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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mike Oldfield

Tubular Beats

Review by Gary Hill

This album is made up of remixes of Mike Oldfield’s music. Although a lot of remixes albums are done without the original artist contributing anything new, this is really a collaboration. Both Oldfield and York (Torsten Stenzel) had a hand in this. The master tapes and new music were provided by Oldfield. I’d say it’s a reasonably successful project. It seems that this kind of remix thing might not sit well with a lot of Oldfield’s long time fans. For me, some of this is quite strong, while other pieces just don’t work as well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Let There Be Light (York Remix)

There are spoken soundbites that wander around with an atmospheric element carrying the musical end of things. Percussive sounds enter and build upward. The melody paints pictures over the top. Although pretty keyboard sounds drive much of this piece, there are some tasty guitar based elements that dance around it at times.

Far Above The Clouds (York Remix)
There’s a little girl’s voice heard at the start here and this launches out into a powerful symphonic prog sound. It’s shifted towards the electronic as it continues. There are some pretty awesome shifts and turns here. This is quite a dynamic piece of music that’s extremely effective.
Ommadawn (Mike Oldfield & York Remix)
I love the combination of world music, progressive rock and electronic sounds built into this. It’s pretty and atmospheric and oh so powerful. It moves out into more pure electronic music later in the piece. Then lush keyboard movements drive into another section. This is just such a potent and extensive piece.
Guilty (Mike Oldfield & York Remix)
The keyboard sounds that lead out here are almost funky. As the rhythmic elements join this gets the most “house” kind of sounding arrangement thus far. It builds out with a real pounding dance beat. Although that kind of sound carries this for quite a while, the rhythm definitely drops back and allows a more symphonic electronic element to drive the piece for a time. Eventually the rhythmic elements return as this powers out into a more driving kind of jam.
Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield & York Remix)
And, here we have it…the biggie. This is the most well-known of Oldfield’s pieces, mostly because the use in the “Exorcist” movie. This is an intriguing rendition. I like what the techno vibes bring to this. It’s always been a great piece of music and this treatment is quite effective. Around the ten minute mark piano takes over and that section takes it out in a very classical fashion.
To France (York & Steve Brian Radio Mix)
This one is definitely more of a pop rock styled song, completely with full female vocal arrangement. There is more of that dance/house kind of sound in place here. I’d have to say that for my money the one mis-step is that some of the vocals get treated with something that sounds like perfect pitch. It cheapens the piece. Beyond that, though, it’s classy.
Northstar (Mike Oldfield & York Remix)
Funk meets reggae as this comes into being. It works out into music that’s more typical of the rest of the release. I really like what the dance vibe brings to this piece.
Moonlight Shadow (York & Steve Brian Radio Mix)
There is definitely too much of that processed vocal sound and modern pop music vibe to this. It’s OK and has its moments, but if there’s a cut to skip here, this is it.
Guilty (York & Mike's Electrofunkmix)
Here’s another questionable one. This is just too much a pure dance mix kind of thing. Of course, that applies to the first minute and a half or so. It gets more of a melodic treatment after that point, pulling it up a bit. The thing is, the opening is weak enough that it brings the piece in with enough of a deficit that the rise up just isn’t good enough pull it out of the hole. Also, more of that nearly pure dance music takes it at the end, keeping this thing from even leaving a decent taste in the mouth.
Tubular Bells 2 (Mike Oldfield & York Remix)
This becomes quite a sublime and powerful progressive rock turned electronic kind of piece. This is really a classic example of how this kind of marriage can work. Even the sections that are more fully dance oriented stuff have a certain kind of magic to them that holds up nicely.
Never Too Far (featuringTarja Turunen)
Pretty and rather mournful piano is the order of business for almost the first minute of the cut. Then the pretty non-lyrical vocals enter, along with additional layers of instrumentation. Eventually it works out to the song proper and the main focus on this one is more like a new age meets progressive rock sound. It does turn a bit too operatic for my tastes later in the piece, but overall this is quite an effective piece and one of the best on the disc.
 
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