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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.11 | 1160 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Classical Music composed in the 70s

Tubular bells is one of those albums that normally gets rave reviews. When it was released, it was seen as a breakthrough album. It stayed in the British charts for an astonishing 5 years after it was released, and was the kickstart Virgin needed. As a result of this record, Richard Branson is now a billionaire.

However, it's certainly not the easiest music to handle, and I'm quite surprised that the music-buying public felt the need to add this 50 minute slab of instrumental noodling to their collection. It feels almost as if most people were buying it to feel mature about their music tastes, when in fact they'd rather be listening to The Rolling Stones or Elton John. If you haven't heard Oldfield before, this record will certainly be an experience.

Side 1 opens with the theme that many of you will know from The Exorcist. With it's subtle 15/8 time signature, this theme continues in a minimalist way for about 4 minutes. However, after those 4 minutes, it's a bit of a free-for-all as Oldfield experiments with many short ideas, some of them better than others. It's fun to listen to this over and over, until you can remember the order in which each parts come. At approximately 17 minutes, a bass solo begins with a 10 bar chord pattern. This repeats by itself for 3 minutes, at which point Viv Stanshall begins to announce new instruments, which play a triumphant theme over the bass pattern. This is the best part of the album, and one feels truly rewarded at the end of 26 minutes of music.

However, Side 2 isn't quite as good as the first side. Though being called Tubular Bells Pt. 2, there are no musical links with Pt. 1, and no tubular bells, making the two sides completely seperate entities. The music continues in the same vein as the first side, although the themes are less memorable, and seem to repeat far more. That's not to say that this side isn't devoid of entertainment. At nearly 12 minutes into the track, the 'caveman' section begins, which includes nonsensical grunts, and the only drumkit on the album. The track finishes with Sailor's Hornpipe, which feels just a little out of place, but is still fun nonetheless.

I think probably the wow factor of this album is that Oldfield played most of the instruments himself and had to put all the tapes together by himself, an impressive feat when you consider how complex the music is. He is truly a talented musician and composer.

'Tubular Bells' is a great album, if not an easy one to swallow at first. It's perhaps best not to call this music prog, as it is musically leagues away from Yes or Van der Graaf Generator, but in it's own way, it stands up very well.

baz91 | 4/5 |


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