded from a site called bandcamp and they are an epic, very tuneful and humorous live band to boot, the Zappa freaks amongst you will love them!


Cornology
Cornology
Offered by The Source
Price: 39.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should have this..., 10 July 2013
This review is from: Cornology (Audio CD)
Simply one of the best value musical purchases you will ever make. This is everything the Bonzos ever released plus a few very worthwhile odds and ends too.

Now I listen to a lot of what I pretentiously call serious music so I'm talking prog and the odd foray into the classical sphere here but what everyone needs now and again is some fun. The Bonzos knew how to spoon that stuff up and present it to us on stage because they were bloody marvelous live but they were also surprisingly good at doing this in the studio too. Even more surprising is that given that the Bonzos are so firmly rooted in 1960's mythology, their albums still sound so great today. I listen to this collection A LOT and I never seem to tire of it, there are so many highlights, far too many to mention here, oh go on then; there's the obvious Urban Spaceman, Shirt, My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies and an early Rawlinson End outing from Viv Stanshall, brilliant!

The sleeves are great too, sensitive to their dadaist back-ground with great liner notes. Come on in the water's lovely, what are you waiting for?

I was lucky enough to recently come across a fantastic band of a much younger generation than the Bonzos but who brought to mind our erstwhile friends. Look up Discharge Lounge, well worth seeing live I can assure you. They also have an EP out there, give them a whirl.


Kveikur
Kveikur
Price: 8.90

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darker, more distorted, I like it., 10 July 2013
This review is from: Kveikur (Audio CD)
Sigur Rós have always been creators of large expansive soundscapes. Their albums are places to explore, discovering new Icelandic islets and inlets with each listen. Kveikur though seems a much more immediate listen, especially the excellent opener Brennisteinn which is more distorted and dark than I was expecting, the title track is a belter too. I think Kveikur is a step forward for the band and I find my appetite is whetted for coming albums.

Now, I always like to leave readers with a recommendation of a little gem they might not otherwise find. If you're a fan of Sigur Rós then you have to listen to a band called Takeda, trust me;)


Tubular Bells 2003
Tubular Bells 2003
Price: 23.20

2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless........, 23 May 2013
This review is from: Tubular Bells 2003 (Audio CD)
Yet another Tubular Bells album! With so many of them out there it's good to know what you are getting before you buy it so I thought I'd try and help out.

Tubular Bells 2003 is a note for note re-recording of the 1973 original. In doing so Oldfield utilized nearly all of the original instruments but used modern studio technology. Oldfield was always dis-satisfied with the results first time round complaining he didn't even have time to tune the instruments.

So what about the results? Well for me Tubular Bells 2003 sounds far too smooth and clean, the charm and youthful innocence of the original is missing. Sure, the original was a bit rough around the edges but we all loved the character that gave it, it was shot from the hip, not too deliberated, genuine.I was left with the feeling that this was a missed opportunity for a new hand played piece of work that TB2003 hinted Mike could still deliver if he really wanted to.

There are two redeeming features for me; Latin is just great, there is a depth that perhaps Mike just couldn't achieve back in '73. Also the appearance of John Cleese as Master of Ceremonies; I always thought there was a touch of Python in Tubular Bells. His announcement of mandolin is inspired! But......Oldfield was obviously so keen on Cleese's delivery he repeats it a few seconds later, utterly pointless and totally irritating.

I'm guessing many Oldfield fans will have purchased this release desperate for anything even remotely new from the maestro, my recommendation is to instead invest in the 2010 remastering of the original 1973 Tubular Bells; nothing messed around with, just a much better audio experience. A further recommendation is to find an album called Mohribold by Andrew Taylor. Google it, I downloaded from a site called bandcamp. Mohribold will delight the ears of those who loved Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Amarok, it will do me until Oldfield rediscovers his mojo.


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