Mike Oldfield is an artist with a lot more to his CV than the awesome Tubular Bells. While some fools might argue that Mike Oldfield’s best work was done in the 1970s when he had that beard, for many of us Oldfield’s career has been as adaptable and varied as anyone’s, even if he does have a tendency to return to Tubular Bells when winter’s chill sets in.
It’s salutary to hear this compilation as it takes in a period of Oldfield’s career when perhaps not everyone was listening. And you can at times see why, as perfectly nice instrumentals are saddled with time-shackled dance remixes, or when fashion prevails and the occasional folkish parts of Oldfield’s work are horribly warped into bad Celtic movie soundtrack tunes.
But throughout there’s always a hint of the strange melancholy that’s always present in the best of Mike Oldfield’s work, and as time moves on – as in Introduction 2003 with its off-the-wall guitar riffs – it’s clear that, unlike some of his guitar-tootling contemporaries, Oldfield is always striving for individuality and looking for new ideas.
Best of all, there’s an entire second disc of rarities here, from the Sentinel-demo of Early Stages, to the Billy Connolly-MCed The Bell (we also get Viv Stanshall’s version), which illustrate Oldfield at his most imaginative.
All in all, a worthwhile introduction to the more recent stages of one of the most extraordinary careers in rock music./o:p