Platinum (Mike Oldfield album)

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Mike oldfield platinum album cover.jpg
Studio album by Mike Oldfield
Released 23 November 1979 (1979-11-23)
Recorded Blue Rock and Electric Lady, (US);
Througham, Denham, and The Manor, (UK); 1979
Genre Progressive rock, disco
Length 37:35 (Platinum version)
Label Virgin
Mercury (2012 reissue)
Producer Tom Newman
Mike Oldfield chronology
Singles from Platinum
  1. "Blue Peter", features "Woodhenge"
    Released: 30 November 1979
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Smash Hits 7/10[2]

Platinum is the fifth record album by Mike Oldfield, released in 1979 on Virgin Records. It was Oldfield's first album to feature songs and cover material. A slightly different version of the album was released in the United States and Canada and titled Airborn.

The In Concert 1980 tour, which ran from April to December of that year, was in promotion of the album. In Germany the album peaked at number 11. The album has since been reissued with bonus material.

Album analysis[edit]

Platinum (Parts 1–4)[edit]

The first side of the LP features the nearly twenty-minute piece "Platinum" that is divided into four parts.

The first two parts of "Platinum" can be taken as a form of instrumental progressive rock. Those compositions rely on strong melody played mostly with electric guitar. Part I, "Airborne" is in a slow tempo and has many changes, while Part II, "Platinum" introduces a simple groove rhythm and a more repetitive song structure. Part I was used as the theme tune for the 1980s BBC children's quiz show, First Class.[3]

Part III, "Charleston", is humorous and intentionally naive, with a simple rhythm and swinging melody that is partly played by a horn section. A female vocalist adds some wailing wordless vocals while Oldfield himself contributes some scat vocals in a whispering voice.

Part IV features an excerpt from the 1977 Philip Glass work "North Star" (hence the subtitle). The lead melody is not borrowed from Glass but the choir's part. The constant bass drum beat and octave-jumping bass line (both borrowed from disco music) start the section and guitar enters with the melody later. A funky guitar riff and chorus appear, and the lead guitar continues to play the melody over them. An engineer on the album, Kurt Munkacsi, was a frequent collaborator with Glass.

"Sally/Into Wonderland"[edit]

The song "Sally" was written and sung by Oldfield and Nico Ramsden as a tribute to Mike's girlfriend at the time, Sally Cooper (who features on the album). The song is self-consciously playful and childish, and has the following chorus:

Sally, I'm just a gorilla,
I'll say I'll love you ever more.
Even an ape from Manila
Couldn't stop me knocking on your door.

"Sally" also appears to have been the start of Mike Oldfield's fascination with voice distortion gadgets (vocoders, equalizers, etc.), which would continue through many albums, most particularly Five Miles Out.

"Sally" was removed from the album (possibly on the orders of Richard Branson) and replaced with "Into Wonderland", sung by Wendy Roberts, although the track listing on the album covers continues to say "Sally". Only the earliest pressings of the LP have "Sally" included among the tracks, and bootleg recordings of the song are a popular trade item with fans. Part of the song survives on the second version of the album, as the initial part of "Punkadiddle" (the first 50 seconds) is actually the last part of "Sally"; the fast part, with the same melody of the song's chorus, served as a musical bridge to "Punkadiddle", so it was kept.


"Punkadiddle" is thought by many to be Oldfield's jocular take on punk music, a genre which he has stated in the past to be not at all impressed with. In fact, Virgin Records' rampant signing and promotion of many punk bands while not promoting Oldfield's albums is seen as one of the sources of the rift between him and the company. When the track was performed by Oldfield on tour, he and his band would all perform the song bare-chested.

"I Got Rhythm"[edit]

"I Got Rhythm" is a cover version of the song by George and Ira Gershwin, transformed by Oldfield's radically re-imagined arrangement from the jaunty original into a Broadway-style ballad with harmonised vocals (by Wendy Roberts) and lush orchestration, mostly performed on keyboards.


"Woodhenge" appears on the standard Platinum release of the album; however it is replaced on the Airborn release by the disco track, "Guilty". "Guilty" had been recorded at the same time as Platinum, but not included with the standard album.

Track listing[edit]

Side one

  1. "Platinum Part One: Airborne" – 5:05
  2. "Platinum Part Two: Platinum" – 6:06
  3. "Platinum Part Three: Charleston" – 3:17
  4. "Platinum Part Four: North Star/Platinum Finale" – 4:49

Side two

  1. "Woodhenge" – 4:05
  2. "Into Wonderland" (misprinted as "Sally") – 3:46
  3. "Punkadiddle" – 5:46
  4. "I Got Rhythm" – 4:44


Airborn album cover, released in North America.

Airborn is an alternate version of the Platinum album by Mike Oldfield released in North America in 1980. It is identical except that "Woodhenge" is replaced by "Guilty", a fast-paced live track based on a theme from Incantations. Certain tracks appear to be pressed at arbitrarily higher speeds than on the original UK pressing of Platinum.[citation needed] The artwork depicts a triangular shape formed from sections of tubular bell overlaid on a landscape of what appears to be a coastline and mountain range.

Track listing[edit]

Single LP[edit]

Side one

  1. "Platinum Part One: Airborne" – 4:59
  2. "Platinum Part Two: Platinum" – 4:36
  3. "Platinum Part Three: Charleston" – 3:11
  4. "Platinum Part Four: North Star/Platinum Finale" – 4:36

Side two

  1. "Guilty" – 3:48
  2. "Into Wonderland" – 3:36
  3. "Punkadiddle" – 5:39
  4. "I Got Rhythm" – 4:35

Double LP version[edit]

There is also a double LP release, with one LP being a version of Platinum (as above), the other having an alternate live version of Tubular Bells side one from the same tour that produced Exposed, and a mix of studio and live elements of Incantations and Tubular Bells side 2. This also came out in on cassette in 1980 as a Limited Edition Double Play Tape.

Side three

  1. "Tubular Bells (Part 1)" (Live) (European Tour March–April 1979) – 23:40

Side four

  1. "Incantations" (Studio & live) (European Tour March–April 1979) – 19:26


The album was re-released by Mercury Records on 30 July 2012, again with "Into Wonderland" replacing "Sally". This came as part of a deal in which Oldfield's Virgin albums were transferred to the label. It was released on the same day as QE2 and a year after the last Universal reissue of Incantations. The first disc is the original recording remastered with bonus material, and the second disc (available in the deluxe edition) is a live concert recorded during at the time of the album's original release from Wembley Arena, London.

The reissue charted at 100 on the UK Albums Chart on 5 August 2012.

Instruments and recording[edit]

Oldfield seems to have utilised his Gibson L6-S Custom a lot on the album. Synthesizers that appear on the album include a Roland SH-2000 and Sequential Circuits Prophet synthesisers.

When Oldfield was in New York City recording Platinum and "Guilty" he recorded a disco arrangement of his first album, Tubular Bells.[4] A version of Free's "All Right Now" was also recorded during these sessions. It was used as the theme for a television music programme also called Alright Now. The vocals are by Wendy Roberts, while Pierre Moerlen and Tom Newman also contributed.

The album was recorded at Electric Lady & Blue Rock in the US, Througham, Denham, & The Manor in the UK. The album was mixed at Air Studios in London.


Covers and remixes[edit]

Röyksopp covered and remixed two sections of Platinum; "Meatball" is an adaptation "Platinum Part Four" which appears on Back to Mine: Röyksopp after a mix of "Platinum Part Three".


It spent 6 weeks on the Norwegian charts, peaking at No. 24, and also peaked at No. 24 on the UK Albums Chart.

Chart (1979) Position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[5] 17
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[6] 144
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[7] 11
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[8] 24
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[9] 39
UK Albums (OCC)[10] 24

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Platinum review". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (December 13–26, 1979): 29. 
  3. ^ "First Class". UKGameshows. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Rare Tracks". Amarok ( Retrieved 14 August 2008. 
  5. ^ " – Mike Oldfield – Platinum" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  6. ^ " – Mike Oldfield – Platinum" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  8. ^ " – Mike Oldfield – Platinum". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  9. ^ " – Mike Oldfield – Platinum". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  10. ^ January 1980 "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 April 2013.

External links[edit]