In the US, the title “Tubular Bells” (by British guitarist Mike Oldfield) usually conjures up frightening memories of the 1973 motion picture THE EXORCIST. However, the short excerpt of the album-length song that was used as the theme to that legendary film was only a small part of the music written and performed by Oldfield. In fact, on the 1973 album TUBULAR BELLS, the title track took up both sides of the album. And in the UK, the album proved to be a groundbreaking release that spawned numerous sequels over the years and remains Mike Oldfield’s most important – and best-selling – release. The album was the first release on Virgin Records, a label that was set up specifically by Richard Branson to release TUBULAR BELLS and then grew to be a highly influential record label for several decades. In fact, the original TUBULAR BELLS is directly responsible for those that have flown the friendly skies with Virgin Atlantic.
Released when he was only 20 years old, TUBULAR BELLS introduced the world to the unique artistry of British musician Mike Oldfield. The album blended Progressive Rock, British Folk, Pop, and Rock into something that was entirely unique. Oldfield was already a seasoned pro, having worked with his sister Sally in The Sallyangie as well as playing bass for former Soft Machine member Kevin Ayers and mandolin in the Edgar Broughton Band. After recording some solo demos and being rejected by most labels, he finally released TUBULAR BELLS on Virgin and the rest is history. Over the years, Mike Oldfield has released several sequels and re-recordings of the album including TUBULAR BELLS II (1992), TUBULAR BELLS III (1998), THE MILLENNIUM BELL (1999), and TUBULAR BELLS (2003). The musical suite that takes up the album was given the orchestral treatment in 2005 when David Bedford issued the album THE ORCHSESTRAL TUBULAR BELLS in 1975. And it didn’t stop there! Every 10 years, there’s an anniversary release of some sort, and now that the album is turning 50, it is time for a new and fresh look at the album…
TUBULAR BELLS: 50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION is an orchestral reinterpretation of the album performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with the London Contemporary Voices Choir. Conducted by Simon Dobson, this release not only features a re-recording of that monumental album, it also includes new takes on other Oldfield classics like “Moonlight Shadow,” “Ommadawn, Part 1,” “Sailor’s Hornpipe,” and “Excerpt From Hergest Ridge, Part 1.” Revisiting TUBULAR BELLS in 2022 will introduce Mike Oldfield’s original works to a new audience while also offering old fans a reminder of what made the original recording so magical. Although Oldfield is not involved with this recording, he is still very much omnipresent on this spirited recording. With actor Brian Blessed replacing the late, great Vivian Stanshall’s role as compere on ‘Part 2’, this is album that is filled with nostalgia yet is still fresh and offers a different take on the source material. And the fact that is being released on numerous formats – including CD, cassette, and several color variants on vinyl – every fan, new and old, can visit the enchanting world of TUBULAR BELLS all over again.
ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
TUBULAR BELLS: 50th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION