Man on the Rocks

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Man on the Rocks
ManOnTheRocks.jpg
Studio album by
Released3 March 2014 (2014-03-03)
Recorded2013 Nassau, Bahamas; The Village, Los Angeles; Battery Studios, London
GenreRock,[1] pop rock[2]
Length59:32
LabelVirgin EMI
ProducerMike Oldfield, Stephen Lipson
Mike Oldfield chronology
Music of the Spheres
(2008)
Man on the Rocks
(2014)
Return to Ommadawn
(2017)

Man on the Rocks is the twenty-fifth studio album by British musician Mike Oldfield, released on 3 March 2014 on the Virgin EMI label.[3] The album is Oldfield's second full album of exclusively songs with no long or instrumental pieces, the first being 1989's Earth Moving.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Recording and production[edit]

Man on the Rocks was produced by Stephen Lipson together with Oldfield.[12] The album features bassist Leland Sklar, drummer John Robinson, keyboardist Matt Rollings, guitarist Michael Thompson and singer Luke Spiller together with Oldfield himself on guitar. The backing tracks were recorded during June 2013 in Studio D of Village Studios, Los Angeles with producer Steve Lipson; Oldfield participated in these sessions via Skype. Oldfield has also recorded part of the album in his home studio in the Bahamas.[13] Oldfield's electric guitar sound on the album is primarily a Fender Telecaster combined with the Avid Eleven software plug-in.[14]

The album marks a return of Oldfield to a Virgin branded label since leaving Virgin Records in the 1990s, through the merger of Mercury Records UK and Virgin Records after Universal Music's purchase of EMI. Luke Spiller is the singer of another of Virgin EMI's British artists, The Struts.[15]

Lyrical content[edit]

The album deals with topics ranging from Oldfield's experiences with mental health to a track inspired by the 2012 Summer Olympics. The piece "Irene" is inspired by Hurricane Irene which hit the Bahamas in 2011. The final track is a cover of William McDowell's gospel piece "I Give Myself Away". The working title for the album had been Rock.

Oldfield has used the title "Moonshine" once before for the final piece on 1992's Tubular Bells II. The song itself is a reworking of his 1994 instrumental "The Song Of The Boat Men", which was featured as a B-side of the "Hibernaculum" single.

The song "Nuclear" deals with his grandfather's experiences during World War I. When interviewed by the Daily Telegraph, he tells the background to writing the song. “I never knew him,” he says, “So I hired a company to find out about him. It turned out he was a great character before the war but came home a very different man. My mum was one of ten or eleven kids and all the children born after the war had problems like hers. I wanted to see if I could spread my senses in the place he was. I travelled around Ypres and the battlefield museums and I saw the graves of his regiment: the Royal Munster Fusiliers. And I could feel it. Still there. It’s a blessing and a curse for those of us who have this extra sensitivity.”[16]

Release[edit]

Man on the Rocks was released on 3 March 2014, after initially being announced that it would have been released on 27 January. The album is available on single CD, double CD, double vinyl, coloured double vinyl, digital download and a box set.

The two CD Deluxe Edition contains the album and a second instrumental disc. In the UK the boxed set is available exclusively through mikeoldfieldofficial.com - this includes the content from the Deluxe Edition as well as Oldfield's demos of the songs and 4 alternative mixes of songs. The boxed set also includes a 16-page CD size booklet, four art cards and a certificate of authenticity.

Singles and promotion[edit]

The first public airing of the album was an excerpt of "Sailing" that was played on Stuart Maconie's radio show on BBC Radio 6 Music in November 2013.[17] The first full play of "Sailing" was on BBC Radio 2 on 14 January 2014.

"Sailing" was a record of the week on BBC Radio 2 during the first week of February. The music video for "Sailing" was released on YouTube on 8 February.[18] The video features Oldfield and Spiller in the Bahamas on a beach, a boat and in Oldfield's studio there. The song became available to buy on online retailers such as iTunes from 19 February.[19]

Behind the scenes footage and acoustic versions of tracks from the album, including "Man on the Rocks" and "Chariots", were released online ahead of the album. The second single was "Moonshine"; a video was released for purchase on iTunes on 14 April.

"Nuclear" was featured in the E3 2014 trailer and soundtrack for the stealth action game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.[20]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic51/100[21]
Review scores
SourceRating
The Guardian3/5 stars[22]
So So Gay4.2/5 stars[23]
Shields Gazette5/10 stars[24]
musicOMH3/5 stars[25]
AllMusic3/5 stars[26]
Record Collector1/5 stars[27]

Critical reception of the album has been mixed. Music critics and journalists have noted its contrast from Oldfield's progressive rock works such as Tubular Bells, and the album's orientation to more standard rock music. The Guardian newspaper called the album "a curious but likable diversion from his multilayered new-age work." "Sailing" reached BBC Radio 2's "A List" rotation. Jeremy Williams of So So Gay noted "Man on the Rocks excels as it feels truly personal."

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[28] 10
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[29] 50
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[30] 25
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[31] 2
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[32] 15
French Albums (SNEP)[33] 75
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[34] 3
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[35] 33
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[36] 16
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[37] 7
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[38] 5
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[39] 48
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[40] 9
UK Albums (OCC)[41] 12

Track listing[edit]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Man on the Rocks review". Classic Rock Magazine. March 2014.
  2. ^ "Man on the Rocks review". PROG Magazine (44): Page 63. ... his first collection of conventional pop-rock tunes arguably since 1991's Heaven's Open.
  3. ^ "Man on the Rocks Release & Format Information". Mike Oldfield Official. 10 January 2014. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2014. Debuting at #12 in the UK Albums Chart, the album is Oldfield's second non-instrumental following on from 1989's 'Earth Moving'
  5. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks review" (in Dutch). NU.nl. Retrieved 19 September 2014. Unlike most plates Oldfield, Man on the Rocks consists entirely of vocal pieces. His only other album in that objective was Earth Moving from 1989 (translated from Dutch)
  6. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks review" (in Spanish). Hipersonica. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks" (in Chinese). Universal Music Taiwan. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks review" (in Czech). MusicServer.cz. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks". 925rebellion. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks" (in Polish). Onet Teledyski. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  11. ^ "Mike Oldfield - Man on the Rocks". Nuclear Blast. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Mike's new album is on its way!". Mike Oldfield Official. 11 October 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Skype conversation with Mike Oldfield". YouTube (Tubular Bells 40th Anniversary celebrations). 6 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Interview with Mike Oldfield discussing the making of Man on the Rocks". Innerviews. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  15. ^ "The Struts". Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  16. ^ "Mike Oldfield interview: 'I am a man of extremes'". The Daily Telegraph. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone - Mike Oldfield chats to Stuart". BBC iPlayer Radio 6 Music. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  18. ^ Mike Oldfield - "Sailing" on YouTube
  19. ^ "New Video For "Sailing"". Mike Oldfield. 2014-02-10. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  20. ^ "Mike Oldfield hits No.1 in Spotify Viral Chart". Virgin Group. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Man on the Rocks - Mike Oldfield". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  22. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (27 February 2014). "Mike Oldfield: Man on the Rocks review – a not-so-new-age return". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Album Review: Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks". So So Gay. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  24. ^ "Album review: Mike Oldfield - Man On The Rocks". Shields Gazette. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  25. ^ "Mike Oldfield – Man On The Rocks". musicOMH. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  26. ^ "Mike Oldfield – Man On The Rocks". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  27. ^ Shirley, Ian. "Man On the Rocks". Record Collector. Diamond Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  28. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  29. ^ "Ultratop.be – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  30. ^ "Ultratop.be – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  31. ^ "Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select 201410 on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  32. ^ "Danishcharts.dk – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
  33. ^ "Lescharts.com – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  34. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  35. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – {{{year}}}. {{{week}}}. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  36. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  37. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLiS - Official Retail Sales Chart". OLiS. Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  38. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  39. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
  40. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Mike Oldfield – Man on the Rocks". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  41. ^ "Mike Oldfield | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved March 14, 2014.

External links[edit]