Release Date: Apr 1, 2014
Record label: Virgin EMI
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Prog-Rock, Celtic Rock
Six years after the classical Music of the Spheres, Mike Oldfield returns to his version of rock. Man on the Rocks is a slick production that recalls the AOR sounds of the late '70s and early '80s. He plays many instruments here but concentrates mainly on guitar. Among his collaborators are bassist Leland Sklar, keyboardist Matt Rollings, drummer John Robinson, guitarist Michael Thompson, and the Struts' vocalist Luke Spiller.
Following the euphoria of a successful appearance at the spectacular London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, veteran instrumentalist extraordinaire Mike Oldfield found himself suitably revitalised to the extent whereby the veritable genius – once cruelly labelled an “old fart” by corners of the press – now releases his 25th studio album at the ripe old age of 60. Of those previous 24 efforts, he will of course always be remembered for 1973’s Tubular Bells and with good reason – who else can lay claim to an album that’s topped 17 million worldwide sales? And a totally instrumental one to boot. With the Olympic ceremony casting the spotlight back on the maestro after a lengthy absence – 2008’s Music Of The Spheres was his last studio effort – the world was reminded of his stature as one of the UK’s greatest ever musicians as he performed excerpts from that famous album along with a couple of other pieces.
"Let me out, I can't breathe/ Gotta get out of this concrete hole," are the first words on Mike Oldfield's first album in six years – a cri de coeur accompanied by a video shot on a beach in the Bahamas, where he has lived since 2009. His concrete holes, clearly, are not as others'. But that doesn't impair the listening experience – if you accept that Man on the Rocks is the pop equivalent of a historical re-enactment society, it's oddly engrossing.
One to cast away Mike Oldfield’s first album in six years hopefully won’t be his last – it would be a terrible way to end a very productive career. Recorded in the Bahamas with a hand-picked group comprising interstellar players, Man On The Rocks is a collection of 11 songs that sound as though they were recorded in the 80s rather than the 2010s. No singer himself, Oldfield has brought Luke Spiller into the mix.