Platinum Review - Melody Maker

December 1, 1979
James Truman
Melody Maker

(Virgin V1241)

It sometimes seems that the world, or at least the part of it that manufactures opinions, has been uncommonly mean towards Mike Oldfield. It more often seems that the world has it exactly right, and Mike Oldfield elaborately wrong.

Being a thoroughly decent, if slightly batty, sort of chap, and hugely successful to boot, Oldfield may not concern himself with this. It wasn't, after all, his fault that the whimsical set of doodlings known as "Tubular Bells" became a meaningful work of exploration in the hands of excitable critics. Nor should he be blamed for being singlehandedly responsible for the success of Virgin Records, though he probably was.

I suspect that Mike Oldfield would be treated with the compassion and understanding he so deserves if he behaved himself and stopped making such outrageously dull records, of which 'Platinum' is the latest.

The album is divided into eight pieces, the first four of which form the title track. Along with the two instrumental pieces on the second side they comprise classic Oldfield hogwash: sterile, anodyne backing tracks overlaid with a single theme which repeats itself endlessly while Oldfield and his friends play musical chairs with a dozen or so different instruments.

Even as an exercise in processed repetition the tracks don't work, as illustrated in an abortive rearrangement of "North Star" by Philip Glass which reduces its circling suspense into a flabby, insulated wander around a selection of sound effects.

Despite its soppy title, "Punkadiddle"comes over as the strongest piece, simply because it succeeds in externalising the sound, via some imported screams, from the listless atmosphere of the studio.

That was the good news. The other two tracks, a cover of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" and an infinitely wet ballad, "Sally", are merely unlistenable, a backwards step from being ignorable.

It may be that I've missed the point (unlikely), but "Platinum" seems entirely useless. It doesn't function as entertainment, dance music, sex music or drug music, though it might go well with a mail-order meditation course. I find it depressing.

Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield