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Published: 2014/03/25
by Joe Lopergalo

Mike Oldfield
Man on the Rocks

_ Virgin EMI_

Mike Oldfield’s 25th studio album melds acoustically driven Brit-pop (the standout opener “Sailing”) with ultra-expressive guitar work (“Man on the Rocks”) and the stunning range and vibrato of vocalist Luke Spiller.

The album is knitted together lyrically with stormy maritime imagery, presenting a theme most prevalent in “Irene,” a Keith Richards-inspired open-G shuffle conjuring the exhilaration discovered within disaster. “Nuclear” offers Oldfield’s most personal lyrics – reflecting on childhood fears of abandonment – while songs like “Castaway” and “Dreaming in the Wind” are saved from doldrums by incredibly emotive guitar solos.

There are no hour-long instrumentals on this song-based record, but Oldfield’s playing remains extraordinary. But what else would be expected of the genius who gave the world “Tubular Bells”?

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