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on 17 June 2010
Ommadawn is the first album where Oldfield made the transition from multi-instumentalist noodling away in his bedroom to fully fledged composer / producer / genius - and we can only really judge this from this reissue. Back in 1976, Oldfield replaced the original mixes of Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn with the remixes from "Boxed". In the case of Hergest Ridge this was a radical change, resulting in a much subtler and less involving piece. In Ommadawn the changes he made were less brutal, but they can nevertheless be heard, especially in the first five to ten minutes. The second disc here presents the 1975 for the first time on CD - and is worth the purchase price on its own.

Oldfield's remix sounds crystal clear and is interesting to fans in that it reveals layers of the texture, consisting of a myriad overdubs that were Oldfield's trademark at the time. Ommadawn utilized many overdubbed guitars, often fed through harmonising effects units, to create scintillating textures, rendering each instrument almost unrecognisable within the texture. These days all you need is a decent synth patch to produce the same effect, so in the new mix Oldfield has chosen to focus on details within textures. Sometimes I found this disruptive, but never at a loss to my enjoyment. It is like hearing a very good live interpretation of a well known classic. In general, Oldfield opts here for a warmer, more three dimensional sound.

The liner notes are excellent, although I was disappointed by the occasional error -"In dulci jubilo" and "Througham Slad" are misspelt throughout. However, the inclusion of the lost version of Ommadawn more than makes up for this. The notes explain that as Oldfield worked on the first draft, the tape began to wear out, resulting in him having to re-record the whole of side one. Up to now, the only record of this original version had been a few tantelising snippets from Tony Palmer's film "All You Need Is Love". Here though, the abandoned recording is presented in full, ammounting to approximately 18 minutes of original Oldfield, never before released in any audio format. It explains so much - for example, why was Herbie credited on the Northumbrian pipes, when the only pipes to appear on the final recording are Uilleann, played by Paddy Moloney from The Chieftans. Why was Pierre Moerlin credited with playing Timpani - no hint of which mad it through to the final version. All is revealed when you listen to this lost recording. I must admit that with a few exceptions I felt that this work benefitted hugely from the tape wearing out. The ideas presented here have an unfinished feel to them.

Obviously, had the tape held together, Oldfield would have revised certain features and reworked some of what is presented here, but I can't help feeling that being forced to rethink the whole piece produced a more mature, satisfying recording.

Every Oldfield fan should buy this - even if they own the original on CD. It also serves as a perfect introduction to new enthusiasts, either for Oldfield or for the genre of "World Music", of which this is one of the absolute pioneers.
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on 31 October 2000
Although my interest in the music of Mike Oldfield began with Tubular Bells I only really started collecting his albums in the late 80s. Usually it took a few listens to really appreciate his work but only one album ever impressed me on the first listen - Ommadawn.
In the past few years a number of acts have proclaimed themselves to be the first to produce Afro/Celtic fusion, but go back to 1976 and you will find that this album predates them all.
From its simple harp intro, Ommadawn builds up to a powerful guitar finale - and that's part one. I would agree with a previous reviewer that the final eight minutes or so of Part 1 are the finest eight minutes I have heard in my lifetime, as yet unrivalled.
A simple but enjoyable folk song completes the album. One of Oldfield's finest works. Another point to remember is that if you look at his first three albums - TB was a sort of rock album, Hergest Ridge was a sort of light classical, Ommadawn is different again. Each album has the Oldfield style, yet each is so removed from the other. Not many artists can pull off such radically different albums, especially now.
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I grew up in a house soundtracked by Mike Oldfield's albums as my Dad was a huge fan, and since then we've both eagerly awaited each release, and keenly discussed each record after our first listens. "Ommadawn" was always a big favourite of my Dad's ("The Songs of Distant Earth" was his absolute favourite - "Amarok" mine) so this reissue was a must for both of us.

First of all it looks splendid - a three disk set (2xCD, 1xDVD) in a cardboard case protected by a thick plastic sleeve, and even the David Bailey artwork seems to have been given a bit of attention. The booklet is definitely worth a read, telling the story of the making of the album, in which several interesting snippets are revealed, such as that part two of "Ommadawn" was written and recorded in a week, and the overwhelming wall of guitars at the start is made up of 1,984 tracks! I was surprised to find a typo in the credits ("purcussion") but that aside it's an enjoyable read.

But what of the music? For me, "Ommadawn" was always far more consistent than "Tubular Bells" - for me that one tailed off badly in the second part - and is altogether a more pastoral sounding record, almost folky in places. It's a wonderful piece of music, eerie in parts due to the female vocals, powerful in others, particularly the last eight minutes or so when the African drums come in and Mike opens up with the guitar. The 2010 mix sounds great, some small details finally rising from the murk (drums in the "reggae" section which I'd never heard before) and by the end I was reaching for the play button once again to have another go. Part two isn't quite as good, dominated by drone-like guitars and uilleann pipes for long sections, but is still excellent in its own right, particularly the jaunty section at the end. "On Horseback" still raises a smile, but is far from essential Oldfield.

Elsewhere in the package there are a few tracks previously issued on the "Boxed" compilation many years ago, and the second disk features the original mixes of "Ommadawn". There is also a demo of "Ommadawn", previously thought to be lost. It is almost as long as the finished part one and is surprisingly close to the end result in places, but very different in others. It's a fascinating listen, marred only by a bizarre section where Mike (I presume) is telling bad "I say, I say, I say" jokes, which is reminiscent of the Janet Brown section on "Amarok" many years later (of course, Mike originally saw "Amarok" as being "Ommadawn 2", which explains the cover artwork and the similar construction in some areas). It won't replace the final version of "Ommadawn" in my affections, but it's still interesting to hear.

The DVD contains a 5.1 version of the 2010 "Ommadawn" mixes and, although I don't have a 5.1 setup my Dad does and he's informed me that it sounded great to him, but that the visuals - still photos of Mike back in 1975 - aren't up to much.

Always one of Mike's best albums, "Ommadawn" is an essential purchase. Roll on the rest of the remasters, and hopefully more new music soon.
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on 10 June 2010
On listening to the 2010 stereo mix my first impressions were that my high expectations had been met. I try to keep an open mind on revisiting such a classic as it can be hard to accept a new take on it. The clean, crispness of the sound is instantly evident and the mix is far more dynamic than the original. You certainly hear sounds that were lost before as the levels of each instrument have changed. Where you may anticipate a crescendo or a wind instrument to take the lead as in the original sometimes it is quite different. I noticed the electric guitar coming through a lot more and some of the recorders/flutes/pipes a lot quieter. After a few listens I think that it has been done very well; cleaning up the original with care. There are only 3 criticisms I have, 1 is the change at 11:57, rather odd, sounds like a slip of the mixing slider, 2 the finale of part 1 at 16:55 hasn't got the punch I thought it might have and 3, the finale melody on gloc is almost lost now. That said I will continue to enjoy listening to it.

The 5.1 mix for me was exceptional and very enjoyable. It has been done subtly; unlike the 2003 tubular bells merry go round. The rear speakers are used very well with vocal chords and strings with the main instruments coming from the front. Occasionally you may get duplicate sound in the rear speakers to complement the front giving the listener more emersion. Funnily enough criticism 1 above isn't evident at all in this mix; however point 2 and 3 still stands.

Overall this is a must have for any Oldfield fan, great care has been taken on this and though there are 3 points I have raised they don't detract too much from the experience.
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As I recall an "Ommadawn" in Ireland was a bit of an eejit - a fool - a dunderhead. I don't know if that was Mike Oldfield's intention - but as the South African group JABULA play the final percussive repeated refrain on "Part 1" - Clodagh Simonds of the cult Irish Folk group MELLOW CANDLE sings "Ommadawn ag ceoil..." which roughly translates from the Gaelic into "Fool singing music..."

Along with his first two albums "Tubular Bells" (1973) and "Hergest Ridge" (1974) - 1975's "Ommadawn" was always going to be a DELUXE EDITION contender and Universal have done a wonderful job on this intensely layered masterpiece and firm fan favourite. Here are the Hertfordshire themes...

Released June 2010 - "Ommadawn DELUXE EDITION" is a 2CD/1DVD set on Universal 532 676-1 (Barcode 600753267615) and breaks down as follows:

CD 1 (51:19 minutes)
1. Ommadawn (Part One)
2. Ommadawn (Part Two)/On Horseback [Side 2]
Previously Unreleased 2010 Stereo Mixes by Mike Oldfield of the 1975 album

3. In Dulce Jubilo
A-side of a UK 7" single released October 1976 on Virgin VS 163

4. First Excursion
5. Argiers
6. Portsmouth
Tracks 4 to 6 originally released October 1976 in the UK on the 4LP Box set "Boxed" on Virgin VBOX 1

CD 2 (53:39 minutes):
1. Ommadawn (Part One)
2. Ommadawn (Part Two)/On Horseback
Original 1975 Stereo Mixes. Tracks 1 and 2 issued as the album "Ommadawn" released 25 October 1975 in the UK on Virgin V 2043 and in the USA on Virgin PZ 33913

3. Ommadawn (Lost Version - 1975 Demo)
Previously Unreleased

DVD (All Regions):
1. Ommadawn (Part One)
2. Ommadawn (Part Two)/On Horseback
Tracks 1 and 2 are 2010 5.1 Surround Mixes by Mike Oldfield

VISUAL CONTENT
3. In Dulce Jubilo (Original Promotional Video)
4. Portsmouth (Original Promotional Video)

One of removable stickers you have to cut open criss-crosses the base of the glossy DELUXE EDITION digipak and when opened - you get what were the pictures of the inner sleeve of the original 1975 Virgin Records LP. The 20-page booklet features pictures of Oldfield at his Hertfordshire home where Virgin installed 24-track recording equipment for him, snaps of the huge numbers of instruments he played on the record, a foreign picture sleeve of the "In Dulce Jubilo" single and excellent liner notes from MARK POWELL (including interviews with Oldfield about the difficulties of recording - tapes disintegrating etc). Both MARK POWELL and PASCHAL BYRNE (names who've handled huge amounts of reissues for Universal) did the tape research with Oldfield and Paschal Byrne handling the 24-bit remasters.

The 2010 version is a revelation. Side 1 was always this dense mass of music that felt too packed in some ways - the remaster and remix brings so much more to the fore. There sweet clarity to the acoustic and Spanish guitars and the ethereal vocals floating in the background. And if I re-listen to the 2000 HDCD version for Side 2 where Paddy Maloney's Uilleann Pipes (The Chieftains) come sailing in - the 2010 version has gorgeous depth - making his beautiful air even more spine tingling. It's been decades since I heard the "Boxed" tracks and I'd forgotten how good they actually are - especially the guitars of "First Excursion" sounding like Eno or mellow King Crimson. "Argiers" feels like a Steve Hackett Genesis instrumental circa "Foxtrot" with a Flute added - while "Portsmouth" has only ever annoyed me (and still does). But you have to say that best of all is the 5.1 Surround Mix on the DVD - which I've admittedly only heard once on a mate's system - it's properly amazing - like the Steve Wilson remixes of the Yes and Crimson catalogues. Gotta invest...

After a critical drubbing and overkill backlash for "Hergest Ridge" in 1974 - Oldfield had time to record and build "Ommadawn" from the bottom up. It felt 'accomplished' on release in 1975 and still does to this day.

Nice to hear this 2010 DE remaster give its dense layers that extra oomph. The multi-instrumentalist all-dancing fool rises to play his song once more...and how...
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on 2 June 2003
As much as I like Tubular Bells it pales in comparison to Ommadawn. Here with the advantages of time, experience and better recording facilities Oldfield pushes the boundaries of his unique style of Progressive Rock to it's ultimate conclusion.
Altogether more Celtic in feel than TB, you will not find much on this album except virtuoso musicianship and spiritual exploration.
Quite simply his best album.
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on 1 December 2013
I don't think I could find adequate words to describe this masterpiece. I first heard Ommadawn in 1977 and it was the most beautiful piece of music I had ever listened to and, 36 years later, it still is. If you have never heard it, I suggest you buy the album right now, lay back and listen to perfection.
Linda
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Ommadawn was always one of my faves. Dusted up and completely remixed I love it even more. The 5.1 mixes have discrete instruments placed all round the room and it's like really being there with the players (mostly Mike) sitting right there. Crystal clear but slightly lacking warmth in the EQ. There's defintely new things to be picked out that I've never noticed before. Not to be mised though is the "Lost Version" of part 1. A real treat with some great new moments and harmonies not present in the original release. Superb and a different view on a piece ingrained in my life for over 30 years. Didn't like the "I say I say I say" section though. For this price it's a must have for completists.
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on 7 April 2001
Anyone who has listened to this album will know the high point comes at 12 and a half minutes into track 1 - The stirring theme, choice of instruments and beautiful chant is perfect.
While this section is the strongest part of the album, the album works extremely well as a whole and is not in any way musically disappointing - a much more mature album than Tubular Bells.
The only let down on this version (Virgin VIP) is the cover and lack of any sleeve notes but at this price who's complaining?
Grab a beer, turn the lights down, close your eyes and drift away on a heavenly cloud of emotion. Great!!!
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on 11 November 2010
In my opinion Ommadawn was by far the best Mike Oldfield album and this 2010 edition is even better than the original. I would have settled for just a clearer sound but this surpasses all my expectations. On a surround sound system it is spectacular and dynamic and all the electric guitar sections cut through beautifully. Even the section at the start of side 2 is more melodic and easier to understand compared to the original which received a lot of criticism at the time.
Overall, a brilliant revamp of a classic recording.
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