MIKE OLDFIELD - Born in pain: Return To Ommadawn

15. February 2017

Mike Oldfield

MIKE OLDFIELD - Born in pain: Return To Ommadawn

Mike Oldfield's reasons for returning to "Ommadawn" lie deeper than at first glance one might think. Even the continuation of his most famous record "Tubular Bells" in 1992 was by no means a purely economic calculation. "When I wanted to release 'Amarok' in 1990," recalls Oldfield, "Virgin boss Richard Branson told me to call it 'Tubular Bells II', but I replied that the second part of 'Tubular Bells' would certainly come sometime, but this album definitely isn't." This anecdote not only says a lot about the then smouldering conflict between Oldfield and his label boss, but also about the fact that the concept of the sequel means far more to the musician than a simple label to be able to turn on any instrumental longtrack to his fans.

In fact, Oldfield had been playing with the idea of updating "Ommadawn" for a long time. The history of the origin of the original plate was a difficult and painful one. The musician has no good memories of it. What happened? First of all, "Ommadawn" is a grief work. Oldfield's mother died during the recordings, but the 21-year-old musician had to continue working despite this in order to be able to deliver the agreed product to his label. And the pressure was immense: The previous "Hergest Ridge" was not as enthusiastically received by fans and critics as the debut album "Tubular Bells". And yet Oldfield was the best horse in the Virgin stable. "Branson wanted to make me a pop star then," says the artist.

When he went to work on "Ommadawn" in his country house and studio The Beacon, things went quite well at first. Virgin provided every help imaginable. If Oldfield needed an expensive instrument or a certain musician, the label would take care of it immediately. What he had not ordered, however, were high-quality recording tapes, let alone a decent tape machine. The transfer of the more or less finished first part resulted in serious quality losses. When Oldfield received a new machine, he found that he had been working with inferior band material that was gradually decomposing. The recordings were unusable (they appeared, restored with modern technical means, finally some years ago on the deluxe edition of "Ommadawn"). The multi-instrumentalist began anew - which ultimately turned out to be a blessing: only at this moment did he see through the essence of his composition, according to Oldfield. The album, recorded between January and September 1975, was a great success.

Lest mehr im eclipsed Nr. 188 (03-2017).