Mike Oldfield – Return To Ommadawn (2017)

FrontCover1Michael Gordon Oldfield (born 15 May 1953) is a British musician, songwriter, and producer best known for his debut studio album Tubular Bells (1973), which became an unexpected critical and commercial success. Though primarily a guitarist, Oldfield plays a range of instruments, which includes keyboards, percussion, and vocals. He has adopted a range of musical styles throughout his career, including progressive rock, world, folk, classical, electronic, ambient, and new age music.

Oldfield took up the guitar at age ten and left school in his teens to embark on a music career. From 1967 to 1970, he and his sister Sally Oldfield were a folk duo The Sallyangie, after which he performed with Kevin Ayers. In 1971, Oldfield started work on Tubular Bells which caught the attention of Richard Branson, who agreed to release it on his new label, Virgin Records.

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Its opening was used in the horror film The Exorcist and the album went on to sell over 2.7 million copies in the UK. Oldfield followed it with Hergest Ridge (1974), Ommadawn (1975), and Incantations (1978), all of which feature longform and mostly instrumental pieces.

In the late 1970s, Oldfield began to tour and release more commercial and song-based music, beginning with Platinum (1979), QE2 (1980), and Five Miles Out (1982). His most successful album of this period was Crises (1983), which features the worldwide hit single “Moonlight Shadow” with vocalist Maggie Reilly.

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After signing with WEA in the early 1990s, Oldfield’s most significant album of the decade was Tubular Bells II (1992) and he experimented with virtual reality and gaming content with his MusicVR project. In 2012, he performed at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games held in London. Oldfield’s discography includes 26 studio albums, nine of which have reached the UK top-ten. His most recent album is Return to Ommadawn (2017).

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Return to Ommadawn is the twenty-sixth studio album by English musician and songwriter Mike Oldfield. It was released on 20 January 2017 on Virgin EMI Records and is the sequel to his 1975 album Ommadawn. The CD/DVD-Audio set contains a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album.

In March 2014, Oldfield released his album Man on the Rocks, which marked a diversion from his traditional long-form, instrumental style of music as it comprised standard rock songs with vocals. When Oldfield started on his next album he took to social media, asking fans what sort of album they would like from him. He found that the majority of people who responded wished for a long-form, acoustic-oriented one similar to that of his first three: Tubular Bells (1973), Hergest Ridge (1974), and Ommadawn (1975), and learned that the latter had become a particular favourite among fans. This influenced Oldfield to record a sequel to Ommadawn which had been on his mind for some time; his 1990 album Amarok was originally going to be Ommadawn II before the material “went off in its own direction” and the idea was shelved. In addition, Oldfield wished to make the sequel after he logged into an online chat with French musician Jean-Michel Jarre, who said that he was a fan of Oldfield’s music and wished to collaborate with him, but considered his music “too acoustic”. Oldfield recalled: “This got me thinking. If someone like him believes I’m an acoustic musician, then it showed how important that part of my career has been.”

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On 16 October 2015, Oldfield posted on his Twitter account that he had started working on music for “a new Ommadawn” for the past week to see if the concept “actually works”. Oldfield was aware of the popularity of Hergest Ridge and used the album for inspiration for Return to Ommadawn. This was the case for the introduction, whereby a folk melody was to start the piece before Oldfield changed it to a more atmospheric one. Ideas were explored further in subsequent weeks, and Oldfield began recording in December 2015 at his home studio in Nassau, Bahamas. Early on, Oldfield realised that he was out of practise in his guitar technique, as his fingertips had softened, causing pain when playing. He focused on the instrument for three weeks to get up to scratch.

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Oldfield began by gathering the necessary instruments that he intended to play on the album and arrange his studio into an environment that he could work in. This involved the purchase of a mandolin, ukulele, and bodhrán. He then decided to record in time with a wind-up metronome, as opposed to a programmed click track, and set up his workspace and Pro Tools software to resemble a 24-track machine that he had used in the 1970s. Oldfield had used Logic Pro software but found it increasingly unreliable, which prompted him to switch to Pro Tools and invest in larger, 4K resolution screens, which allowed him to view a 20-minute piece on one display without scrolling. Oldfield played sections of the album to his two sons for feedback; one suggested that a part sounded too busy and should instead feature just one instrument, which Oldfield took onboard and has bits that feature one guitar.[9] As with the original Ommadawn, Oldfield left mistakes in the recording to retain a human quality to the music as opposed to a highly produced sound.

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In May 2016, Oldfield stated on Facebook that the album was finished and that an official release date had yet to be confirmed. Towards the end of recording in late 2016, the Bahamas suffered a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew, which caused extensive damage to Oldfield’s home, resulting in loss of main power for three weeks. When the album was finished, Oldfield delivered the recordings to Virgin EMI using a backup Internet connection through a small satellite dish installed on his roof. The transfer took around 24 hours due to the low speeds. On 7 December 2016, Oldfield announced a release date of 20 January 2017. On the same day, a 3-minute excerpt aired on Steve Wright’s afternoon show on BBC Radio 2.

Return to Ommadawn is Oldfield’s first album since Incantations (1978) that follows the format of having one track per side of vinyl simply titled “Part One” and “Part Two”.[1]
Reception

On Metacritic the album has a score of 64 out of 100 based on reviews from 7 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. It charted at number 1 in Spain. (wikipedia)

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British multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield offers up this warmly crafted sequel to his 1975 classic Ommadawn, marking a return to a more organic style of composing. After polling fans online about what type of approach they’d like to hear, Oldfield was overwhelmingly urged to revisit the acoustic style heard on his first three albums. Eager for the challenge, he spent nearly a year in his studio crafting what would become 2017’s Return to Ommadawn, an instrumental meditation on the prog-folk fantasy world he’d originally imagined four decades prior. A true solo effort, Oldfield plays every instrument on the record, which is divided into “Part I” and “Part II,” each lasting about 20 minutes in a nod to the original’s vinyl format.

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A pleasing blend of Celtic, folk, and rock elements using a multitude of acoustic and electric guitars, old-school keyboards, mandolins, whistles, and hand drums, Return to Ommadawn is thoughtful in its construction, unfurling in a dreamy fantasia that indeed recalls Oldfield’s early days, but softened with the nostalgia of accumulated age. The emotional arc of the album is subtly instituted with the gentler peaks of “Part I” eventually becoming quite majestic in the final two movements of “Part II.” Oldfield’s Ommadawn is an enchanted place and this lush revisitation both honors his initial creation and neatly extends its boundaries. (by Timothy Monger)

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Personnel:

Personnel

Tracklist:
01. Return To Ommadawn Pt. I 21.09
02. Return To Ommadawn Pt. II 20.58

Music: Mike Olfield

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Georgie Fame – Sweet Things (+ bonus tracks) (1966)

LPFrontCover1Georgie Fame (born Clive Powell; 26 June 1943) is an English R&B and jazz musician. Fame, who had a string of 1960s hits, is still performing, often working with contemporaries such as Alan Price, Van Morrison and Bill Wyman. Fame is the only British music act to have achieved three number one hits with his only Top 10 chart entries: “Yeh, Yeh” in 1964, “Get Away”, in 1966 and “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967.

Powell was born at 1 Cotton Street, Leigh, Lancashire, England. He took piano lessons from the age of seven and on leaving Leigh Central County Secondary School at 15 he worked for a brief period in a cotton weaving mill and played piano for a band called the Dominoes in the evenings. After taking part in a singing contest at the Butlins Holiday Camp in Pwllheli, North Wales, he was offered a job there by the band leader, early British rock and roll star Rory Blackwell.

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At sixteen years of age, Powell went to London and, on the recommendation of Lionel Bart, entered into a management agreement with Larry Parnes, who had given new stage names to artists Marty Wilde and Billy Fury. Fame later recalled that Parnes had given him an ultimatum over his forced change of name: “It was very much against my will but he said, ‘If you don’t use my name, I won’t use you in the show'”.

Over the following year Fame toured the UK playing beside Wilde, Joe Brown, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and others. Fame played piano for Billy Fury in his backing band, the Blue Flames. When the backing band got the sack at the end of 1961, it was re-billed as “Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames” and went on to enjoy great success with a repertoire largely of rhythm and blues numbers.

Georgie Fame and Rick Brown performing at The Grand Gala du Disque, Amsterdam on Saturday, 2 October 1966:
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Fame was influenced by jazz, blues, and the musicians Mose Allison and Willie Mabon. He was one of the first white musicians to be influenced by ska after hearing it in cafés in Jamaica and Ladbroke Grove in England. He recalled The Flamingo Club was “full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend” who played for him the song “Green Onions” by Booker T. & the M.G.’s. “I had been playing piano up to that point but I bought a Hammond organ the next day.”

In 1963, the band recorded its debut album, Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo.[5] Produced by Ian Samwell and engineered by Glyn Johns,[10] the album was released in place of a planned single by EMI Columbia. It failed to reach the chart, but the October 1964 follow-up, Fame at Last, reached No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart.

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Ronan O’Rahilly failed to get Fame’s first record played by the BBC. After it was rejected by Radio Luxembourg, O’Rahilly announced he would start his own radio station to promote the record. The station became the offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline.

Fame enjoyed continual chart success, with three number one hits in the UK Singles Chart. His version of “Yeh, Yeh”, released on 14 January 1965, spent two weeks at No. 1 on the UK singles chart. “In the Meantime” charted in both UK and US. Fame made his US television debut that same year on Hullabaloo. His single “Get Away”, released on 21 July 1966, spent one week at No. 1 on the UK chart and 11 weeks on the chart. The song was written as a jingle for a petrol commercial. His version of the Bobby Hebb song “Sunny” made No. 13 in the UK charts in September 1966. His greatest chart success was in 1967 when “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” became a number one hit in the UK, and No. 7 in the US. “Yeh, Yeh” and “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” sold over one million copies and were awarded gold discs.

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Fame continued playing into the 1970s, having a hit with “Rosetta” with his friend Alan Price in 1971, and they worked together extensively.[5] In 1974, he reunited the Blue Flames and began to sing with European orchestras and big bands. He wrote jingles for radio and TV commercials and composed for the films Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970) and The Alf Garnett Saga (1972).

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The artist released two singles produced by Stock Aitken Waterman in 1986, a cover of Richie Cole’s “New York Afternoon”, (credited as Mondo Kané featuring Dee Lewis, Coral Gordon and Georgie Fame) and a cover of a Gilberto Gil track, “Samba”, under his own name, for which he wrote the English-language lyrics.

He became a member of Van Morrison’s band, as well as his musical producer. He played keyboards and sang harmony vocals on “In the Days Before Rock ‘n’ Roll” from the album Enlightenment while recording and touring as a solo act. He played organ on Van Morrison’s albums between 1989 and 1997 and starred at Terry Dillon’s 60th-birthday party on 10 May 2008. Morrison refers to Fame in the line “I don’t run into Mr. Clive” in his song “Don’t Go to Nightclubs Anymore” on the 2008 Keep It Simple album. Fame appeared as a guest on Morrison’s television concert presented by BBC Four on 25 and 27 April 2008.

Fame was a founding member of Bill Wyman’s band Rhythm Kings. He also worked with Count Basie, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Joan Armatrading, and the Verve.

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Fame has played residences at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.[5] He played organ on Starclub’s album. He was the headline act on the Sunday night at the Jazz World stage at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival after performing at the Midsummer Music at Spencers festival in Essex.

On 18 April 2010, Fame and his sons Tristan Powell (guitar) and James Powell (drums) performed at the Live Room at Twickenham Stadium[21] for the tenth birthday celebrations of The Eel Pie Club. Part of the proceeds from the concert benefitted the Otakar Kraus Music Trust, which provides music and voice therapy for children and young people with physical and mental difficulties. The trio performed later that year at the Towersey Festival.

In July 2014, Fame played at the village hall in Goring-on-Thames[24] and then at the Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire.

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In 1972, Fame married Nicolette (née Harrison), Marchioness of Londonderry, the former wife of the 9th Marquess. Lady Londonderry had given birth to one of Fame’s children during her marriage to the marquess; the child, Tristan, bore the courtesy title Viscount Castlereagh and was believed to be heir to the marquisate. When tests determined the child was Fame’s, the Londonderrys divorced. The couple had another son, James, during their marriage.

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Nicolette Powell died on 13 August 1993, after jumping off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. In an interview before her death, Fame said that they had stayed happily married because of her “charm, beauty, forbearance and understanding”.[29]

Fame supports the Countryside Alliance and has played concerts to raise funds for the organisation. (wikipedia)

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Sweet Things is the 1966 third album with the Blue Flames by Georgie Fame which reached No.6 in the album Top Ten in the UK. Following this album his band The Blue Flames was replaced with The Tornados. (wikipedia)

Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames’ third album very much follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, a punchy R&B stomper that could (even should) have been recorded live, so high is the energy, and so abandoned the backing of the Blue Flames. This is especially apparent on side two of the original vinyl, as the band all-but replicate the closing run of a hot and sweaty club gig, pounding through an electrifyingly note-perfect “My Girl,” a rattling “The Whole World’s Shaking” and a truly incredible version of “The In Crowd,” all honking horns and smooth-flowing Hammond. Don Covay’s “See Saw” is another jewel, but for sheer audacity, the highlight has to be calypso king Lord Kitchener’s gleefully risqué “Dr Kitch,” a percussively swaying romp that only grows more delightful as it becomes apparent that Fame himself is having trouble delivering the lyric straight-faced — the story of a doctor attempting to administer an injection to a nervous young lady, after all, is so rife with double meaning that it is virtually a sex act in its own right.

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Not quite up to the standard of the group’s debut (which, of course, was recorded live), Sweet Thing is nevertheless one of the finest British R&B albums of the mid-’60s, and one of the last to illustrate just how many possibilities were still open to the U.K. scene at that time. The journey from soft soul to rude calypso, via every musical shade in between, was not one that many performers were willing to take, after all. Fame and co, on the other hand, make the journey in record time.by Dave Thompson)

And yes … on drums: Mr. Mitch Mitchell !

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Personnel:
Neemoi “Speedy” Acquaye (percussion)
Cliff Barton (bass)
Peter Coe (saxophone)
Georgie Fame (organ, vocals)
Colin Green (guitar)
Glenn Hughes (saxophone)
John “Mitch” Mitchell (drums)
Eddie “Tan Tan” Thornton (trumpet)

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01. Sweet Thing (Stevenson) 2.33
02. See Saw (Covay) 2.43
03. Ride Your Pony (Neville) 2.39
04. Funny How Time Slips Away (Nelson) 3.15
05. Sitting In The Park (Stewart) 3.22
06. Dr. Kitch (Blackwell/Kitchener) 3.56
07. My Girl (White/Robinson) 2.56
08. Music Talk (Paul/Wonder/Hull) 3.18
09. The In Crowd (Page) 2.54
10. The World Is Round (Thomas) 2.37
11. The Whole World’s Shaking (Cooke) 3.09
12. Last Night (Laine) 5.05
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13. In The Meantime (Burch) 2.35
14. Telegram (Burch) 2.37
15. No No (The River) (from the EP “Fats For  Fame, 1965) (Bartholomew) 1.59
16. Blue Monday (from the EP “Fats For  Fame, 1965)  (Kenner/Bartholomew/Domino) 2.14
17. So Long (from the EP “Fats For  Fame, 1965) (Bartholomew/Domino) 1.48
18. Sick And Tired (from the EP “Fats For  Fame, 1965) (Kenner/Bartholomew) 2.18
19. Like We Used To Be (Single A-Side, 1965) (Powell) 2.16
20. It Ain’t Right (Single B-Side, 1965) (Powell) 3.04
21. Something (Single A-Side, 1965) (Mayall) 3.10
21. Outrage (Single B-Side, 1965) (Cropper/Jackson, Jr./Steinberg/Allen Jr.) 3.29

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