To be quite honest, I’ve never been a fan of Mike Oldfield’s overly sophisticated and “cerebral” recordings. Without really being able to put a finger on it, I have a (very) soft spot in my heart for “Platinum” though, his 1979 release that sort of came and went at the time.
After a somewhat unrewarding tour in 1979, Oldfield virtually “threw” this album at his unsuspecting fans and I jumped on board simply because I liked the cover … and because I actually stayed at my Copenhagen record store to listen to the entire first side of the newly released LP at the time. That happened perhaps three to four times only ever since I started buying music.
Still today, reviews are mixed at best, even downright poisonous at times. The biggest problem people seem to have with this album is that with its unconventional structure of one long four-part opening track on side A and assorted (compositionally totally unrelated) tracks (partially with vocals) on side B, it comes across as unfinished. Add to that the completely different character when compared to previous recordings and what you get is something that spells “flop”.
That might be so, but the first side (tracks 1-4 on the CD) are still a mainstay at my place and now that I have finally bought into the deluxe edition of this material, it once again displays that wonderful flow that made me hang around for just about 19 minutes although I was supposed to get back to school (incidentally, my history teacher let me off the hook after reminding me to replace “Oldfield” with “Bach” the next time I tried to come up with an “inventive” excuse for skipping his class).
Although vastly different, I have two albums that have a seamless flow between tracks, Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene” and this one.
I think I’ve heard those first four Platinum tracks a thousand times (especially on headphones, which I also did way back when I bought the original LP). The rest is idiosyncratic at times, but also good, especially the percussion-oriented “Woodhenge”. The “Deluxe Edition” has an added live recording of some of the the material (Wembley Arena, May 1980), which is very interesting.
Give it a listen.