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Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (1973)

April 20, 2019

[Album 643/1001]

Have you ever tried solving one of those metal puzzles?

The ones that look a bit like a pair of interconnected tubular bells?

I remember struggling with the one pictured below.

But then one day, I finally ‘got’ it.

I’m not sure what the secret was – perhaps the lesson is, stick with something long enough, come at it from different angles, and eventually…it all makes sense.




Ditto my experience with these Tubular Bells.

It’s an album that takes some time…but it ends up being time well spent.

I can’t recall exactly when I ‘solved’ it.Mike_oldfield_tubular_bells_album_cover

Nor am I certain that I could advise anyone as to how one would go about doing so.

Much like the similarly shaped metal puzzle, I’m likely still in the inchoate stages of understanding here, therefore unable to adequately articulate my appreciation.

And also like my usual experience with the puzzles, I lose track of time while immersed in the album.

One minute it’s the futuristic intro & before I know it, it’s the gradual layering / instrument roll call to wrap up the first side.

After flipping to side two, time similarly slips by before I’m startled by the mid-side grunting sequence (accurately described by my eldest daughter as “creepy”).

And even after a half dozen listens to the LP (is there really another medium to explore Tubular Bells?), the sea shanty-esque finale still seems to come out of left field.

But it all works – I’m just not sure why or how!


Verbalize the Positive

Happy Easter weekend to all!

From → 1970s

  1. I need to listen to this again – the only time I tried to hear it was at a beach house, and I couldn’t hear it because my sister was mocking it. Then a few days later, they had the Olympic opening ceremony and she loved the music, and it turned out it was also by Mike Oldfield….

    • I remember seeing him at the London Olympics (the opening & closing ceremonies have since blended together in my mind, I recall liking Annie Lennox’s performance) – after listening to this, I’m curious if he’d played something from tubular bells at the event.
      I’m guessing he did, as people tend to play their biggest hits at such events – though as this one is a pair of uninterrupted 20+ minute sides, I’m not sure which ‘hit’ he would have selected!

  2. Glad you solved it Geoff! Although I enjoy Tubular Bells (always have), I actually prefer Hergest Ridge and can thoroughly recommend it. No Piltdown Man either!

    • I now appreciate the plight of some math students a little better – I’ve solved the problem, yet I can’t ‘show my steps’ to obtain full marks!

  3. Some albums as you point out are like Puzzles Geoff.
    When you first listen it’s like Whut? But there is always that intriguing factor that draws you back as a listener.
    Excellent writeup …
    Happy Easter to you as well. I’m sure your daughters are getting wired for it…haha
    I remember those days…

    • Much appreciated Deke – and yes, they are pumped about the inevitable chocolate & egg hunts! Happy Easter to the Williamsons too!

  4. I’m not much of a one for music, as you know, but I do dig creepy grunting and this is Grade A.

    • It’s a niche genre, admittedly, but Oldfield gives the grunting enthusiasts good value for $ here!

  5. This is a puzzle I’ve yet to solve… though I admit I’ve never found the right time to revisit it properly.

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  1. 1973 | 1001albumsin10years

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