on 1 September 2002
I'm a longstanding Oldfield fan, and I know this album intimately. I used to think that remastered releases were just a way for fleecing the record buying public. But I took a chance on this, and I was flabbergasted. The remastering makes all the difference, the sound quality is crystal clear and I can hear flutes and pedal basses that I didn't know existed. It's like hearing this album for the first time all over again!
on 26 May 2003
Laughed my head off when I heard he was re-recording it. I thought, why? It was then I realised it could be quite good. It is a classic piece of music. When I heard the promo I thought it sounded fantastic.
Just bought it today and it sounds fresh and alive. Anyone who liked the original fear not. The music is the same as original but Oldfield has used 90% (he said in an interview) of the original instruments he used on the original with the other 10% new, modern sounding effects. So what you have is the original updated with all the latest recording techniques. Only criticism is John Cleese as master of ceremonies sounded out of place. A bit odd. Is growing on me.
Buy this and you really won't be disappointed.
on 18 March 2004
Virgin records would never have become the huge company that it is without this record - if it hadn't been the huge success that it was, the company would never have been responsible for some of the great music on that label. How this ever came about though is a mystery - why would anyone have given a complete unknown the chance to make an album like this?
The answer is - love him or hate him - Richard Branson. He decided to let Mike Oldfield have some studio time after being persuaded by Tom Newman, who was building Manor Studios for him, after Tom had heard a tape of ideas that were to be used for Tubular Bells. Part One was recorded in a week of studio time alloted to Mike, Tom and second producer Simon Heyworth, and Part Two was recorded in various sessions as studio time became available.
There are stories of the sessions being recorded at all times of the night, sometimes after long sessions in the local pub, and the 'Piltdown Man' vocals are apparently a slowed down version of Mike shouting into a mic after drinking large amounts of whisky that was found in the basement of the studios. However it happened, it was available technology being pushed to the limit. There were only 16 tracks available to record on, and so a lot of overdubbing took place. This meant making huge lists of instruments and notes and accurately mapping out which track they were recorded to. Any mistakes could mean recording over previously recorded material!
The result was one of the most original pieces of material to ever be recorded. It's easy now to forget how unique this was, as its influence is felt throughout most modern music, but at the time it became a huge hit because of popularity without being hyped by a huge publicity machine. A couple of years later it's popularity was galvanized by the inclusion of some of Part One in the film 'The Exorcist'.
Most of this album is played by the multi-talented Mike Oldfield, with a few other musicians helping out here and there. It's quite an incredible achievement to think that Part One was recorded in only one week, but this is testament to the hard work of the three men who believed that this project could succeed.
on 19 April 2008
Alone amongst the arts, music has the ability to reach inside our weather beaten shells, grab our soul by the scruff of the neck and beat us to death in a darkened room. This album does just that. Stick it in the CD player, turn off the lights and be transported.
From the quiet, mesmerising start to the glorious finish Oldfield weaves in all sorts of themes and rythmns, whirling them around in sublimely a co-ordinated composition. The whole thing last over 45 mins and you never once get bored. The fact that he was only 19 and yet managed to play dozens of instruments from the guitar to the percussion, without it being really dreadful, speaks volumes.
Sure it was created in a hurry by people who didn't know what they were doing. But they sure learned fast. Yes, it has odd, sometimes crazed bits, but no the Sailor's Hornpipe is not just 'tacked on'. Oldfield had a party trick in his folk days - playing the Hornpipe faster and faster - and it is brilliant, it ends the album on a high.
Incidently, why this man has been not being knighted escapes me, especially when you think of some of the muppets from the music world that get gongs. But then politicians don't have souls so will not appreciate this delight!
Buy it. Buy it now , don't be a politician - feed your soul!
on 6 July 2002
My mum introduced me to Tubular Bells some years ago and have since purchased some other albums of the same artist. I have just purchased a new SACD/DVD player and wanted something to show of my new system. I am no audio expert I just love listening to MUSIC. After reading different reviews on the web about this SACD I was really looking forward to its arrival. (it atcually came 1 day before my new system arrived) Now then, what you all want to know, is it any good? Well I loved it! every part, but here are some parts that stood out most. Every instrument sounds superb, most even sound different (in a good way) which I assume is down to the SACD. The tubular bells ring out like never before, the whole thing is a completely different experience. You are surrounded by sound in a way very different than the surround on DVD titles. Lastly a section I disliked in the past (the growling in part 2) I now enjoy completely, the SACD really does make a difference to the way it feels to me. So if you enjoyed the CD version of Tubular Bells im sure you'll LOVE this new SACD version.
PS hoping for a Incantations SACD (please!) now that would be good.
on 23 November 2001
The first thing that you will notice is the superb quality of SACD, but without going into detailing the advantages and differances between CD and Super Audio CD, lets just say that the differance is remarkable. The seperation between the channels is superb, and hi frequency details aswell as lower ones are incredibly distinct and could never be heard in any normal CD.
I highly reccomend this SACD, if your just breaking into the realms of SACD, then this is a must, as it will highten you appreciation for the format, and make your purchase of any palyer seem more than worthwile.
on 10 March 2004
I just received my long-awaited copy of Tubular Bells 2003 from Amazon.co.uk.
I listened to it last night all the way through. Incidentally, I have never listened to the original 1970s Tubular Bells in my life, so I have nothing to compare it to. (In fact, the only Mike Oldfield I ever heard before was the 80's single "Moonlight Shadow"!)
But as a standalone album, and not knowing what to expect, I must say I was blown away by TB 2003. This Mike Oldfield chap is a musical genius! As for the 24-bit recording, it's simply superb and puts most other multi-channel works to shame.
It embodies clarity, warmth, detail, and it sounds very clean and crisp. In fact, everything I could want in a new recording.
I also think the immersive dynamic surround effects are great, and are a nice creative change to the many "ambience" mixes -- although I think there is a time and a place for both. In this case, as TB2003 is a 'concept' album, and I think Mike's approach fits brilliantly. In short, this disc will definitely feature among my 5.1 'demo' line-up of DVD-Audio titles.
So, if you haven't yet got yourself a proper DVD-Audio player and 5.1 multi-channel setup, then this album is good enough reason to do so.
This release was groundbreaking for many reasons and I'm sure Virgin Records owe their success to this album. There's an innocent charm to the compositions, although excessive exposure spoiled my enjoyment for many years, having used it as a "demo" disc many times over the seventies and early eighties.
I was saddened that the original CD sounded so muffled, as I remember - CD promised so much in the early days and didn't always deliver for various reasons. Those days are thankfully long behind us and THIS release realises, for me, how good the original recording could be in its stereo version.
There's a clarity here that really helps you to delve into the mix and discover elements that were all but inaudible in the original LP and CD versions. The early "Quad" mixes on the boxed set were good too, but sufficiently different that they were almost different pieces of music to me... My CD player is good, but quite conventional - no HDCD or the dreaded sacharin sweet SACD here... and the sound is perfectly good without all the latest commercial "tricks".... It seems one of the original production team did the remastering for this release, so hopefully, what we're hearing now is about as good as the original mix gets.
I must admit I'm getting really confused with the large number of *versions* of this album available as of 2006... I think that it's now time for both Mr Oldfield and the record companies to leave alone and move on - PLEASE!
RECOMMENDED as the definitive mastering of the original mix! If it's not in your collection, at this price you can't go wrong.
on 7 January 2002
Tubular Bells should have failed. Oldfield had never recorded an album before. Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth had never produced an album before. Richard Branson had never released an album before. That the endevour succeeded at all is incredible. The fact that it has now sold more than 15,000,000 copies and been remastered speaks volumes about its endurence.
You cannot deny the majesty of the music. From the opening piano motif it grips the listener. The first part, some 20 minutes or so, contains everything from haunting layers of shimmering chords to out and out rock, never staying with one theme or idea long enough for it to become repetitive. It ends with a fine repeating tune, MC'd by Viv Stanshall, late of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Part 2 is more difficult to get into, but no less rewarding, beginning as it does with an incredibly hypnotic guitar figure which gradually expands into a fully fledged Highland tattoo-like tune (complete with "Guitars sounding like bagpipes"!) From there it explodes into the brilliant, if slightly odd, Piltdown Man sequence, where Oldfield grunts and howls caveman-like into the microphone. The ending is the only place it really falls down, with the forever gruelling Sailer's Hornpipe feeling tacked on.
One of the things I had forgotten about this record is how amateurish it all feels. Although Oldfield plays most of the instruments himself, he doesn't really appear particuarly adept at any of them. Occasional fluffs and mistimed notes abound (just listen to the Timpani behind the "Bagpipes" section - it's unbelievable!) Still, for me this just increases the charm of the record - like an old friend whose quirks you are willing to live with.
So, a great record, deserved of its place in history and a place on every music enthusiast's shelf.
on 28 January 2005
Ummm... I thought, Tubular Bells 1 on SACD?
I had to admit that I was pretty sceptical that this release would sound any better than my other copies of this album on CD that I already have.
I have four copies now on CD, (mastered and remastered from different eras) since the birth of the CD to the more recent remastered HDCD format version.
This release on SACD I'm pleased to say is easily the best version that I have heard to date.
Poor old Tubular Bells 1 never really sounded all that good, (sound quality wise) because all of the overdubs and recording tricks used in the recording process, nearly wearing out the master tape in the process.
I was really struck when I put this disc on my recently bought SACD system, the album sounds really different, (in a nice way)
the clarity and dynamics of the sound are vastly improved to the original.
The multichannels have "freed up" and isolated the instruments in such a way that I have heard many new sounds in the recording that I've never heard before.
It was like listening to the album with a new pair of ears and for the very first time all over again!
There are some strange happenings in the recording though, as some instruments, vocal bits and harmonies are not as prominent in places like the original stereo mix, especially noticeable in "The Piltdown Man" section. (I think it's better now!)
In some places on the album, instruments and vocals seem to have been faded out quite suddenly, whilst they appeared to hang on a little longer and were mixed out less suddenly on the original stereo mix?
The nasal cowboy saloon bit in part one seems to be slightly longer than the original as well, which is good!
As for part 2, I really like it now.
I always used to pass part 2 over, because some of the piano parts seemed to sound disjointed and out of tune on the original mix, but I'm pleased to say that part 2 on this release sounds just right! Another bonus!
Another reviewer mentioned the Sailors Hornpipe.
Yes, it is another version to the original, but I thought the "buggered if I know" dialogue by Vivian Stanshaw "the master of ceremonies on the finale" on Part 1 was quite funny and a nice touch. Besides, when his dialogue and faint "marching" version of Hornpipe finishes you get an uninterrupted reprise of the Sailors Hornpipe anyway..
If you have an SACD system and like Mike Oldfield's first masterpiece, get this disc. You won't be dissapointed!