Singing And Dancing In Perfect Time
At around about the same time that Kate Bush first appeared on the scene, a lovely little single called 'Mirrors' came out. It was by Mike Oldfield's sister Sally, and I bought it - although I was, by then, primarily an album buyer, every so often I'd buy a single because it just struck me as great. More often than not these were one-offs (for example, Romeo by Mr Big, or King Of Siam by Voyager) and I was fully expecting Mirrors to be another, but when I flipped the platter over I found I was mightily impressed with the B-side; 'Night Of The Hunter's Moon'. So the next time I was in Harum Records (the Muswell Hill branch this time) I asked the delumptious Ruth if she'd heard the Sally Oldfield album (Water Bearer). She said yes, she liked it, in her opinion it was more interesting, less affected, and better, than The Kick Inside.
Ruth's opinion was good enough for me - I bought it there and then. I still agree with her.
I bought, and enjoyed, the next 3 Sally Oldfield albums (Easy, Celebration, Playing In The Flame), though I worried that she was losing some of her originality and veering dangerously close to the mainstream.
It was a while before I saw another album, and when I did I bought it anyway. Big mistake. I should have been warned off by the cover. Bland pap, barely a single track that I wanted to hear again after the initial play. Bye bye Sally, hello Chameleons.
Years later and we're into the age of the Web. When MP3 was young there was a phenomenal little app called Audiogalaxy Satellite that could find, and download, *anything*. Forget Napster, forget iTunes, forget AllOfMP3, Audiogalaxy was da fukin *biz*.
In general, my principle has always been that I won't download anything that I would otherwise have bought, and that I will happily download anything that I've already paid for on vinyl. So I decided to get digital versions of the Sally Oldfield albums, and when I searched I found dozens of tracks I'd never heard of. So I grabbed a few, and within a few days was trawling Amazon, Ebay, Netsounds and GEMM looking for Sally Oldfiels CDs to buy. I bought as many as I could find, and before long had the complete set.
I discovered that, grim though Femme was, there was an even *worse* album, the execrable Instincts. BUT, having failed to become the next Jennifer Rush, she turned her back on trying to be rich and famous and went back to making bloody great records. Strange Day In Berlin, Natasha, The Flame, Three Rings, Secret Songs, Flaming Star, all of them at least 80% marvellous - and now that I'd gone digital it was easy to rip and reburn my CDs while skipping the duff tracks. And when Sally goes duff, she really goes duff. No matter because 4 out of 5 tracks are wonderful.
But then something went wrong. I don't know what. Her Web site went down, she released a 'new' album that comprised mainly truncated versions of old tracks (not re-recordings - Sally has always had a penchant for revisiting old songs and themes - but sections of the original recordings). Check out the archives of the Sally Oldfield mailing list if you're interested - though recently it has become hijacked by one 'Nuala Alexander' advertising penis extensions and fake doctorates.
Anyway, the point of all this is to - hopefully - interest some of you in the music of Sally Oldfield. I've decided to post Natasha, though not her best by a long way, for two reasons - firstly because it gives a fairly good overview of the kind of music she makes and secondly because some eejits are charging £60 or more on Amazon. Balls to them.
Following this album she changed her name to Natasha and released 'The Flame', a great album that she subsequently disowned for some reason after she'd changed her name back to Sally.
I may post more of her albums, but ideally I'd get you all to buy them - if you can.
One more thing - I don't for a nanosecond buy any of the New Age/Healing/Tolkein/Arthurian claptrap but I reckon she can believe what she likes if it inspires her to make great music.
Sally Oldfield - Natasha (1990)
01. Break Through The Rock
03. Keep The Fire Burning
04. Clear Light
05. My Drumbeat Heart
06. Song Of The Mountain
07. Break Like A Wave
09. In The Presence Of The Spring
10. Guiding Star