Tubular Bells

From Academic Kids

Template:Album infobox

Tubular Bells is a record album, written and mostly performed by Mike Oldfield and orchestrated by David Bedford. The late Vivian Stanshall provided the voice of the "Master of Ceremonies" who reads off the list of instruments at the end of the first movement. It was the debut album for Oldfield as well as the first album to be released by Virgin Records. The opening theme was used in The Exorcist, gaining the record considerable publicity and is how most people have probably first heard the work. It was also used in a television advert for Volkswagen in 2003. The cover design was by Trevor Key, who would go on to create the covers of many Oldfield albums.

Mike Oldfield played most of the instruments on the album (see below), often recording them one at a time and layering the recordings to create the finished work. Many of his subsequent albums feature this technique. Though fairly common in the music industry now, at the time of the production of Tubular Bells not many musicians made use of it, preferring multi-musician "session" recordings.

The coda at the end of Part Two, the "Sailor's Hornpipe", was originally created as a much longer production, with Vivian Stanshall providing comic narration as an obviously-inebriated tour guide showing the listener around the Manor House where the album was recorded. It was cut from the final version for being too strange to be put on an unknown artist's first album, though it can be heard "in all its magnificent foolishness" (from the liner notes) on the Mike Oldfield Boxed set, which features completely remixed versions of Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and several shorter tracks.

Tubular Bells is the album most identified with Oldfield and the reverse may be true as well as he has frequently returned to it in later works. The opening passage of the title track on the album Crises is clearly derived from the opening of Tubular Bells. The opening is also quoted directly in the song "Five Miles Out" from the album of the same name and the song also features his "trademark" instrument, "Piltdown Man" (referring to his singing like a caveman, first heard on Tubular Bells).

The "bent bell" image on the cover is also associated with Oldfield, even being used for the logo of his personal music company, Oldfield Music, Ltd.

Tubular Bells can be seen as the first of a "series" of albums consisting of Tubular Bells II (1992), Tubular Bells III (1998) and The Millennium Bell (1999), leading some critics to suggest that Oldfield was like Quasimodo - "chained to the Bells". Finally in 2003 Oldfield released Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original Tubular Bells with updated digital technology and several "corrections" to what he saw as flaws in the first album's production.

Track listing

  1. (25:36) Tubular Bells - part one
  2. (23:20) Tubular Bells - part two

Mike Oldfield plays

Acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar, Farfisa, Hammond, and Lowrey organs; flageolet, fuzz guitars, glockenspiel, "honky tonk" piano (piano with detuned strings), mandolin, piano, "Piltdown Man", percussion, Spanish guitar, speed guitar, taped motor drive amplifier organ chord, timpani, violin, vocals and of course, tubular bells.

The oft-misquoted "lyrics" announcing the instruments are: "Grand piano; reed and pipe organ; glockenspiel; bass guitar; double speed guitar; two slightly distorted guitars; mandolin! Spanish guitar, and introducing acoustic guitar; brass... tubular... bells!" (The actual instruments are brass tubular bells, and most probably the original written lyrics, but some wonder if Vivian Stanshall (of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band fame) misread or mispronounced it as "glass".)

Other performers

pl:Tubular Bells

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