It was difficult to imagine that with all that had gone before, Mike, at the age of 30, had only been successful as a solo composer for only 10 of those years. Little did we, or even, I suppose, did Mike know that this was to be one of his most successful years to date.
The year started with Virgin re-releasing Tubular Bells at the 1973 prices as part of Mike’s 10th Jubilee celebrations. This was quickly followed up in March by his eighth studio LP Crises (V2262), which although similar in format to Five Miles Out and QE2, contained a couple of possible chart singles. Notable additions to the cast were drummer Simon Phillips who was to prove quite an influence on Mike, Jon Anderson, lead singer with the group Yes and Maggie Reilly. There was also a European concert tour to coincide with this release and was to be the last time, for many years, that Mike was to appear live in the UK. This included a spectacular concert at London’s Wembley Arena on the 22nd July, performing Tubular Bells, Incantations and nearly all of Crises. It was originally thought that this concert would appear on record and video but due to the poor quality of the final recording this idea was scrapped.
Below: Mike performing in Darmstadt, Germany during the European leg of the Crises Tour. Thomas Rosenthal
One of the possible chart contenders was released in May and gave Mike his highest chart position in the UK since Portsmouth in 1976. Moonlight Shadow (VS586), featuring the beautiful vocals of Maggie Reilly, was an instant success throughout Europe reaching No 1 in Germany and No 4 in the UK. This track was also, for the first time since Guilty in 1979, to be released as a 12″ with an extended version of the tide track. The B side to the single, Rite of Man also came with two different endings. The first faded out as would a normal record while the second suddenly stopped with a tambourine being dropped and a voice exclaiming “Oh!”. The success of this track meant the obligatory Top of the Pops appearance which Mike had always said he would refuse to do, was required.
On the back of this success, Virgin were quick to release a second single Shadow on the Wall (VS625) in August. This utilised the gravel voice of Roger Chapman on a song which depicted the plight of the Polish people during the early days of political reform. The B-Side had a standard album version of Taurus 3 and for some strange reason this single failed to chart in the UK, which after the success of its predecessor was extraordinary. Meanwhile the LP was making steady progress also reaching No 4 in the UK charts, his best chart position since Ommadawn in 1975.
1983 was also to prove a busy year on the collaboration front. In June the See forMiles label released the retrospective Kevin Ayers Collection LP (CM117). This included old tracks May I?, Puis Je? and Star which included Mike playing on either Bass or lead Guitar.
Virgin also released The Space Movie (WA016) which had been premiered on British TV back in 1979. This contained many examples of Mike’s early work and even versions and mixes that had not previously been released.
1983 was also the year that saw Tubular Bells (CDV2001), Five Miles Out (CDV2222) and Crises (CDV2262) released on the then revolutionary Compact Disc format. This was to prove an ideal format for Oldfield’s music, although it is known that he disliked it, even though it meant that many of his old albums would again sell in large numbers.
Later during this year Mike launched his own recording label Oldfield Music from the money paid up by Virgin after his threat of court action. The first, and as of today the only release on this new label, was to be the LP Star Clusters, Nebulae and Places in Devon / The Song of the White Horse (OM1) by his great friend David Bedford, having been originally recorded in 1978. Not happy to just aid with the release, Mike had produced and engineered this complete LP at his then home in Througham.
1983 had been a truly successful year, especially as the fuse of interest had been ignited again as it had 10 years before.