1985 The Best Of...

Many had been looking forward to the possible release of a "Best of..." compilation and it came as a surprise when Virgin did just that in October. Titled The Complete Mike Oldfield (MOC1 & CDMOC1) it chronicled most of his important work undertaken over the last 12 years. This was to be split into four sections The Instrumental Section, The Vocal Section, The Complex Section and The Live Section.

The compact disc version included, in The Instrumental Section, The William Tell Overture and Cuckoo Song which, for some reason, were omitted from the cassette version. Of most interest for fans and collectors were the tracks used on the Live Section which had not been commercially available before and included versions of Platinum, Sheba, Mirage and Mount Teide taken from various concerts between 1981 and 1984. A booklet included gave a description of each album released plus a brief biography. It's release prior to Christmas provided good sales, and it reached a respectable No 36 in the UK charts. There were no singles released to promote The Complete although a most collectable and well packaged 4 track promotional EP appeared with the catalogue number SWALLOW 1. Tracks included were Etude, Moonlight Shadow, Portsmouth and In Dulci Jubilo.

The only other commercial release of this year was to prove the start of a more adventurous and visually creative phase. Released in November, Pictures in the Dark (VS836) was a collaboration between Mike, his latest girlfriend Anita Hegerland and the then well known Welsh choirboy Aled Jones.   What set this recording apart from those previously released was that Mike had spent £2 million on fitting the latest video studio suite in his Denham house. This was to be the first video created by Mike utilising the system and the fact that this made it possibly the world's first £1 million video did very little to boost sales, only reaching No 50 in the UK charts. The only difference on the 12" (VS836-12) was the addition of an excellent extended version of the title track and a B Side containing the medieval sounding Legend, plus an almost experimental instrumental track titled Bones. There was also a limited edition double pack (VSD836) released which included the 7" Pictures in the Dark, plus a free standard 7" copy of Moonlight Shadow.

It was also in this year that Mike was commissioned to write and record the sound-track to the TV series Sutton Hoo which was broadcast in the late summer of this year. This was not the first or last time that Mike's music was to be used on television, and only went to prove the respect which those in the media had for Mike's talent.

"The Complete Mike Oldfield is a celebration of the label's earliest champion. And although far from complete, this neatly packaged double album does seem to cover most of Mike's magical moments." Mike Mitchell, Record Mirror October 1985

©Peter Evans