on 16 August 2012
To the casual listener all these Tubular Bells releases must be a little confusing. Well let me clarify, Tubular Bells II is something of a sequel to the 1973 original, it's structure mirrors that of the original but is the sound of a genius in the art of variation on a theme.
Is it as good? Well that can only be a matter of taste but here's my dollars worth. Tubular Bells II is perhaps, melodically speaking, Oldfield's biggest triumph and considering this is a composer in the same ball park as Bach or Vivaldi that's really saying something. When this music grabs you you can't let go, it's totally addictive. The way in which melodies across the whole album relate to one another is masterful and hypnotic. As with all of Oldfield's best albums you will find new layers of instruments with almost every listen, even after twenty years!
My only issue with this album is it's production, at times I find the sound a little cheesy and synthetic, that's not to say it isn't jam packed with hand-played instruments because you name it and it's on here; banjos, mandolins, an array of guitars and all the rest. I can 't help feeling that Trevor Horn's influence placed the album firmly in the early 90's where as much of Oldfield's best stuff is timeless. However, it is possible to filter out the production values becuase the melodies are so strong and anyway, you may love the sound of those synths.
I recommend seeking out The Bell single CD2, as it's B-sides feature the original MC Vivian Stanshall and also Billy Connolly both of which are much better than the dry and frankly dull Alan Rickman!
My other recommendation for those who love the multi-layering, guitar wielding Oldfield of old is to listen to an album called Mohribold by Andrew Taylor (google it). Taylor has clearly soaked up all of Oldfield's classics and given us a contemporary instrumental classic. I found it on a site called bandcamp and have enthused about it to all who will listen.
on 7 March 2011
In my opinion, this album is underrated beyond belief. Everyone hypes about Tubular Bells being some sort of Godsend... But what about the sequel, Tubular Bells 2? It might not have the same "Let's see what we can come up with!" feel to Tubular Bells, but by no means is it a slouch.
Whereas Tubular Bells all merged seemlessly together, it had no real goal where it was going to go. Oldfield is one of the few musicians that can pull off from going from one mood swing to another, and this was reflected in his music. His sequel though feels more polished and has a goal where it wants to go, a certain... More accurate feel to it.
The first thing you notice is how much retread there is on his album. Same thing Jarre did with his sequel to Oxygene in 1997, he broke it down, remodelled it, reformed it to become... His sequel. He has sufficent re-tread to remind you that you are listening to Tubular Bells, but not enough to actually feel like a parody of it.
Breaking down the segments was a better feature. There might have been certain segments I wanted to listen to, but Oldfield, like it or not, had the entire piece... As one piece, where if you wanted to listen to a certain piece you had to frustratingly hold the fast forward on your CD player. Not really ideal.
The next thing you realise from Tubular Bells is gone away the long hair and slightly scary 'tashe he had during the recording sessions of Tubular Bells, in is a much cooler short hair. He did away with the delicacy of his his prequel, and introduced a harsher, more abrash sound to his sequel.
Although Tubular Bells Vol. 2 doesn't seem to get remastered much (I think there are less versions of this than Vol. 1, but I could be wrong) and in a way... I like that, no more producers trying to meddle with a near perfect recording. Don't bother, you just agitate fans!
All in all, a very good album. It has the ruthless edge to compete with Vol. 1, but it would be unfair to say one is better than another because they are both two great albums.
on 3 September 2005
If you enjoyed TUBULAR BELLS, which in the 70's was best appreciated through stereophonic headphones and a fog of something slightly illegal (or so I am told!), then you will find this album positively orgasmic. But maybe that is just a sign of old age, or the need to get out more! In an attempt to rekindle the flames of a misspent youth, I finally got round to exchanging my ancient vinyl collection for those newfangled Circular Disc things!, adding albums that I had missed out on during the wilderness years of family life. Now that the wee'ans have all but flown the nest, it was time to plunge myself back into the sounds of the heady days of the seventies. In this album Mike has brought TUBULAR BELLS bang up to date. With the added advantage of modern musical techniques and sound production, and presumably more money to spend, he has managed this with out losing any of the original breathtaking effect. In some eyes it may be sacrilege to say, but this album is an improvement on the original, if that is possible? The haunting melody of SENTINEL soon has the hairs on the back of the neck sticking up, and kick-starts the flickering memories of bygone days, into life. There are some nice little touches, and a few quirky parodies of TB1 thrown in for good measure. My favourite track has to be THE BELL, with its hypnotic rhythm, it has instruments from the original version, with some contemporary additions (vocal cords, digital sound processor!), and the dulcet tones of a well known British Thespian as Master of ceremonies, simply credited as 'A strolling player' plus, TUBULAR BELLS! TATTOO with the swirl of something Celtic is altogether different, and ALTERED STATE has to be heard to be believed, MAYA GOLD in parts is reminiscent of Jeff Wayne's WAR OF THE WORLDS! As for MOONSHINE, well, I will leave you make up your own mind! If you have not heard this album, then do so, soon.
on 4 December 2001
This is easily one of Oldfield's best albums and arguably his finest hour.I would rate this album ahead of my other two favourites 'Songs of Distant Earth' and 'Amorak' and definitely a huge step forward from TB1.Musically it's just pure magic with variation from relaxing tempo to just out and out rock.Definitely a vital addition to any Oldfield fan's music collection.The video of the live concert is also pure magic.Well done Mike!!!
on 4 August 2003
I have had this album for at least 3 years now. And i havn't ever thought, "hmm, this is starting to grow old" or "i have heard this way too much". every time i hear it, i want to hear more. Its like a drug or something, except without the addiction. This album never grows tiring. mike oldfield has created a true masterpiece.
Mike has been criticised before for making his music boring. Taking one section too far, or something. Never once does this happen here. eveyrthing about it is perfect. Ok, i'm gonna stop wrting this review because i want to listen to this album again.
Buy it. or else.
on 20 August 2015
I must've been 10 or 11 when this came out and indeed when I became obsessed with it; the second album I ever bought after Queen's Greatest Hits and the first of many progressive rock concept albums. As was later confirmed to me through both rock and classical music, it is universally true that lyrics are not necessary to communicate a developing concept and this is the epitome of that discovery. Why write a ditty (something Mike can very competently do too, by the way) when you can push your music to its technical and emotional limits, or as Mahler once retorted to Sibelius' restricted ideas of musical format, 'the symphony should encompass the world'.
As time went on, I forgot that it was the second incarnation of Tubular Bells that I had fallen for and saw the first covered live at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, wondering why it sounded slightly different! Their performance was better than I gave it credit for, once I understood that they were not trying to cover this album and I went home and listened to the entirety of both the first and second Tubular Bells.
I was able to confuse them at first because this one follows the basic structure of the first (hence the title, probably), but sounds less tinny and in general much more expensively produced. It is also catchier, more accessible and there're more vocals (mainly women singing nonsensical combinations of consonants and vowels for purposes of musical consonance) and crescendos.
This heightened accessibility, depending on who you are, will either enhance the Tubular Bells experience for you or detract from the purity of the first, as many have found here. I don't feel entirely comfortable with the fetishisation of the artist's first album that tends to happen, but to what extent this is detrimental and to what extent truly reflective of the value of the piece of music, is somewhat up for grabs.
The newly polished, moody album cover reflects the same qualities in this new interpretations of the original musical themes and structures that celebrate elements of classical, folk, rock/metal, pop, jazz, blues and morph into something else; a sort of enigmatic, euphoric, spirit-lifting amalgamation of artfully interpreted and mastered instruments. I don't like the word 'ambient' as I don't think this adjective does any justice to the active listening that this work demands; you could shove it on in the background if you wanted, but its potential for auditory satisfaction is available beyond this, albeit perhaps slightly less so than Tubular Bells I which perhaps leaves more room for listener interpretation. We had the live video, recorded at Edinburgh Castle, and its excellent.
on 3 February 2013
I use this album to test any new piece of Hi-Fi equipment that I buy.
Having lost my old original CD album I just bought it again from Amazon.........
It's the only CD I own that will NOT play directly on my PC... had to rip it on my brothers PC and burn a copy. To this day I don't know why I had to do that... I guess it's software copyright or something.
on 13 May 2011
I have had this masterpiece in my collection for years and never tire of it. We all grew up (some of us) with the original Tubular Bells and I think Oldfield updated the tunes and styles beautifully. I feel the addition of the female singers, extra keyboards , bagpipes and the thick rich voice of Alan Rickman make this a separate, yet linked, masterpiece.
I would highly recommend, however, that you also get the live DVD, filmed at Edinburgh Castle , as this shows how wonderfully the album can be augmented to include other musicians , it shows the Dragoon Guard pipers and you get the hilarious antics of announcer Gordon John Sinclair (Gregorys Girl) . I find this album is a beautiful thing to relax to - either in your deckchair, on your sofa, in the bath or in your flotation tank (get on with it,Ed)
on 4 March 2007
Anyone who finds the first Tubular Bells a masterpiece is sure to find this long-awaited sequel just as good. The recurring themes of TB 1 are all re-worked here with similar instrumentation and merged together into a continuous piece of music.
With TB2 however the themes are allowed to develop just that little bit longer making the whole thing more flowing and easier to listen to. Added to that is a much better production than TB1 as no doubt more time and money was spent on the project. This is not TB1 re-recorded like Tubular Bells 2003 was but is a whole new album using new material in a familiar and well-loved format. At this price you will be delighted.
on 31 January 2001
I have heard this album criticized by the fact that it "sounds just like the first one". This is valid in that the format (certainly of the first side) follows that of TB1. The clever bit, that seems to have eluded a lot of people who don't listen to the real content, is that the composer has come up with superb new melodies in keeping with the spirit of the original,but if anything creating a more cohesive and unified work. For me,the first part (up to the "Bells" instrument intro) is a piece of startling inventiveness and astounding beauty. The rest of the album is no let-down,either,and Trevor Horn's production is pleasingly out-of-character with some of his more flamboyant work;being clean and restrained,while allowing the music the ambient expansiveness it deserves in places. All in all,I would say that TB 2 is,yes,even better than the first.