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Mike Oldfield: Discovery/The Killing Fields/The 1984 Suite

Something old, reworked and new from the Oldfield archive.

1984 was an odd year for Mike Oldfield, releasing the whimsical Discovery, his ninth album and one caught between the stools of his folky ambitions, his composing wizardry and the odd, ill-advised stabs at arena rock.

The rambling To France, that featured Maggie Reilly on vocals, the more expansive and reflective The Lake and the punchy, histrionic title track, which was all driving snare drum and sounded like it was recorded in a room full of dry ice, made for a mixed bag and an uneven-sounding album.

This edition, presumably to lure the unsuspecting in, comes with the grandly titled The 1984 Suite, which is a rather thin reworking of Poison Arrows as well as music from both Discovery and The Killing Fields, but to suggest it’s a new composition is pushing it a bit.

While time’s not been kind to Discovery, the same cannot be said of the 1984 soundtrack to Roland Joffe’s The Killing Fields. How this didn’t lead to a lifetime of Oldfield producing scores for Hollywood’s great and good remains a mystery. Its haunting refrain and theme still stand up to scrutiny and the soundtrack elicits the kind of thrill that instantly transports you back to the shuddering horror of Kampuchea’s worst atrocities.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion. He ghosted Carl Barat’s acclaimed autobiography, Threepenny Memoir, and helped launch the BBC 6 Music network as producer and co-presenter on the Phill Jupitus Breakfast Show. Five years later he and Jupitus fronted the hugely popular Perfect 10 podcast and live shows. His debut novel, Cross Country Murder Song, was described, variously, as ‘sophisticated and compelling’ and ‘like a worm inside my brain’. His latest novel The Death And Life Of Red Henley is out now.