23/05/2018: “Tubular Bells Pt. 2” by Mike Oldfield


Tubular Bells is a very ambitious project. Mike Oldfield’s vision was so extensive that the studio technicians had to use a wide range of innovative techniques to achieve the sort of sounds he wanted. For instance, he played the tubular bells themselves with a heavy hammer that cracked them!

In 1973 when the album was released, there was obviously nothing like the digital manipulation of today. Mike Oldfield played a lot of the instruments himself and overdubbed them. Pretty impressive…

The album has two sides on a vinyl disc; this is two 25 odd minute long songs.


I am very jealous of this picture disc.

I have chosen “Tubular Bells part 2” because it’s a bit more rock orientated, but there’s not a lot between the two sides. I could have picked either.

Listened back to back, the Tubular Bells are nothing short of a masterpiece. The word “epic” is used rather a lot these days, but if anything is epic, this is. This song is to a 3 minute pop song, what a Shakespearean play is to a gossip magazine. Not everyone likes Shakespeare, but the two are incomparable.

Rather than a lengthy play by play of the whole song, I would just say that it is a varied piece ranging from orchestral to hard rock.

My favourite is actually the very end, the 3 minute long, catchy Sailor’s Hornpipe. Which shows that for all my pretensions, you can’t beat a jaunty little tune!

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