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


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.54 | 198 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |


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