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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells CD (album) cover

TUBULAR BELLS

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

4.10 | 1148 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars The first time I heard anything from this record, it was an excerpt featured on the first Pure Moods anthology (insert embarrassed emoticon here). I occasionally enjoy this album, but it certainly shows a degree of inexperience (and drunkenness). It sounds like several unrelated pieces glued together. Yet most of these segments have a pleasant sophistication to them.

"Tubular Bells (Part 1)" That main theme is a well-known one, having been used as the theme for The Exorcist (a film which, at the time of this writing, I still have yet to view). It is eerie and unsettling. The gradual layers of sound build until the piece becomes more fanciful than haunting, like seeing horrific eyes in the darkness, but as the sun rises, discovering that they are only cute, whimsical forest creatures. Bringing the main theme into a major key has this very effect. One of my criticisms of early Oldfield is his electric guitar tone. It is the worst tone I think I've ever heard. Speaking of which, the piece becomes eccentrically cabaret midway through- just gaudy in every respect and flaunting that horrible tone. The music practically fades out in a sleepy manner after this, bringing in an equally drowsy acoustic guitar passage. A new theme abruptly follows- this is the beginning of a repetitive yet climactic ending whereupon master of ceremonies Vivian Stranshall names each new instrument. The classical guitar revises the opening theme.

"Tubular Bells (Part 2)" The opening of the second half begins a journey that is more symphonic at first. Lovely acoustic guitar and keyboard weave a majestic musical affair. Even when the shoddy electric guitar comes in, the piece still exudes magnificence. However, it abruptly becomes prehistoric- and appropriately so. Allegedly Oldfield became angry about Richard Branson wanting a segment with lyrics to release as a single, and the musician stormed away, got drunk, and recorded the nonsense growling, grunting, shrieking and wailing during the "Piltdown Man" passage. Even if that's the case, rebellious drunkenness does not always serve as a brilliant muse, and the entire album suffers greatly because of that of one passage- it's like creating a lovely painting only to cut it multiple times with a serrated knife. Fortunately, what follows is a return to the gentleness that came before, this time exploring in psychedelic fashion with organ and multiple beautiful guitars. And then, to ruin things not once but twice, there's the "Sailor's Hornpipe" bit, which became a staple of Oldfield's live performances as he could reach incredible tempos with it. But I'll be damned if it isn't goofy.

Epignosis | 3/5 |

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