Top positive review
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Now with added extras..
on 31 July 2012
As we get to the next phase of Mike's career ('the synthesiser phase')QE2 reflects that transition from the older Tubular Bells style more towards the future poppy style of Moonlight Shadow.
The mixture here is a combination of the two, with varying degrees of success. To be honest, I can't hear much difference in the original album between that and the 2000 HDCD remaster. As others have mentioned details of the album previous I'll not dwell too much, other than to say that this remastered album sounds pretty much as the old one did, to my increasingly old ears, anyway!
The track Sally has now been named Into Wonderland, as it was supposedly originally named. The original version of Sally on the first presses of the album is nowhere to be seen, something that may annoy many older fans. We do get the shorter single version of the Shadows cover Wonderful Land added here, a live version of Polka from the 1980 Tour and a sort've new track, Shiva, which I'll mention later.
The second disc is a live concert from The European Adventure Tour of 1981, in Essen on the 1st April. What is given here has not been available before, I gather, (though I'm sure there'll be a bootleg around somewhere!)and is a pretty good set: a live version of Ommadawn for the older fan, a rockier version of Taurus 1 for the album of the tour. Interestingly, the title track QE2 becomes shorter live, whereas Taurus 1 is a minute longer. The live version of Taurus 1 is brilliant: very fast! - and the live version of Ommadawn compressed to nearly 22 minutes is lovely, but the quality of the tour recording is generally very good, and the album for me is given a whole new lease of life in these versions. This version of the album is worth buying for the live versions, if nothing else.
The biggest shock of the album is the last added extra on the album disc: the track Shiva, a longer version of Sheba but now with added Oldfield lyrics that are quite clear, and a multitracked new chorus with Mike's vocals. The vocals sound recent (it evidently is a new 2012 `reworking') but I'm not sure that Mike's half singing/half spoken tone, now lower in tone than it used be in the 1980's, really works: for me, anyway.
On the downside, the horrible `Deluxe edition' sticker is still worth carefully removing, though in the case of the QE2 album cover (imitating the original album version) is not worth shouting about. The sleeve notes are pretty much a copy of the Platinum deluxe edition (at least two-thirds seem identical) and could actually tell us more about Mike and the music than they do.
However, for a fan this is a worthwhile purchase: and worth that upgrade for at least some of the new extras.