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Mike Oldfield

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Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells 2003 album cover
3.76 | 247 ratings | 17 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

- Part One:
1. Introduction (5:51)
2. Fast Guitars (1:04)
3. Basses (0:46)
4. Latin (2:18)
5. A Minor Tune (1:21)
6. Blues (2:40)
7. Thrash (0:44)
8. Jazz (0:48)
9. Ghost Bells (0:30)
10. Russian (0:44)
11. Finale (8:36)
- Part Two:
12. Harmonics (5:21)
13. Peace (3:22)
14. Bagpipe Guitars (3:07)
15. Caveman (4:33)
16. Ambient Guitars (5:09)
17. The Sailor's Hornpipe (1:39)

Note: The track titles are simply Mike's working titles for the sections they refer to.

Total Time 48:33

Bonus DVD-Video from 2003 WEA release:
1. Introduction (5:51)
2. Fast Guitars (1:04)
3. Basses (0:46)
4. Introduction 2003 'The Video' (3:41)

Total Time 11:22

Bonus tracks on 2003 DVD-Audio edition:
- Demos recorded by MO at home in 1971 -
18. Tubular Bells Long (22:57)
19. Caveman Lead-In (2:46)
20. Caveman (5:05)
21. Peace Demo A (7:00)
22. Peace Demo B (4:18)
- Live Excerpts -
23. Sentinel (live at Edinburgh Castle, 1992) (8:06) *
24. Far Above the Clouds (live at Horseguards Parade, London, 1998) (4:40) °

* from Tubular Bells II
° from Tubular Bells III

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Oldfield / Spanish, semi- & acoustic (nylon & steel), Roland synth & electric guitars, Wal bass, mandolin, grand piano, Farfisa, Lowrey & Hammond organs, accordion, synthesizers (Clavia Nord Lead, Korg Trinity, Roland JD-990, JV-2080 & XP-50), Akai S6000 sampler, timpani, glockenspiel, BOSS drum machine, percussion, tubular bells, apple computer & synth software, programming, producer

- Sally Oldfield / backing vocals
- John Cleese / Master of Ceremonies (11)

Releases information

Complete re-recording of 1973 album debut Tubular Bells, which had been released 30 years earlier

Artwork: Steve Bedford with Trevor Key (original design)

CD WEA ‎- 2564-60204-2 (2003, Europe) Copy protected
CD WEA ‎- R2 60204 (2003, US)
CD-DVDv WEA ‎- 0927499212 (2003, Europe) Bonus DVD-Video w/ 3 tracks in 5.1 mix + promo Video
DVDa WEA ‎- 2564 60204-5 (2003, Europe) Includes various Stereo & Surround 5.1 mixes suited alternately for Audio or Video players plus 5 Demos from 1971 and 2 LIve tracks from 1992 & 1998

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy MIKE OLDFIELD Tubular Bells 2003 Music

MIKE OLDFIELD Tubular Bells 2003 ratings distribution

(247 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

MIKE OLDFIELD Tubular Bells 2003 reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Fawlty bells

Unlike the previous sequels to "Tubular Bells", such as "Tubular Bells 2" and "The Millennium Bell", this is a straight re-recording of the original album.

Mike Oldfield has apparently always been conscious of what he considered to be the shortcomings performance and production wise of the original album. He therefore returned to the studio in 2003 and recreated the album in its entirety. The result is what sounds like a tribute to "Tubular Bells".

The original album may well have had its flaws, but they were entirely transparent to the average listener. In many ways, those nuances which Oldfield considered to be in need of repair were part of the appeal of the album.

Listening to "TB 2003", it is difficult to avoid constantly comparing this new recording with the one you are already familiar with. Yes, the performance is now impeccable, the sound is crystal clear, and the music of course is excellent. That perversely may be the reason why it loses some of the appeal of the original, it is just a bit too clinical.

I think I will be sticking with the recording I already know and love, warts and all. (John Cleese is an excellent master of ceremonies for the introductions of the various instruments.)

Review by richardh
2 stars Pointless rerecording of this classic album.Please..but why? The original still stands up and retains an essential earthy quality.This version removes the soul and leaves you with the shell.For Oldfield nuts only.
Review by Muzikman
5 stars When was the last time you heard Mike OLFIELD's classic progressive-rock masterpiece "Tubular Bells"? It is quite possible you never heard it before if you are twenty or thirty something. Regardless of what generation you are from this is the kind of album that is worth taking out on a regular basis to give a spin to relive its magic. With the advent of this DVD-A release from Rhino Records, it is time to acknowledge the brilliance of OLDFIELD and his work one more time.

This album has always sounded wonderful. Now we can enjoy every detail of the original recording with bright and clear sonics, including the many nuances of each instrument. He certainly used many different types of instruments, and I think that is why this album sounds so unique and why it holds up to this day as something original and special without equal.

In addition to the original album, you get to see OLDFIELD in the before and after scenario with excerpts from Tubular Bells II - Live At Edinburgh Castle and Tubular Bells 3 - Live At Horseguards Parade, London. The sound on this format is simply astounding; there is no other way to explain it.

This is one of those albums that set a precedence and made a career for one person, now 30 years later the legacy grows and continues to gain advances into the consciousness of music listeners around the world. Yes, this is one of the most important rock albums of all time, just look at the countless bands that have recorded similar music after this was released. OLDFIELD's influence is everywhere, and to think he accomplished all of this with one album; it is truly an amazing feat that deserves another look.

Review by Kotro
4 stars First assumption: this could easily have been for me one of the finest albums ever, had I not been hearing the original for decades. As far as re-recordings go, this is among the best. Oldfield managed to do something different using the same composition just by updating the means and the production to the digital era.

So what's new in 2003? Well, first off, both parts have been subdivided in several smaller pieces - no point, really, seeing that they can't actually hold on their own. The general feeling is that the mellower parts are more crystal, while the heavier parts are heavier and trashier. And the finale is now voiced by John Clease - a fine choice and a fine work, but I'm afraid the original is just too imprinted on our minds to fully appreciate this new feature.

Tubular Bells 2003 has however brought a new light to Part 2. The crescendo leading to Cavemen is much more dramatic and flowing. Cavemen itself has been turned into "Caveman and Cavewoman", seeing that are now two voices (I must confess I rather preferred the original by miles). The Sailor's Hornpipe ends the album pretty much in the same manner as the original recording.

All in all, a nice effort that had to wait 30 years to break from the shackles of Virgin to see the light. We, outside, great it with kindness, although our fondness will always remain with its ruder, sharper-edged, older brother.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Let's do some recap work, will you ?

1973 : the original "Tubular Bells" is released.

1975 : the Orchestral version saw the light.

1976 : both parts appear on "Exposed", Mike's only live album (which was released on DVD in 2005)

1976 : a great compilation work which features his first three albums, in a different version

1992 : Tubular Bells II

1998 : Tubular Bells III

1999 : The Millenium Bell

2001 : The Best Of Tubular Bells (edits from different versions)

2003 : The Complete Tubular Bells

2003 : Tubular Bells 2003

Ten albums dedicated to this great song! Maybe a bit too much, I'm afraid. Just imagine the credibility of such approach. But, still : it works!

This is my preferred version (on par with the original one). Simply because it is the closer one. Almost a clone finally; but recorded with new techniques and coming out of Mike's mind, in search of getting closer to perfection.

This album is meant for Oldfield fans of course, but new (or younger) ones might be appealed by this 2003 Bells. I certainly enjoyed it very much. Probably not as much as his debut one (the surprise effect is somehow gone, would you believe?) but I can't rate it with less than four stars (as the original one actually).

An interesting and pleasant way to re-discover this great album.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars There must have been a good reason for Mike Oldfield to re-visit his career-making 1973 hit after thirty years, only to record a note-perfect copy of the original album. It's still the same, compelling, self- indulgent exercise in studio one-man bandmanship, still opening with that instantly familiar theme famously used in the film "The Exorcist" (director William Friedkin later claimed he'd have used the music of TANGERINE DREAM instead, if only he had known of them at the time).

The new version likewise still employs the same grade-school music primer in the now oddly named "Finale" (on vinyl it closed the first side of the LP; now it's in the middle of a single CD suite). Here the repeating motif is played more for comic relief, with each additional instrument (all of them presumably played by Oldfield himself) named by ex-Monty Python John Cleese, acting as 'master of ceremonies'. And the album still concludes with an unexpected but lively rendition of the "Sailor's Hornpipe": thus completing a strange musical journey from the rotating head of Linda Blair to the bulging biceps of Popeye the Sailor.

The remake of course sounds far superior to the original, with smoother transitions, stronger performances (after 30 years of practice, let's hope so), and a much cleaner production. But any flaws in the first edition, technical or otherwise, were strictly in the mind of the composer. Please note how Oldfield didn't alter the form or content of the music itself by so much as a single note.

I enjoyed the unique experience of hearing both the 1973 and 2003 versions (and both for the first time) together in one sitting. Never mind, by the way, how I could have missed it back in the '70s: maybe the saturation airplay of the opening "Exorcist" theme on every AM radio in the known universe turned me off at the time. Listening to the two albums back to back was certainly instructive, providing a not unpleasant sensation of déjà vu. If the original was a textbook product of its era, then the re- make is a weird time-capsule hybrid: a glossy new 5.1 surround-sound product of the same earlier age.

Think of it like the chassis of a classic sports car with a supercharged digital engine under the hood. It may offer a smoother, more fuel-efficient ride, but you won't arrive at your destination any quicker.

Review by The Crow
4 stars A true pleasure for the ears!

After the flawed Orchestral Tubular Bells and tons of remasters, reeditions and sequels, Mike Oldfield finally remade his most emblematic (but not his best) album, a desire he had since the original release with the support of Richard Branson back in 1973.

And for this occasion, he used part of the instruments of the old recording sessions along with some new incorporations and the album sounds just fantastic, plethoric and incredibly beautiful. Maybe some new elements like the female vocals in the caveman section are debatable, but the result is a tremendous gift for Oldfield's fans.

Best tracks: I always considered that the first part is far superior than the second one.

Conclusion: Tubular Bells 2003 is not a substitute for the legendary album of 1972. I rather see this re-recording as a complement of this classic piece of music, improving its sound and adding the experience and skills that Mike learned in more than 30 years of career.

So, I consider this new version maybe not superior than the original, but equally interesting and containing an incredibly well- made production very worthy to be heard and studied to learn the evolution of this talented, restless and always interesting musician.

My rating: ****

Latest members reviews

4 stars Four facts to kick this off: 1. Mike Oldfield always felt that Tubular Bells were imperfect; 2. Technology of the era couldn't produce all the sounds he imagined in 1973; 3. As a twenty year old, he wasn't as proficient with instruments as later on; 4. Fortunately, he found the strength to re-re ... (read more)

Report this review (#2407598) | Posted by thief | Thursday, May 28, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A lot of sources inform that the artist Mike Oldfield was deeply dissatisfied with his first solo effort Tubular Bells since its release date. On the other hand, this album was internationally recognized as Oldfield's very best. And this contradiction is unsolvable. Perhaps that's why Oldfield retur ... (read more)

Report this review (#1715816) | Posted by proghaven | Saturday, April 29, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My 5 stars go to the DVD-Audio version of this remake and then to the high-definition surround version. If you're into surround sound, adventurous surround, that is, this is a must have! I know many listeners don't like this aggresive approach of mixing ("making my head spin...") but for me it's ... (read more)

Report this review (#1279963) | Posted by madcap68 | Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Tubular Bells - how it was supposed to be Mike Oldfield was never happy with the mistakes and production quality of Tubular Bells due to having a very limited amount of time to make it and the pressure he was under. So on its 30th anniversary he decided to remake it; extremely faithful and accura ... (read more)

Report this review (#505578) | Posted by Quirky Turkey | Friday, August 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars From the very start, Mike has never been satisfied with Tubular Bells. From the first knock off, the orchestral version, he was trying to fix what he thought was absolutely messy, broken, and sloppy. True, most will agree with me when I say that the original Oldfield album was a very hurried out t ... (read more)

Report this review (#133959) | Posted by Shakespeare | Monday, August 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Tubular Bells 2003 is a re-recording of 1973's Tubular Bells, released just after the binding 30 year contract had ended. Oldfield started this project in effort to make a polished version of the original,losing all of the out of tune instruments, buzzing guitar, and generally greatly improving t ... (read more)

Report this review (#101545) | Posted by OGTL | Monday, December 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5 and no doubt. Original Tubular Bells is an undoubtful masterpiece. At least for me and those millions fans across the world. And this is a classic Tubular Bells from good old '73 re-recorded with modern technologies and thirty years of experience. The problem is it's hard to listen even ... (read more)

Report this review (#78285) | Posted by Zavgorodny | Monday, May 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I had conflicting thoughts before this re-recording of the original TB came out. It was exciting because Mike had at his disposal so much more technology that he had in 1970- 73. He'd said that the original TB wasn't perfect (out of tune guitars et al) and was rushed. Now he could apply 21st ... (read more)

Report this review (#36760) | Posted by notrickwakeman | Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars i think that its very well done. the sound is clear, and takes you away on a musicial journey. while i think that its more relaxing than the original, it lacks a certain eerieness that the original album had. i don't believe that it would work for the exorcist ... (read more)

Report this review (#28518) | Posted by | Friday, March 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars In theory a good idea. Why not bring the production quality up to scratch. In practice, it does not work. Part of the attraction of the original was its almost amateurish and niaeve feel. As has been pointed out this version lacks the soul and spirir of the original, and altrhough it is good t ... (read more)

Report this review (#28515) | Posted by | Sunday, November 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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