Monday, May 27, 2013

Mike Oldfield - Crises

Today (May 27th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Crises, the eighth studio album from English progressive-rock musician Mike Oldfield. A Platinum seller in Germany, it charted at number 6 in New Zealand and the UK, and number 1 in Norway and Sweden.

The track listings differed between the UK release and the US release (with mostly a re-ordering of songs). For this review, I will go with the US version of the album.

Side one opens with “Mistake” which features lead vocals by Scottish singer Maggie Reilly. Released as a single in 1982, this up-tempo, pop tune went to number 56 in Germany. It did not appear on the UK version of the album though.

“In High Places” was co-written with Jon Anderson; Oldfield taps the Yes lead singer to provide his distinctive vocals on it as well.

Reilly co-wrote “Foreign Affair” with Oldfield and does the vocals as well. This slower tempo track has a bit of a tropical/R&B flavor to it.

“Taurus 3” is a faster-paced instrumental. With mandolin and banjo, it differs quite a bit from Oldfield’s earlier tracks “Taurus” from 1980’s QE2 and “Taurus 2” from 1982‘s Five Miles Out.

“Shadow on the Wall”, which featured vocals by Roger Chapman, only reached number 95 as a single in the UK. It faired quite a bit better in the Netherlands (number 10) and Germany (number 3). It has an intriguing, no-nonsense rock hook to it that really works for me.

“Moonlight Shadow”, the first official single from the album, went to number 6 in Australia, number 4 in the UK, number 3 in New Zealand, and number 2 in both Germany and the Netherlands. Reilly provides the vocals on this pop-rock tune. Phil Spalding provides the bass guitar on this one.

Side two is one single track, the title one “Crisis”. The progressive piece clocks in at twenty minutes and forty seconds. There are parts, thanks to various synthesized sounds, that remind me of an industrial factory. The first of many tempo change ups happens just shy of the four minute mark. It actually seems like Oldfield had a number of song ideas that he did not know how to fully develop, so he created a mosaaic piece instead.

While I familiar with Mike Oldfield’s name, mostly from the 70’s, this entire album was brand new to me. I did find Crises to be interesting to listen to. For me, there was not a bad track in the bunch.

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