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Mike Oldfield The Orchestral Tubular Bells album cover
2.54 | 203 ratings | 15 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Orchestral Tubular Bells Part One (26:25)
2. The Orchestral Tubular Bells Part Two (24:24)

Total Time 50:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Oldfiel / acoustic guitar, co-producer

- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (recorded at Barking Town Hall)
- David Bedford / orchestra arranger & conductor, co-producer

Releases information

Performed and recorded live at the Barking Town Hall in September 1974 by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Guitar overdubs later recorded in Worcester Cathedral.

Artwork: Trevor Key

LP Virgin - Virgin V 2026 (1975, UK)

CD Virgin - Virgin CDVP 2026 (1986, UK)
CD Virgin VIP - VVIPD 101 (1989, Europe)
CD Virgin ‎- MIKECD 3 (2000, Europe) Remastered by Simon Heyworth

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy MIKE OLDFIELD The Orchestral Tubular Bells Music

MIKE OLDFIELD The Orchestral Tubular Bells ratings distribution

(203 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (23%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

MIKE OLDFIELD The Orchestral Tubular Bells reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by 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: **

Review by Prognut
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!!
Review by russellk
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.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
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!

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1977974) | Posted by martindavey87 | Wednesday, August 15, 2018 | Review Permanlink

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 vid ... (read more)

Report this review (#589153) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, December 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 comp ... (read more)

Report this review (#203900) | Posted by KayleighsDad | Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#172150) | Posted by Luke. J | Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 w ... (read more)

Report this review (#115328) | Posted by Shakespeare | Thursday, March 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 Oldfie ... (read more)

Report this review (#104413) | Posted by OGTL | Monday, December 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 co ... (read more)

Report this review (#68522) | Posted by | Monday, February 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#28293) | Posted by | Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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