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Mike Oldfield - The Orchestral Tubular Bells CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars As David Bedford came in to help his young buddy from The Whole World (Kevin Ayers back-up band that also had Lol Coxhill), this rather pointless but why kill the Golden Egg Chicken? The public was eager to spend money on such duds and actually liking it , so he took advantage of it and will again two zillions times more.
Report this review (#28288)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars Or-castrated

With Tubular Bells having taken the world by storm, any opportunity to milk it for more income was welcomed by the fledgling Virgin label. Thus, the whole album was re-recorded as a straight orchestral piece, the only concession to contemporary sounds being a brief section of lead guitar towards the end.

I would love to say that this is an inspired move, and that the orchestra takes the album to new heights, but frankly it is dull as ditchwater. One of the many appealing virtues of "Tubular Bells" was the diversity of sounds and atmospheres. Here all that is removed to be replaced by a straight playing of the notes as they are scored, devoid of all excitement. The loud bits are dominated by the brass section, the quiet by the strings section, it is as simple as that.

The various collections of pop and rock classics played by an orchestra have shown that with the right interpretation, they can at times sound pretty good. Sadly, "The Orchestral Tubular Bells" only demonstrates that with a lacklustre interpretation, even the best music can be transformed into boring drivel.

Report this review (#28290)
Posted Sunday, July 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have to agree with the other reviewers. Definitely an interesting concept but disappointingly executed.

And executed is what should have happened to the recording engineer.

The heavily over limited start to side one gives an inkling of what is to come. The dynamic range of the music was destroyed by the recording technology. Unfortunately the zing of the original wasn't captured in the orchestral version. It may have been there in the performance but it was removed in the recording.

Having originally returned three copies back in 1975 to get one worth playing I have to say that the musical experience was disappointing even then.

I only have the vinyl so my comments on sound quality may not be valid for the CD, however since I believe the problem was in the original tape I think they may.

Report this review (#28293)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars One of the many re-workings of Mike's main contribution for the mankind. I never was a huge fan of the original artifact, so I won't rip my pants while listening to this. But I must admit that I haven't done that listening (nor ripping) very often though... I guess you could use this as a background music when playing fantasy games for example? Or getting lost at your own bathroom.
Report this review (#28295)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
2 stars Bad idea, even worse execution.

This unnecessary remake confirms that if something is good, please don't touch it. And if you make it, please make it right. But this orchestral version of Tubular Bells had a lot of problems.

First of all the mixing is not right, making some sections of the album barely audible while some others will pierce your eardrums. And second but not least, some sections of the album are just out of tone, like the orchestra was bad conducted or arranged (sorry Mr. Bedford) or if they had not enough time to rehearse properly. Specially during the second act the playing is just a mess, right under the work that Oldfield originally did.

Luckily at the end of the second act Oldfield appears with his guitars to make a beautiful improvisation which is the best part of the album. And in the first act there are also some beautiful arrangements which bring the orchestral version of Rhapsody in Blue from Gershwin to mind. The rest ist just not good enough!

Conclusion: if you want to hear the real Tubular Bells, please go for the original of 1973, or the wonderful remake of 2003. This orchestral version is just awful, apart from the splendid guitar improvisation towards the end and a pair of good sections.

My rating: **

Report this review (#42609)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is what I was saying previosly! Mike start to recycling early on TB which initially, if you consider with Orchestra, maybe a good effort. But, I have to give it 2 stars only. Nothing really new!!
Report this review (#53847)
Posted Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is pretty poor from an orchestration point of view. The original music is dynamic and complex and unfortunately the arrangement is heavy and muddy and played with little feeling. Why on earth he gave the opening famous piano sequence to violins is beyond me. if i had scored it (which I could do may I add) i wold have given the opening to the piano as it had been in the original. Th itself is awkward for violins to play and detracts from the percussive quality of the motif, what a strange choice!

All in all, somewhat of a let down, I think in the right hands it could have been good, although tubular bells is not my first choice for orchestrating. I would choose ommadawn or HR as ideal pieces.

Report this review (#68522)
Posted Monday, February 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Not bad, a few changes here and there. The orchestral sound works well with Tubular Bells, with it's very symphonic sound. The solo's of some of the string instruments are superb. The sound quality is average.

is A good idea, but you have to think how much it's really worth. As a manic Oldfield fan I only felt the need to listen to this once or twice. Of interest only to the hard core fan. Definitely get the original version first.

Report this review (#104413)
Posted Monday, December 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a very polished version of Mike's original release - and in some ways, superior to the original. It is much smoother. Anyone who has heard the original will agree with me in saying Tubular Bells was quite flawed and hurried out the door. It was conceptually a masterpiece, which is why it was, and is, so popular. However, technically, there is sloppy playing, and there is mediocre production quality. This newer version loses all these flaws, but also loses some of the original's feel and distinctive features. Though, this is undoubtedly the best of all the Tubular Bells knock-off albums.

Before I continue, I would like to point out that this idea of doing an orchestral version of Tubular Bells was not a scheme to make more money. Mike always said he was unsatisfied with the original, and said that he felt that by using all this technology to edit/program music he was cheating. He said, in one interview I heard, that by writing a piece of music out, and playing it on classical instruments was natural, but by using technology, it was like cheating.

Another way this album is better than the original is that is more engaging and compelling. The classical instruments carry with them more emotional impact, and at points are extremely moving. I also find it very fun to hear clarinets(?) and other instruments playing Mike's signature solos, and glad to hear the MC idea has been disbanded. (I always found that part somewhat cheesy.)

One of Tubular Bell's most prominent features was its wide and endless array of noises and instruments, and in this version we hear a much smaller selection of sounds. That isn't so bad, though, because its played so well, and the music is so well written that you loose yourself, and quickly forgive this shortcoming. Side 2 does grow a little tedious towards the end, but the rest of the album succeeds in avoiding that.

The most substantial flaw on this record, I would say, is the fact that they decided to have Mike come in and play guitar on side 2. I would have preferred to have the whole thing strictly classical - so that this version and the original have very distinct sounds. And maybe it's just me, but I don't think the guitar sounds so great.

In many ways, it is better than the original LP, but due to a few flaws and shortcomings, this album does not fully rise victorious over the original.

Report this review (#115328)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars No no no. I understand why MIKE OLDFIELD might have wanted this made, and I can certainly see why Virgin would have been all for it. But there are many reasons why this was a bad idea, the most prominent being the poor musical result. The original 'Tubular Bells' was varied and vibrant, introducing a new concept and sound to popular music. Each one of those things, everything that made 'Tubular Bells' remarkable, is lost when setting the score for an orchestra - despite the undoubted talents of DAVID BEDFORD and the orchestra. In the end, the most significant side effect of this effort was to further dilute the MIKE OLDFIELD brand.

Listening to this is a bit like eating artificial cream when the real thing is available. Given that 'Tubular Bells' isn't harmful to your health, why would you bother listening to this ill-advised reinterpretation?

Followed by the even more pointless 'Orchestral Hergest Ridge', which I have heard, though it was not released commercially - mostly, I think, because of the lack of success experienced by this experiment.

Report this review (#138375)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Mike Oldfield's ''Tubular Bells'' was a groundbreaking record for the music world. Many elements of different genres were combined to construct something which was more a modern symphony but a rock/pop album. What made it so special, was that at times more than 20 instruments were involved, from every realm of music. The rock-typical electric guitars, bass guitars, glockenspiel, tubular bells (believe it or not!), mandolin, piano, accoustic guitar and many others. When a tune is written for an instrumental section full of different sounds, what will happen when it is played by an orchestra? The diversity is heavily lacking here. There is no doubt that the music is written excellent, the orchestra is talented, the performance is good, but it simply does not work well. Many other tunes could be interpretet in an excellent way with an orchestra, yet ''Tubular Bells'' is not a simple tune. The fascination is in the diverse range of instruments, and this can not be interpreted with an orchestra only divided in smooth strings and pompous brasses, with an occassional solo play. No matter how great orchestral music is, it has to be arranged cleverly, and stand on its own. This does not stand on its own, it is an interpretation, like it is supposed to be. However, in this interpretation the melodies which are carried by various instruments on the original, on this sound like one instrument played in three octaves, like one and not like many. To repeat it once again: the mixture of this many made ''Tubular Bells'' special.

Last, I would like to admit that ''The Orchestral Tubular Bells'' sure was better if the right classical arrangements, the right notations and some differences from the orioginal piece. That does not mean I liked a re-release of ''Tubular Bells'' with another title, but that I find the orchestral interpretation rather disappointing. Secondly, some string arrangements hurt my ears. Giving two stars makes me feel sorry for this could have been a great record, maybe suffers from comparison. I am not saying that this is horrible album, just below average. This is feally for collectors/fans only.

Report this review (#172150)
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I LOVE this album. I have been listening to it for 15 years, and still love it. To me, it is a masterpiece of modern orchestrated classical music. It is not groundbreaking, but that does not detract from it. I will admit the original re-wrote the rule book for this type of music, and by comparison, such a 'safe' arrangement with orchestra can seem pedestrian. However, when taken on its own I believe it is still a masterpiece. It reminds me of the score to a movie. Lots of light and shade with Oldfield's melodies and moods taken to new heights by the orchestra. The only thing I miss is the piano at the beginning of Pt 1. the violins were a poor choice. To sum up, this is not progressive rock, not even close. It is great music, and deserves a fair and unbiased listen. Those who do take the time and give it a chance may find that they really enjoy it.
Report this review (#203900)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This sounds great, isn't it?

I was speaking about this album in my Tubular Bells review. This time everything is fine. Not just fine, but magnificent! With his 1973's work in my opinion Mike Oldfield doesn't show his full potential as a musician. Here all mistakes with the prodiction and the musicianship of the previous version of the album are fixed. This stands as polished version of Tubular Bells. In my opinion the first album should be preformed by a band, in order to produce high quality album. Despite the success of Tubular Bells, it's not balanced very well. Mike Oldfield felt it and made a masterpiece this compositions deserve. He doesn't use a band as I said, but an orchestra and make unforgettable classic album from the progressive-flavoured debut album. Besides perfect songwriting we have already known, The Orchestral Tubular Bells contains perfect production and (comprehensibly for The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) perfect musicianship. 5 stars!

Report this review (#247821)
Posted Monday, November 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars A record label gone mad in hunt for some xtra dosh.

I am not the biggest admirer of the record label boss Sir Richard Branson. A man who by sheer luck stumbled across Mike Oldfield and his Tubular Bells project. To everyone surprise and with great help from a video BBC made (one of the best videos ever), this album went viral multi-million selling. So various schemes as made to milk this market. Supposed copy cat bands like Clearlight was signed (see my interview) and a symphony orchestra was let loose on Tubular Bells.

The end result is as potent as a castration. That is what this album is. A castrated version of Tubular Bells with no bells and not any worthnoty music. Nobody can replicate Tubular Bells, except from Mike Oldfield himself. The reason is that Tubular Bells is a one off and a mystery to any musician.

This album is muzak without any balls, bells and value. It is music for the tone deaf and for those who does not give a toss about Tubular Bells. It is a horrible album. It is like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre IX distilled into music. It is worthless.

1 star

Report this review (#589153)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I realise this review is kind of half-assed, but I don't really know what to say about this album. Released in 1975, just two years after the original, 'The Orchestral Tubular Bells' sees Mike Oldfield, alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, play through his magnum opus 'Tubular Bells', in what's unfortunately a rather unnecessary live recording.

While 'Tubular Bells' has never been my favourite album (I gave it a three-star rating), it's no doubt regarded as Mike Oldfield's most popular work and has become one of 'those albums' that everybody owns. So why release a live orchestral version just two years later?

I can understand touring the album with a band, but performing it with a full-blown orchestra just seems a bit overbearing, not to mention, kind of boring. The music is fine, but honestly, when it all comes down to it, just stick to the original version. It's got a charm about it that this one lacks.

Report this review (#1977974)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2018 | Review Permalink

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