Man on the Rocks [Bonus Instrumental Disc]

Man on the Rocks [Bonus Instrumental Disc]

by Mike OldfieldMike Oldfield


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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. Though these songs are housed in tightly written, hooky pop
ock melodies with conscious source checks from Queen and Toto to the Rolling Stones and the Steve Miller Band, they are among -- if not the -- most deeply personal entries in his catalog. Opener "Sailing" contains pained, troubled lyrics, yet its Celtic-flavored singalong chorus and ringing slide guitar solo add contrast and elevation. "Moonshine" is a poignant Irish immigrant's song. The opening guitar vamp deliberately evokes U2 (though one can convincingly argue that the Edge got it from Oldfield). A sweet backing chorus carries the refrain as martial snares, fiddles, accordion, pipes, and whistles increase the drama until an epic guitar break carries it out. The title track is one of the set's finest moments. Enormous drums, a chorale, sweeping strings, washes of organ, synth, and blazing guitars frame Spiller's anthemic vocal. On "Castaway," the pulsing keyboards and guitars recall Queen and Oldfield's guitar blisters, spitting angular riffs and spiraling prog changes. "Dreaming in the Wind" begins as an acoustic rocker illustrated by strings, guitars, organs, and a fine lead vocal. Oldfield's guitar transforms it, melding arena rock, folk, and prog to its core. "Nuclear" again suggests Queen, but its thudding tom-toms, guitar layers, and orchestra are classic Oldfield. "Chariots" uses big zig-zagging synths and fat phased guitars working a Bo Diddley beat; it's where Toto meets Jim Steinman, but the deliberate excess works. This set does run out of steam near the end. The long ballad "Following the Angels" is repetitive and dreary. "Irene," where Oldfield takes on the Stones, is clever but feels out of place here. The closer, a read of William McDowell's hymn "I Give Myself Away" strays far too close to CCM. It's easy to dismiss Man on the Rocks as simply "dad rock," but it's more complex than that. These songs, all framed inside classic pop
ock, are beautifully written and played. Their fine lyrics contain complex emotions of crisis, struggle, resolve, and redemption. Oldfield is one of the few remaining musicians with the songwriting, production, and playing chops who could helm a big league session like this, let alone pull it off. Imperfections aside, this is a strange, oddly compelling addition to his catalog. [The Deluxe Edition contains a disc of instrumental versions of all album tracks, as well as a bonus disc with the albums demos and some alternate mixes.]

Product Details

Release Date: 04/01/2014
Label: Mercury
UPC: 0602537606962
catalogNumber: 3760696

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mike Oldfield   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Matt Rollings   Piano,Hammond B3
Louis Price   Background Vocals
Michael Thompson   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
John "J.R." Robinson   Drums
Bill Champlain   Background Vocals
Paul Dooley   Violin
Leland Sklar   Bass
Tiffany Smith   Background Vocals
Carmel Echols   Background Vocals
Judith Hill   Background Vocals
Alfie Silas-Durio   Background Vocals
Jason Morales   Background Vocals
Stephen Lipson   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Kirsten Joy   Background Vocals
Luke Spiller   Vocals
Rochelle Gilliard   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Mike Oldfield   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Steve MacMillan   Drum Engineering
Davy Spillane   Whistle
Howard Willing   Engineer
Phil Smee   Sleeve Design,Layout
William McDowell   Composer
Chris Owens   Engineer
Stephen Lipson   Producer,Engineer

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