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Mike Oldfield

QE2

Review by Gary Hill

This 1980 release was the sixth studio album from Mike Oldfield. His brand of progressive rock really shines on this set. In fact, I'd consider this to be one of the stronger releases in his catalog. There are moments when this makes me think of Alan Parsons, but it's all trademark Oldfield, really.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Taurus I
There is a Celtic edge to the playful, yet mellow, tones that begin this piece. The cut starts to build outward from there as it continues. It shifts gears to more hard rocking stuff before the minute-and-a-half mark. The Celtic edge drops away at that point. Some more powerful progressive rock stylings take control as this drives onward and builds. This thing get so potent as it keeps intensifying. Then, around the three-and-a-half-minute mark, it makes its way to a mellower section. It's more electronic than the opening movement was, though. There is a keyboard dominated movement. The piece continues to evolve, getting into more energetic, and stranger, prog rock zones as it builds outward.
Sheba
I dig the unusual electronic keyboard textures that bring this into being. It's a much shorter and more direct tune than the opener was. This has some non-lyrical (or at least not in English) female vocals. The cut gets a bit more rocking as drives onward. It really feels a bit like something from Alan Parsons in some ways.
Conflict
Percussion starts this and brings a real sense of conflict as it does. While that element holds the piece for a time, it grows out from there to a powerhouse and raucous progressive rock jam that has a lot of drama built into it. There are definitely elements of fusion in the mix, too. The cut takes on some Celtic elements at times, and really does grow and change.
Arrival
Here Oldfield covers, of all artists, ABBA. Gentle keyboard styled elements open this. The cut works out to a more full band type treatment as it continues.  This gets some non-lyrical vocals added to the mix later. The cut really has a great energy and vibe.
Wonderful Land
Guitar leads this number out of the gate. The track begins an evolution from there, working in a rather organic sounding progressive rock number. It has some world music and some hints of classical in the mix, too.
Mirage
Electric guitar weaves some intriguing lines of sound as other elements serve more as accentuation for it. After the minute mark the cut shifts gears dramatically a new concept takes over. That grows upward in a new prog meets fusion kind of vibe. This grows into some pretty powerful zones. The guitar gets loud and intense.
QE2
At over seven-and-a-half minutes of music, this is the second longest piece on the disc. It comes in quite mellow and gradually begins to rise upward from there. This is a powerhouse piece that has so much variety and style built into it. This is definitely among the most complex music here, and the most diverse. It has so many different movements.
Celt
Coming in percussive, this is also rather electronic at the start. Atmospheric elements join after a time. Then female vocals complete the initial arrangement. The cut grows as it makes its way forward, but this general concept holds it. There is some killer guitar that soars in an instrumental movement.
Molly
This is a short cut, lasting less than a minute-and-a-half. It's mellow and quite pretty.
 
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