I was rummaging through the archives recently when I came across a whole host of wonderful original Mike Oldfield records. Hergest Ridge was there, Incantations, and of course Tubular Bells. Most excitingly for me, Ommadawn was also nestled at the bottom of the pile. It reminded me of a very rare argument Joan and I had many years earlier…
Richard Branson with Mike Oldfield at Virgin Records
“Richard, if you play that record one more time, I swear I am going to throw it out!” Ommadawn is one of my favourite records of all time, by the artist who kick-started Virgin Records, and in time the whole Virgin Group. I used to play it so often that one day Joan had simply had enough. I couldn’t help but carry on playing it. I hadn’t seen my vinyl collection in years, so presumed Joan had made good on her threat to throw it away.
Thankfully, it survived. Now, Mike is revisiting what, in my opinion, was his finest musical hour, and releasing Return To Ommadawn, his 26th studio album. I haven’t heard the whole record yet, but what I have listened to is absolutely magical. With vinyl sales making big comeback, perhaps it’s time I dug out the old vinyl player again to listen to Mike’s new album.
richard branson and mike oldfield virgin atlantic inaugural launch
While discussing Return To Ommadawn, Mike explained why he wouldn’t come to space if I was the pilot. He told Uncut: “I once made the mistake of going in a balloon with Richard Branson. He was the pilot, and we came very close to going down one of the chimneys at Didcot power station. Finally, after flying so high that we were out of options we crash landed on a bakery in Oxford. We had to be rescued by the fire brigade.” The headlines the next day said: “Hasn't Branson got enough dough already?”
I loved catching up with Mike at his home back in 2014. Watch the video above to hear us discuss Ommadawn, Tubular Bells and the history of Virgin Records. Head over to Virgin Records to pick up Return To Ommadawn and let us know what you think of the album.