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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells II CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.59 | 378 ratings

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2 stars The most bizarre musical experience

Before reviewing the new "Return to Ommadawn" I thought I would go back and listen to some of the old Oldfield albums, so I could place it within Oldfield's overall catalogue (will send that review soon). But upon re-listening to this one, I was reminded just what a bizarre experience it is. The whole album is written to match the original Tubular Bells in form, structure and melodies, but using (slightly) different orderings of notes, melodies, or (slightly) different rhythms. It is as if we entered a parallel universe in which everything we have now still exists, but it is just slightly different. There is the beginning repetitive theme played on piano and organ. There is section with the duel guitars. There is the suddently-loud almost punk section. There is the 'Master-of-ceremonies" section with the same theme played by various different instruments over top of a repeated bass line, etc, etc. This is the only album I can think that has ever been written like this. Every part of the original album is represented, and you can tell instantly which part it is, but there is always some (slight) difference. The melody runs up the scale, when in the original it falls. The order of the chords is reversed, but otherwise has the same structure. The sonic timbre is the same, but the notes are in major rather than minor scale. The tempo is in 4/4 instead of 7/8. That sort of thing. Almost as if a computer were programmed to write another Tubular Bells, while making sure no other computer would register an exact match. This must have been a fun, but also difficult, exercise in song-writing for Oldfield, as he clearly thought everyone who knew the original album would need to instantly recognize each part in this one, but at the same time, he could not just plagiarize himself. The problem is, while very interesting, none of the actual music on this album is as good as the original. And some sections just don't work at all. The worst part is the 'Caveman' section, which sounds very similar to the original, but has a mother/daughter voice-over that mocks the caveman in an unintelligent, off-putting way. Oldfield seems to be mocking himself. If this had been the only version of Tubular Bells ever released, it likely would have flopped, and Oldfield would not be known as he is today. It is both not as musical, but also far too close to the original Tubular Bells. It is a very strange trip for anyone who loves the original, and I doubt most will want to listen to this more than once. I give it 3.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. Only for true fans, and/or those wanting a parallel-universe type of experience.

Walkscore | 2/5 |


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