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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Divided Opinion
It seems that MO's music can divide opinion amongst his fans like few others. One mans poison (Millenium Bell) is another mans perfume (QE2). I think this LP is, pending future releases, his last great one. After this he starts continually revisiting old ground, and looking outside his head for inspiration. That's a shame though, because his music is always at it's best...
Published on 20 Dec 2002

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best, But Not Bad!
As a huge fan of Oldfield I think that the previous reviewer is a little harsh.True, this album is not in the same league as 'Songs Of Distant Earth' or 'Amorak', but is still worth having in your collection.
The opening instrumental 'Wind Chimes' is marvellously uplifting and varied and compares very favourably to any of his work.Admittedly the songs are not as...
Published on 7 Mar 2002


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Divided Opinion, 20 Dec 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
It seems that MO's music can divide opinion amongst his fans like few others. One mans poison (Millenium Bell) is another mans perfume (QE2). I think this LP is, pending future releases, his last great one. After this he starts continually revisiting old ground, and looking outside his head for inspiration. That's a shame though, because his music is always at it's best when he's concentrating on just that - the music. Recent album have had tacky "themes" to give them direction but if his music is on par with his best, it doesn't need that.
Islands is in my opinion the last time he was able to let the inspiration guide him but ultimately still allow the music to take it's own course. The all instrumental side one is thematic (but all his best work is) and uses a recurring melody but is still organic and innovative enough that you never lose interest.
The second "pop song" side is a little less inspiring but has it's moments (especially the bonus "When The Nights On Fire") and the female vocals compliment the arrangements perfectly, particulalrly Anita Hegerland. Male vocal choices (Jon Anderson, Max Bacon) are typically iffy, but at least he didn't sing them himself..
But that's just my opinion, others may think it's trite, over-produced sentimental rubbish!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still it's good........................, 4 May 2007
By 
Mr. J. Hulme (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
I love this CD in parts, I find it so moving in parts. Then there is the opposite with a few tracks. But you can, if needed skip them, but if possible you should play it all away through at least every other play.

1.The Wind Chimes: It is a good long meandering piece that has lots of different sounds and feels to it. From the beautiful to the punchy bits. It has the plinkity pluck trade mark of Mikes acoustic guitar and the electric guitar sound you can recognise at a split second. Love parts, like it overall, maybe not to what it deserves. Forgive the old cliche, but you do hear bits you have either forgotten or had not heard before. This is the third time I have played this track, one after another. I am saying I love it in parts and overall I love it, there are just the odd.......

2.Islands: Bonnie Tylers voice is at it's gravel best, she can stone wash your jeans just by singing. A great song, nice powerful beat drives it. Should be on a radio 2 playlist. Good.

3.Flying Start: This is the first of the crap, do not like this one little bit, lyrics are childish. Sort of Roger Whittaker done to an up tempo beat, thank god no whistling, quickly becames irritating. Good point is if you want a sing a long this is the one and it only lasts 3mins 37. But there again if you want a singalong what are you listening to Mike oldefield for?

4.North Point. Love this track, a great tune and lovely lyrics, haunting.

5.Magic Touch: European trash, visions of bad hair and shoulder pads, 80's at it's worst!

6.The Time Has Come: Overblown? If it is? I still love it, the great voice of Anita Hegerland is back again. This is all what is good about the 80's big production, lovely emotional ride.

7.When The Nights On Fire: Again big production number, ghostly Celtic feel with the pomp and greatness that is Mike Oldfield. And it's two can and not Toucan.....

This is Mike Oldfield going through his pop/rock stage, platinium, QE2 and this are prime examples. Just bear with him as there are some great tunes. Especially the Ommadwan type music on Wind Chimes part 2.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best, But Not Bad!, 7 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
As a huge fan of Oldfield I think that the previous reviewer is a little harsh.True, this album is not in the same league as 'Songs Of Distant Earth' or 'Amorak', but is still worth having in your collection.
The opening instrumental 'Wind Chimes' is marvellously uplifting and varied and compares very favourably to any of his work.Admittedly the songs are not as catchy as those on some other albums,'Discovery' for example.The title track however 'Islands' is a fine song, well delivered by B.Tyler. and the others balance the album well.
Altogether a good buy for the 'real' Oldfield fan!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right Up There, 20 Jan 2004
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
Well, I must say (although I have been an Oldfield fan for what only two years and now own 27 of his 30 released albums) this is one of the best he's produced.
The first track 'The Wind Chimes' is up there along Tubular Bells, with changing sounds and a progressive feel. North Point is also very good; the melody sticks in your mind.
Saying that the best track on the album is definitely 'Magic Touch' and also carries the best video on the video release of 'The Wind Chimes'. A more aggressive song, with a blinding guitar solo by Mike. The title track 'Islands' is also very good, with Bonnie Tyler on vocals, but the original track 'When The Night's On Fire' is probably a better show of her vocal talents.
All in all, if you are an Oldfield fan you should already own this. If you want a taster of his music buy a CD like 'Elements' or 'The Complete' to sample. But, I assure you this album would not disappoint if you decide to buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lost opportunity but..., 2 Sep 2008
By 
Dr. Robert A. Josey "mystery lover" (Scottish Highlands) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
This gets 3 stars for 'The Wind Chimes', which has a sprinkling of the faery dust which Oldfield fans love so much. Beauty; wonderful instrumentation; clever technical innovation; powerful guitar breaks; melodic development, and so on. (Oldfield's film of 'The Wind Chimes' on the 'Elements' DVD is well worth watching - it has some stunning visuals.)

But I have always wondered what would have happened if Mike Oldfield had never taken the 'commercial pop song' wrong turning but instead kept to the electric folk/Celtic idioms of 'Ommadawn'. If Oldfield had become an Ashley Hutchings figure - using his instrumental skills for making amazing 'folk rock' albums instead of the terrible AOR dreck which epitomises the songs which comprise the second half of this album. ('Magic Touch' being one of the absolute nadir's of his career so far.)'Flying Start', however, has a really excellent guitar hook/riff -which is then spoilt by being turned into a twangy sub-sitar-ish strum-along.

So many of Oldfield's 'mid term' albums were lost opportunities.

That being said, I recently happened to hear the demo versions of the 'pop' songs from this album. They were rawer, certainly, but a lot closer to the composer's original intentions I would imagine.

Free from the over-production there is something very beautiful here - a new form of expression in the Oldfield canon. The demo version of 'The Night's On Fire' is now probably one of my favourite works of his - and I never thought I would ever be saying that. The poetry of the words and the lovely melody work together in spades. The unedited repetition of the verses actually adds so much to the song's beauty. The songs finally have real 'soul'.

If I'd heard the demos when the album came out I would have had a whole different opinion about the feasability of the songs. And what Oldfield was perhaps really trying to achieve in that sphere.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars prime Mike Oldfield, 28 Nov 2003
By 
vfrickey (off in the mountains somewhere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
For those who like Mike Oldfield, Islands is money very well spent. Everyone else, just wander off and listen to Kylie Minogue or something.
I live in the United States, so Virgin Records didn't throw in the bonus track "When the Night's on Fire" on my copy of the album; that hurts, since I happen to prefer Anita Hegerland's voice to Bonnie Tyler's (who sang the title track, "Islands"). Not a slam on Ms Tyler, who did a really good job on her track - just a matter of personal taste, I don't much care for the throaty, damaged larynx genre of female vocals.
Of course, the instrumental "side" is the better of the two - since this is where Oldfield gets to shine. For those of you who only know "Tubular Bells," this will be a very pleasant surprise - both new and broader instrumental choices (including oddly appealing wordless chants by Hegerland) and a much more developed exploration of the album's musical theme overall.
But the "pop vocal" side is also good - maybe too quirky for true "pop," and only the title track "Islands" has real mass appeal - but the lyrics are good throughout, much better than you'd expect for a "theme album" written by an instrumentalist. I've already expressed my liking for Anita Hegerland's vocals; ordinarily I find that Scandinavian vocalists sound soulless, but Hegerland has an understated but compelling softness which rescues her from mere Abba-ness.
If you like Mike Oldfield, by all means buy the album - you'll play it over and over as I do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Islands, drifting... drifting...., 6 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Islands (CD) (Audio CD)
Islands is a quite enjoyable pop album but the more I listen to it, the more uninspired it becomes. The album suffers from a certain un-finshed-ness. The album, like its predecessors, consisted of a longish instrumental suite and a few pop songs.

The almost 22 minute long suite, The Wind Chimes, is divided in two parts, the first of which (which lasts only around 2 and half a minute) is fully orchestrated sounds very promising... The second part, the actual suite, is a kind of etude, it sounds unfinished. While it has many tempo changes and applies different sound textures (with the lovely eponymous wind chimes appearing several times throughout). However, even after listening to the suite a few times does not stay in your mind, it lacks interesting hooks and sometimes feels quite boring!

Then we have 7 songs. The title song is a cooperation with the very popular then singer Bonnie Tyler. The songs starts wonderfully with a delicate flute-like intro and a nice guitar action. But then the weary voice of Bonnie Tyler (no offence!) spoils the atmosphere... The song is still quite good though.

Flying Start is an upbeat song with strange lyrics sung by Kevin Ayers, with who Mike collaborated in early seventies. The song might not be his top-notch achievement but at least has a nice, driving melody.

North Point, sung by Anita Hegerland, is the most memorable song off the album. It has a melancholic atmosphere and Mike's guitar sounds a bit different here. Great song, great voice, great music.

Magic Touch. Nice, enjoyable song with a driving memory and a good vocal from Tim Price. The song could be better produced though!

The Time Has Come. Another song with Anita Hegerland. Nice, synthesizer song co-produced by Michael Cretu, who would later be known from his Enigma project. Good song, but nothing special.

When the Night's on Fire, the longest song here (clocking at around 6:40) is a sort of reprise to Islands. It shares part of the latter's melody line (the brilliant introduction) and some of the lyrics. The song is quite entrancing, but lacks better production and sounds a bit like a B-track to a single.

All in all - Islands is a good, but not outstanding Mike Oldfield album. If you're not a completionist, you can skip this one and go straight to Earth Moving, which is filled with very good pop songs.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of colour - a fine album, 30 Nov 2004
By 
J. Smith (Frizington, Cumbria United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
I was very unsure of this album on first play. However, I should have known better, as so much of Oldfield's music reveals its quality only after repeated listening. Side one is taken up by The Wind Chimes, a 20 minute or so instrumental, divided into two parts and inspired in part by the music of Indonesia. Part 1 is a short overture, in orchestral style, that introduces one of the main themes of the piece. Part two is full of shifting moods, tempos and recurring themes. Although appearing disjointed on first hearing, repeated plays reveal an imaginatively constructed piece that sounds as good today as it did in 1987. It is certainly one of my favourite Oldifled instrumentals. Side two contains 6 songs. Although the song form may not be Oldfield's strongest suit, each of these is pleasant and melodic (vocalists including Bonnie Tyler, Kevin Ayres, Anita Hegerland and Jim Price)and When The Night's On Fire (bonus track)is particularly stirring.
Although maybe not in the premier league of Oldfield's output, and not having the emotional content of the likes of Ommadawn et al, Islands is a really enjoyable, bright, colourful album and The Wind Chimes is a piece of lasting worth.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better albums, to me..., 5 Sep 2007
This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
'The Wind Chimes' (instrumental)- great opening piece (Part 1), followed by an unfocused Part 2, which perhaps could've done with a song section, like on Taurus II from Five Miles Out.

'Islands' - one of his best songs so far! Mike tends to score well with his title tracks songs. I prefer this to 'When The Night's On Fire' (which, to me, is less-focused). I do wonder which song was developed from which?

'Flying Start' - okay. Not one of my favourites.

'North Point' - lovely! Haunting, with a great guitar performance!

'Magic Touch' - great song! A positive reflection of when things 'click together' in your life, and your soul can be truly happy. And that's how this track makes me feel.

'The Time Has Come' - a bit OTT on the sound production here. An okay song.

Overall, a strong album. The videos for all of the tracks, bar 'When The Night's On Fire', are on the DVD 'Elements'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing! Amongst Oldfield's best work., 1 Aug 2012
By 
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This review is from: Islands (Audio CD)
It's extraordinary how I have only just listened to this album of Mike Oldfield's for the very first time, despite being a fan of his music. In short, ISLANDS is a gem that deserves considerably more fame that it seemingly has. The opening circa 20 minute instrumental track THE WIND CHIMES is a work of genius akin to the 20th Century equivalent of Mozart. It is a musical journey that is astonishing and beautiful. Then follows a number of VOCAL tracks, which is somewhat a branch away from the normal with regards to Oldfield, wherein I was somewhat apprehensive and is partly the reason why I had not got around to listening to this album until now. However, I have to wonder what was I worrying about because all the vocal tracks are nothing short of brilliant! In summary, yet another amazing album from Mike Oldfield that I cannot recommend enough. Brilliant!
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Islands
Islands by Mike Oldfield (Audio CD - 2000)
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