Today, Richard Branson, the self-styled Rebel Billionaire, rules an empire that spans several countries, and earns a multi-billion dollar profit, yearly. In 1971, Richard Branson, the yet to be self-styled Rebel Billionaire, ruled a small discount record store in London. Hoping to one day be more than a small time businessman, he started Virgin Records. How does this relate to Mike Oldfield? Well, at this time, a young man was desperate to sell his idea of a multi-layered, 25 minute long song that crossed several genres and would be performed solely by one man. Obviously, he had a tough time getting a record company to even listen to his work, much less get signed.
Enter Branson. Eager for a musician to release Virgin’s inaugural album, he took a chance on Oldfield, and liked what he heard. So much so, he allowed Oldfield two
25 minute long songs.
It should also be noted that the Kangaroo cannot walk backwards. How does this relate to Mike Oldfield? It doesn’t… but it’s an awfully good fact, don’t you think?
And thus history was made. Tubular Bells debuted to a storm of approval on May 25th, 1973. Reaching the top 10 in the UK charts, it stayed in the charts for 247 weeks, almost unheard of for a new artist. He also holds the record of knocking himself off the top spot, when Tubular Bells reached number one, pushing his second effort Hergest Ridge down.
It also rose to fame in the US, thanks to samples of it being included in [url=http://imdb.com/title/tt0070047/]The Exorcist[/url]’s soundtrack. Indeed, many first hear this fabulous album through this movie.
But I fear my dithering may have driven many of you to suicide by now. So, to the survivors, I say, “On with the review!”
Please note: Many different versions of this album exist. Some versions have been remastered to separate the individual movements of each song into separate songs themselves. This review is based off the mastered version of the original recording as it appeared on its debut; i.e Two songs, entitled Part 1 and Part 2.
It really is hard to describe the beautiful emotions one experiences whilst listening to Tubular Bells. From the sense of something large and ponderous one gets at that delightful bass tune around 5 minutes into Part 1, to the whimsical pirate jig that closes Part 2, you feel swept away by the images of love, happiness and disdain, by the rich landscapes portrayed by the music; marching armies, a werewolf in the forest, a laughingminstrel on a mountaintop. Really, there are no words to describe the artistry, the skill, the emotion poured into this music by Oldfield, that in turn affects everyone that listens to it. I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys amalgamations of different genres, and isn’t turned away by long song lengths.
Listen to it, and judge for yourself. I can only offer a poor description of this album. I feel the proof will be most assuredly in the pudding, however. A rich chocolate pudding, perhaps topped with your favourite flavour of fudge. Indeed, there is no reason not to compare Tubular Bells to a rich chocolate pudding topped with some sort of delicious, non-fattening fudge. And Mike Oldfield is the wise, friendly chef with a twinkle in his eye that invites you to enjoy his creations, and reminds you to sample everything in his menu.
Oh, did I mention he plays, in this album alone, Acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar, Farfisa, Hammond, and Lowrey organs; flageolet, fuzz guitars, glockenspiel, "honky tonk" piano (piano with detuned strings), mandolin, piano, percussion, Spanish guitar, speed guitar, taped motor drive amplifier organ chord, timpani, violin, vocals, tubular bells and provides some rather interesting vocals on Part Two?
Do yourself a favour. Buy Tubular Bells, and sit on a mountain top/curl up in bed/walk through a clichéd field of wheat, anything at all, just listen and appreciate this marvelous artwork. Go on, I dare you.