Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Heaven’s Open – Mike Oldfield [#577]

Mike_oldfield_heavens_open_album_coverLong term followers of this blog may remember my joy at Amarok, when that came out I was overjoyed, but when Heaven’s Open came out the following year, I was ecstatic. Here was Oldfield singing pop songs, angry ones at that, and doing a whole side of his multi-instrument magic. Awesome.

Of course, this was in the days before the internet. When music news and gossip was gleaned from NME and Melody Maker, both publications that I avoided because I didn’t want to be seen to be a desparate hipster, and, of course, because I wanted to happily stay in my musical comfort zone with Yes, Mike Oldfield and the Tubes. So I was unable to learn until much later that this was Oldfield’s last album on the Virgin label and a great big “Fuck You” to Richard Branson, although if you listen carefully to the lyrics of the songs, it’s fairly obvious.

With five singles tracks, including the non-hit title track, Heaven’s Open and a massive 20 minute opus much akin to Amarok, the album is totally out of character compared to later and earlier works. Even Oldfield’s temporary rebranding of himself (to Michael rather than Mike) gives the whole album and uneasy feel. However you can hear the development of stylistic motifs from both Islands and Amarok and the birth of riffs and styles that would cross over to Tubular Bells II.

 

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Album #72 = Angel’s Egg – Gong

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 19.51.48Angel’s Egg – Gong (1973)

Take one impressionable teenager. Play them The Flying Teapot Radio Gnome Part 1. Sit back and wait.

I bought this in on CD in 1990 after having my mind blown by The Flying Teapot. Gong are kind of like Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band meets King Crimson. Jazz, with bizarre fantasy world inspired lyrics and a hell of a lot of jazz influence.

Several years later I was at Sheffield Hallam University and Gong were playing at the Nelson Mandela building (now demolished). Of course I was too shy to go and see them by myself and regret that I never had the balls to do so. I would probably have given up on them there and then.

French band, Gong’s second Radio Gnome but fifth album tells the story of Zero, the hero, and his continuing exploits on the planet Gong with the Pot Head Pixies. Yes, you guessed it, this album is heavily drug inspired. Perfect for your spotty teenager in the early to mid nineties at a time of naive mysticism and pre-millennial optimism. Great stuff, if only for a song about vaginas.

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