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The Madness of King Mike,
This review is from: Changeling: The Autobiography of Mike Oldfield (Hardcover)
There is a law of diminishing returns at play in this book.
It seems that the further back Oldfield goes in his examination of his character and music the more detail there is. The closer he gets to the present the less there is.
In the case of the original Tubular Bells this is perhaps understandable, because it is his defining work and did change the face of music. The album obviously looms large in Oldfield's mind too, since he attributes his entire success to it and seems to link it closely to his psychological state.
Oldfield is a remarkable character, but here his finer qualities are filtered through his own skewed and distorted obsessions with the dysfunctional nature of his family life and his consequent emotional, personal and social difficulties. There is a certain honesty here, but it isn't enough to engage the reader.
It's a hard read, with little to salvage it from its slide towards bargain bin status. Oldfield's spiritual revelations are heartfelt, but informed more by massive drug use and alcoholism than wisdom or fresh insight. The overall feeling here is, thank goodness I'm not him!
Whilst an honest reflection of a troubled character is forgivable, what is less so is the paucity of information and commentary on the last twenty years. It's almost as though the remit was Tubular Bells, rather than Oldfield himself.
Towering works like Amarok are covered in merely a few paragraphs, and casual readers and fans alike will feel short changed.
Hard core fans will probably learn little that is new aside from gaining a deeper insight into the psyche of a somewhat tortured partial genius.