Top critical review
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on 1 September 2012
This Mercury Records release of Oldfields 1980 album follows on from Platinum before it in that it could have been much more - and for the Oldfield fan doesn't quite deliver.
First of all the original album itself has once again been competently remastered - There has always been a problem with a little drop out on this master - most notable on the first track Taurus 1 and Conflict - and on this remaster it does seem that the oxide is shedding a bit more with noticeable channel drops on some of the tracks. If there was ever an Oldfield album that needed to be completely remixed from the multi-track this would be it - in my opinion!
QE2 is relatively early synth heavy - and as a consequence it suffers from a general lack of bass and acoustic atmosphere that usually pervades through Oldfield's works. If the multi-tracks were still around it would have been a golden opportunity to have beefed up the general depth of the recording which I feel would have benefited each track and made it sound a lot more palatable for today's more discerning listener...as it is though this remaster retains the original rather treble y sound scape and so it keeps that early 80's synth sound.
For those not familiar with the album it is a compilation of short and slightly longer instrumentals with a couple of wordless "songs" warbled by Maggie Reilly. It's generally a fun sounding album and is a world apart from the more complex and weighty albums from the 70's but still crafted with Mike's trademark multi-layering and inimitable guitar playing.
The bonus tracks include the B-side "Polka" - a live recording (one wonders if there is a studio recording of this?) and the edited Single version of Wonderful Land (really scraping the barrel here!).
Then there is the so called 2012 reworking of Sheba - now called Shiva after the Hindu god - and is simply the original 1980 Sheba recording with Mike mumbling about wanting to meet and talk with Shiva...hmmm.
Missing is the "Royal Wedding Anthem" which Mike recorded and performed for the Wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 - as mentioned in the booklet. The studio recording was played out on the radio at the time and the live performance was also recorded and transmitted - a pity neither has surfaced for this release as a true bonus.
We do however get a rather good concert Mike did in Essen 1981. It's not sonically as good as the Wembley 1980 performance on the Platinum release but it is good to have in the best quality possible. (some of this has been released on the 1985 "Complete Mike Oldfield" compilation and on bootlegs despite the "previously un-released tag on the cover!)
There is no video or surround disc on this release so no promo video of Wonderful Land (as seen on the Elements DVD) or the brilliant Knebworth concert from 1980 previously released on VHS and Laser disc (and currently a badly authored Dutch DVD)
The booklet starts by regurgitating a lot of the Platinum booklet but does then move on to some more QE2 specific material.
If you don't already have this album then of course this is the version you should buy - and if you do already have it then the only reason to re-purchase is for the Live concert disc.