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Topic: Boxed was a significant milestone for me!, In appreciation of Boxed< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
shenry Offline




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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.
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First_Excursion Offline




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Posted: July 23 2019, 09:47

Reckon I must have been 13 when I bought it so probably 1985. Got the local hipster record shop to order it in, probably the only copy they ever sold. There was still a To France/In the Pool 7" picture sleeve hanging around in there at the time but it would have got here late. Took me many weeks to pay off Boxed on lay-buy, I think you called it lay-away in UK.

It is indeed a beautiful package overall. It all came in poly sleeves here but I've known the import with the pastel sleeves. I was surprised my older Kraftwerk and general music genius cousin was not so impressed with Trevor Key's cover art for it. I suppose it never successfully made me feel like I was in the box if it should have. It's moving in other ways, it has an elusive quality. The mortar and pestle. The tree tops and blue skies.

Those booklet pics, big uncluttered rooms with just new white carpet and instruments.

Middle of winter is the best time to newly own Boxed. Those mixes were so warm and earthy.

Those 3 albums sure are pure expressions of Mike's music and I agree there is a beautiful symmetry to them. We can talk about Incantations and the evolving benefits of one side-long piece somewhere else. The rough edges are certainly most obviously honed in the Hergest Ridge mix as you say and that really stands out for me.

Argiers. I still adore the extract from Star's End until you run out of some of Mike's greatest ever guitar playing and well I guess the thing goes supernova after that. I only really liked the reprise part of Rio Grande.

Your comment about David Bedford not for the faint hearted reminds me, I think there's a nice bit of Mike's bass playing on Nurse's Song with Elephants LP which my high school media teacher lent me. Seemed the only coherent bit of the album to me at the time. Would like to hear it again now, perhaps I would think differently.

I showed that teacher the Knebworth video cassette. "Now this is music!" followed by some grumbling about what everyone else was listening to these days.

There is one track on Collaborations I absolutely could not stand no matter how much I tried to like it and I still hope I never hear it again.
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shenry Offline




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Posted: July 23 2019, 12:23

Thank you for replying. It sounds as if your emotional connection to Boxed is as strong as mine!

And I think I can guess the one Collaborations track you cannot stand..... I actually don't mind it. It's a little shot of absurdist Monty Python/ Bonzo Dog/ Goon Show nonsense and it doesn't outstay its welcome.
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Priabonia Offline




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Posted: July 24 2019, 10:46

Quote (First_Excursion @ July 23 2019, 14:47)
Reckon I must have been 13 when I bought it so probably 1985.

Hmm, bang goes the twins theory then...

...anyway, I fell on my cousin's vinyl copy of Boxed like a starving man on meat at a very similar age but (and here's the dating clue) it was in the to me interminable void between Ommadawn and Incantations. I still remember to this day the shiver down my spine when I heard the opening notes of "First Excursion"...


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https://www.youtube.com/user/PriaboniaMusic

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larstangmark Offline




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Posted: July 24 2019, 13:50

Thanks for sharing, Shenry! :)

I never got the Boxed set (saw it in a record shop once, and drooled over it on the inner sleeve of Discovery). But I share your memories of seeing pictures of Mike and his fellow musicians, imagining what a wonderful life of rural bliss they must have lived. It most certainly had an influence on the choices I have made in my life.

If you haven't heard David Bedfords albums "The Odyssey" and "Instructions for Angels", then you simply must seek them out now. They are very much in the spirit of Mike's four first albums. I dare to say they are as good too! :)


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"There are twelve people in the world, the rest are paste"
Mark E Smith
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First_Excursion Offline




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Posted: July 27 2019, 08:43

Quote (Priabonia @ July 24 2019, 10:46)
and here's the dating clue...

Yes I see, an interminable void between Ommadawn and Incantations is a concept I'd never considered but that would be insufferable. Like crossing an ocean. Incantations must have been monumental in chronological order.

It was all wrapping up when I bought boxed so everything was available if you tried hard to find it. A lot of it was deleted already so you had to be lucky to find a rare or second hand copy. Mike is not very well known here so there were similar interminable periods wondering what some of these things must sound like.
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qcfoetus Offline




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Posted: July 27 2019, 09:49

Ah yes, insufferable hardly begins to describe the feeling! I remember the anticipation of entering the record shop every Friday or Saturday, followed by the frustration of leaving it empty-handed. When Incantations eventually came out, I was wild with joy! And *boy* was I not disappointed! Anyway, I must have listened to my copy of Boxed well over 100 times during the hiatus period.
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6 replies since July 22 2019, 12:14 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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