on 6 March 2014
I took a chance and ordered this album on the strength of the single, "Sailing". I must admit, I had my fingers crossed, 'cos I've been caught out before! On this occasion, however, I'm so glad I took a chance. What a cracking album! I should say at this point that I am a 50 something whose favorite era in music is the 70's, particularly rock and pop. If your tastes are similar, you are going to love this album. From the first track, the a fore-mentioned "Sailing", through "Man on the Rocks", "Dreaming in the Wind", "Irene" and "I Give Myself Away", all cracking tracks in their own right! Luke Spiller's vocals are brilliant, Mike Oldfield's guitar playing superb, production overall wonderful. The only thing I can find to criticize - I don't like cardboard CD covers!
Seriously, just buy this album! It's the best!
on 8 March 2014
By a stroke of good luck Mr Oldfield was asked to perform at the 2012 Olympics and this release reflects a burst of energy and it certainly comes across that all had a good time making this. It is beautifully reflective in parts; Dreaming in the Wind is particularly good and the upbeat Moonshine is one of Mike's catchiest songs to date. It certainly isn't Tubular Bells and if you liked Moonlight Shadow and those vocal tracks on Discovery, then this may be up your street. Luke Spiller puts in a great performance too.
on 1 May 2014
This is really an album of quite straightforward pop-rock songs, albeit very nicely produced and with some occasional stellar guitar contributions from the master himself. It is often difficult to tell that this is an Oldfield production, aside from those brief moments, and this album is more likely to appeal to those who prefer Oldfield albums like Discovery, Earth Moving and Islands, rather than the more progressive releases such as Incantations, Ommadawn, Amarok, Hergest Ridge and TB. I think the vocals are well done but the performances are a little melodramatic at times - perhaps the vocalist was trying to inject some life or emotion into what are often pretty mediocre songs...
The opener 'Sailing' starts the proceedings with a catchy, if rather repetitive and simplistic number and this is followed by 'Moonshine', a song with a great sentiment and some beautiful guitar touches. Then after this we have three really dull tracks, often (as in 'Castaway') with irritating over-the-top vocal performances. 'Dreaming in the Wind' is the first track here that has a classic Oldfield sound almost from the very start and for me it is the best cut. 'Nuclear' is so theatrical it is almost comic. 'Chariots' has good energy and 'Following the Angels' is very heartfelt and genuine, referring to the Olympic Opening event to which Oldfield made such a memorable contribution. This track should have ended the album because the final two tracks tread the line between cliche and dullness and ultimately do not satisfy.
In my view, as a life long Oldfield fan, it would have been better for him to have made a long instrumental (side one) and then used 'Sailing', 'Moonshine', 'Dreaming in the Wind', 'Chariots' and 'Following the Angels' to fill up the songs on side two, in the time-honoured Oldfield fashion.
on 11 March 2014
5 years after the release of the amazing 'Music Of The Spheres' I thought, as many other fans did, that Mike had released his final album and hung up his guitar for good. Then in 2013 and just after his stellar performance at the 2012 Olympic games opening ceremony he announces a fully vocal rock themed album.
This was not welcome news to some die hard fans, but this album is by no means another 'Earth Moving'
Instead what we have here is 11 tracks, (10 original Oldfield compositions and 1 cover song) featuring some of his finest and most powerful guitar solos ever. The vocals are sung equally as powerful by the wonderful newcomer Luke Spiller from the band 'The Struts' I'd myself hadn't heard of him, but I personally think he is one of the finest singers Mike has ever recorded with. His singing I found is like a mixture of Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger and Bryan Ferry.
The songs on the album range from a happy light feel to a more darker and serious mood, via some beautiful mellow dreamy moments. It is like the vocal equivalent to 'Light And Shade'. A very mixed bag of pop, rock and chill out.
Lighter moments being Sailing, Moonshine, Minutes, Following The Angels and I Give Myself Away.
Darker moments being Man On The Rocks, Castaway, Nuclear, Chariots and Irene
Mellow moments being Dreaming In The Wind.
All 11 songs are well structured and many of them build to a beautiful soaring climax, highlights being the wonderful title track and Castaway.
I personally loved all the songs. But if I had to pick a weakest track, it would certainly be 'Following The Angels', an OK track I thought, but nowhere near as strong as the other 10 songs on the album. Which is ironic as it is about Mike's thoughts and feelings playing at the Olympic opening ceremony, which is what sparked him off recording music again.
As a die hard Mike Oldfield fan, I found the album to be a slight departure from his older albums but Oldfield has always been one to reinvent himself over the years and this album is no exception. I personally don't care if its not a multi-instrumental. If you buy the 2 disc deluxe version, you get the non-vocal instrumental versions on there. These should please fans of his older works as they work and sound really well without the vocals. It actually makes for a whole different listening experience.
I'll conclude with: Man On The Rocks features some of Mike's best songs ever recorded complete with some of his most beautiful and powerfully emotional guitar solos. Luke Spiller is a wonderful singer and I hope Mike hires him again. There is plenty of Mike Oldfield on this album despite it being a vocal album and he features on this one more than he did on the equally wonderful 'Music Of The Spheres'
Man On The Rocks is a welcome return for Mike Oldfield and hopefully the start of a new era of musical output from the great man.
on 8 March 2014
After the first listen I liked 3 songs and thought the album was garbage. After some subsequential listens, other songs started to grow on me, and after 6 days owning the album, I love it. Don't judge after the first listen, it needs more chance. Great vocal album, Mike, now time for a long complex instrumental on your new Mac Pro! 😃
on 11 March 2014
Like most people here I have been a fan of Mike O since the onset. But you don't have to like all his music to be a fan. In fact Tubular Bells wouldn't be my first choice. Mike was so unhappy with the original recording of TB1 that he went back into the studio in 2003 and did it all over again. "Music of the Spheres" which to my knowledge was Mikes last release prior to MOTR was too off the norm for a lot of his fans although I do believe it hit number 1 in the UK Classical charts at the time.
So to be honest Man on The Rocks is way more than we could have hoped for. Take "castaway" for example..Listen to the way he layers the sound as the track goes on. At 49 years of age my wife laughed at me as I waited in anticipation for the release which in keeping with Mike's form was delayed as usual. When it arrived I was afraid to listen to it so waited for the right time. The instrumental version went first.After the second track I felt my eyes welling up. The familiar guitar wailing that only Mike O can achieve had me blubbering like a kid. So I decided not to,listen to the vocal version for a number of days. Every tune just grows and grows on you.To date I have not met one of my friends who are fans say anything negative about the album. Even my 16 year old lad wants a copy on vinyl. Long may it last and best of luck Mike in the UK Top 40 Albums. Crashing in at number 12 is an amazing feat for an old fella lol.
Buy this album...You wont regret it..
on 6 March 2014
Known for his incredible ability to compose in a multitude of styles and genres, Oldfield unleashes a powerful new recording of sublime guitar solos, a mixture of rock, blues and even celtic-tinged tracks, all accompanied by The Strut's Luke Spiller, who is able to adapt his vocal style to meet the demands of each style of song. From the opening track, 'Sailing' which is heavily featured on Radio 2's A-List at present and is the carefree and catchy mainstream set-piece, through to some powerful Rock numbers like 'Castaway' with Oldfield's trademark wailing electric guitar, and 'Chariots' with some crunchy guitar and Bluesy Organ chords. My personal highlight is 'Moonshine' a hugely uplifting and gently building track with a terrific prolonged guitar riff that leads us through to the aforementioned Celtic section which breaks through to a gloriously celebratory guitar solo that is unmistakably Oldfield.
In summary, these are 11 brilliantly crafted and produced songs that act as a testimony to fact that Mike Oldfield is one of Britain's most diverse, creative and gifted composers, whether that be of 50-odd minute instrumental works or standard format commercial songs. Here's to another chart hit - and well deserved!
Man on the Rocks is Oldfield's first new release for six years and the news that it would be a vocal album caught many people by surprise. Oldfield has written some classic songs over the years ("Moonlight Shadow", "Shadow on the Wall", "To France") but also some less inspired ones - albums such as Earth Moving sounded like a very tired man looking to extract himself from a record contract with maximum speed.
Whilst Man on the Rocks does sometimes highlight the more workmanlike nature of Oldfield's song-writing (lyrics are a little clunky at times, for example) there's still plenty to enjoy here - particularly Oldfield's guitar-playing.
The title track has a stand-out guitar solo from Oldfield which helps to make it one of the highlights of the album, another noteworthy song is "Castaway", a Queen-tinged track that starts slowly but builds nicely and features another quality Oldfield guitar solo.
Whilst the majority of the album is in rock orientated, there's the odd change of pace, such as the gentle "Following the Angels", which provides a good contrast to some of the rock bombast found elsewhere. Luke Spiller of The Struts handles the vocals, he wasn't someone I was previously familiar with, but he commits to the material and does a very good job.
There are a few missteps, opening track "Sailing" is pleasant but not particularly memorable and "Minutes" is rather throwaway, but overall this is a solid album. If you liked Oldfield's song-writing of the 1980's and early 1990's, then the tracks here will appeal as they could have appeared on any of his albums during that period.
Produced by Stephen Lipson and running for just under an hour, Man on the Rocks has plenty for the Oldfield fan to enjoy. And whilst the two-disc set (disc two featuring instrumentals of the disc one songs) might seem a little superfluous, it's the one to go for - as disc two works quite well as an instrumental album in its own right.
on 11 March 2014
Having emerged from retirement to perform at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, many fans might have expected Oldfield's first new album for six years to be a return to his famed instrumental epics, but instead, he's gone and surprised us all by releasing a rock album.
"Man on the Rocks is Mike Oldfield's first song-based album since 1991's "Heavens Open". But where his previous vocal albums under the original Virgin contract were heavily commercial affairs with little of the artist's trademark sound, this is a set of songs on Oldfield's terms, with perspective and maturity fuelling the writing, which from a lyrical point of view is surely his best. You only need to glance at the sleeve notes on each track to know that this is also a deeply personal album.
However instead of singing the songs himself, as he did on "Heaven's Open", Mike has enlisted the vocal talents of young rocker Luke Spiller (of The Struts) to take the lead, with Oldfield only cropping up on backing vocals now and then. Perhaps this album might have benefitted from being released as a collaboration project, as at times it does feel more like Spiller's album than Oldfield's, having such a dominant vocal presence.
The opening track, "Sailing" with its familiar Moonlight Shadow-esque chords, does get the album off to a misleading start, and after a brief celtic stint with "Moonshine" we're firmly rooted in dark and emotive AOR for the best part of the album. The mood is a modern take on the classic 70s rock sound and the production on the album is second to none - as you might expect from any Oldfield release - and Oldfield's trademark guitar has never sounded better, alongside some really great vocals from Spiller. Standout tracks on the first few plays include "Chariots", "Dreaming in the Wind" and "Castaway", both equally moving.
I'm primarily a fan of Oldfield's instrumental work, so I did approach this album with a degree of trepidation, but it was a pleasant surprise, with some great songs, catchy choruses and lovely melodies. I bought the deluxe edition for the simple reason that it comes with a second disc of instrumental versions, so that satisfied me no end. If disc one is more Spiller's, then disc 2 in undeniably Mike's. I dare say it's an album that takes several listens to appreciate, but at the same time, it may also be the finest song-based album from Mike yet.
At least I'm hoping that now Mike Oldfield has satisfied his creative curiosity through this album of rock songs ,that he'll soon be returning to more familiar textured soundscapes - with the odd bell thrown in for good measure!
on 11 March 2014
It's been a long time since his last album and boy he more than made up for it. SAILING was the first single from the album that give us a taste of things to come MOONSHINE gets better the more you hear it MAN ON THE ROCKS the title track is good it makes you want to sit and listen to the whole album and you find yourself singing alone to the songs till you get to the last track I GIVE MYSELF AWAY I felt sad but in a good way so the only way to make me smile again is to play the whole album again and again until I learn the words to CASTAWAY LOL love the album I give it ten stars if I could thank you Mike Oldfield you made my day ......