Friday, April 07, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 4: Mike Oldfield -Tubular Bells

FDF welcomes emticsage with his first (and hopefully not last) review.

Album: Tubular Bells
Artist: Mike Oldfield
All Instruments: Mike Oldfield
Recorded: The Manor, Oxfordshire, England between Autumn 1972/Spring 1973
Released: May 25, 1973


In 1972, Richard Branson, who later went on to fame as a pilot of balloons and star of reality show The Rebel Billionaire, incorporated Virgin Records. Their new studio facilities, The Manor, was host to a young 20 year old lanky englishman by the name of Mike Oldfield. During down time, and off-hours, Oldfield went on to create the world's first classical-inspired rock album. Branson shopped the album around to various record companies to little interest. He decided to take a chance and it became Virgin's first release, catapulting both Oldfield and Branson to fame and fortune. Later, parts of the intro to Tubular Bells were used by William Friedkin in the hit horror film The Exorcist, and Tubular Bells has come to be known as The Exorcist theme, for better or worse, ever since.

Emetic Sage's Comments:

Tubular Bells holds up pretty well over the span of years. It is clearly a product of a hurried recording process, and the quality of the recording itself is spotty here and there, but the sheer exuberance and inventiveness of the young Oldfield comes through in spades. The album is based on classical concepts of thematic development, but the instrumentation is quite modern. All instruments were played manually by Oldfield, painstaking track by painstaking track.

Where Are They Now?

Oldfield went on to have a long and relatively successful career, releasing on average a new album every year or two, although never quite again matching his early success. He has experimented over the years stylistically, dabbling in Phillip Glass-style minimalism, 3-minute pop songs, Celtic music, chill out, and on-line gaming. He is currently said to be done with his electronic computer-based noodlings, and will be returning to the sweeping hand-played works of his early years.

Emetic Sage's Overall Take:

At one time, the Sage was addicted to Tubular Bells. It's really excellent music, and in terms of its historical importance, it's something that everyone should at least give a listen to once in their lives. However, those who don't like instrumental music that takes time to grow and develop probably would not dig this album.


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