|Studio album by Mike Oldfield|
|Released||21 October 1975|
|Recorded||The Beacon, January–September 1975|
|Genre||Progressive rock, folk, world|
Mercury (2010 reissue)
|Mike Oldfield chronology|
|Singles from Ommadawn|
Ommadawn is the third record album by Mike Oldfield, released in 1975 on Virgin Records. It peaked at No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. The album was reissued by Mercury Records in June 2010 with additional content. A sequel album, titled Return to Ommadawn, was released on 20th January 2017.
As with Hergest Ridge and Tubular Bells, Ommadawn is another two-movement work. Mike Oldfield, as with Hergest Ridge, makes economic use of a relatively small number of subjects throughout Ommadawn and develops them extensively, both with musical variation and varying the instruments used. Each of the two movements of Ommadawn utilise their own subjects without sharing them between the two movements. Oldfield sought out the ancient Celtic influence on English music and composed for traditional instruments such as uilleann pipes on the original LP version. A set of Northumbrian smallpipes were also recorded, and credited to "Herbie", but this recording was not used on the album.
Oldfield recorded each layer of sound and played the bulk of the instruments throughout Ommadawn, with the exception of a few musicians noted for their work in folk music: Clodagh Simond, Paddy Moloney and the heavy African drumming of Jabula.
On the album Oldfield played two electric guitars: a red Gibson SG Junior and a blonde Fender Telecaster. Oldfield appears to have been using two electric bass guitars at the time; a Fender Precision and a Gibson EB-3. An acoustic bass guitar built by Tony Zemaitis and a Ramirez classical guitar appear on the album. The piano on the album is likely to be a Bösendorfer. A Fender lap steel guitar is also thought to appear on "On Horseback", although uncredited. Many of Oldfield's instruments from this period are shown in a photograph which was included in the Boxed 4-LP box set.
History and versions
The album was recorded at Oldfield's home at The Beacon, Hergest Ridge and was the only album to be recorded there (though Oldfield's previous album shares its name with the location). The whole of the first side had to be recorded twice as the original recording was irreparably damaged as the tape shed its oxide layer. The cover photograph was taken by David Bailey.
Oldfield's 1990 album Amarok was conceived as a sequel to Ommadawn, but turned into something quite different; Virgin had been pushing Oldfield for a sequel to Tubular Bells. An actual sequel album to Ommadawn, titled Return to Ommadawn, was released in 2017.
The topic of Ommadawn is covered in the final episode of the Tony Palmer documentary series All You Need is Love; episode 17 "Imagine (New Directions)". It includes Oldfield and Richard Branson discussing the album along with studio footage from the time.
Excerpts from Ommadawn appeared in the 1979 NASA film, The Space Movie. A small portion of Ommadawn "Part One" was used as the theme music for the BBC's Jackanory on occasions when John Grant narrated his Littlenose stories.
In June 2010 the album was reissued by Mercury Records; the release included a demo version of the work.
Album title and lyrics
In his autobiography, Changeling, Oldfield states that he just wanted "sounds" not "sensible" lyrics. He asked Clodagh Simonds, one of the musicians with whom he was working, to write down the first words that came into her head. This resulted in the following in English:
- Daddy's in bed, The cat's drinking milk, I'm an idiot, And I'm laughing.
The "lyrics" sung at the end of "Ommadawn (Part 1)" are:
Ab yul ann idyad awt
En yab na log a toc na awd
Taw may on omma dawn ekyowl
Omma dawn ekyowl
Oldfield states that Simonds had telephoned a relative or friend to translate into Irish for the song. The word "idiot" translated into amadán which he Anglicised into "Ommadawn" for the title of the album. Oldfield had previously denied this meaning of ommadawn, calling it a nonsense word, apparently as a ruse to enhance the mystery of his music.
"On Horseback" and "In Dulci Jubilo"
Though the actual work Ommadawn is a two-part piece, there is a third track on the album, a short vocal song by Mike Oldfield and William Murray called "On Horseback". "On Horseback" relates to Oldfield, Murray and Leslie Penning's time riding ponies around the area of Hergest Ridge.
In November 1975, Oldfield released the single "In Dulci Jubilo", with "On Horseback" as the B-side. It reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1976. In France, "In Dulci Jubilo" was coupled to a remix of the end of part 1 of Ommadawn. Some copies of the album also include "In Dulci Jubilo" at the end, instead of "On Horseback".
The 2010 reissue includes "On Horseback" at the end of "Ommadawn (Part 2)" as one long track, as well as "In Dulce Jubilo" included as a bonus track. Three other bonus tracks are also included: "First Excursion", "Argiers" and "Portsmouth".
All words and music written by Mike Oldfield, except where noted.
- "Ommadawn (Part One)" – 19:23
- "Ommadawn (Part Two)" – 13:54
- "On Horseback" (not titled) – 3:23
- "On Horseback" is not listed on the record label, but added to the length of "Ommadawn (Part Two)", giving it a new length of 17:17. It is, however, referred to on the inner sleeve where it is noted that "the words to the horse song on side two by Mike Oldfield and William Murray". The songsheet for "On Horseback" says "Music by Mike Oldfield, Words by Mike Oldfield and William Murray".
Mercury Records reissue
On 7 June 2010 the album was re-released by Mercury Records. This came part of a deal in which Oldfield's Virgin albums were transferred to the label. The re-release included a 2010 5.1 mix of the album and a track titled the 'lost version'. The album includes "In Dulci Jubilo", "First Excursion", "Argiers" and "Portsmouth".
The original LP artwork was restored; in previous CD issues the text had been centralised and increased in size. A 180 gram vinyl was released as a part of the Back to Black series. The digital edition contains the content from the two CDs of the Deluxe Edition. The Japanese release uses the SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) manufacturing process.
There is also a limited edition box set of the album, comprising a deluxe edition, an LP and a framed, numbered and signed print of the album artwork. Only 250 copies were produced which were sold through mikeoldfieldofficial.com and released on 14 June. There are no un-signed variants.
Back To Black Vinyl Edition
- Mike Oldfield – guitars (acoustic, classical, electric, steel, twelve-string, acoustic bass and electric bass), banjo, bouzouki, bodhrán, electronic organs, glockenspiel, harp, mandolin, percussion, tubular bells, piano, spinet, synthesiser and vocals.
- Herbie – Northumbrian bagpipes (unused on the final album)
- Don Blakeson – trumpet
- The Hereford City Band, conducted by Leslie Penning – brass
- Jabula (Julian Bahula, Ernest Mothle, Lucky Ranku, Eddie Tatane) – African drums
- Pierre Moerlen – timpani
- Paddy Moloney – uilleann pipes
- William Murray – percussion
- Sally Oldfield – vocals
- Terry Oldfield – panpipes
- Leslie Penning – recorders
- "The Penrhos Kids" (Abigail, Briony, Ivan and Jason Griffiths) – vocals (on "On Horseback")
- Clodagh Simonds – vocals
- Bridget St John – vocals
- David Strange – cello
- "Mike Oldfield Discography – Singles – "In Dulci Jubilo"". Amadian.net. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- Ommadawn at AllMusic
- "Ommadawn Instruments". Tubular.net. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
- Karl Dallas (25 October 1975). "Beyond the Ridge: Portrait of a Genius". Melody Maker. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- Sleeve notes. Ommadawn 2010 Mercury re-release
- "Amarok". Tubular.net. Retrieved 14 September 2008.
- "All You Need Is Love: The Story of Popular Music". Tony Palmer. Retrieved 31 March 2009.
- Oldfield, Mike (2007). Changeling – Autobiography of Mike Oldfield. Virgin Books. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-7535-1307-1.
- "The title". Ommadawn.dk. 18 August 2004. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
- "Mike Oldfield FAQ". Tubular.net. 30 December 2004. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
- "Ommadawn Deluxe Edition". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
- "Ommadawn". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
- "Ommadawn Limited 180 gram Vinyl LP". What Records. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- "Hergest Ridge & Ommadawn – Deluxe Editions – 7th June 2010". MikeOldfield.com. 27 April 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- Mike Oldfield's official website
- Mike Oldfield Discography – Ommadawn at Tubular.net
- Possible translations of Ommadawn's lyrics at Tubular.net
- Towards Ommadawn: A critical study of Mike Oldfield's third studio album at Tubular.net