Now Available: Mike Oldfield, The Studio Albums: 1992-2003
Mike Oldfield has had a lengthy and successful career as a composer and musician, one which started in a big way when he released his first album, Tubular Bells, back in 1973. Unfortunately, that’s also the album where most Americans’ recognition of his music starts and stops: despite the fact that the album in question actually hit #3 on the Billboard Top 200 (thanks in no small part to the title track’s prominence in The Exorcist), Oldfield has never released any other effort in the States that’s come anywhere close to matching the success of his debut. In fact, the last time one of his studio albums charted was in 1987, and even at that, Islands only made it to #138.
Oldfield’s profile in his native UK, however, is far more substantial: in addition to Tubular Bells topping the charts over yonder, he followed that success with a second number - one album – 1974’s Hergest Ridge – and has gone on to score five additional top-five albums, four more which hit the top-20, and still another half-dozen which made it into various other spots within the top 40. Oh, right, and he’s also managed to pick up another #1 album in that time…and – what luck! – it just so happens to be the album that kicks off a new collection of Oldfield’s studio output during his tenure with Warner Brothers.
The Studio Albums: 1992-2003 features eight – count ‘em! – eight albums by Oldfield, and for most folks on this side of the Atlantic, they’re likely to be an all-new listening experience. Fortunately, even if your only frame of reference to Oldfield isTubular Bells, you’re still in a position to ease into the proceedings, since the first album is, in fact, a sequel to that album.
The contents are as follows: Tubular Bells II (1992), The Songs of Distant Earth (1994), Voyager (1996), Tubular Bells III (1998), Guitars (1999), The Millennium Bell (1999), Tr3s Lunas (2002), and – just to close things not at all dissimilarly to the way they began – Tubular Bells 2003 . (We’ll let you work out for yourself when that one came out.) Each album is housed in a card sleeve, and the whole shebang comes in a clamshell box with artwork that, perhaps unsurprisingly, plays off the cover of the original Tubular Bells album…but, hey, if you’ve got a theme that works for you, why not stick with it?