Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Discovery – Mike Oldfield [#374]

DIRTY+DANCINGDiscovery – Mike Oldfield

Steelrattus here again, with the third of my guest posts in this seven day run.

Mike Oldfield. I first got into Mike Oldfield at university, courtesy of the previously mentioned UniversityRichard™. It was Oldfield’s original sound which hooked me, along with the other bands that Richard introduced me to. I must have heard the titular track from Tubular Bells prior to this time, but finally I heard the entire album, and many more such as Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, Five Miles Out, Crises, and the wonderfully nutty Amarok. While at university in the early to mid 90s Tubular Bells 2 and The Songs of Distant Earth were released. And that was pretty much where my relationship with Mike Oldfield ended. I have listened to some of what he has produced subsequently, but none of it has hooked me like the earlier albums.

Discovery is another of these odd albums which somehow I’ve managed to miss in the chronology, as it was released after Crises in 1984. I’m guessing though that the reason I’ve not heard it is because it’s not very good. Curiously the biographical section of Mr. Oldfield’s Wikipedia entry, presumably curated by one or more dedicated fans, doesn’t mention it at all. Does this also suggest that generally it’s not viewed very favourably? There is a short dedicated page for the album though which tells us it was recorded as a follow up to the very successful single Moonlight Shadow, from the Crises album. To that end, and unusually for Mr. Oldfield, most of the album is comprised of short songs that were presumably intended for the pop market, and a lot of the songs feel like variations on the Moonlight Shadow theme. The only exception is The Lake, the final track, which is a distinct instrumental that is three times the length of the other tracks on the album, and for me at least the stand out track. Oldfield has said this final track was inspired by Lake Geneva, as he recorded the album in Switzerland (he was living there for tax reasons), and could see the lake from his recording studio.

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Discovery – ELO [#373]


Me again. Here I am with the second of my guest posts, in this seven day run.

ELO. I have an odd relationship with ELO. <Anecdote> In the early eighties, when I was on the cusp of being a teenager, my Mum was an Assistant Librarian. This meant I visited the library a lot, and along with reading a lot of books, it also meant I got to borrow cassettes (and later CDs) for free! In turn this meant I got the chance to experiment with a lot of music without paying a bean – if I liked the cover of an album I’d borrow it. I suppose it was a bit like the music subscription services of more recent times. Anyway, one of these experimental albums was by ELO. Not the titular album I’m afraid, another album called Secret Messages. I was smitten by it, with its weird blend of multitrack vocal, orchestra, and original sound. It’s one of those albums that will forever be burned in my memory. For good or for bad it’s also forever associated in my mind with the Moomin books, which I was reading a lot of at the time. Anyway, getting back to the odd relationship bit. You would have thought that my love of the album would have lead me to listen to more ELO, but oddly it didn’t. The exact reason why is lost in the mists of my faltering memory, perhaps there weren’t any more ELO albums at the library, I wasn’t open-minded enough, or just didn’t think of it. </Anecdote>

Anyway, to present day, and it’s quite an odd thing breaking my second-ELO-album virginity. Discovery goes through all the right motions. It sounds a lot like Secret Messages and does a good job of treading that fine line between not being a copy, yet not being too different to confuse the listener. Yet it does nothing for me. Perhaps it’s too similar. Or I need to listen to it again. Music is a fickle beast. *shrugs*

For fact fans, it transpires that Discovery actually pre-dates Secret Messages by 4 years, with the former released in 1979, and the latter in 1983. Discovery was ELO’s first number one album in the UK. Oddly Wikipedia doesn’t give much if any information about how the album came together.

Here’s the opening track. Make your own mind up, if you’ve not heard it before.

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