Top critical review
Not his best, but easily his most famous.
on 12 February 2017
Mike Oldfield's debut album 'Tubular Bells' definitely has a lot to live up to. It put Mr. Oldfield on the map. It made Richard Branson's Virgin Records a household name. It was featured in The Exorcist, one of the most famous horror films of all time. It spent approximately forever in the charts, and a good portion of that forever was the number one spot. It's right up there as one of the most famous, iconic and recognizable albums of all time.
With all that hype behind it, I felt a little underwhelmed when I heard it for the first time (probably around 35 years after its release). I felt the production hadn't aged well, and the compositions just weren't exciting enough to pique my interest.
Don't worry, it grew on me.
Of course, this isn't the sort of record you put on and memorize after one listen. It takes a bit of time and perseverance to get into, but once you do, there's some pretty good stuff to be heard. At times the music is very random and creative, at others it's simple and elegant. It's just a whole new musical experience, and a great starting point for progressive, world or new age music (although, wouldn't it now be... "old age"?).
That's not to say that this is the best album I've ever heard, because it is nowhere near. Nor would I consider it Mike Oldfield's finest work. But I can understand its cultural significance. It’s just one of those iconic albums that everyone should own. Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. Pink Floyd's 'The Wall'. The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper...'. Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells'. It's up there in that handful of elite releases that no music collection in the world should be without.
Oh yeah, and Oldfield wrote and recorded the whole damn thing by himself, at just 19 years of age. Bloody 'ell. .