Review: Jack Foley
IT'S been 30 years since Mike Oldfield first released his seminal
masterpiece, Tubular Bells, alongside Pink Floyd's equally
sprawling Dark Side of the Moon.
Yet the signature tune remains as timeless as ever, thanks to
the numerous re-issues (we had a Tubular Bells 2), and
its use in various forms of media, most notably William Friedkin's
movie, The Exorcist.
However, due to the technological limitations encountered by
Oldfield during the Seventies, he has decided to mark the 30th
anniversary by bringing out a brand new version - completely replayed
and reproduced by Oldfield using the latest technology.
The result is a fresher, cleaner sounding record that remains
as contemporary as ever, and which could well bring the artist
a new army of listeners - even though there will undoubtedly be
those who ask, 'why bother'?
Yet Oldfield was only 19 when he recorded it during an intense
week, paving the way for current music trends, such as techno,
new age and chill out.
The 2003 version boasts vocals from Sally Oldfield, as well as
actor, John Cleese, who acts as a master of ceremonies.
The highlights remain track one, Introduction, in which the unmistakable
sound of the album is first introduced (the effect is as spine-tingling
as ever, particularly with the newer technology), while the grandiose,
eight-minute plus Finale (which brings part one to a suitably
rousing close) is a layered, slow-building, but completely satisfying
piece of music that works as well on its own.
It is here that Cleese gets in on the act, first announcing the
arrival of the grand piano in typically upper-lip style, before
building to the arrival of the tubular bells, via bass guitar,
Glockenspiel and double-speed guitar (to name but a few).
The arrival of the tubular bells, of course, is rather like welcoming
an old friend to a dinner party, or something. The effect is quite
There are moments, of course, when the album veers into experimental
territory, rendering it a little painful to listen to, but there
are just as many moments to savour - and the record is brought
to a fun-filled conclusion by the The Sailor's Hornpipe,
better known as one of the theme's to children's favourite, Blue
I have long been a sucker for some quality acoustic/Spanish guitar
and with this in abundance, Tubular Bells 2003 marks a welcome
revival for a long-time classic. It's time to fall in love with
Oldfield all over again.
2. Fast Guitars
5. A Minor Tune
9. Ghost Bells
14. Bagpipe Guitars
16. Ambient Guitars
17. The Sailors Hornpipe