on 5 August 2012
The Mike Oldfield Mercury re-masters continue with Platinum and QE2 though as with previous re-issues I feel the fans are not being given the package that would truly make them collectible and fully worth paying for them again.
Platinum is the 1979 release that marked a new direction for Oldfield in terms of style and format - and by and large it does sort of work - though on paper perhaps it shouldn't!
The Platinum suite which took up the first side of the album is by far the strongest element - split into 4 distinct sections they still gel together well and create a great new sound. The remaster is good with some of the higher end treble of previous releases toned down slightly. On Charleston you can still hear very faintly some crosstalk from some of the multi-track that wasn't dialled out completely on the master but this is perhaps the quietest I have heard it on any of Platinum's releases.
Side 2 of the album is more hit and miss and does not particularly gel as a whole what with covers, past offcuts and hasty additions after very late deletions! Beginning with an older Oldfield piece - Woodhenge - this was originally recorded in 1976 for an arts educational film "Reflections" - it is a mystical, ethereal work and is perhaps the most out of place track on the album. A companion track "The Path" recorded at the same time was eventually released on the B-side of a 1986 single (!) and is similarly mystical in nature but has not been included here. In America Woodhenge was replaced by "Guilty" on their version of the album (Called "Airborn"). To me that makes a lot more sense seeing as "Guilty" was recorded in the same sessions as the Platinum recordings and stylistically sounds similar. Mercury though decided to lump it with the "Incantations" remaster as the main bonus of that album because "Guilty" is thematically linked by chord progressions to that work. hmmm.
"Into Wonderland" is where the biggest upset lies - in that this track replaced the original track "Sally" after the first issue of Platinum. Whereas "Into Wonderland" is a slight, whimsical ballad "Sally" was a bizarre, slightly humorous, eccentric piece with a blinding guitar solo by Oldfield. Unfortunately this track is not on this release (nor has it ever been released since the very first vinyl issue in November 1979) and it isn't even mentioned in the booklet!
Punkadiddle up next is one of Oldfield's short fun instrumentals which segued great from "Sally" but doesn't really fit in-between the sweet but saccharine "Into Wonderland" and the hauntingly powerful slowed down cover of Gerhswin's "I Got Rhythm".
Also not included on here but also recorded at the same time was Oldfield's cover of Free's "All-right Now". Although this was never officially released a promo film was made and shown on television at the time (and can be seen on youtube)and a promo flexidisc meant a very limited number of copies have meant fans have heard it and are aware of it.
What is included though is the standard version of Mike's rendition of Blue Peter - as heard on any Oldfield compilation. A pity that the slightly later release which had a slightly different mix and a refined ending is not included or even mentioned in the booklet. Though also released in 1979 it perhaps fits better with his following album QE2. There was also a great "making of" film shown on Blue Peter which explained how Oldfield recorded this piece for the programme and that along with the promo film of the track and the promo film of "All-right Now" would have been great extras for this so called "deluxe" edition.
What is good though is the short "live" jam session of "Platinum" and a pity more of this wasn't made available.
The 2012 reworking of "North Star" is ok but is really nothing more than an excerpt of the 1979 recording looped with added twiddly bits here and there overlaid on top. Rather lazy and adds nothing to the great original.
The 1980 Wembley concert though on disc 2 is fantastic and for that alone is the real reason why any fan would buy this re-release. Great sound quality - and a great atmosphere captured.
on 3 August 2012
The die-hard fans will want to go for the deluxe edition but if you just want a remaster or are dipping your toes in those Oldfield waters, is this for you?
Platinum isn't definitive Oldfield but I do know many people were introduced to the man's music with this LP. His highly melodic guitar style is very evident here especially on what I still refer to as side one of the record! This is very catchy stuff and perhaps the least smoochy and cheesy example of late 1970's jazz-rock fusion. Oldfield was challenging himself when working on Platinum and you have to say it was worth it.
Side 2 was a little bit baffling back then but once one got one's head round it it revealed itself to be fun and full of those characteristic Oldfield layers. It starts with Woodhenge which clearly dated back a few years before this record, it's more in the vein of Ommadawn perhaps. Things soon move on to a collection of short poppier pieces.
If this is your first Oldfield venture I would recommend Ommadawn or the obvious Tubular Bells but don't let me put you off completely, Platinum is still an absolute classic!
If this isn't your first visit to Platinum and you're here for the remastering; is it noticeable? Just like QE2, my last copy on CD was purchased in the 1980's and this release is a definite improvement. By comparison my old copy sounds brittle and too trebley, this release is warm and reveals layers of music I hadn't noticed before, you wouldn't want to miss out on that now would you?!
I've gotten into the habit of telling Oldfield fans about a young whipper-snapper by the name of Andrew Taylor who has released an album called Mohribold (google it). If you like Oldfield you'll love Mohribold! There are some QE2-esque moments as well as some clear Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge influence but he's got his own style too. Maybe he's one to watch out for since Oldfield has called for an instrumetnal rock renaissence after his Olympics appearance.
I think Mr.Oldfield must have gotten bored with the idea of remixing his entire Virgin Records catalogue into 5.1 surround sound for these deluxe editions. We got as far as "Incantations (Remastered)" and the boredom had already started. The first three deluxe reissues of his back catalogue had fantastic remasters of the albums, a bonus disc of demos etc. and a dvd with a 5.1 surround mix of the entire album. Very deluxe. By the time we get to Incantations, the dvd is down to a six track selection of highlights (from what was originally a double vinyl album) and with a running time of just under 34 minutes I know this was a huge let down for fans. If ever there was an album in Mike's catalogue that was screaming to be mixed in surround for the 21st century, Incantations was it. We have to be content with six selected tracks that aren't even mixed to form a continuous piece of music.
By the time Platinum was reissued, there is no dvd. Not even some promo clips or as other reviewers have said, TV appearances. Especially absent is the doco on how the Blue Peter Theme was created. What a wasted opportunity. Yes the original album remaster sounds good. The 2012 remix of "North Star" is not bad either but the lack of any visual content and no surround mixes for the same price as previous releases smells of money grabbing. The only thing that saves this set from being redundant and why most Oldfield fans will probably purchase this album again is for the great live performance on the second cd. At almost 80 minutes of previously unreleased content this is a bonus but it doesn't makes this new edition *deluxe* by any stretch of marketing.
on 31 July 2012
Ah, Platinum. The point where the new Mike Oldfield, following on from the release of the single Guilty, emerges with an album.
Very different from Incantations, it was erm, funkier. Having spent time in New York, Mike was relishing using new musicians. We also had cover versions, with Mike extracting a touch of Philip Glass's North Star in the long title track, and Gershwin's `I Got Rhythm', (or as the live album version calls it, `I've Got Rhythm')
The quality of the remastered original album is good. Of the three added `extras', we have the single version of the Blue Peter theme tune, at a shade over 2 minutes, a great version of Platinum played live in the studio that is previously unreleased, and a really good, longer (nearly twice as long!) version of North Star remixed by Mike in 2012. It's not groundbreaking but is good.
The 1980 live CD from Wembley Stadium is very good, and worth buying this new edition for alone. The quality of the recording is generally very good and I understand previously unavailable.
For me it's an interesting listen: I went to see Mike in concert in Sheffield a couple of nights before this recording. It is better and yet different to what I remember, 32 years on. Vocalist Wendy Roberts is better than I remembered, though I didn't think she was bad at the time. There's the odd misplayed note but it's not a bad effort at all, and the reason why many will buy this edition of the album.
on 28 May 2001
After having amassed a music collection that includes nearly all of Mike Oldfields CDs, this one is perhaps the best of them all. It is split into two halves, the first four tracks are instrumental and the last four are vocal. The last four, whilst not bad, are not Mike Oldfields best attempts at vocal tracks and pale into insignificance behind other classics such as Moonlight Shadow and To France. The main work of art on the album is, as is to be expected from the title, the first four tracks, which are collectively entitled Platinum. All four are based around accoustic and prominantly electric guitars and the first track introduces the instruments in a bouncy melody that becomes more upbeat as it continues. The melody suddenly changes in the last few minutes to lead in the second track, another melody that incorporates the guitars prominantly but one that is more sombre and moody than the first with a slightly slower tempo. The third track is a return to upbeat - a jovial, almost bouncy and comical affair, completely different from the first two and one that wouldn't be out of place in a circus! Finally, the fourth track is in my opinion the best of them all, a haunting melody that eclipses every other track on the CD and one that could stand on its own quite happily as a solo piece. If you are a fan of Mike Oldfields early instrumental work then this album is a real must...
on 30 July 2012
I love this album. Having previously enjoyed Oldfield's music through borrowing my brother's copies of "Tubular Bells" and "Hergest Ridge", this was the first of his albums I bought for myself. After years of it feeling all a bit hippy-trippy to me, the single "Guilty" clicked with me and made "Platinum" a must buy. I still love the suite of tracks on the first side of the LP and even today am more likely to play that 20 minutes of music than any other piece of his music.
The second half of the album has always seemed a bit strange in comparison, and this release doesn't help the situation. The original LP I bought featured a track called "Sally", a strange piece with child-like lyrics ("Sally, I'm Just a gorilla", etc) and a great guitar solo which segued into "Punkadiddle". On later editions this track disappeared and was released with "Into Wonderland", with the aforementioned guitar solo now being part of "Punkadiddle". Not a huge problem in itself but what a shame this edition didn't take the opportunity to either put "Sally" back in and present "Into Wonderland" as a seperate track or give us the "Sally/Punkadiddle" section as a bonus track.
My favourite part of the 'proper' album comes during the last track. This is a very classy slowed down version of "I Got Rhythm" sung by Wendy Roberts. The closing section features a fantastic swirling guitar solo that builds and builds into an almost typical Oldfield 'Bell' finale. Just about perfect!
The bonus tracks on the first CD of this release are a bit of a mixed bag. There's the "Blue Peter" single, that came out around the same time, and a studio demo session of "Platinum", which is interesting to hear but sounds slightly flat compared to the finished item. And then there's a 2012 remix of "North Star", almost doubled in length at over 8 minutes. I'm not really a huge fan of remixes, much prefering to hear something in its original state but this one leaves me torn between two opinions. I can't decide whether it's an absolute work of genius (as I thought when I first listened to it) or a step too far (as I felt the second time). At this moment in time I'm going with genius .... ish!!!!
The live tracks on the second CD are a real treat, made all the more interesting because I was there the night that was recorded (well, either that night or at the other Wembley show, I'm not sure which, but close enough for me!!).
Excellent release. If I could have one thing added (apart from the already mentioned "Sally") it would have been a DVD of the Knebworth gig - I know I was at this one!! - which I don't think has ever been released on DVD .... unless you better!!
on 14 August 2012
Where's the 5.1 surround sound mixes? A concert does not make this deluxe. Where's the non album b-sides or unreleased stuff?
This album has been sympathetically remastered and sounds great as a result. "Sally" is a miss although there are probably good reasons why. This marks the start of the move from side long pieces to "pop" songs, and what many consider his doldrums of the 80's. Won't be buying QE2 until it seriously drops in price if this is the level of deluxeness on offer.
on 15 December 2001
This record marked the beginning of a more approachable, down-to-earth Oldfield. As it is often the case with this artist, the sublime stands side by side with the awful.
The first piece (all the first side of the original LP) is the four-part suite "Platinum", one of the most lively and direct music Mike had composed until then. Here you can find the repetitive structures Mike is so fond of, but also an energy and lightness that also benefited the music. While the pomp of former days is mostly absent, the piece dances and rocks in Mike's particularly arch way. Mostly it works. The finale of the suite is a cover of "North Star" by Philip Glass (if you have listened to "Incantations" you won't be surprised by this).Mike has always mixed his own musical ideas with those of Glass, Terry Riley or Ennio Morricone to good effect.
"Woodhenge" is a really fine atmospheric piece, with percussive elements being progressively added until the entrance of Mike's unmistakable guitar (yeah, one note and you know it can only be him). From this point on, things start to get worse. First you get the unbearably twee "Sally" (or "Into Wonderland", as it is known), the trite "Punkadiddle" (supposed to be a joke on punk rock - though its humour escapes me) and a cover of Gershwin's standard "I Got Rhythm", arranged in a way one can only call "peculiar" (this version has its admirers too, though). For the whole of the "Platinum suite" and "Woodhenge" this record is well worth your time.
The remastering is fine, no quibbles about it, but the liner notes confuse you rather than inform you. They talk about the song "Sally" (the "gorilla song" that appeared only in the first vinyl pressings) as if it actually was on the CD (it isn't! what you get is the usual "Sally-Into Wonderland"),and then they mention Philip Glass as the actual arranger of the "Platinum suite" (I don't think he was, although Kurt Muncaksi of Glass fame is involved in the record). A final warning: when Platinum was first released on CD format, it had 8 tracks, but the leaflet only mentioned 5. Did you expect things to be corrected in this newly remastered edition? Of course not! The same mistake!
on 13 January 2014
This album is the first in which Oldfield moves towards a more 'direct' pop sound, stepping away from the symphonic masterpieces of the 70's.
The first side, the Platinum Suite, is a jaunt in four parts and comes very highly recommended. It has some great playing, melodies, arrangements and textures and bounces along very nicely - very easy to appreciate and perhaps even a good route into Oldfield's music for the uninitiated. In fact it is really the only reason to buy this album - so 4 stars for that.
Now onto the second side - a different story .... it begins with Woodhenge, a new age like instrumental which is quite minimalist but high on atmosphere and is beautifully recorded - it is the most tasteful offering on the album although some may find it dull. After that track, the remaining three cuts are probably the worst things that Oldfield ever did having pretty much no merit whatsoever(IMHO) - so for side two I would give overall 2 stars (for Woodhenge only)....
The extras on this CD release include some very interesting alternate takes/mixes from the main Platinum Suite and this brings up the star rating for the overall package ....
Then finally this CD version concludes with the short (2 minute or so) Blue Peter theme that Oldfield did for the TV programme - well executed but rather cheesy and naff (good for the TV programme but not to listen to). It would have made more sense to me for the compilers to have left Blue Peter as an extra on the more nautically themed QE2 album which followed this and to have the track Guilty as an extra with Platinum (rather than on the new version of Incantations). Stylistically the slightly disco/funky/poppy Guilty fits well with side one of Platinum. In fact I wonder why he didn't put that track on the original Platinum album instead of some of the other nonsense at the end of side 2.
on 28 August 2012
In the late 70s I discovered Mike Oldfield. A live recording of 'Incantations' did the trick and then out came 'Platinum' and I just had to buy it. I always wondered why some copies listed track 6 as 'Sally' whereas my copy said 'Into wonderland' and the song lyrics repeated that line - what was the real title? Years later I discovered there really was a song called 'Sally' but it was pulled at the last minute and replaced by 'Into wonderland'. Having subsequently heard it I am not surprised. However, as a deluxe package, there would have been room for it and I feel, like other reviewers it should have been included. Rather that than the awful remixed 'North Star' which his just too long and the studio doodle. Knock off one star..
However, I have to agree with everyone that the second 1980 live disc is just wonderful. A great selection of tracks not previously released featuring all of side one of 'Platinum' (I believe a live version of this was released on the 1985 'Complete Mike Oldfield' collection but I don't know if it is the same performance; I suspect not). Two more tracks from the album are also included; 'Punkadiddle' and 'I got Rhythm' (slowed down Gerswhin). For me the creme de la creme of these live cuts are a wonderful 22 minute version of 'Incantations' featuring all the best bits (time and time again when listening to the original I feel like screaming "get on with it!" when some of the tunes repeat over and over again)and the acoustic bit from side 2 of 'Tubular Bells' which I have never heard live before - this omits the 'Piltdown man' section and runs straight into the wonderful closing section and then 'Sailors Hornpipe'. You can really sense the atmosphere at the concert by the way the audience responds to these performances. Note that the live versions of 'Punkadiddle' and 'Polka' are different to those already released as B sides to 'Five miles out' and 'Arrival' singles.
There is a very interesting booklet charting the evolution of the album (with no mention of 'Sally' though)and featuring original photos plus some others from the period and a list of the tour dates. All in all a very worthwhile purchase that has awakened my interest in Mike's music.