on 5 September 2013
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!
on 4 September 2013
My copy arrived this morning, this is one of my Favourite Mike Oldfield albums I always prefer the rockier sound that came with this album, and I loved the title track. The first thing however was the disappointment that still Universal have not returned to the slip case, which they used recently for the ABBA release of the Visitors and there third album in Deluxe format. The problem with the package is by putting tape saying deluxe around the box is just tacky and so easily damages,if removed and we all know the cost is minimal, just to slip a plastic slip case over the set.
Putting the packaging to one side, this set is a marked improvement to QE2 and Platinum, where you get a DVD with not only 5.1 sound but DTS as well, which is just great to here in the surround mode. You notice and hear a lot more during Tarus ll which kicks of the album. Family man with a roaring base and drums which stand out very much as do the vocals which are placed in the centre speaker, but you also get a lot of guitar sounds coming from the rear speakers which only seems to enhance the sound of the album. As you may expect the title track sounds excellent in 5.1 and you also get a bit more visual while the album plays,a spinning record for family man, and the mix drawings for Mount Teidi.
The CD is a great re-master some tracks sound like they have been completely re mixed, so you may want to hold onto your Virgin copy as well There are also other visual treats including Mike Oldfield performing the song on the BBC 6.55 special. One thing I did notice on the promo video Maggie Riley had been replaced by some blonde girl miming, why who knows. So apart from the initials package which is a great shame this a a return to the first three release with 2 CD's and a DVD which is great value for money, I won't mention what happened with Crisis but that's another review. One star knocked off for the package.
on 3 November 2013
An outstanding edition of one of Mike's most successful albums. Disc 1 contains a worthwhile remaster of the original release which is much clearer in its' fine details than any previous release plus a couple of bonus tracks. Disc 2 is a live disc of the Five Miles Out tour recorded in Cologne in 1982 and has enough variation and dynamism to bring me back to it multiple times, and disc 3 is a dvd which offers up a really great alternative mix of the album in 5.1 surround sound plus 3 bonus video promos for the Five Miles Out single. As someone who previously owned the album, I find the extra production quality plus the bonuses very good added value, such that this set is a worthwhile upgrade even if you do own an earlier version. If you're new to Mike Oldfield's work, I'd still recommend it as with this set you get a great album, a sense of Mike's live sound, a great 5.1 mix to show off to your friends, and the visual side of things represented with the videos. The packaging itself is a fold out 4 panel affair, with the middle two holding the cd discs, panel 4 being a sleeve with dvd inside and panel 1 containing an excellent 16 page booklet.
on 16 September 2013
The 5.1 mix of this album is one of the best uses of the medium i have ever heard. It is up there with War of The Worlds & the ELP re-issues. While it fully uses all the avail be speakers to full effect it never sounds gimmicky or looses sight of the original intent of the music which is sublime in some places. I now sit longing for the same treatment to be given to Amarok. Taurus 2 has never sounded so rocky or so subtle or so grand! the bass really comes through in this track as the percussion runs around the room. Mikes lead guitar for the most part is firmly set in the left & right front speakers, bass is nicely set centre stage - everything else gets to wander to great effect. Family Man has a edgy feel to it that is missing from the standard stereo mix which i think adds to the overall effect of the song given the subject material. Orabidoo sounds like the soundtrack to some mad half forgotten dream you had. The vocoder is otherworldly and disconcerting but is used to good effect to to tie the mostly percussive track together as it dances around your head. By the time mike starts to solo over the end of the track you are drawn back into the dream just in time for the transition to the lovely acoustic song that acts as a coda. Mount Teidi in 5.1 has the feel of a soundtrack. It could easily have fitted onto his Killing Fields if they had wanted or needed a love theme. Five miles out is just the best version you will ever hear of this song. I have not stopped playing it. Buy this now, just for the 5.1 mix.
on 31 March 2001
This is the Mike Oldfield album which got me hooked. I have worn out two tapes of this music, and now have the digitally remastered CD version.
The first half is one track: Taurus Two, which has a sort of medieval villagy feel to it, despite the electric guitars and drum kits. It is far ranging, from a lulluby to what I can best describe as Elizabethan heavy metal. This will take you away to world of your imagination. It has bizarre and creative rhythms, unusual combinations of sounds, evocative mixes, and thundering climaxes.
The second half begins with The Single: "Family Man" which is clearly designed as a single, and doesn't sit very happily with the rest of the album. It is a pop version of the rest of the album, with Maggy Reilly on vocals. Good, but out of place.
Next are two tracks of Mike Oldfield's experimental stuff, with more of those weird drums and fast hazy keyboards. Excellent, like Taurus Two, but a bit less structured.
Last, the title track, a loud tale of a flight through a storm. It a sort of heavy metal for people who like notes.
The emotional and sonic range of this album is awesome. It rewards careful listening, as all Oldfield's good albums do, and repeated listening. If you though Tubular Bells was a bit quiet, here is something to show off your amplifier's powers. Get it, turn it up, and let your mind roam.
Don't get me wrong, I love this album, it is one of my favourites of his albums and the first Oldfield album I bought at time of release back in 1982. This review is purely for the 5.1 mix which is the reason I purchased this re release. Movies sound amazing in 5.1, I have a powerful system with a big sub. So with DTS selected I sat back as the menu music started and waited for the onslaught. Then (to my horror) I realised that the tinny bassless music I was hearing was not the menu music but was the actual thing. Yes, the remix is radically different (almost like a new version) and it fills the room with instrument positions but the sound is almost like you're hearing it from the next room, no presence and the EQ is truly dire. Flat and lifeless. Disaster Mike, are your ears shot?
If you are not into Mike Oldfield; start with the Complete collection. If you have heard any of his other albums and liked them you'll love this. Musically, Oldfield doesn't put a foot wrong, even when he's having a jest. Personally, I prefer prefer Crises, which is the third of the trio of which this is the second. QE2 is the first, where the Taurus theme is born, developing in three stages - this having the second installment. If you are at all musical you'll need all three to follow the theme development, which is brilliant, as we expect. An English Radio Presenter recently commented how nice it was to hear all these Mike Oldfield and Jean Michel Jarre tribute groups in the charts. If they were breaking today they might be Daft Punk and Norman Cook respectively: hey kids - nothings new. Buy this album; buy all Mike Oldfield Albums; but, if you want this you NEED Crises and QE2 for the set; they are sister works.
on 8 October 2005
With Five Miles Out, Mike Oldfield seemed to finally dispense with the new age element of his music (which had been hanging by a thread for his two prior albums), and concentrate fully on progressive rock. Fans will be divided on whether this is a good thing. The album opens with the mammoth Taurus II (following on from Taurus on QE2), which sees Oldfield revert to his earlier song structuring - a series of untitled and segued movements around a central theme or refrain. As indicated before, there is much more of a feel of progressive rock than new age, and we are treated to a section of Morris music (of which Mike is such a fan), as well as a vocal section (sung by the angelic Maggie Reilly). The first of two more pop-structured songs, Family Man, is a sexual and powered narrative around one man's resistance to a prostitute's advances. (If the subject matter is enough to put you off, consider that this track was a top 40 hit for Blue-Eyed Soul duet Hall & Oates a couple of years on from this album's release.) The burning bass strings, screaming guitars and sultry vocals provide a real highlight of the album so far. Following this is the second opus, Orabidoo. This is another multiple movement track, and opens with a gentle (but quite piercing, in places) music box melody. Gradually the tempo speeds up, and the mood and melodies change, before we are brought back down with a quaint folk-type ditty. Mount Teidi is a simple, but effective, piece built around a synth hook, and military-style drumming. It is possibly the most upbeat track on the album, and is welcome after the sometimes difficult listening of Orabidoo. The real highlight of the album is kept till last, however. Five Miles Out(a paean to Mike's flying days, and one stormy incident in particular), is simply stunning. It is the second track following a more conventional pop structure (more conventional - but only just!), but the instrumentation and content is anything but ordinary. From the ominous rumble of the opening strings, though the synthesized 'radio communication' vocals and troubled mid-section, and into Maggie Reilly's uplifting vocals to bring us in to land, Five Miles Out is one of Mike's best songs full stop, never mind just on this album.
The production on this album does, admittedly, sound a little dated, but this is arguably Mike Oldfield's best 80's release.
on 8 May 2016
If you are new to Mike Oldfield, this is as good a place as any to start. It belongs squarely in the progressive rock genre, even if at times it strays experimentally into the outer reaches of world music. The main power chord theme resonates so strongly throughout the album that it provides that needed hook to always draw you back and ground you, when the album does go a bit odd. And when the closing titular track explodes in a roar, you will want to play it all over again.
So why not 5 stars?
I think firstly that 5 star reviews are offen handed out like sweeties and as such, their value has been degraded. For 5 star perfection, but Ommadawn or The Songs of Distant Earth, where all the parts connect harmoniously together. So let's look at the issues here.
Issue number one if the Zulu digitised singing. I love the concept of world music and using other languages to add a sense of the ancient and the 'other'. But combining this with weirdly synthesised vocoder type effects is the same as getting street kids to rap Shakespeare with death growl effects. It ain't pretty. And this particular section outstays it's welcome.
Another issue for me here is the sound levels. There is an amazing Maggie Reilly section in track 1. It is utterly beautiful and one of Mike's best lyrical forays - substantially stronger than any of his pennings on his song only albums. But it is a million times quieter and so needs an immediate volume adjustment. Then when the track resumes its theme, you're scrambling for the volume button to save your speakers and your ears! I get the quiet/loud dynamic, but in this case the levels are just flawed.
These issues are really quite small in the big picture of this album, but enough to detract a star, so let's finish the review with some positive observations.
When you buy an album that comes from Mike's classic period of where he composed long instrumental albums, you really can't go too far wrong. And this album is one of those. There are long complex pieces where Mike manipulates your mood and passions with the currents and eddies of his music, building epic climaxes and taking your imagination to sweeping vistas.
i have no hesitation in recommending you to part with your cash here and grab this album. If you are looking for a more Celtic/world music based album, buy Ommadawn. If you want to visit space, buy The Songs of Distant Earth. If you buy all of these, you will really get a sense of Mike's talent and the scope of his imagination.
on 17 December 2014
Bizarrely, I bought the single 'Five miles out' back when it was originally released, but I never bought the album... More fool me!
this isn't 'Pop', this is 'Progressive' music, as all the subtleties reveal themselves after repeated listening.
This equally isn't the Mike Oldfield of the 70's either, and it's kind of better for it. On first hearing it's a bit of a shake up, with creativity pulling the music in all directions. Somehow, over time, it all finds its place.
What I definately like, is the drumming, which is pleasingly 'loose' in places, and the music's better for it. This aspect is much-missed in the live versions.
How do you explain a song like 'Mount Teidi' being your favourite? Beats me, but it is!
The ordinary album is excellent by itself, so should you go for the 'deluxe' version? The live Tubular bells is good, though not as good as that on 'Exposed', and that's down to the drumming again... The live versions of songs from FMO add things, but probably detract from the 'purity' of the originals.
The original album sounds great. It's varied, interesting and full-bodied. I admit, I was really very pleasantly surprised.