Album review: Mike Oldfield (7) – Five miles out (1982)

“Five miles out” is, alongside “Crises”, my most listened to Mike Oldfield that includes both vocal and instrumental tracks. It came right after “Crises” and it included the second part, the longest one, of the “Taurus” trilogy. It’s one of those albums that for me passes very quickly and I feel the need to play it again once it’s over.

“Taurus II” is a breath of fresh air and excitement. Gone are the darker and more minimalistic beginnings, gone are the relaxing and hypnotic moods and they are replaced with a delightful and optimistic mood where the instruments seem to be dressed in celebratory clothes. The guitar is powerful and decisive, the brass section in the background makes this track soar and Maggie Reilly’s vocalizing adds an even sunnier touch to the track. The Uileann pipes are back and played by the legendary Paddy Moloney of “The chieftains” fame. The Celtic sounding section of “Taurus II” which begins about 6 minutes in is my favorite part. I’ve always been the most drawn to the Celtic music sound and this charming and addictive march breathes Irish pride and conviction. I feel motivated and at home when I listen to this part. You can also hear in the background people exclaiming something very satisfied, as if cheering the players on. I imagine those are Mike and Paddy happy with how the music turned out.

Then Maggie Reilly takes over and the music becomes just a support of her blissful vocalizations. This vocal part is the link with “Taurus I” and I can’t get enough of it. It sounds like a siren song I will not be able to resist. I am lured under her spell by the time the voice fades and the instruments return. The first eventful half of “Taurus II” concludes here and the scenery changes again for the second half.

The entire track is built like a story. Whenever I listen to it I feel as if I’m browsing through a book with a lot of pictures of happy and inspired people. It’s a book I can’t wait to show my little girl. Whenever I listen to “Taurus II” I’m always anticipating the transition moments between sections because they flow very naturally and it’s as if I’m turning well know corners in my favorite childhood park.

The second side of the album includes Mike’s first proper rock song (“Family man”) and also one of the most intriguing vocal compositions of his, “Five miles out”. This song begins with the opening from “Tubular bells” being heard as an echo or a flashback. The song is like a storm mixing Maggie Reilly’s clean voice with Mike’s distorted one as he recalls a near fatal aeroplane flight. This constant dialogue and the rock instrumentation stuck with me from the first time I heard the song.

“Five miles out” is one of the more accessible Mike Oldfield album and one I’d suggest to someone who wanted to get to know all sides of his music. It’s a nice way to sample both his instrumental genius and his vocal experiments.

Track rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 33 / 50

Album excellence: 66%


Taurus II

Family man

Five miles out





  1. A wonderful observation of one of my favourite albums. You hit the nail on the head with the celebratory Celtic influence in Taurus 2. Some memorable moments. My only correction is that Five Miles out came first followed by Crisis, as I remember seeing Mike Live in the 80’s and featured Five Miles out as the new album. The later in my final year of high school remembering picking up Crisis and coincidently we had a huge flood season. “When the winter rains do pour” from Crisis.
    Both wonderful albums in their balance between instrumental and lyrical adventures. Thanks for the trivia piece about Five Miles out Plane incident — never knew that. I did take a stab in the dark to wonder if he had some ‘near death mishap’ after listening to “Earth Moving Album” and even the cover gave a strange hint about it. Great review. Thanks

    • Thanks for your words! I know it came before Crises but I posted that first because it was Mike’s birthday 🙂

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