Mike Oldfield

Earth Moving

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Earth Moving was one of the last installments in Mike Oldfield's series of pop experiments, and the record does sound as if the musician was running out of patience with the genre. Many listeners have written off this period, but there were interesting moments that passionate fans still appreciate. Oldfield commits completely to the pop/rock format on Earth Moving by excluding the kind of long intro piece that he often used to kick off other '80s recordings. Instead, the composer puts a sprawling but focused (by Oldfield standards) eight-minute number, "Nothing But/Bridge to Paradise," at the end of this 1989 release. The musician/composer displays a more deft pop hand throughout this offering, which probably isn't such a good thing. The quirkiness of discs like Crisis is exactly what makes them interesting. Unfortunately, songs like "Hostage" are so conventional, they sound unimaginative: almost -- no, exactly -- like bad '80s soundtrack numbers. Not just casual fans, but even Oldfield loyalists will have trouble with Earth Moving, one of the artist's lesser albums.

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