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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells II CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.57 | 292 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'm probably the only person on the site to review Oldfield's classic Bells trio in reverse, having done III some time ago, and awarding it four stars. One of these days, I'll get around to doing to the one that started a stellar career. However, I am also one of the few who actually thinks that he went on to do far better stuff than the opener, and I have been listening to his work a lot lately.

This was the first album Oldfield did for Warner after his departure from Beardie Branson's Virgin label, having, to be truthful, fulfilled his contract there with some fillers as well as classics.

Warner wanted a bestseller, and, cynically as record companies can be, it HAD to have Bells in the title. Simple as that.

So, that's the cynicism over. Was it worth it? Well, yes it was. This is a tremendous LP, and one that makes no pretence other than updating the original into a sound and format that would find comfort in 1990's listeners and buyers, rather than old hippies like us from the 1970's.

The striking thing to me on this album is just how sumptuous and good Oldfield's guitar playing is. Even though he is an accomplished multi instrumentalist, it is his guitar playing which has always impressed, and his acoustic and electric work on this really does not disappoint. For a combination of both, simply check out Clear Light, which, combined with some exquisite vocal harmonies and synths, is magical.

One of the advantages Oldfield had when he recorded this is the fact that keyboard and production technology had moved on a great deal from 1973, when the original was set to vinyl. This was the digital age, and it showed.

Other highlights are the exceptionally gorgeous, and intricate, acoustics on Red Dawn, and the bagpipes on Tatoo, which, by the way, was a huge highlight when the whole piece was performed, to great acclaim, at The Edinburgh Arts Festival. If you can, get the DVD, it's very good.

Is it a rerun of the original? Yes, and it never made any pretence of being otherwise.

Is it good enough to stand on its own two feet? Most certainly.

Is it a landmark album? No. It is merely an excellent album from an excellent artist, and that, my friends, is more than good enough for me.

Four stars for this. Hugely enjoyable.

lazland | 4/5 |


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