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This review is from: Two Sides: The Very Best Of Mike Oldfield (Audio CD)
Personally chosen by Oldfield himself, this is an interesting compilation from that viewpoint - as it allows us to see what the artist himself views as the highpoints of his career.
As others have pointed out, it ignores albums that are favourites of many - so there's nothing from Hergest Ridge, Incantations or QE2. Looking at what is included, it's perhaps no surprise that he's chosen a hefty chunk of Amarok. This was an album that Oldfield clearly remains very fond of. Released in 1990, it marked a return to the single compositions of his early work, from Tubular Bells to Incantations. After Incantations he found himself pressured by Virgin to record shorter tracks, which he did throughout the 1980's.
It was the commercial failure of Amarok, brought about in Oldfield's eyes by Virgin's lack of promotion, that led him to depart shortly afterwards to Warner, taking with him Tubular Bells II, which would prove a massive success.
Elsewhere on Two Sides, there's a selection of some of his best known songs - Moonlight Shadow, To France, Shadow On The Wall and Five Miles Out, which are all solid tracks that will be familiar from previous compilations. Four cuts from The Millennium Bell is somewhat generous, and it's surprising that instead he didn't just include the final - title - track, since it's a good sampler of the whole album.
So this is by no means a "greatest hits" package. Anybody looking for an introduction to Oldfield would probably be better off tracking down the 1985 compilation - The Complete. Although deleted, it's not too hard to find, and it offers a good overview of Oldfield from 1973 - 1985, and as it contains a number of non-album tracks it's also a decent purchase from that standpoint.
Two Sides doesn't offer anything in the way of rarities, and the idiosyncratic track listing won't be to everyone's tastes, but there's still enough good music here to rate a solid four stars.