also by Mike Oldfield:
The late 1980s seemed to be a bit of a bare creative period for Oldfield, as his rancorous contract with Virgin was nearly coming to an end. But I wouldn't blame the record company for not promoting stuff that's as bland as this. To start with, the long piece "Wind Chimes" that fills the first half is not one of his best. It's all quite pleasant, it has its moments, and reminds me of background music for nature documentaries. But there's not much of substance here, just Oldfield doing his usual multi-instrumental twiddlings on auto-pilot.
At least that's listenable in comparison to the songs here, some of the dodgiest material Oldfield has ever put out. The raucous power-ballad "Islands" has a lot of annoyance potential, especially if Bonnie Tyler's voice winds you up, but the tune is passably OK. I don't blame Oldfield for giving his girlfriend Anita Hegerland a singing spot on the relatively pretty "North Point" and the earnestly Christian "The Time has Come". But her voice is limp and makes me wish for Maggie Reilly back. The worst of the bunch is the hideously camp and tuneless "Magic Touch", sung by Jim Price. It would be a few years before Oldfield returned to form again.
July 31, 2004