Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Like the well timed bus that comes just as the rain starts to pour down or the moment when they person you have harboured a crush on for years tells you that they have always been in love with you; Mike Oldfield’s latest album, Man On The Rocks, provides the little ray of sunshine in a day that can be filled with every aspect of grey imaginable.
To have artistically have produced 25 albums is something akin to prolific, even if you haven’t recorded a new album for six years. To keep coming back and offering a little slice of your soul, the tiniest morsel in which to show the inner thoughts and musings of a symbolically private individual is to be lauded. Even when the album isn’t quite the best that you have ever bought out, it is still far and away something in which the artist, as well as the listener, should be proud, even overjoyed in being able to listen to.
The addition of Luke Spiller on vocals is a touch that complements Mr. Oldfield’s sense of music in a way that many perhaps have tried to attain but have never really managed. This maybe because the eternal image is of a man who with solitary expertise pulled off one the single most incredible pieces of music in the 1970s, it could be that really nobody can capture the essence as much as the man himself, however Mr. Spiller certainly gives it the most beautiful attention possible. The concentration of a man making sure that the person who wrote the songs knows that he is not alone, that he has someone musically who does get why the words on the album are as important as the array of instruments to be found.
The man who made his name signalling a change in the way music was presented and worked upon comes back after his long hiatus with some wonderfully challenging songs and in Sailing, Castaway, the beautiful Dreaming in the Wind and Following The Angels, Mike Oldfield has found some sort of extra inner peace, he certainly deserves to.
Mike Oldfield is no Man On The Rocks, he will be forever remembered and admired by millions and his latest album is an accomplished joy.
Ian D. Hall