Joined: Oct. 2018
||Posted: July 22 2019, 12:14
I'm in a nostalgic, pondering mood, so I just wanted to make a short post in appreciation of the Boxed compilation and what it means to me.
Like many people, my dad purchased this when it was released in 1976. In my teenage years when I was discovering music for the first time, I was intrigued by this and totally devoured it. My dad was an avid builder of model gliders, so he took care to point out to me the influence that hobby had on Mike and his music.
I dearly love those first three albums (Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn). I consider them to be the purest expression of Oldfield's music. There's a beautiful symmetrical pattern at work in the fact that each album consists of two long form pieces each taking up a full side of vinyl.
But more than that, the Boxed project was clearly a labour of love, an opportunity not only to remix in quad but also to tweak and polish the mixes to perfection. And they ARE perfect. The rough edges are honed, most obviously in Hergest Ridge.
But more than that again, it's just a beautiful package overall. The box is hefty and tactile, the cover an Escher-esque seventies classic (perfect for staring at while you listen to the music), the vinyl weighty (and housed in lovely muted blue/grey/green sleeves). Out of all the records in my dad's collection, this (along with maybe Abbey Road and There Goes Rhymin' Simon) felt like a "proper" grown up record.
And that wonderful book with those photos! I absolutely pored over them for hours. I wanted to BE Mike and live in that huge house with the big white room and all those instruments. At the time that seemed to me to be the ideal life to aim for (and still is, to be honest).
The writing in the book is pithy and infectious. It had a huge effect on my own writing style (at least, the way I attempt to write! - and certain phrases still ring clear in my memory. The whole story of this shy teenager who found catharsis through his self-belief in this wonderful instrumental music he was creating: this story really spoke to me.
The icing on the cake was the fourth and last record in the set, the Collaborations album. The Les Penning tunes are quite simply joy incarnate. And David Bedford, while difficult work in general, is just perfect in the bite size doses you get here. I used to love turning up the volume louder and louder so I could hear right to the end of that quiet fadeout in Star's End. And what other song in this existence is as soothing and transcendent as The Rio Grande?
Anyway, Boxed. Definitely my number one album of the seventies - probably my number one album of all time.