The Twisted Bell


Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 14:58:06 +1100
Subject: Re: Some brilliant thoughts on Voyager :-)

Jeff Gower wrote:

One thing about the "Mont St. Michel" recording - although it was written by Mike, it was arranged and conducted by Robin Smith.

Perhaps similar to how Carl Davis worked with Paul McCartney on the 'Liverpool Oratorio'... which, like MStM, is not a masterpiece, but has many nice moments.

perhaps Oldfield's music could indeed be enhanced by others' arrangements. This idea seems heretical, eh?

Not really. Unless one believes that Mike is the last word in musical talent, now and forever. Look at how his work has fared at the hands of various producers (who can behave like arrangers, in effect) - sometimes well, sometimes not, sometimes brilliantly (Tom Newman usually seems to know how to bring out Mike's best).

Classical composers would often arrange the work of their predecessors for different instruments or settings. Sometimes those arrangements gained a life of their own. (Yes, we have had that conversation before.) The point is, what harm is there in it? A new arrangement simply adds to what's already there; it doesn't obliterate the original. And if it's pleasing in its own right, then everyone gains, whereas if it's not, it's soon forgotten. (This is why I don't scream at the news that someone's done, say, a disco version of 'To France'.)

perhaps he could really benefit from some collaborations with other talents

Sure. And preferably people he hasn't worked with before, and hopefully who are significant in their own right. Similarly, Paul McCartney's been suffering from an absence of collaborative equals in his solo career, people who can tell him when his work ain't so great; maybe that'll always be a problem for someone of his stature (but then look at how George Harrison flourished at the time of the Wilburys).

Of course, Mike's ego might be such that he feels he has no real equals (which is practically true - who are his peers, in musical terms? Pink Floyd? Not nowadays. Jarre, Vangelis, etc.? Hmm. So who?). Maybe he could benefit from working with some of his old heroes (shame that Sibelius is dead ;). Or with some fresh blood (like he's been doing on all those techno/ambient remixes - ooo, sacrilege! But that's what Steve Hillage has been doing, to good effect: check out System 7's 'Interstate').

Much as it pains me to contemplate this, maybe tromping back to Tom Newman, Paddy Moloney, Pierre Moerlen, etc., again and again, just isn't the way forward. True, some bands have stuck with the same members and the same producers for years and have produced consistently good work, so going with new people isn't always necessarily the right answer. But Mike hasn't worked consistently with the same people over his whole career anyway; and right now he needs a bit of a prod...

... but right now he's more concerned with tai chi and jetskis, so this is all idle speculation, isn't it. ;)

The Twisted Bell

©2001 Rory Ewins