MIKE OLDFIELD: Tubular Bells (LP, Virgin V2001, 1973)

Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

And… the Tubular Bells! This album reminds me of a lot of things. I only bought a copy for myself around five years ago, but a copy was owned by my parents and I used to really enjoy listening to it. The B-side, in particular, with its sober voiceover announcing the huge variety of instruments played on the piece, I used to love (and still do). Maybe it appeals to the cataloguer/collector-type in me, to have the elements of the music filed into a series of proclamations across the duration of the record?

My parents had a modest but excellent quality stereo system on which records were played as I grew up in the 1970s and ’80s. They used to know a couple that we lived next door to, and I recall them getting in an extraordinarily futuristic-looking Bang + Olufsen stereo when I was probably around eight or nine years old. It looked like a weird, space age table; sleek, silver. That kind of thing predated the fetishistic ‘look at my technology’ obsessions that enveloped much of the 1980s – but it looked darned cool, at the time. Funny how Bang + Olufsen haven’t really moved away from that glossy presentation of actually rather simple technology, even thirty years later.

I have a vague memory that their stereo was actually quadrophonic, but that may be a fake memory. I was young, after all. Another strong recollection of that couples’ household is that their chair and table legs were placed onto small metal disc-shaped trays, to prevent them digging holes into the carpets. Not sure why that’s a memory, as it’s possibly one of the most unimportant things one could keep in one’s mind.

Odd how this record, except for some dabblings in the record shop industry, pretty much signalled the launch of the now mega-globo-huge-corp Virgin. It was a cool record label for a time, and if a label can be defined by the first release that they decide to put out, Virgin was a fantastically hippy-dippy experimental dreamer of a label.

1 thought on “MIKE OLDFIELD: Tubular Bells (LP, Virgin V2001, 1973)

  1. I do have a guilty liking for this album, I think it’s actually pretty good. I can’t say I have any fondness for any of Oldfield’s other work (maybe the Blue Peter theme tune …). The fact that he has remixed, reissued, written Tubular Bells part two or whatever, and generally buggered about with this piece over the years does seem to suggest a paucity of invention and inspiration in his later years. As a teenager, a mate of mine had Crises – which by any stretch of the imagination must rate as a ghastly album. “Moonlight Shadow” – yuk.

    Anyway, “Two slighty distorted guitars” and “Man-do-lin!!” are highlights for me on Tubular Bells.

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