SoundStage! Music Online Editor's Pick Archives
January/February 2003

Mike Oldfield Boxed
Virgin CDBOX1, 2002

Musical Performance
***
Recording Quality

***

Overall Enjoyment
***

Mike Oldfield's music charms some people and alienates others, the latter finding it rambling and overly sentimental. I belong to the former camp, having come to admire Oldfield's musical vision when I was a teenager. At one point, I owned every Oldfield recording extant, including this set, which was originally released on four LPs in 1975. It includes remixed versions of Oldfield's first three full-length compositions: the well-known Tubular Bells along with Hergest Ridge (my favorite) and Ommadawn. Also included is a collection of otherwise unreleased works called "Collaborations," which describes it perfectly, as Oldfield teams up with some of his contemporaries. Here, four LPs are reduced to three CDs, with various of the "Collaborations" tacked on to the end of the longer compositions. The main beef I have with this set is the same one I had with the original: that "remixed" label. As his compositions prove, Oldfield was a musical tweaker who often changed his own work after it had been released and otherwise completed. Here, the Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, and Ommadawn that we get are not as engaging as the original versions, or even close. Therefore, this set, like the LP version, is for those who want to own the "Collaborations" or just want to see what Oldfield did to his own music in the name of remixing it. The sound is good, and the literature that comes with the set is a smaller version of the LP-sized booklet that came with the original release. So this is an authentic remastered version of the original release, and in that respect, it's a success. But if you want to hear Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, and Ommadawn at their best, buy the unremixed versions separately....Marc Mickelson


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