31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Clear as a bell,
This review is from: The Collection (Audio CD)
It seems that Tubular Bells has given Mike Oldfield some very contrasting emotions. For a long time he seemed not to be able to cope with the scale of the reaction to his first solo work and spent a long time running away from it. In latter years, however, it seems that he has accepted it much more, even to the point (some might say) of milking it. So, at first sight this 'best of' collection, which includes a new mix of TB might seem to be an exercise in squeezing yet more out of the CD buyer in the street.
Don't be misled though, this is well worth the money. Why? Because it sounds beautiful. More than ever, the mix is spacious and airy, giving instruments in both parts a chance to really stand out and shine. The acoustic passages in particular sound fabulous. and some of the slightly anomalous artefacts in the original mixes have been smoothed a little: the cymbal at 6.10 in Part 1 no longer swamps everything and the bells themselves at Part 1's end now sound rather more restarined and easier on the ear (especially through headphones).
The little gem of the disc, however, is Oldfield's original plan for the end of part 2, previously to be found as an extra of the Boxed collection. Here, a 'refreshed' Viv Stanshall regales us with a narration during his peregrinations around The Manor, with Oldfield in tow playing the Sailor's Hornpipe. VS's inability to say the words 'anthropology' and 'apology', when apologising for not being able to say 'anthropology', are hilarious.
However, the reason I give this collection only four stars is the second disc, The Collection itself. It's a bit of a disappointment. Even allowing for having to fit everything on one disc there are some odd omissions: nothing from Platinum, nor from Hergest Ridge. In fact, earlier 'best of' collections probably do a better job of rounding up that part of his career, not to mention really good later work like Islands or Amarok that's beyond the scope of this disc. It's not awful by any means, just a bit of a let down after the TB mix.
Tubular Bells is the work for which, above all, Mike Oldfield will be longest remembered. It's probably for this reason that he is spending so much effort making sure that the definitive versions (both this stereo mix and the 5.1 surround mixes that are also available) are the best they can possibly be. This package is still very much worth the cash, if only for the chance to hear Tubular Bells in an entirely new light.